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Finding a Business Partner? Weigh the Pros and Cons First

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• Apple Partners Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak met in an early summer job
• Microsoft Partners Bill Gates and Paul Allen met in high school
• Hewlett Packard partners Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard met in college
• Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream partners Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield met in high school

Stories like these may inspire you to find a business partner or even bring in a pal, but each year thousands of failed business partnerships end up in court with accusations of negligence, mismanagement, embezzlement and even theft. Even the best of friends break up, turning into bitter enemies. Business partnerships can be like a marriage in many ways, and we all know how 50+% of those go. Before you find a business partner,
consider what’s best for your personality, the business you envision and the market you plan to serve.

Business Partners Provide Great Help with:
• Start-up costs and continuing cash flow. If you and your business partner both work, you’ll be able to use income from two jobs rather than one. You also have access to another’s assets as start-up and continuing costs. It may be easier to get an affordable business loan with two borrowers as well.

• Benefits of collaboration. Most business coaches encourage owners to pick a partner with complementary skills. That way the initial partner doesn’t have to learn all new skill sets, a process that requires extensive time and energy. Having two opinions on business matters can either be a great help or cause for contention and stress.

• Shared risks and business loan costs. Depending on the terms of your partnership, you split all loan costs.

• Pooled network. A business partner brings with him or her a network of contacts who can provide services or ideas for the company.

• Company and support! As mentioned above, comparisons of marriage and business partnerships pop up everywhere. A common quote about marriage is that it needs to be, “more bulwark than confinement.” Similarly, the connection that emerges from the business partnership should have far more positives than negatives.

Business Partners Can Hinder a Business and It’s Owner When:
• Partners default on loan. You will be liable if your partner declares bankruptcy or disappears.
• Business profits can’t support two people. While of course how profits will be shared should be set out in the business plan, poor income can create stress between two individuals when the rent or mortgage is due.
• Shared decisions cause friction. Two different personalities and life experiences lead to very different opinions on important matters. When each one of you is certain they’re right and the success of the business depends on the right decision, the stakes are high. Think of how you operated in college. Did you appreciate working in groups and partnerships or where you a solo operator? Take a careful self-inventory before you find a business partner.
• The friendship starts breaking up. Good friends are hard to find. Do you really want to jeopardize a nurturing friendship by becoming business partners?

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A+ Rated First Financial Supports a Wide Range of Business Borrowers, Even High-Risk!
First Financial is the nation’s leading provider of business loans for all kinds of businesses and even those in the high-risk category. Big banks and processors put many reputable businesses in high-risk categories like golf club manufacturers, vendors and imply because they’re new. Fill out our business loan application in minutes and find out how much you qualify to borrow. Follow First Financial on Facebook to get smart cash flow, marketing and business growth tips online, too!

How to Manage Cash Flow For New Businesses

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If you watched CNBC’s Shark Tank recently, maybe you caught Mark Cuban telling a hopeful business owner that it can take a lot longer than expected to get to consistent positive cash flow. Financial instruments like the business loan and the merchant advance have helped millions of business owners keep cash flow positive long enough to get that late payment from the big client who just happened to be traveling overseas, in the hospital or just behind. As e-Healthcare Solutions founder and president RJ Lewis remarks in an Inc. article,

“I do some angel investing in new businesses and in my experience, whatever the business plan says in terms of money and time needed to get to break even, the reality is it will take twice the money and double the time.”
Just as losing weight is the delicate balance of reducing calories IN while increasing calories OUT, positive cash flow happens when business owners can delay their own payments OUT to employees and other overhead while speeding up payments coming IN. Tackle the two jobs delineated below and you’re on your way to a flush future.

Job 1: Take Time to Measure
Seat-of-your pants entrepreneurship works in the beginning months of your business, but after a year or so, you need clearer cash flow expectations and projects. Getting these figures takes measuring incomes and outflow for this moment in time (or this month).

