#business travel

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Is Frequent Business Travel Killing You?

We often look at those who get to jet off to new and exotic locations on a regular basis with envy, even if their travels are for work. For those who don’t have the ability to frequently travel, being able to visit new places and cultures is an absolute luxury.

But, a study recently published in the journal Environment and Planning is shedding light on a dark side of frequent business travel. According to this study, people who engage in frequent travel, which the study refers to as “hypermobility,” may experience adverse psychological, emotional and physical effects.

Jet lag is one of the most common health risks with frequent travel, disrupting your body’s circadian rhythm. It can cause fatigue and gastrointestinal problems and even affect your mood, judgment and ability to concentrate. Jet lag’s interference with the body’s rhythms causes a widespread disruption of many biological processes, potentially increasing the risk of heart attack or stroke and, if chronic, may cause cognitive deficits.

Frequent air travel can increase the risk of deep vein thrombosis (DVT) and pulmonary embolism, expose you to more germs and contribute to dry eyes and dehydrated skin.

Every time you fly, you get zapped by a little extra UV and cosmic radiation from space. It goes right through you, in very small amounts. It s typically nothing you need to worry about, even if you re pregnant. But, flying 85,000 miles a year goes beyond the limit for public exposure to radiation – with exposure to radiation at high altitude hundreds of times higher than at ground level, the risk of cancer becomes higher.

Frequent business travelers tend to have fewer opportunities to exercise, worse eating habits than when they’re at home and occasionally over-consume alcohol, further impacting their health.

Wait, there’s more.

Frequent travel impacts psychological and emotional health. There’s always a level of stress preparing and making arrangements for trips, but when you arrive at your destination for vacation, you relax and unwind. This is often not the case for business travelers – their workload isn’t reduced and they may experience more stress trying to complete tasks during travel.

Flight delays can trigger anxiety and fatigue. And, constantly traveling for business can be disorienting and lonely since so much time is spent away from friends and family. While frequently traveling opens you up to new opportunities to make new connections and friendships, this study found these relationships tend to be situational, expendable and short-lived.

Researchers in this study found the brighter side of hypermobility is the “glamorized” viewpoint others have of the frequent traveler, perceiving them as having a higher social status. And social media only enhances this with the ability (or social obligation) to post photos and check in to exotic locations for everyone to see where you are.

While frequent business travelers’ social media posts glamorize what they’re doing, they also overshadow all of the negative impacts of what they’re doing.

Frequent business travel is becoming more common, meaning these negative effects could begin to impact a broader population, according to researchers.

So what does all of this mean? For frequent business travelers, you may not have a choice about flying for work, but you can work to counteract these negative effects.

First, make a concerted effort to eat healthy, skip alcohol and take advantage of hotel fitness centers during business trips. Make sure you try your best to keep moving instead of sitting for hours upon hours – walk around the airport, walk around the plane, find a space to stretch. That will help with the possibility of developing DVT. When you can, catch up on your sleep to prevent and ward off jet lag. And when you are home, make sure you’re spending plenty of time with your friends and family.



#business loans for bad credit

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You Can Apply for These Small Business Loans with Bad Credit

Small business owners are often turned away by lenders when they have poor credit. That’s because a bad credit score implies you have not managed your finances properly in the past.

Luckily, it’s possible to secure small business loans with poor credit.

A number of alternative lenders are offering loan solutions for bad credit today. These lenders place more importance on the operating history and strength of your business. In other words, they do not focus solely on your credit score when they consider your loan application.

Here are some loans for bad credit options worth exploring.

Small Business Loans with Bad Credit

Kabbage

The best thing about Kabbage is that it does not require a minimum credit score to qualify. It does, however, check your credit history. If you are looking for some short-term working capital, Kabbage is worth trying. You can borrow from its line of credit and repay on an as-needed basis.

To qualify, you should have minimum annual revenue of $50,000 and have been in business for at least a year. You must also have a business checking account, bookkeeping software or an online payment platform.

It takes only a few minutes to complete the online application process and if approved you can get funds in just a couple of days.

Fundbox

Fundbox does not have a minimum credit score or minimum annual revenue requirement. Instead, it takes the value of your invoices and ability to repay the loan into consideration.

Funding is prompt and takes up to just three business days.

To qualify, you must use bookkeeping software or online accounting that can link to Fundbox and have a minimum of six months’ activity in one of these software applications.

OnDeck

OnDeck offers both term loans and lines of credit. You can go for the term loan if you are looking for some quick cash to expand. If you want to manage your cash flow and working capital, a line of credit is your best option.

To qualify for OnDeck’s term loan, you must have a personal credit score of 500 or higher. For a line of credit, your personal credit score should be at least 600.

Once you complete the online application process, you’ll get a decision within a few minutes and funding as soon as the following day.

Interestingly, OnDeck reports your payment activity to the three credit bureaus, which means paying off your loan on time can boost your credit score.

BlueVine

If you lack collateral, have poor credit and unpaid invoices, you may consider BlueVine. The lender offers an advance based on the value of your invoices. Approval is based on the strength of your cash flow and the financial strength of your debtors.

