5 Things To Consider Before Investing In A Home Services Franchise

By: Emma Pearson Courtesy of Franchising.com

Link to original article>>>Original Article

It you want to own your own business, but don’t want to build it from the ground up, buying a home services franchise may be your ideal solution. If you invest in a good one, a successful business model will already be in place, you’ll receive lots of support, and there will likely be brand recognition, unless the franchise is relatively new. Determining if the franchise you are thinking of investing in is a good franchise and the right fit for you requires diligent research. Factors you should think about according to home services franchisees we spoke with include:

  1. Shared Values: A shared set of values and norms characterize a company’s culture. When you invest in a franchise, you are joining its culture. It’s important, therefore, to ensure your values align with that of any franchise you are considering joining. “After meeting in person with many people from Dwyer Group, which owns the Five Star Painting brand, it didn’t take long to realize that the values that I had been seeing posted everywhere in hallways etc. were lived and practiced on a daily basis by what seemed to me every team member I came across,” says Anthony Kulikowski, a Five Star Painting franchisee. “Coming from a small business background where customers are always first, this was a huge factor in my decision to invest in a Five Star Painting franchise because I knew my values and that of the franchisor were on the same level.”
  2. Matching Expectations: The longevity and success of your franchise business will depend to a large degree on you and your franchisor not disappointing each other. The best way to avoid doing so is to understand each of your expectations and ensure they align before going into business together. “Matching franchisee and franchisor expectations is critical from the very beginning,” says Saunda Kitchen, a Mr. Rooter Plumbing franchisee. “Nobody likes surprises.”
  3. Support: “My franchisor provides me with a franchise consultant who I meet with once a month and can also call anytime in between if I have a problem or need,” says Kulikowski. “In addition, I receive ongoing training, local and national marketing support, CRM support, and access to all of the other franchisees within the Five Start Painting System. Being able to speak with another business owner who is running a business just like mine and ask what did/didn’t work and learn from their experiences is very helpful.”
  4. Proven Systems:  Examples of a franchisor’s systems include marketing, customer service, training, and service delivery. “Your potential for success is maximized if a franchisor’s systems are solid,” says Kulikowski. “You can get your business running faster and more efficiently without the delays and costs developing systems on your own would entail.”
  5. Proven Record of Success: An established franchisor has spent many years cultivating a successful business model. You can find proof of the viability of its model in its Franchise Disclosure Document (FDD) and by speaking with its franchisees, who will share their experience with you. “Starting a business on my own is something I never considered since so many new businesses fail,” says Brad Simon, a Mosquito Joe franchisee. “The history from Mosquito Joe’s FDD enabled me to do fairly accurate projections regarding the best and worst case scenario and we were very impressed by its leadership. We also found it very helpful to speak with franchisees within the system.”

If you find a home services franchise that delivers on the factors above, you’re on your way to finding one that will enable you to achieve the success you envision. Taking the time to do the research necessary to find the ideal franchise certainly has benefitted Simon. “Owning a franchise helps to jump start success. I don’t know if we ever could have gotten to where we are today in just five years on our own.”

Always Let Them See You Sweat, According to These Entrepreneurs How the Perspire Sauna Studio guys are attacking the franchise world.

In this ongoing series, we are sharing advice, tips and insights from real entrepreneurs who are out there doing business battle on a daily basis. (Answers have been edited and condensed for clarity.)

Who are you and what’s your business?

Lee Braun: I am the CEO and Co-Founder of Perspire Sauna Studio

Ken Arsenian: I am one of the founding partners. Perspire is the first infrared (IR) sauna studio concept that delivers IR sauna therapy to consumers at an affordable rate. Infrared technology works to heat the core directly and produces a deep sweat in comparison to a traditional sauna that provides a surface-level sweat. We’ve seen that deep sweat results in detoxification, weight loss and relaxation.

What inspired you to create this product? 

Braun: We were both huge fans of the benefits of IR and there wasn’t anywhere you could go pop in for a session after a workout or after a long day of work, and then be on your way. We decided to fill that gap.