The simplest way to start gaining cash flow control is to divide a piece of paper in half. Write down your clients along the left hand side. Draw a line down the middle. On the right of the middle line write down costs for your employees, each vendor and other expenses. These current expenses should be easy to find and track. Don’t discount this low-tech method of cash flow analysis. Even having a cash flow analysis is a step ahead of MANY entrepreneurs.

For those ready to move beyond the sheet of paper, software helps keep cash flow positive. While we could go into detail about how to document each expense in a spreadsheet, it can be more fun to download a little app to your smartphone or computer. These low-cost software tools let you upload expenses and revenues once for repeat accounting. We like Pulse ($14/month), which—made by a small business for small businesses—helps you keep a finger on the pulse of your income and expenses. It also anticipates your business expenses and cash flow management needs, taking the thinking out of it for you. Your business makes you think enough! Another app, Float ($24/month), brings you a simple, intuitive interface and backs up all your data to the cloud.

Up Your Cash Flow costs more ($395 to $795 one-time fee) because it BRINGS more. It takes the thinking out of developing a cash management plan and provides consulting services. Great for the overwhelmed business owner, Up Your Cash Flow helps you drive income and revenues up, up . . . up! For businesses that have outgrown the solopreneur stage, Up Your Cash Flow helps you make the tough decisions and get clarity on your most lucrative products and services.

computer cash register measuring cash flow
Job 2: Take Baseline and Make Projections
For those of you using the piece of paper cash flow program, your cash flow for the next month will be column one minus column two. Will that amount pay for your living expenses? More marketing? An additional employee? These baseline measurements inform your decisions going forward. Those using one of the convenient apps mentioned above get their numbers crunched for them. With these figures in hand, it’s important to look at them with clear eyes.

To nail down your cash flow, you now must project revenues over the next three months. Perhaps everything stays the same. In that case, you can relax. Cash flow plans are not absolutely accurate future forecasting. They depend on your customers’ payment habits, your ability to foresee upcoming expenditures and the time your vendors give you to pay. Make sure you include costs like: loan interest and principle payments, marketing expenditures for seasonal campaigns and one-time fees like subscriptions, insurance and parties.

A+ Rated First Financial Steps Into Cash Flow Emergencies
We are firm believers that, if set yourself up for positive cash flow and positive results will follow. The abstract plan of trying to make as much as possible does not help business owners find where they can increase revenues. Specific management and planning reliably increases revenue month after month.

First Financial is the nation’s leading provider of merchant accounts and other merchant services, particularly for the high-risk borrowers. Big banks and processors put too many reputable businesses in high-risk categories like information technology, simply because they’re new. Fill out the application in minutes. Follow First Financial on Facebook to get smart business tips online, too!

Successful Marketing Tactics for the Web Design Company

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Web designers with a niche can command higher fees. 

 While the growing demand for web design is something to celebrate, it also brings new designers to the market, making competition fierce. The freelance web designer needs to be an able marketer, coder and creative artist to earn a living.

Conquer the marketing aspect of running your own web design company by reading these tried-and-true tactics. 

  1. Get a Niche

Today, the business website is critical not only to bring in new customers, but to establish credibility.

Capturing the true size of the market only starts with every business having a mobile-friendly website. Anymore, businesses are putting up separate websites for events they put on, books they write and communities they establish. Further, every entrepreneur starts one business only to spin off two or three others. As we discussed in our post, Web Design Outlook for 2016 and Beyond, demand for the average American job will increase by 7% until the year 2024, but the American economy will call for 27% more web developers and designers.

Long story short: there’s enough business to go around. Designers with niches (restaurants, finance, healthcare, retail, etc.) can begin to build deep expertise. They learn characteristics not only of their clients, but their client’s target audiences and referral partners. Further, they learn the legal limitations and opportunities for everything they can say on the website. When a web designer can convince a prospect they learned from the successes and failures of past attempts, they gain credibility . . . and more money. Most businesses would prefer to pay a little more to get the job done right the first time.