You do need to have a personal credit score of 530 or more to qualify. Also you should have at least $120,000 in annual revenue and have been in business for at least three months.

StreetShares

If you have a new business, StreetShares is a good option to explore. The lender requires a minimum of one year in business and $25,000 in annual revenue. But even if you have been in business for only six months and you can qualify with $100,000 in revenue.

You need to have a minimum personal credit score of 600 or more and a strong cash flow to be eligible.

Dealstruck

Dealstruck is a good option if you are looking for different loan products. The lender offers a term loan for expansion, an asset-based line of credit for businesses with unpaid invoices and an inventory line of credit for businesses that have recurring inventory purchase requirements.

To qualify, you need to have a minimum credit score of 600, although company CEO Ethan Senturia has said that the company accepts scores in the 500 range. You also need at least $150,000 in annual revenue and need to have been in business for at least a year.

A bad credit score may create problems for you when you try securing funds for your business, but it shouldn t stop you from exploring options. You need to understand your needs and look for options that meet your requirements.

Shubhomita Bose is a Staff Writer for Small Business Trends. She covers key studies and surveys about the small business market, along with general small business news. She draws on 8 years of experience in copywriting, marketing and communications, having worked extensively on creating content for small and medium sized enterprises.

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#business financing options

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4 Small-Business Financing Options You’ve Probably Never Heard Of

Financing is one of the great conundrums of entrepreneurship: For the first few years, your small business’s income may be uncertain and its credit unestablished, yet you need to invest in inventory, facilities, and staff to establish a solid presence and a revenue stream.

Finding a traditional lender who will essentially take a chance on your company can be tough. So, many startups are turning to alternative financing options. such as peer-to-peer lending and online pawn shops.

Did you know that other sources of capital are available, too? Here are four small-business financing options that you’ve probably never of.

Are you an online seller (through Amazon, eBay, Etsy, Shopify, or Yahoo) who needs cash to purchase inventory? Kabbage may help you score a six-month advance of $500 to $50,000 in fewer than seven minutes. Kabbage determines whether you qualify for its merchant advances based on your social media popularity. reputation on e-commerce sites, and analytics from vendors you use to run your business (including Intuit QuickBooks Online ).

The more Kabbage can verify what your shop is all about, the better your chances of securing funding. Because the money is a “merchant advance” and not a loan, there aren’t any interest rates. But you should expect to repay what you are advanced in equal monthly transfers, plus 2 to 7 percent of that amount, based on your “Kabbage score” and revenue, until the amount you borrowed is repaid in full.

Guidant Financial’s iFinance provides a means for small-business owners to use their tax-deferred retirement savings for startup investments, while eliminating some of the penalties that accompany early withdrawals. This “rollover as business startup” funding may be used for activities such as buying a franchise, building a storefront, or purchasing equipment.

Because you’re using your own money to invest into your own business (vs. taking out a loan), you won’t pay any interest. However, you do risk losing your retirement savings if your business doesn’t perform as expected. To facilitate the complex transition, which takes about a month to complete, Guidant establishes a corporation for the small business and a 401(k) account for it. Once that’s done, Guidant rolls your existing retirement assets into the account, essentially making the 401(k) a shareholder in your business.

If your small business has logged at least a year’s worth of revenue, On Deck Capital uses your company’s cash flow and positive payment history — vs. a credit score — to determine its loan-worthiness. With an online application process that takes about 15 minutes to complete, On Deck offers loans with repayment terms ranging from three to 18 months, and it can fund loans of less than $25,000 in about an hour.

Although the loan may be secured with a lien on your business assets, repayment takes place daily via an automatic transfer in fixed amounts. Because positive repayment of On Deck loans are reported to the credit bureaus, borrowing can help you establish a business credit history.

If you know you’re capable of great entrepreneurial achievements, but need investors to fund your “big break,” Upstart — a crowdfunding platform founded by ex-Googlers — could be the answer. Though you can ask for funding based on a specific business idea, Upstart is founded on the idea of investing in a person’s potential; investors each contribute small amounts to provide a person with the capital and mentoring he or she needs to make future goals reality.

In return for funding, an individual shares a small portion of his or her personal income for 10 years. For example, Trina Spear, a Tufts University and Harvard Business School grad, secured $20,000 and mentorship through Upstart to co-found a medical apparel company, FIGS Scrubs. In exchange, she’ll repay the loan with 1 percent of her pre-tax income over the next decade. She intends to use the money to pay her student loans while raising the $1 million venture capital money needed to fund her startup.

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#online home business

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50 Online Businesses You Can Run From Home

Avoid cubicle farms and bosses breathing down your neck by starting an online business that you can run from home. Once you start making real money, you might never turn back. Here are 50 online businesses you start and run from home:

Virtual assistant
Help clients out by providing secretarial, technical, or creative support from your home office.

Providing content
Blogs, websites, even magazines need content to stay fresh and relevant. Put your writing, photography, or other artistic skills to work for pay.