How is it different from other like it?

Arsenian: We are the original sauna studio. There is always a major risk of being the first of a new concept, especially in the wellness space, but we don’t focus on other companies who have popped up in the last 8 years. We work hard to continually adapt, evolve, research and improve. Our goal is that from the moment you enter to the moment you leave, you’ll have an experience that is unlike any other.

What does the word “entrepreneur” mean to you?

Braun: To be an entrepreneur you have to put something on the line and make a wager that this thing you believe in will resonate with other people and grow.

Arsenian: Fewer rules and more flexibility. It’s the ability to be nimble and change on the fly. You truly are your own boss, which means you have to be 100 percent accountable.

 

What’s been your toughest challenge?

Arsenian: Our toughest challenge has been educating our customers about the benefits of IR. The common misconception is everyone thinks a sauna is a sauna when in reality our saunas are seven times more detoxifying than a traditional gym sauna. Developing marketing and sales campaigns that focus on our benefits has been key to our success.

What trait do you depend on most when making decisions?

Braun: We both really depend on our collaborative thinking to arrive at decisions. At the base of all our decisions we use data and always ask ourselves, “Is this going to be a net gain in value for our clients, employees, and owners?” Everything we do must be a win-win-win.

When did the idea to franchise enter the picture?

Braun: We’ve had the idea of franchising since our inception but it wasn’t until we opened a second location that we learned we had something valuable that we could sell to franchisees. There is something about having multiple locations that forces you to be efficient and systematic. It is very exciting to streamline and perfect your model.

 

What are you looking for in potential franchise owners?

Arsenian: Franchisees that have previous experience and that have a goal of wellness, healing and helping others. Obviously, profitability is key for all involved but in our business, you have to love what you do and believe in the product. We encourage all of our employees to use our saunas as often as possible so they can exude passion.

Is there a particular quote or saying that you use as personal motivation?

Braun: An African proverb: “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”

Arsenian: I played sports growing up and Vince Lombardi‘s saying “Hope is not a strategy” has always stuck with me. I do believe good things happen to good people but at the end of the day, it is usually tied to hard work and having a solid game plan.

Do Franchise Rankings Really Matter?

Years ago, there was pretty much only one publication that published franchise rankings.

As a matter of fact, 1980 was the year that Entrepreneur® Magazine published their 1st-ever Franchise 500®. And interestingly enough, it was my friend, Rieva Lesonsky, who put the guide together. (With help from Maria Anton and others.) Here’s what Rieva remembers:

In those days, Entrepreneur was a little-known magazine helping people start businesses. Back in 1979 to ’80, few Americans had entrepreneurial aspirations; most didn’t even know what the word entrepreneur meant. The few advertisers we had at the time were pitching franchise and business opportunities (not nearly as popular then as they are today). Someone (I don’t remember who) had the idea of ranking the franchises. And so, pre-PCs, we sat on the floor and compared the data.” Read more

Fast-forward (I’m taking out the calculator...hold on) 38 years, and the Franchise 500® is still around. But as you’ll see, they’re not the only game in town when it comes to ranking franchise opportunities.

 

10 Websites/Publications That Rank Franchises

These days, there are more than a dozen franchise-related websites/publications that provide franchise rankings.

Here are 10 of the most popular ones:

1. Entrepreneur 500®

2. Franchise Direct Global 100

3. Franchise Gator Top 100

4. Forbes Best/Worst

5. Be The Boss Top 100 Canadian Franchises

6. Elite Franchise Magazine Top 100 UK Franchises

7. FSR Top 40 Restaurant Franchises

8. Military Times Top Franchises For Veterans

9. Franchise Opportunities.com Hot And Trendy Franchises 

10. Business.com Top Franchises To Buy

Those should keep you busy for a while.

Unless like me, you don’t feel that franchise rankings really matter all that much.

P.S. I feel the same way about most franchise reviews.

are franchise business rankings important

Do Franchise Rankings Really Matter?

The answer to that question is a firm no, and I’ll tell you why.

First of all, the methodology used to rank the franchise opportunities varies by publication.

