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SMB Nation has been serving the Bainbridge Island area since 2001, providing IT Support such as technical helpdesk support, computer support, and consulting to small and medium-sized businesses.

How to Start a Business With (Almost) No Money

How to start a business

 

By: Jayson Demers

VIP CONTRIBUTOR

MARCH 21, 2016

You’re excited to start a business. Maybe you have an idea, or you’re just fascinated with the idea of launching and growing your own enterprise. You’re willing to take some risks, like leaving your current job or going without personal revenue for a while. But there’s one logistical hurdle stopping you: You don’t have much money.


On the surface, this seems like a major problem, but a lack of personal capital shouldn’t stop you from pursuing your dreams. In fact, it’s entirely possible to start and grow a business with almost no personal financial investment whatsoever -- if you know what you’re doing.

Why a business needs money

First, let’s take a look at why a business needs money in the first place. There’s no uniform “startup” fee for building a business, so different businesses will have different needs. It’s important to first estimate how much you need before you start finding alternative methods to fund your company.


Consider the following uses:

  • Licenses and permits. Depending on your region, you may need special paperwork and registry to operate.
  • Supplies. Are you buying raw materials? Do you need computers and/or other devices?
  • Equipment. Do you need specialized machinery or software?
  • Office space. This is a huge expense, and you can't neglect things like Internet, utilities costs, janitorial services and whether to outsource back office tasks, like payroll and invoicing.
  • Associations, subscriptions, memberships. What publications and affiliations will you subsribe to every month?
  • Operating expenses. Dig into the nooks and crannies here, and don’t forget about marketing.
  • Legal fees. Are you consulting a lawyer throughout your business-development process?
  • Employees, freelancers and contractors. If you can’t do it alone, you’ll need people on your payroll.

With that said, you have two main paths of starting a business with less money: lowering your costs or increasing your available capital from outside sources. You have three options here:

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6 ways startups can *think different* with customer service

Story by Leyla Seka, Desk.com - 

Startups are known for creative thinking, trying new things, doing things differently. Yet they often fall prey to a fundamental mistake: forgetting to serve the customer. It’s not easy to launch a product, manage everything from IT to accounting, fend off the competition, and grow a customer base — all at the same time — so it’s hardly surprising that half of small businesses fail within the first five years. At Desk.com, we work with many fast-growing startups, so we’ve learned a lot about the journey. Here are six ways some of those amazing companies are using customer support to ‘think different’ and beat the competition.happy customer 1

1. Make every employee an agent
Startups have no time for specialized roles. Every employee — from the CEO to the receptionist — must be part of your support team. When everyone spends time on the frontlines, it’s easier to stay aligned around customers and maintain service levels when things get busy. (And nothing helps you understand the ins-and-outs of a product like answering service calls.) Just look at Charitybuzz, which brings together celebrities and top brands for auctions supporting nonprofits. “Every interaction that we have with celebrities, charities, bidders, and auction winners needs to be amazing,” says Dwayne David, a Charitybuzz Customer Service Manager. So while the company has an official concierge team of three, everyone jumps in to help during the busy times.

2. Offer wicked-fast response times
Customer service has come a long way since the old days, when you had to call a company between 9-5 Eastern Standard Time to get help. Most companies today offer a knowledge base or basic self-service so customers can find answers 24/7, but of course, sometimes customers still need to reach a living, breathing person. Get a customer service solution that’s easy to use and optimized for mobile so you have consistently fast response times. HotelTonight offers last-minute hotel reservations for busy travelers who crave efficiency; a response time of < 10 minutes (incredible!) has been a key driver of the company’s explosive growth.

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