Freelance programmer
Everyone needs a programmer. You re especially relevant and valuable if you can program mobile apps.

Affiliate marketing
Drive traffic to big sites like Amazon and eBay, or even to smaller sites via online ads and your website, then get a commission in return.

Reselling products

Buy a bunch of products at one price, set up a website, and resell them to interested buyers for profit.

Ebooks
Ebooks in every topic are a hot commodity. You could either get them written and sell them via your website, or write them yourself.

Home study courses

Learning a new skill is as easy as getting online, and if you have a specialty, it s a good time to turn it into a home study course that you can sell for profit.

Reports
Research a topic that people just can t find a solution to, package it into a report, then sell each report for money.

Educational videos

From fixing dishwashers to understanding myopia, people are hungry to learn online. Help them with your educational videos.

Selling software
From Internet security to marketing support, everyone with a computer is looking for some kind of software. Help them find it by selling it on your site.

Day trading
If you re willing to rise early, study markets, and put in winning bets, this three-hour-a-day job could be for you.

Google AdSense websites
Create one or more blogs or websites, and make money by showing Google AdSense ads.

Selling ad space
Build a website, increase traffic to it, and advertisers will be knocking on your door to pay you for ad space.

Flipping domains

See a potentially hot domain name that hasn t been taken yet? Buy it up and flip it for profit.

Online auctions
Yes, buying up someone else s junk at garage sales, then selling it for a premium on eBay still does work.

Data entry

Everyone needs data entry, but few are willing to do it. If you re one of those few, you can find contract jobs online.

Paid online surveys

Marketers will pay as much as $300 per day for in-person surveys. Online surveys will net you less, but if you do enough of them, you can make yourself a handsome little nest egg.

Network marketing
Proven products always need more sellers. Find a niche you like, put up a small amount of money upfront, make lots of phone calls and online inquiries, and watch the profits roll in.

Selling your handiwork or crafts
If you consider yourself an artsy-craftsy person, add the fruits of your labor to Etsy.com and transform them into dollars.

Flipping websites
Take someone s flailing website off their hands, polish it up, and find a buyer who wants it.

Naming domains
If you re good at naming things, try your hand at domain naming for profit at PickyDomains.com.

Writing software reviews
If you geek out on new apps, programs, and other software, writing reviews on SoftwareJudge.com can make you money.

Writing Google AdWords ads
Everyone wants good AdWords ads, but not everyone can write them well, as any Google search will demonstrate. Prettifying AdWords ads can make you a profit.

10 Great Ways to Rapidly Improve Your Credit Score

Write sponsored posts on your blog
Companies everywhere are dying for social media exposure. Get enough user traction on your blog, and make moola writing paid posts through an agency like PayPerPost.com.

Social media expert
If you have a real aptitude for gaining a following on social media sites like Twitter and Facebook, outsource those skills to companies as a social media expert.

Write an ezine with a paid subscription

If you have valuable content to offer, consider writing an ezine, then charging users to read it. This is an especially promising strategy as the age of the tablet rears its head.

Online research
Lots of people and companies need research done, but not everyone has the time to do it. Pimp your skills as a researcher-for-pay.

Flipping blogs
See a potentially huge blog that s been neglected by its owner? Snap it up, fix it up, increase traffic, and flip it to a buyer for a profit.

Transcribing
Transcribing audio content can be a slow, time-consuming process, and the truth is, there s just not that much good transcribing software out there. This could be your niche.

Recruiting
Becoming a freelance recruiter can offer handsome benefits, especially if you do it at the executive level.

Consulting
Pitch yourself as an expert in your field and harness your connections to consult for a living.

Life coach
Do you like to motivate people? Got business acumen? If so, exchange your skills for cash as an online life coach.

Online travel agent
Although lots of travel planning is now automated, you can still make money as a specialized travel agent, either for a travel portal or on a consulting basis.

Selling products
If you have something to sell, there s a place for you to sell it, from Craigslist to eBay to Amazon to all kinds of specialty sites.

Dropshipping
Be the middleman between a customer and a wholesaler by shipping goods that a customer orders from said wholesaler and marking them up in the process.

Graphic design
Put your artistic skills to use by designing posters, ads, business cards, and more.

Web design
Outsource your skills to the legions of companies and individuals looking for a new or improved website.

Selling used books
Selling used books on sites like Amazon.com and, if you sell the right books, quite lucrative.

Internet marketing
From blog guest posts to Facebook to newsletters, Internet marketing requires know-how, but you get paid bucks in return.

Accounting

If you re a CPA, jump online to bring in more business.

SEO
What use is a website if a search engine can t find it? Put your search maestro skills to use by becoming an SEO expert.

Apartment/roommate locator
Use your real estate acumen to find people the perfect apartment or home to rent, or even hook them up with a roommate.

Bookkeeping
Record financial transactions for clients, or work in billing.

Collections
Work as a bill collector from home.

Make how-to videos
Make quality how-to videos and sell them for profit.

Payroll services
Take care of payroll administration for businesses that can t do it in-house.