For example, Entrepreneur® Magazine may require that franchise opportunities be in business 5 years to even be considered for their Franchise 500® list, while The editors at Business.com may only require franchisors to be in business for 3 years to be considered for their list. So you’re not comparing apples to apples.

Secondly, and this is where it gets sticky, money may have an effect on rankings. A direct effect.

Let’s say that a particular franchise opportunity that got ranked by a particular publication also happens to spend a lot of money on advertising with them. What happens? Is the franchisor ranked higher because they spend a lot of money with the publication?

And what if the franchisor (that advertises with the publication) happens to have a lousy franchise concept-and maybe even a below-average management team? Would the editors rank the franchisor towards the bottom of the list? How? Wouldn’t they upset the franchisor? Couldn’t they lose them as an advertiser?

Third of all…ah heck, just read “The Problem I Have With Franchise Rankings,” as it includes a rather long list of things that could change the way you look at franchise rankings.

consultation 

The Bottom Line: Franchise rankings are interesting to see-and read about, and they can actually be great idea-generators, because there may be opportunities mentioned that you aren’t familiar with.

But don’t make a buying decision that is based solely on a “ranking” you saw.

 

What Does Matter

When it comes to choosing a winning franchise opportunity, one that will allow you to live the life you’ve always wanted to live, there are certain things that matter. Here they are:

1. You need to learn everything you can about the business model of franchising

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2. You need to do a serious assessment of your financial situation

3. You need to make sure you align your top skills with a franchise opportunity that will allow you to utilize them in the best way possible

4. You must do good great franchise research

5. You need to get a small business loan that offers the best terms

6. You need to hire an experienced franchise attorney who can protect your interests

7. You need to have more money available than you think you’ll need, so you can weather the start-up period

8. Instead of spending hours and hours looking at rankings and/or reviews, read up on the trends that are shaping the franchise industry


To summarize, there certainly are good, well-researched franchise rankings that are published on an annual basis.

It’s fine to look them over, and maybe even garner a few ideas from them.

Just don’t buy a franchise because it was ranked #1 or #5.

Buy it because it’s a good fit for you, and your research shows that you have a good chance of becoming a successful franchise owner with the concept your interested in.

 

5 Best Risk Management Strategies

By BarbaraWeltman, Guest Blogger
Published: June 12, 2018Updated: June 12, 2018

Being in business is exciting but it also means facing challenges and risks every day. These risks and threats to your business can come from innumerable sources, including economic conditions, lawsuits, competitors, and the weather. In order to be able to sleep at night, it’s essential that you adopt a variety of risk management strategies. These are designed to avert catastrophe and provide you with protection to the extent possible. There’s no single action to shield you from the consequences of risks to your business. You need to take a holistic approach and cover your bases. Here are five strategies to consider.

1. Choice of entity

You start a business to make money, but things don’t always work out as planned. If, for example, you can’t pay the remainder of your lease, you may be personally liable for what’s owed. One way to protect your personal assets—your home, your personal car, your personal bank account—is to use a business entity that provides personal liability protection.

A sole proprietorship or general partnership does not provide personal liability protection, but a limited liability company (LLC) or corporation does. The cost of setting up an LLC or incorporating and complying with other administrative tasks associated with having the entity is small compared with the potential personal liability exposure for not having the entity.

2. Insurance policies

There are many statistics showing that it’s not a matter of if but rather when you’ll experience an occurrence that could have been covered by insurance. Carrying adequate insurance coverage can go a long way in protecting you from property losses as well as liability claims. Consider the following types of policies for optimum protection:

  • Business owners policy (BOP). This policy for small businesses provides protection for your property (except for excluded events and amounts over the policy limit) as well as liability protection for claims by third parties (e.g., a customer slips and falls on your premises). The policy may also cover employee theft and other occurrences.
  • Professional liability coverage. This policy protects professionals from client claims of mistakes (malpractice), negligence, or unfinished work.
  • Business interruption policy. This policy provides funds to cover your fixed costs (and possibly loss of profits) following an event that shuts you down (e.g., a hurricane).
  • Workers’ compensation insurance. This protects the business for claims when employees have a job-related injury or illness.
  • Employer practices liability insurance (EPLI). This covers you for claims by employees and former employees for such actions as discrimination and wrongful termination.

