Category Archives: Small Business
At BizTV, it’s no secret, we’re all about entrepreneurs, small business owners, and making your own way through the financial world.
Today, we’re going to give you an excuse to join the ranks of the self-employed (as if you need one), and, hey, if you’re already there, maybe you have some of your own excuses to share in the comments.
1. Tax benefits
Bet you didn’t think that would be number 1, did you? But, it’s true. There are many tax benefits that the entrepreneur and small business owner can call their own. If you educate yourself on tax law, or hire a good accountant, there are expenses for your business that you can write off. If you employ your family, you can keep the money within the household. If you hire your children, you are relieved from withholding income taxes and paying payroll taxes, including Social Security, until the child turns 18. Also, you don’t pay federal unemployment until the child reaches 21. If you hire your spouse or parents, you don’t need to pay federal unemployment taxes on them either, though you must withhold federal income tax and pay FICA on them. Corporations are not allowed these tax breaks. Enjoy!
2. As long as you get your own work, you’re in charge of your own job security
This might be a double-edged sword if you aren’t good at selling yourself (read: get good at selling yourself). If you have a skill or product that’s in high demand, you’re on top. No one is going to downsize your department. You’re in charge of your own employment future.
3. You can challenge yourself
Think about your job right now. Are you challenged? Are you stimulated? Do you jump into work every day with a take charge attitude because you’re excited to solve the next puzzle that falls in your lap? If you answered “no” to any of these questions, take heed: every day with your own business is as challenging as you want it to be. Are you going to integrate a new technology? Are you going to find a way to appeal to a new customer base? You have the ability to explore and challenge yourself every day.
4. You are the expert
Think about how satisfying it would be to tell someone: “Trust me. I’m an expert.”
Well, when you own a business that provides a certain product or service, you have the right to say you’re an expert in that product or service. You know what you’re talking about. You’ve learned things to trial and error. You create your own expertise.
5. You’re in control of your own networking
What’s your passion? Have you ever wanted to find people who share that passion? As the owner of your own business, you have the right to pursue the opportunities with those people who share your interests. In fact, it’s encouraged. Go to conferences. Go to meetups. You’ll find the people worth knowing in your industry.
Those are some of our reasons to get out of the rat race and join the self-employment movement. What made you leap from regular employment to entrepreneurship? Share in the comments!
As an entrepreneur, you need to surround yourself by people who encourage and support your team. How to you build and manage this group of people? Here are our top 5 ways:
1. Team balance
Every team needs balance. Sometimes an entrepreneur is a big-picture thinker, sometimes, he/she is a detail thinker. Regardless, you need to find someone to who thinks the opposite way you do. Stacking you team with people who think like you isn’t the same as gathering yes-men, but it cuts out your legs in the same way. Find people who think in a different way and you’ve got a great foundation for your team.
2. A mix of extroverts and introverts
Much like the first item on our list, you’re going to want both extroverts and introverts, and you need to be aware of which team member is which. Extroverts tend to talk and talk and talk, blurting out the first thing on their minds. Introverts are more reserved and resigned, internalizing ideas. They may have the greatest idea, most innovative solution, or most brilliant cost saving measure, but you’re never going to know if they never speak up. Give both introverts and extroverts a comfortable setting to share their ideas.
3. Teambuilding exercises that actually work
Yep, there it is. The dreaded teambuilding exercise. How great would that be if they actually worked? Well, some do. For instance:
Maybe consider a bowling trip. Take the company out for a museum day. Have one day a week where everyone goes out to lunch together. Find something that everyone can enjoy and be a part of. Remember, this isn’t what the CEO likes best and wants to do. You’re growing your team cohesiveness, so get the input from the team.
4. Find out if you need a virtual team or a local team
Studies show that, in some industries, virtual teams work better than having your team all in the same building. Some ways to keep your remote team on track is by keeping up communication and holding them accountable for the work they’re supposed to be doing. Check in every once in awhile. Schedule a weekly call. Let them know they are valued. Your team is about your people; not your office space.
5. Brainstorming is the enemy
Brainstorming leads to social loafing (where everyone works less thinking the group will pick up the slack), production blocking (where everyone has to wait until the person before them is done), and evaluation apprehension (knowing your idea will be judge, and, therefore, hesitating to give one).