Cartridge refill

Have people mail you their empty ink cartridges, refill them at home, and mail them back.

Software beta testing
Become a beta tester for the many software companies putting out new products.

Vitamin sales
Tinctures, creams, and anything with the word anti-aging on it has a hot market. Gear up a site to sell these products online.

Medical claims billing
There are a lot of medical claims that need to be billed and everyone outsources. Get trained and jump on this for guaranteed bucks.



#lucrative business ideas

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4 Lucrative Business Ideas That You Should Consider Starting if You Can Drive

Beyond the Ice cream trucks and the food trucks and cabby services, (which are good businesses by the way) there is a lot more you can do with a vehicle that can be lucrative and can serve either as a healthy side business or a major gig.

If you have a vehicle or are thinking of a mobile business to start, then the first question to ask is; what can I do?

There are varieties of businesses today and in a fast-lane-do-it-for me world, almost everything you can think of that a vehicle can do, can be done for profit. Interestingly, many other things you never thought a vehicle could do can also be done with a vehicle for money.

I will share a few ideas, but the key is to evaluate yourself to see if you can handle it. If you have been thinking of what to start up and perhaps you are considering a mobile business or you have a car sitting in the garage, then these few ideas will be helpful.

1. Offering Delivery Services

The business terrain is fast changing and the need to increase customer satisfaction as a prerequisite for increased patronage is largely responsible for the increased number of e-commerce websites.

Major e-commerce websites need dispatch services; they often work with smaller stores which often work with post offices. The truth is that there is enough business to go around whether you work directly with the stores or the post office.

In spite of the recent trend to take your business online. there are still many stores in your city that rely solely on e-mails and phone calls to communicate with their customers. Customers will gladly pay a little extra for you to save them the trip to the store.

2. Become an Approved Driving Instructor

Maybe you have a vehicle and it costs you money to fuel it and you either don’t have a job or you want to make extra money by the side, and to top it all off, you love to drive and are pretty good at it. Good, then you need to consider this route as one of those lucrative deals your personal vehicle can help you achieve.

All you will need is a vehicle, a valid driver’s license and good knowledge of driving and instructing other drivers (you will have to prove this through a compulsory qualifying test). Then proceed to get registered as an Approved Driving Instructor and you are in business.

3. Invest in a Mobile goods Store

Again, owing to the increasing reluctance of customers to get out of the house or to take a trip to the stores, someone has to do the job of bringing stuff to them. Online platforms have their place, but people will jump at the sight of mobile stores. Thankfully, there are various businesses that have proved this.

The innovations that can be brought to life with a moderate of large sized truck are almost inexhaustible. Mobile cloth stores, Mobile fruit Shops, Mobile Jewelry stores and even flower trucks. There is sufficient proof that these ideas can work and they tend to be quite lucrative.

All you need to do is to observe your environment and see what can be done with a truck. It doesn’t matter if it has been done before or not. Mobile stores can afford to sell at lower prices and yet bring the goods to the neighborhood because they avoid rents and all the maintenance costs of running a brick and mortar store.

What could be more enticing?

4. Invest in a Mobile Services Store

People are much more willing to start up mobile goods stores, but services are a little more tricky. I mean people can buy a T-shirt from a moving truck but will they have a haircut in a truck?

Actually, there are few mobile business ideas that have not been explored. Some have worked over time and some have been ludicrous. In the end the first thing you have to consider is what services you can offer and then if people will pay to bring it to their neighborhood.

Richard Caporizzo converted a van into a state-of-the-art doggie spa with its own power supply, water tanks and electronic grooming table. Caporizzo and his son Matthew Vernon make house calls to trim, bathe and blow dry dogs at their owner’s homes. So yes, almost anything can work if you are really good at your services.

There is a truckload of ideas that you can explore and see what suits you and or your city more. But if people will pay to have it brought to them, then you can take their money gladly.

Whether you hate office jobs and sitting at a place and love mobility or you need to add to your income
or perhaps you have a vehicle that is not being used enough you can borrow an idea here, and make some money from it. Better still, you don’t need to kill yourself over how to raise money for this. Apart from the fact that most of these businesses will not cost you millions of dollars, there are some unconventional ways you can still get the capital you need.

Don’t limit yourself, change with the changing terrain and let your imagination fly!

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#small business funding

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More Than 15 Small Business Funding Resources for You

Most small business owners can identify with the challenges of getting financing for their business or funding for a new product. There’s no short, easy road to funding, most of the time, but these small business funding resources can help.

Kabbage

Kabbage has to be the most unique small business funding source found recently. They have created a powerful platform that, in my understanding, is creating a real-life look at how your business is doing to help you grow it.

They don’t only look at credit scores, as so many traditional lenders do. They look at things like your Paypal, Ebay, Amazon, or Intuit QuickBooks account to figure out if you qualify and how much of a credit line you can receive. It is impressive.

Kiva Zip

Another innovative program and approach is found with Kiva, the microfinance platform. Etsy wrote about it. There is official information about zero interest (0%) with the Kiva Zip program (in Alpha, not even in Beta), and success stories on the main page.