3. Contracts and agreements

Put it in writing…whatever you consider important to your business. This can be requiring employees to sign nondisclosure agreements protecting your trade secrets (client lists, pricing, etc.).

In some cases, you can’t even sue unless you have a written contract:

  • Sale of goods over $500
  • Leases over $1,000
  • Agreements creating a security interest (e.g., a right to collateral)

If you draft contracts and agreements yourself, be sure to have an attorney review it so you’re protected to the extent you expect.

4. Disaster preparedness plans

What will you do when disaster strikes? What steps will you take to recover from a disaster? These actions should be specified in a plan you create for your business. The SBA offers guidance on crafting a preparedness plan.

5. Best business practices

All of the actions listed above are best business practices, but this list isn’t exclusive. There are numerous business practices that you can use to minimize risk. Here are some ideas to get you started in developing your own list of best business practices:

  • Hire right. Be sure to find the right person for your job opening. For example, if you’re hiring someone who’ll be driving on company business, check the driving record.
  • Enhance safety in your facility. This will minimize accidents by customers and staff.
  • Check your computer security. Avoid ransomware and other threats that can damage your data and cost you a lot of money to repair.
  • Stay compliant. Federal, state, and local laws are constantly changing, but you must stay up to date so you can remain compliant.

Conclusion

Be an offensive player when it comes to running your business to minimize your risks. Work with knowledgeable professionals, such as an attorney and an IT person to help you in this regard. Stay vigilant!

Want to Retire Rich? Prioritize Debt Repayment First

Courtesy of 
GoBankingRates 

Gabrielle Olya 

GoBankingRates

There’s no get rich quick scheme available if you want financial advice from J.D. Roth. The founder of the blog Get Rich Slowly is an accidental personal finance expert, one who knows that in order to become rich, you can’t be swimming in debt. A regular guy who once found himself deep in debt, Roth decided to turn his life around by reading everything he could about money and finance, which eventually led him to write about his own finances. Now, he’s a top personal finance blogger and an expert in the subject.

In 2006, he started the award-winning website Get Rich Slowly, which Money Magazine named the web’s most inspiring personal finance blog. Over the past 12 years, Get Rich Slowly has grown into an active community in which thousands of readers every month share ideas on how to improve their financial lives. Roth is also the author of “Your Money: The Missing Manual” and has written for Entrepreneur, Time and Money.

Click to find out how he went from being in debt to retiring rich.

What is your money mantra?

Do what works for you.

Before achieving financial success, what was your biggest obstacle? How did you overcome it?

My biggest obstacle has always been myself. That was true back when I was deep in debt and struggling to make ends meet, but it’s also true today. From my experience, this is true for almost everyone: You are your own worst enemy. I often say that the math of smart personal finance isn’t difficult. It’s basic stuff. It’s the psychology that’s hard, and that has certainly been true in my case.

What advice would you give your younger self about money?

It’s funny because the financial advice I’d give my younger self actually seems non-financial at first glance. I’d say, “Figure out what you want in life, then make decisions based around this goal.” When I was younger, I didn’t have any grand plans. As a result, it didn’t matter what I spent on. Buy a bunch of comic books? Sure, why not? There was nothing else that I was saving for, after all. It was only once I got clear on what my larger aims were that I was able to make financial decisions that supported these goals.

What is the best thing you did to boost your retirement savings?

The biggest boost to my retirement savings came from starting a business. This allowed me to earn much more than I was before, and that in turn let me turbo-charge my retirement savings.

Is there a tool or tactic that has been the most valuable to you in your own retirement planning experience?