 

  1. Network in the Niche

Everybody knows how to network through their Chambers of Commerce where they meet people in all industries. Finding niche networks helps the web designer hear all of the participants’ pain points, complaints, opportunities and successes. This information eventually becomes very valuable, as the informed web designer can explain the prospect’s issues before he or she even has a chance. Networking events also gives you opportunity to meet new talented people, create connections with them and eventually find potential customers.

Putting on a presentation or attending a meet-up in your niche also gives you the opportunity to connect on a personal, face-to-face basis. Even volunteering your skills for an organization showcases your talents to your selected niche.

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  1. Set up a Good Looking Portfolio

This is the best way to show off all your skills and experience on web designing. This lures customers and make them interested in your capabilities. You can attached this to your own website or any owned social media accounts.

You can go general in your portfolio. Do not just limit your portfolio to skills and experience related to web designing. You can go general and make people see your other talents. They might serve as an additional asset so keep your portfolio versatile.

  1. Make Valuable Partnerships

You can collaborate with field related businesses like web hosting companies or web developers. In this way, you are actually operationally putting your skills to the test. You can also offer more to your clients with the additional features and services from your partner companies, an advantage in keeping up over other competing web designers.

  1. Making it Personal

If you want to make your customers happy, you need to make them feel that you genuinely care for them and can provide them quality service and output with personal intentions even after you are done making your work and have been already paid. There are customers that need to be wooed and need to be given nice gestures, compliments to win them. Gifts and like chocolates and cupcakes, as well as holiday greetings or anything that reflect you as devoted and friendly can win them over. This also includes your way of advertising your service. Try to be a bit provoking and trendy that can catch someone’s attention.

 

These are the 5 most helpful tips in marketing planning for web designers like you to be successful in the industry. Remember that you have to be versatile to new strategies and techniques so that you keep up with the new trends and demands. Attract customers, make them happy, and you will be successful. When you go to collect credit card payments, remember to apply at A+ Rated First Financial, where high-risk businesses like web designers get the best merchant accounts.

 

Multi-Level Marketing Enjoying Upswing

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 Next time anyone hints that multi-level marketing is a “fringe” business, let them know that in 2015 it brought in $40 billion, a level on par with the pet and cosmetics industries.

Recently, a Forbes article even positioned multi-level marketing as a solution to America’s current retirement savings crisis. After conducting his own research on the multi-level marketing industry, the once-skeptical Forbes author and self-proclaimed retirement activist Robert Laura states, “I no longer perceive these types of opportunities as money-making pyramid schemes. Instead, I now see it as a way to enhance many of the personal aspects of retirement.”

Laura isn’t alone. Some of the nation’s strictest number crunchers concur.

IBIS World, the renowned resource for industry trends, reported that direct selling companies (aka the multi-level marketing industry) has shown annual growth each year over the past five. IBIS World predicts that, “the industry is expected to continue to grow, driven by improved consumer confidence.”

The Direct Selling Association Growth & Outlook Survey also forecasts a robust future for multi-level marketing. Not only has the industry grown every year since 2009, the 5.5% increase in revenues from 2013 to 2014 entices anyone looking to make a living selling unique products through community connections.

Springboard Your MLM Business on 2016 Trends

As much as industry pundits’ perspectives support multilevel marketing’s potential, staying current on the prevailing trends in the industry maximizes sales. Consider:

• Tie-ins Boost Sales: Tailor your product to your clientele, regionally. Tie in your product with a popular local festival, or any other popular seasonal event. Whether it’s a tie-in to a new Star Wars movie, or maybe a “back-to-school” sale bonanza, incorporating a fun theme keeps customers upbeat, and certain you’re looking out for them.

• Technology/Mobile Boosts Sales. Hit up your home base for any and every mobile solution they have. Leverage their sales and marketing apps, presentations and the screens that help you sign-up new recruits and customers via smartphones. Make sure ease of online payment is evident on these apps.

• Social Media and Email Keep You Connected. The Facebook group you create gets your messages to your team on a platform they most likely check daily anyway. Email (no more than weekly!) to both team members and customers keeps your business top of mind.