The Lending Club

The Lending Club is a name that many consumers and business owners have heard before, but it is a site worth checking. Their peer-to-peer approach has taken the banking world by storm and it looks likely to continue in the business loan sector.

SmartBiz SBA Loans

SmartBiz SBA Loans ($5,000 $150,000) is a small business lender, but one that promises a much better process than traditional banks, on SBA type loans. If you’ve ever gone through the SBA formal process, you know that it is rather comprehensive.

Funding Circle

Funding Circle has a large UK presence as well as a US site. It is an online marketplace for small business loans. The site explains you can find out in approximately one week if you qualify for a loan.

MultiFunding

Ami Kassar CEO of MultiFunding has a useful website on how the different funding options work and his consulting brokerage serves as a matchmaker for businesses that need more than just the “best rate” and need help with more complicated loan options.

OnDeck and BoeFly

Here are a couple of other small business loan providers that are promising an easier process, lower rates, and other options that might make their loans more appealing to you. OnDeck and BoeFly .

QuickBooks Financing

QuickBooks Financing has a site dedicated to helping you find the right financing. It is a matching engine that allows their selected lenders to provide you with the right loan. I’m presuming it also uses some of your QuickBooks data, but I’m not certain of that as I did not submit data on the form.

Wells Fargo and SBA Bank of America

There is no shortage of traditional lenders where you can walk into a branch and talk to someone about an SBA loan, so I would be remiss for not including at least a couple that I believe in. The Wells Fargo small business loan page offers a range of good information. And the SBA Loan page at Bank of America may help you sort different SBA options.

Factoring

If you have ever considered factoring, where you get financing based on your receivables, then I recommend this guide from RTS Financial, Your Complete Guide To Factoring.

PayPal Working Capital

PayPal Working Capital lets you pay your loan back as you get paid. A factoring method, of sorts.

Chase Mission Main Street Grants

One of my favorite places to look for less traditional financing options is the Small Business Events here on Small Business Trends. I used it to help compile this list, so I know there are some great funding options, often awards or contests, worth considering. This Chase Mission Main Street Grants is a terrific example. There is new information on the 2014 program.

Government Grants

You may need help to understand if a Government grant is worth pursuing. There are some large scale federal programs that pass funds through to universities and other nonprofit type institutions where you can sometimes find just the right help for your company.

City and State Level Resources

As I mentioned above, there are many city and state level resources, but too many to explain. If you search for your city or state combined with economic development, small business funding, and other related terms, you may find a niche program that serves your needs.

Here is a page from the Nevada Small Business Development Center where you’ll get an idea of what you find at the state level. There are community-focused programs, as an example of a city program, for the Philadelphia area, Loan Programs City of Philadelphia Business Services Center. Scroll down through the long list to find the smaller loan amounts.

Opportunity Finance Network

Opportunity Finance Network (part of Goldman Sachs 10,000 small businesses initiative) is a big initiative sponsored by Goldman Sachs. The goal is to help educate business owners on a wide range of topics, to give you the best chance for success, in addition to access to capital. You must have an established business, with revenues.

There are plenty of sites that offer business loans too many to try and list. There are resources at the State and City level, depending on where you live, that can help you financially. There are also lists of USA State websites that offer resources or details around funding and details available on what it takes to qualify for a small business loan as well as sources of start-up funding .

We welcome you to list resources in the comments. We want to see the path to funding get easier, more transparent, and understandable for small business as a whole and we hope these resources do that for you.

If you have discovered a great resource that can help a small business owner find financing or a grant, please share it below.

TJ McCue served as Technology/Product Review Editor for Small Business Trends for many years and now contributes on 3D technologies. He is currently traveling the USA on the 3DRV roadtrip and writes at the Refine Digital blog.

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#naming a business

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Picking a killer name for your business is harder than it might seem.

One of the things to think about when choosing a company name is how it will look in the subject line of an email, according to cloud-based analytics company DataHero. Then there’s how it will sound when it’s said aloud. A number of leading companies in recent history have chosen names with between five and 10 letters and at least one hard consonant: Google. Starbucks, Verizon.

Before naming your company. check out these tips from entrepreneurs who have been through the process, some of whom have even named the same company more than once.

1. Don’t rush the process.

There’s no set amount of time it should take for you to settle on a name for your company, but know that it could take six months of iterating before you make a final decision. An important thing to remember is to continue working on other aspects of the business as you get closer to picking a name, says Charlie Miner, founder of furniture and lighting e-commerce company WorkOf. “You don’t want the process of naming to prevent you from moving the business forward,” he says.

2. Think about your audience.

Venture capital database CB Insights was initially founded under the name Chubby Brain, something co-founder Anand Sanwal says represented his attempt to come up with a name that was cool, funky, and “startup-sounding.” Sanwal’s philosophy changed after he heard from the investment banks and other institutional clients that would be citing his startup’s data in their marketing materials. “Nobody wanted to put ‘Source: Chubby Brain’ at the bottom of a deck, because it’s not a real big credibility builder,” Sanwal says.

