Obtaining Small Business Capital

There comes a point in every entrepreneurs operation when they need to obtain small business capital. There are only a handful of businesses on the planet that have been able to launch and expand their operations solely with the ongoing profits of their business. Typically, businesses that have been able to do this generate extremely high gross margins and have very few operating costs. However, this is not the case for most small business. Most businesses need to receive capital just to launch their operations.

The first step to obtaining business capital is to develop a business plan that outlines your intended business or your currently operations. Almost all investors and lenders are going to want to see a formal business plan in place before they consider your business for either a debt or equity capital investment. Your business plan should have an executive summary, a break down of how you intend to use the funds that you are seeking, an overview of the products and services that you sell, a complete examination of the economy, an overview of your specific industry, a demographic analysis, a competitive analysis, an overview of your marketing strategy, and a full scale financial plan. As it relates to your financial plan, you are going to need to have a profit and loss statement, cash flow analysis, business ratios page, balance sheet, and capital amortization schedule. As always, if you do not know how to properly develop these financial models then we recommend that you work with a CPA, financial adviser, or business planning consultant. There are also a number of programs that can be purchased on the internet that can assist you in developing these financial statements on your own. However, even if you do develop your own business plan and financial models you should have your certified public accountant review your work once you are done. This will ensure that your financial projections are reasonable and accurate as it relates to your market research.

Once your business plan is complete, it is time to determine which type of capital you will need for your business. Most commonly, people seek business loans in order to launch their operations. However, given the difficult economy over the past four years, many financial institutions have pulled back on their small business lending activities. As such, you may need to enlist the capital from a private investor or angel investor. While more expensive than a bank loan, selling a portion of your business to a third party investor can be less risky than undertaking a large debt obligation.

Make Your Business More Efficient

Running an efficient business doesn’t just happen of its own accord. Left mostly to its own devices, a business will trundle along and be mediocre at best and at worst, out of business entirely. I have discovered during many years of working with business owners that most of them know what they SHOULD be doing. Many know the answers or at least have a vague idea of how to address the problems within their businesses but rarely get the opportunity to make good on that knowledge. Below are my 3 top tips to help you move from SHOULD to GOOD.

1. Step Outside Your Business

As the saying goes, ‘if we keep doing what we’ve always done, we’ll keep getting what we always get.’ Most of us who run our own business, run hard from sun up to sun down and then some. We rarely have the time to step outside our business due to the demands that are placed upon us by staff, clients, administration needs etc. One of the things that has been helpful to both myself and many of the clients I work with is to create a time each week that is set aside purely for business development and thinking. A surprising statistic coming from research on top performing business leaders, has shown that one of the three top disciplines they engage in, is that they take time to reflect. My time is Sunday afternoons. The phone is not ringing, there are no demands on my time and it’s an ideal time for some clear business thinking. If you are not currently practicing this, before reading on, grab your diary and set aside this development/thinking time. You will be surprised at the results over time.

2. Identify Bottlenecks

Most businesses have bottlenecks somewhere in their structure. A bottleneck, simply put is where the current system doesn’t keep up with the incoming flow. Watch for these:

- The number of jobs coming in compared to the number of tradesman able to complete in a timely manner. Thus flowing onto extended lead times.
- A blocked job card to invoice process. Numbers of companies have thousands of dollars sitting on the desk in the form of job cards waiting to be invoiced, and experience the resulting cash-flow challenges.
- Phone calls and emails backed up with too little time to address them.

3. Look for Inefficient Processes

Similar in some ways to bottlenecks, efficient business is all about reviewing each area and seeing how you can do things better. Things might be going well but upon closer inspection it is really organised chaos. One company I know have shaved a potential 51 hours per week off their internal job process times, just from examining their current processes and seeking to streamline them. Take these few examples:

- How long between the initial call or enquiry to the scheduled job?
- The length of time a job card takes to arrive back at the office after completion.
- The time it takes to invoice from job completion.
- How many people or documents are involved in each task? Can these be reduced?
- Assist process flow by identifying key areas and corresponding roles for your people.

As a final note, if you’re not sure where to start, begin with the weekly time set aside for developing your business. In the first session, make a list of everything you’d like to work on over the next three months and then order those items by importance. Number 1 for the one you are going to work on first, 2 for the second priority etc. And, once started, you have now exited the ‘doing what I’ve always done’ rut, the results… will turn out to be different to ‘what you’ve always got.’ Good luck!

8 Business Models That Will Make You a Well-Paid Freelance Writer

A lot of money can be made as a freelance writer these days. The Internet, constantly expanding in size and functionality, becomes accessible to millions more people every year, opening up the door to a world of information. That information is communicated through words (for the most part) and those words have to come from somewhere – creating a huge opportunity for the modern-day writer.

And let me ask you something. How many people do you know who enjoy reading? Reading for pleasure, I mean. While many “snack” on information via websites and magazines, not many people spend time reading books anymore.

Why is that significant to you? Well, because talented writers usually develop their knack for writing, the “gift for language” most people assume they were born possessing, through a passion for reading.

So thanks to modern trends, the demand for written content is increasing even as the number of good writers out there decreases.

If you’re one of the few who can write well and want to make some money out of your talent, here are some fields you may want to consider. Any one of them, with some hard work and business savvy, will make you a very comfortable individual. If you follow in my own footsteps and move to a foreign country where your money is worth twice as much (Thailand, in my case), any of these business models can make you a (relatively) wealthy person indeed.