• Videos Familiarize. Don’t forget to post videos of yourself using new products, and then feel free to email/post on Facebook and YouTube. When your potential customers can see the product in action, they get more excited about experiencing it firsthand.

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A+ Rated First Financial Offers High Risk Merchant Accounts for Multi-Level Marketing Companies

Multi-level marketing revenue has gained ground since the economic downturn. Many Americans who lost their jobs in the wake of the recession established direct selling businesses as a means of income due to the relatively low start-up costs. As we approach 2020, the industry is expected to continue to grow, driven by improved consumer confidence, improving employment figures and disposable income. To get the multi-level marketing merchant account customers trust and appreciate, apply today!

Considering Freelance? Website Design Industry Outlook for 2016 & Beyond

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 Web designers are a lucky lot. Creative colleagues, new projects and ever-changing technology make for constant stimulation and growth.

Those who have been working at agencies or in a corporate setting for a while sometimes feel they need to stretch their wings as entrepreneurs. The freedom and prestige to own your own business can prove irresistible despite concerns over steady income, staying on task and finding affordable health insurance.

Pros and cons fill any career choice. Perhaps the best way to make your decision is to gauge your personality type. Entrepreneurs tend to be tenacious risk-takers, plagued by creativity and a desire to break rules and make something new. For this lot, self-employment satisfies like nothing else. Life as a corporate employee could feel stifling. Each reader has to determine whether they have the capital (typically twice as much as planned), time (typically twice as much as planned), family understanding, tenacity and willingness to work. If so, this post should allay any concerns about the future of the web design industry.


Experts Agree: Web Design, Development and SEO Has a Robust Future

If you’re a web designer, developer and/or search specialist with entrepreneurial spirit, you’ve got some trends on your side.

First, according to research from Graphic Design Degree Hub, the average freelancer makes 45% more than the individual working for an agency or corporation. The average web entrepreneur makes $68,000 where her nine-to-five colleague gets $46,800. Seventy-five percent of all freelancers make over $65,000 per year.

Secondly, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ outlook for web designers is glowing. Where demand for the average American job will increase by 7% until the year 2024 (less than one percent per year), the American economy will call for 27% more web developers (nearly 3% increase per year).

Backing up this need for web design, IBIS world finds that the industry will grow 5% yearly. Currently a 24-billion-dollar market, web design will keep adding another one billion per year of closed business over the next decade. By 2024, web design will be a 35 billion dollar industry.

Google’s preference for mobile-friendly design poured significant revenue into the pockets of web designers who needed to upgrade websites to render on smartphones. Who knows what the next big shift will be? Entranced by technology upgrades, website owners will always need upgrades as platforms and software continue to evolve. These trends only mean more revenues for web designers and developers.

The Entrepreneur’s Two Biggest Concerns: Recession & Responsibility

Many talented employees feel intimidated about going out on their own because the future can seem so uncertain. In 2014, just one in seven web developers was self-employed. Recessions do emerge about every seven years, and they can cut back on business. An economic downturn affects both employees and the self-employed, however. Surprisingly, about half of freelancers report they aren’t impacted by recessions. Further, recessions cause employee layoffs, and in those cases, all income is cut overnight. Finally, since the downturn of 2008, the government has put controls into place to make sure instability never gets to those levels again.

Recessions tend to be beyond the entrepreneur’s control. What about the aspects of entrepreneurship that are within one’s control. These can be just as intimidating.

Budding entrepreneurs handle not only all the creative aspects of the new job, but they are
• the accounting department (handling all estimates, invoices and collections),
• the marketing department (getting new clients),
• the IT department (paying for all computer repair, paper, ink, etc.)
• and administration (handling all calls.)

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Each solopreneur must set up an accounting system, IT solutions, supplies and merchant accounts to accept client’s credit cards. As mentioned above, if wearing 17 different hats feels fun rather than overwhelming, you’re cut from entrepreneurial cloth. Whichever career path the web designer chooses, he or she will have well-paying work for life!

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