3. Make it easy to spell.

It’s okay to use unique spelling, a la Chick-fil-A, but don’t make your company’s name so unconventional that it’s hard to remember. “I’ve seen some startup names where I’ll think, was that four ‘E’s’ or three?” CB Insights’s Sanwal says.

4. Short is better than long.

Not every company can have a short, simple, one-syllable name like Box, Dell, or Lyft, but if you come up with a great long name and a great short name, you should probably go with the short one. Acquiring the rights to short web domain names, however, can be pricey, if not impossible, so make sure to check the availability of your desired URL first.

5. Factor in search engine optimization.

Making your company easy to find in search engines is an important consideration when picking a name. If you’re going to use a proper noun for your name, you should think about how that decision will impact SEO. Choosing a common term like “Bell,” for example, would make it hard to place your company on the first (or second) page of search results on Google.

6. Enlist a focus group (or groups).

Once you have a shortlist of names you like, it’s a good idea to see how other people respond to each one. “Survey as many people as you can,” says Bridie Loverro, co-founder of QuadJobs, an online marketplace connecting college and grad students to local employers. “The name to choose may not necessarily be the one people like best, but the one they remember most.”

7. Keep your options open.

Having to change your name after pivoting from one business model to another isn’t the end of the world, but if you can pivot and still retain the brand identity you’ve already built up, that’s ideal. Picking a name that doesn’t pigeonhole your company to one specific service will help. “The goal is to create something that is broad enough to intuitively answer who you are and that speaks to your core customer base, but also gives you room to grow into other areas,” says Logan Sugarman, co-founder of wellness concierge service Refresh Body.

8. Keep mobile in mind.

If customers can buy your products through a mobile app, you might want to factor in how your company name will look on a mobile app icon. A friendly sounding name like Shopify might also lend itself better to mobile users compared a three-letter acronym that doesn’t convey anything about your brand.

9. Don’t obsess over a descriptive name.

The name of your company doesn’t have to make it clear what your business is. While it helps to reference the spirit of your brand in some way (think: food delivery company Seamless), avoid a name that sounds specific to an entirely different industry. As Neil Patel, co-founder of web analytics company Crazy Egg writes, the name NomNom suggests food, and therefore doesn’t work if you’re starting a financial services software-as-a-service company.

10. Make the name visually distinctive.

After you pick your name, you should consider adding a custom feature that makes the brand more than just the word or words in the title. Some examples include unconventional capitalization, combining two words into one, or adding a unique design touch, like the curled “C” in the first letter of the bedding startup Casper. “It’s about developing a more fully fleshed out visual identity,” says WorkOf’s Miner.



#low cost business ideas

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Businesses You Can Start For Under $5,000

Eight years ago, Texas resident Cynthia Ivie, a 43-year-old sales rep for Newsweek. struck out for Chicago with no more than a business idea and a 1989 Toyota Corolla packed with clothes, books, a vacuum cleaner, a stereo and a cocker spaniel named Buckley. Ivie’s big moneymaking idea: organizing the apartments and offices of busy people.

Today, Ivie’s company, White Space, offers “clutter control” services to hundreds of clients across the country, many of them recently relocated by big companies like the Walt Disney Co. and Exelon. White Space now has five full-time and eight part-time employees; Ivie expects revenues to top $1 million in 2007. “I knew the business would take off if I could survive long enough,” she says. “I had a lot of gumption–and probably a little naivet that kept me going.”

Gumption, naivet and very little cash. Ivie couldn’t afford a cellphone, so she bought a pager and a voicemail system for $200–”I knew where every pay phone in Chicago was,” she claims–and scraped together another $1,000 for brochures and business cards. For six months, she slept on a futon mattress in her friend’s basement. Eventually, she moved into her own home office, outfitted with two hand-me-down computers ($107) and two desks made out of hollow-core doors laid across cheap file cabinets ($20) from Office Depot. Total startup costs: around $1,500, including gas.

There are plenty of Ivies out there. And a lot them didn’t have–or need–gobs of green to launch their businesses.

Indeed, there are myriad ways to preserve precious cash while starting and building a business. Our special report, called “Small Business On The Cheap ,” offers plenty of helpful tips–from slashing marketing costs and telecom bills to cutting health care bills and travel expenses.

Like Ivie, fledgling entrepreneurs can save a bundle by selling services rather than products. “It’s really hard to start any product-based business for under $5,000,” says Richard Stim, co-author of Whoops! I’m in Business: A Crash Course In Business Basics with Lisa Guerin. In general, he says, there is less overhead for service-based businesses, which don’t require large outlays for equipment and inventory.

The best services to choose from are those that people don’t want to do themselves. Think yard work or preparing legal documents. Educational services such as teaching yoga, ballroom dancing or how to take the SATs are attractive, too. Better, still, if you can help people avoid or solve a problem–say, by inspecting homes for water quality or environmental safety.