So let’s have a look-see.

1. Blog Writing

Blog writing holds more potential than you will ever find in standard SEO articles because blog owners truly care about their projects. Blogs are meant to connect with an audience – not just push a website up in the search rankings, and the aim is to be a credible authority on the matter at hand.

Niche blogs make up a big part of the market. Subjects I’ve covered extensively for blogs include men’s dating/seduction, world travel, personal development, green business, internet marketing, and physical fitness.

Industry professionals (contractors, real estate agents, psychologists, life coaches, etc) make up another large portion of the market-they use blogs to keep in touch with their prospective customers and establish credibility. Essentially, they use blogs for PR.

Blog owners with an eye for quality will pay anywhere from $25 to well over $100 per article, and most of the ones I work with order a minimum of 4 articles per week (though some clients are happy with many less). Even at the bottom rung of the pay scale I’ve mentioned, one average client amounts to $400 per month for about an hour of work every week.

Not too shabby.

2. Web Content Writing

Another form of high-paid writing is web content – not basic SEO content but the type of web content that builds a company’s brand, describing their corporate culture, products, and services. For higher-paying web content clients, seek out brick and mortar companies looking to use the internet to generate more leads.

These types of companies, accustomed to paying tens of thousands of dollars for advertising, demand high-quality work and will pay the price (unlike many online businesses). Non-profit organizations put a lot of credence into organizational image as well, possibly more so than businesses.

Consider establishing a presence in your local community and networking, much like other local businesses do, to avoid competition from other online writers and get top rates.

3. Ebook/Report Writing

Writing eBooks and reports can generate loads of cash as well. Larger projects come with higher quality standards because your clients know the people they sell these books to expect their money’s worth. Customers buy good eBooks and reports go for $15-$70 (often more; often less), so they expect value in their purchase; for this reason, a cheap SEO writer will not do.

Not to mention more time is needed to develop a concept for an eBook project and tie it all together in one tight package.

Plenty of online marketers sell eBooks and reports for top dollar, and most don’t like writing all that much. Premium writers step in and do that for them.

4. Article Syndication Writing

Stay away from basic article work because much of it is used for SEO and thus the pay tends towards the low-end. But you might want to consider clients who order articles for a completely different reason – article syndication.

These marketers realize the best way to build a business out of content is to write, or pay someone to write, for the readers. The objective of content written for syndication isn’t to get backlinks but to get as many publishers as possible to publish it on their sites and in their ezines, building traffic to the marketer’s site so they can make a sale.

Clients who use the article syndication model are willing to pay a lot more money because they know the kind of content that goes viral takes a lot of time to create.

5. Writing Offline Materials

Not all high-paid content writers work in the online world, and businesses were paying a premium for work published in print long before the Internet boomed. You don’t have to famous to make money in print either. Once again, businesses (as well as non-profits) pay big money to build their company image, and herein lies your path to success.

Think brochures, menus, magazine advertisements, speeches, direct mail, and information packets (the list goes on and on). Check out the Writer’s Market for the prices average writers charge for work of this nature.

6. Book Ghostwriting

Ghostwriters make a lot of money writing novels, memoirs, autobiographies, reports…you name it. A serious ghostwriting client will spend thousands upon thousands of dollars to get their book written. These projects take collaboration, time, and the most top-notch writing – indeed, ghostwriters must always be a perfect fit for their client.

Daunting, yes, but these are all reasons ghostwriting pays so well.

As a warning, seeing someone else recognized for your work takes some real humility (a truth that somewhat applies to all markets). Also, be aware that, especially when browsing sites like Elance for work, dreamers who never really pull the trigger on their project make up the majority of potential prospects. Plenty of legitimate clients need work done too, but you need some real marketing savvy and knowledge of the industry to find and land them.

7. Copywriting

Sales copywriting is easily the most lucrative of all the writing fields; selling via written content is an art and science that takes a lot of practice to learn. Reputable copywriters get thousands of dollars for one single page of writing, but they put a lot of time into producing that one page.

Regardless, the money made relative to hours worked is fantastic.

Top marketers are willing to pay big bucks for converting copy because they know the high level of skill needed is a rarity. The difference between a writer who understands the intricacies of effective copy and one who doesn’t has a huge impact on the bottom line.

Never sell yourself as a sales writer unless you’ve had proper training or spend a lot of hours of self-study learning and practicing copywriting theory. John Carlton, the highest paid copywriter in the business, offers one of the best training programs out there. Just Google his name and you’ll find his course.

8. Writing for Yourself

Finally, if you really want to make money as a writer, stop writing information products and marketing material for other people and go into business for yourself. Once you know how to create a good product, as well as put together the marketing content for driving eyeballs to an offer, why not reap all the rewards?

Sure, the money will not come in right away; it will take time. But if you get it right, the money will come, often in droves. And with the right business model, your creation will pay you again and again and again – true passive income.

You will, however, need a way to pay your living costs while getting started. Many writers get their foot in the door by offering their services first, saving up money while learning what business models work online from the people they work for, and then they build up online assets during their free time.

Not a bad plan at all…

We’ve just scratched the service of the writing industry here, and even in these niches there are plenty of different sub-niches in which you can earn a lot of cash. But this should get your creative juices flowing.