If you want to get a brainstorm to work, don’t try to find your brilliant idea, just try to get a lot of them out and on paper. Break out of the brainstorm session and let everyone consider the best ideas and how to improve them. Come back together later and see where improvements will work and what needs to be ditched.
What approach do you take to building a team? What was your best teambuilding activity? Share in the comments below.
When you’ve started a new business, there are many traps you can fall into. More than others, here are our 7 deadly sins of entrepreneurship. Avoid them as much as you can.
1. Putting personal needs ahead of business needs
You know there are going to be some lean times ahead, but you’ve got to be ready to stick it out for the long haul. Are your personal needs getting in the way? We’re not saying you should ignore your personal needs. Feed your family. Pay your bills. But, what are the desires you have that aren’t needs? Can you do without? Be prepared to cut back before you even get started.
2. Expanding too fast
As a small business owner, remember this: you are a SMALL business owner. You don’t have to conquer the world in a day, month, or even year. Give yourself time to grow with proper nourishment instead of trying to expand too quickly.
3. Failure to communicate
This is our way of saying: embrace the technology of the age. If your not up to date on software, social, and any other technology your industry uses, then you’re behind and you don’t want to be behind.
4. Negative advertising
You’re bound to have competitors out there. Don’t put them down. If you spend your time saying negative things about your competitors, don’t be surprised if it backfires. Stay positive.
Okay, that sounds a bit obvious. Don’t lie about your business. But, people still do it. Especially with buzzwords like “all-natural,” “recyclable,” or “green.” You’re not helping anyone out when you lie about your product, least of all yourself. Make sure you know what the word means before you use it. People will find out. And you definitely won’t look good when that comes around.
6. Kneel before Zod.
You started a business, founded a company, came up with the idea, invented the product. That doesn’t make you all powerful. You can maintain control over you business, but you still need to be aware of what your investors, customers, and coworkers think. Don’t let all the power go to your head.
7. Party pooperness
Work can be fun. Heck, look at you! You went out with your ideas and your passion and started your own business. You’re already breaking away from the stereotypical rigidity of the rat race. Let your carefree passion shine through. Not everything needs to be super serious working. Have some fun.
What is your deadly sin that entrepreneurs should avoid at all cost? Share in the comments!
What would you do if you built a tremendously successful (and profitable) internet company and sold it?
I interviewed Ryan Scott to find out what he did after he sold Netcreations, the email list management company that he co-founded. (Curious about how Netcreations was built? Listen to this this interview.)
Ryan is now an angel investor and the CEO of Causecast, an interactive community for people and brands that want to leave a positive impact on the world. Here’s some of what I learned about his post-sale journey:
“Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous”
Isn’t this the part most people dream of: throwing great parties, buying fun toys, hobnobbing with celebrities? Ryan got to enjoy it all. There was a part of him that did that to overcome some lingering insecurities from when he was a nerdy kid.
Eventually, he says, the “Rich and Famous” lifestyle wasn’t for him because most of the people it attracted were either after something or just wanted to be around that environment.
Igniting the entrepreneurial need
After being disenchanted with the easy life, Ryan refocused on what got him started: the need to build something. I think there are two kinds of entrepreneurs: The “wannabes” try to build companies so they’d never have to work again. But the “real” entrepreneurs build companies when they don’t have to work.
If you download my interview with Ryan to find clues on how to build your own success, notice how many times he says he wants to build something that lasts.
He also started investing in companies like Tesla Motors, Mahalo, and Intent.com.
If you’re reading this site, there’s a good chance you’ll either need an angel to invest in your startup or you are an angel investor. So I asked Ryan how he make his investment decisions. He said he looked for ideas that have legs and can leave an impact on the world.
He also said that he considers the personality and reputation of the entrepreneur behind the company. Will s/he crumble in a crisis? Do people think s/he is a jerk? Is this someone I want to work with? (Peter Pham has more on that.)
The power of celebrities
The aha moment that led Ryan to create his newest startup, Causecast, came when he realized that celebrities are powerful attention magnets. They make it easier to draw traffic to a web site. I always forget about the power of celebrities because I’m much more interested in business stars than movie stars, but the rest of the world doesn’t think that way. Ryan realized that there was an opportunity to work with celebrities to pull together a big community that supports causes.