There are some startup costs, of course. But when it comes to service businesses, the nice thing is that many don’t require expensive technology, save for maybe a computer and an Internet connection. If you want to start a child-care facility, for instance, you’ll want to spend a few dollars on toys and perhaps some childproof locks.

In some cases, as with child-care providers or real estate agents, you may need a state license or other certifications to set up shop. Child-care licenses run up to $100, depending on the state; you’ll also have to be certified in first aid and CPR (maybe $50 all in) and you’ll need some liability insurance (say, $450 per year).

A service startup’s biggest expense is probably marketing, be it printing brochures and business cards or placing ads in local newspapers. (Check out VistaPrint, which specializes in low-volume runs for smaller shops.) Setting up a blog can be a cheap way to get your message out, and it’s a lot less expensive than maintaining a Web site.

The best–and cheapest–advertising, however, is word of mouth. Offering free initial consultation meetings is a good way to get people talking. When Ivie landed in Chicago, she sent postcards to 30 local business people, promising three hours of organization services for free. “People snapped it up, tried the services, liked them, referred me to other people and the business started to grow,” she says.

In smaller markets, getting on friendly terms with the competition also can be good for business. If one piano teacher has too many students, she might sluice the spillover to you.

Whatever you do, though, remember to be patient. “If you’re looking to get rich quick, forget about it,” says Stim. “Instead, try to make a profit, enjoy what you’re doing and make it something that can keep going and going.”



#buying a business

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Buying a Business: What You Need to Know

For some people, buying an existing business is a better option than starting one from scratch. Why? Because someone else has done much of the legwork for you, such as establishing a customer base, hiring employees, and negotiating a lease. Still, you’ll need to do some thorough research to make sure that what you see is what you’ll get.

What Type of Business Should You Buy?

Look for a business that has some connection to types of work you’ve done in the past, classes you’ve taken, or perhaps skills you’ve developed through a hobby. It’s almost always a mistake to buy a business you know little about, no matter how good it looks. For one thing, your lack of knowledge about the industry might cause you to overpay. And if you do buy the business, you’ll have to struggle up a steep learning curve afterward.

But do try to choose a business that you’re excited by. It’s easier to succeed in business when you enjoy the work you’re doing. To learn more, read Start the Right New Business for You.

Finding a Business to Buy

As you begin your hunt for the perfect company, consider starting close to home. For instance, if you’re currently employed by a small business you like, find out whether the present owner would consider selling. Or, ask business associates and friends for leads on similar businesses that may be on the market. Many of the best business opportunities surface by word of mouth — and are snapped up before their owners ever list them for sale.

Other avenues to explore include newspaper or online ads, trade associations, real estate brokers, and business suppliers. Finally, there are business brokers — people who earn a commission from business owners who need help finding buyers. It’s fine to use a broker to help locate a business opportunity, but it’s foolish to rely on a broker — who doesn’t make a commission until a sale is made — for advice about the quality of a business or the fairness of its selling price.

Research the Business’s History and Finances

Before you seriously consider buying a particular business, find out as much as you can about it. Thoroughly review copies of the business’s certified financial records, including cash flow statements, balance sheets, accounts payable and receivable, employee files including benefits and any employee contracts, and major contracts and leases, as well as any past lawsuits and other relevant information.

This review (lawyers call it “due diligence”) will not only help you understand how the company ticks, but will alert you to potential problems. For instance, if a major contract like a lease prohibits you from taking it over without the landlord or other party’s permission, you won’t want to finalize the deal without getting that permission.

Don’t be shy about asking for information about the business, and if the seller refuses to supply it, or if you find any misinformation, this may be a sign that you should look elsewhere. For an extensive list of questions you’ll want answered before committing to a purchase, see The Complete Guide to Buying a Business . by Fred S. Steingold (Nolo).

Closing the Deal

If you’ve thoroughly investigated a company and wish to go ahead with a purchase, there are a few more steps you’ll have to take. First, you and the owner will have to agree on a fair purchase price. A good way to do this is to hire an experienced appraiser. Next, you and the business owner will agree on which assets you’ll buy (such as a building and equipment) and the terms of payment. Most often, businesses are purchased on an installment plan, with a sizable down payment.

After you have outlined the terms on which you and the seller agree, you’ll need to create a written sales agreement and possibly have a lawyer review it before you sign on the dotted line. One good resource is The Complete Guide to Buying a Business . by Fred S. Steingold (Nolo), which contains a fill-in-the-blank sales agreement. Or if you’d prefer to hire a lawyer for help with this document-intensive process, Nolo’s Lawyer Directory will provide you with detailed personal profiles of lawyers in your area — all of whom have taken a pledge to treat their clients with respect.



#business plan template

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Writing your business plan. Ughhhh.

It’s definitely not the most exciting part of starting a business. In fact, if you’re like a lot of entrepreneurs, you’re probably going to find yourself pulling a few all-nighters to get one done before heading into your first pitch for funding. Because that’s the thing–your business plan is a pretty important.