Things changed for me when I decided to manage my money as if I were managing a business. For years, I had struggled to manage my household finances. But at the same time, I had no trouble running profitable businesses. “What if,” I eventually asked myself, “I treated my personal finances like a small company? What if I did my best to earn a profit every month?” This one shift in mindset made a huge difference in my life. I stopped viewing saving as sacrifice. It wasn’t saving, it was profit. That profit was meant to help me build my “business” in the future. Changing my mindset made saving a pleasure instead of a pain.

How to Cultivate Gratitude, Compassion, and Pride on Your Team

As a leader, what traits should you cultivate in your employees? Grit – the ability to persevere in the face of challenges? Sure. A willingness to accept some sacrifices and work hard toward a successful future are essential for the members of any team. But I believe there’s another component that matters just as much: grace. I don’t mean the ability to move elegantly or anything religious. Rather, I mean qualities of decency, respect, and generosity, all of which mark a person as someone with whom others want to cooperate.

Consider the results of Google’s Project Oxygen, a multiyear research initiative designed to identify the manager qualities that enhanced a team’s success. What they found is that yes, driving a team to be productive and results-oriented mattered, but so did being even-keeled, making times for one-on-one meetings, working with a team in the trenches to solve problems, and taking an interest in employees’ social lives. In fact, these “character” qualities outranked sheer drive and technical expertise when it came to predicting success.

This makes sense. Innovation typically requires team effort. Expertise has to be combined to solve problems, necessitating cooperation. And cooperation requires a willingness to share credit and support one another as opposed to always striving to take credit for oneself.

So as a manager, what’s the best way to instill grit and grace in your team? My research shows that it’s about cultivating three specific emotions: gratitude, compassion, and pride.

These three emotions not only increase patience and perseverance, but also build social bonds. For most of human evolutionary history, the ability to succeed rested almost entirely on the ability to form relationships. People needed to be honest, fair, and diligent — qualities that required a willingness to inhibit selfish desires to profit at the expense of others. And it was moral emotions like gratitude, compassion, and an authentic pride that motivated these actions. For example, research has shown that when people feel grateful, they’re willing to devote more effort to help others, to be loyal even at a cost to themselves, and to split profits equally with partners rather than take more money for themselves. When they feel compassion, they’re willing to devote time, effort, and money to aid others. And when they feel proud – an authentic pride based on their abilities as opposed to a hubristic one – they’ll work harder to help colleagues solve problems. And all of these behaviors draw others to us. People who express gratitudecompassion, and prideare viewed positively by those around them.

These emotions also build grit. They increase the value people place on future goals relative to present ones, and thereby pave the way to perseverance. Work from my lab, for example, shows that people induced to feel grateful show double the patience when it comes to financial rewards. They’re twice as willing to forgo an immediate smaller profit so that they can invest it for a longer-term gain. In a similar vein, people made to feel pride or compassion are willing to persevere more than 30% longer on challenging tasks compared to those feeling other positive emotions, such as happiness, precisely because pride and compassion induce them to place greater value on future rewards.

The Best Way to Budget: Automate Your Finances

 

A budget is similar to a diet. What a diet is to physical health, a budget is to financial health. Both are developed to improve yourself, but neither are typically sustainable. More often than not, they’re temporary lifestyle changes, not permanent behavioral changes. To help your healthy financial habits stick, budget through automation.

Budgeting: A Good Way to See Where Your Money Is Going

Budgets traditionally are defined as an estimate of income and expenditure over a set period of time. The traditional budget focuses on tracking expenses and determining how and where to cut back. They aim to identify expenses that aren’t exactly necessary to pay off debt, increase savings, or reach another financial goal. The best part about building a traditional budget is people sometimes don’t realize where they’re spending money. Identifying how much you’re spending on coffee every month can result in behavioral changes if it’s shocking enough to warrant a change. There are many applications that offer free software to help build budgets and itemize expenditures. (For related reading, see: Best Budgeting Software for 2018.)

The downside to traditional budgets is they take time, effort, and can make money less enjoyable. Realistically, It’s hard to hold yourself accountable for reviewing a budget every month. Using a software tool like mint.com that includes account aggregation is a helpful way to identify where you’re spending money, not to track whether you’re spending too much. At the very minimum, It’s a good idea to know what your fixed expenses are, and/or what expenses you can control or cut back on.