Any funder worth his or her salt wants to see it right off the bat. Moreover though, a solid business plan is a living document that will continue to guide your efforts as your business grows. Recently, I shared 18 Mistakes That Kill Startups. an infographic created by Mark Vital over at Funders and Founders.

A lot of those mistakes (most of them, in fact) are the result of poor planning. Bad location, a marginal niche, having no specific user in mind, raising too much or too little money–all of these issues can be prevented or at least mitigated with good planning.

Creating your business plan is more than just getting your ideas down on paper for potential funders to see. It’s an exploratory process in which you can evaluate your options, test your assumptions about your idea, and even discover new opportunities. It might even lead you to kill off aspects of your business before investing too much time or money in them.

That doesn’t mean you have to bust out Word and start the plan from scratch. A template is great–you probably aren’t doing anything that hasn’t been done before, so it provides a proven structure for your plan. Pretty much everything on it can be customized. Check out these comprehensive business plan templates you can download for free to get you started:

1. Score’s Business Plan Template for Startups

Score is an American nonprofit dedicated to helping entrepreneurs get their companies off the ground. Its template, available as a PDF or Word download, asks a whopping 150 questions and is generic enough to customize for most types of businesses. The Refining the Plan resource that comes with it is helpful, especially if this is your first crack at writing a business plan.

Editor’s Note: Looking for loan solutions for your business? If you would like information to help you choose the one that’s right for you, use the questionnaire below to have our partner, BuyerZone, provide you with information for free:

2. U.S. Small Business Administration Business Plan Engine

The SBA’s template is available to fill out online and then download as a PDF. You can go back in and edit it as needed, so don’t worry about having everything ready the first time you sit down to tackle it. Even broken into sections, it’s a long document and a bit of a slog to get through, but it produces a professional-looking and useful business plan. This is particularly helpful if your idea isn’t fully fleshed out and you know you have homework to do–it prompts you for information.

3. The $100 Startup’s One-Page Business Plan

Who said a business plan has to be a long, complicated document? Some funders are going to want to see a lot of detail, but you can provide that in appendices. The $100 Startup, the website for the best-selling book of the same name, has a ton of stripped-down resources for entrepreneurs, including this super simplified business plan template.

4. LawDepot’s WYSIWYG Business Plan Template

This one says you just have to answer a few simple questions and will be “done before you know it!” Don’t believe it. A business plan should take time and a lot of homework, but if you’ve already done that, LawDepot’s template is a decent choice. It walks you through getting started, marketing, product, competitive analysis, SWOT, and more, with a window below the input fields to show you the plan as you work away at it. You can download it free with a trial subscription, but you’ll have to remember to cancel it within the week if you don’t plan to continue using it.

5. SME Toolkit Business Plan Samples

The SME Toolkit, jointly offered by IFC and IBM, offers a simple two-page outline of what should be included in your business plan to meet the minimum requirements of funders and tax authorities (in the U.S.). It contains 10 broad sections, including market analysis, management and organization, etc. with a one-paragraph explanation of each. A second download on the same page is an Excel file to help with your financial projections.

6. Office Online Templates Galore

Of course, Microsoft offers a ton of business plan templates for Office users (you can get birthday invitations while you’re at it). If you’d rather do a business plan presentation than a Word doc, you can download one of Microsoft Office’s half a dozen or so PowerPoint templates for just that purpose. You’ll want to customize it with your company branding (you have your branding down, right?), but it’s easier than starting from a blank PPT.

7. vFinance Inc. Business Plan Template and Guide

Global financial services firm vFinance offers a basic, 30-page business plan template to download from its website–one the company says has been downloaded more than a quarter of a million times. No, it won’t be completely unique, but vFinance knows what it’s doing and the template is pretty comprehensive. VFinance is the creator of the massive Venture Capital Directory and has tailored the plan to appeal to funders. If that’s your goal, definitely check this one out.

8. Invoiceberry Templates for Word, Open Office, Excel, or PPT

U.K. online invoicing software brand Invoiceberry offers free business plan templates in .docx. odt. xlsx, and .pptx formats. Each one also contains a marketing plan and executive summary template. There’s a catch, though–the company asks you to take one of the following three actions before you can download the template: like it on Facebook, give it a +1 on Google+, or give it your email address. If you don’t mind doing that, it’s a good deal. Kudos to Invoiceberry for figuring out this effective lead-gen tactic too!

9. Santa Clara University’s My Own Business Institute Plans

Santa Clara U’s MOBI is an initiative of its Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation at the Leavey School of Business. On the site, you can download each of the 15 business plan sections individually as Word documents, or grab all 15 together in one doc. There’s a ton of other helpful resources as well, including guidelines for evaluating your potential sites, a list of key people to review your plan, and sample financial sheets.

10. RocketLawyer’s Business Plan Templates by State

Like some of the others, you fill out RocketLawyer’s form and download the business plan when you’re done–but its template allows you to choose your state before getting started. These plans are tailored to meet your financing requirements in your state, which is a huge bonus for those seeking funding through banks. It’s also heavily geared toward financing, making it a good choice if that’s a priority for you.

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The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.