Lastly, the traditional budget can make money less enjoyable. If you’re out shopping, getting drinks or playing a round of golf, you don’t always want to be thinking about your budget. “Can I afford this shirt? Should I go out for beers this weekend? Am I able to spend Saturday with the boys?” Trying to stick to a monthly budget forces these questions into your head. While I’m not advocating for reckless spending, money should be enjoyable. Here is a better way to ensure great savings habits and debt repayment while still enjoying your money. (For related reading, see: Enjoy Life Now and Still Save for Later.)

4 Steps Toward Automating Your Budget

Most people who receive a monthly or bi-weekly paycheck have their money directly deposited into their checking account. Rather than receiving the check by mail and having to deposit it at the bank, it’s done for you automatically. This same process can apply, in most cases, to student loan payments, mortgage payments, 401(k) contributions, etc. Virtually every part of personal finances can be automated. Here a few ways to automate different financial goals. Ultimately, you’ll arrive at a monthly budget for remaining expenses and leisure.

1. Emergency Fund and Debt Obligations

When a paycheck hits your account, set up an automatic transfer to your savings account to build up an emergency fund if you don’t have one already. Typically, emergency funds consist of three to six months of living expenses. If you’re already making student loan payments automatically, great, if not, set up payments for that as well. Student loans should be a priority, however, that does not mean ignoring other financial goals, such as an emergency fund or investing. Other debt obligations, such as a mortgage or credit cards, should be high on the priority list as well.

2. 401(k) Contributions

If you’re participating in a 401(k) plan, contributions are automatically deducted from your paycheck by your employer. It takes very little effort to set up a 401(k) and begin contributing. As most companies these days avoid pension plans, it’s more important than ever to start contributing to a tax-advantaged retirement plan like a 401(k) early and often. Most advisors will recommend saving anywhere from 15-20% of gross income. Obviously, the greater the percentage the better. However, being realistic, the average millennial graduates with $30,000+ in student debt. It can be hard to enjoy yourself, pay off debt and save more than 15%, to begin with. It’s a great target to hit if you can, otherwise, it’s a goal to work toward.

Another automation tip with 401(k)s is implementing contribution increases. A lot of plans have annual contribution increases available. Meaning, rather than having to manually go in and increase contributions (one of those things we’ll say we’ll do, but don’t get around to ever), the plan will do it for you. Even starting with an annual increase of 1% can vastly change your retirement savings picture over time. If you receive a salary increase, bonus or wage increase each year, you’ll hardly notice the bump in 401(k) contributions. (For related reading, see: 6 Ways to Maximize the Value of Your 401(k).)

3. IRA Contributions

If you’ve paid off debt and want to put more money towards retirement savings, opening an IRA or Roth IRA is a great way to go. Unlike a 401(k), you have many more investment choices. You can automate contributions to an IRA just like you would a 401(k). The only difference is you’ll have to set up the transfers between the broker/dealer and your bank. Most brokers offer this feature. Again, even if you start with as little as $50 every two weeks, that adds up to $1200 annually. Buy a low-cost index fund and let the power of compounding take over.

4. Brokerage Account Contributions

If you don’t want to lock up money in a retirement account, or you are lucky enough to have maxed out all your retirement contributions, you may consider opening a brokerage account. Just as you would transfer money to a savings account to build an emergency fund, transferring money directly to a brokerage account is just as easy. Align transfers for the day after your paycheck hits your checking account.

 

Courtesy:By Levi Sanchez Nasdaq.com

Build Your Small Business Credit: 4 Key Differences That Matter

As individuals we spend years establishing, managing and protecting our good personal credit ratings. With strong personal credit, access to favorable interest rates and terms when applying for credit and financing may be available at the stroke of a pen.

When you have the ability to obtain financing at the best available bank rates for items such as a new automobile, home, or investment property; you have established a strong personal credit asset.

As a business owner, having good personal credit ratings provide leverage to potentially qualify for various types of business funding. However, using personal credit alone does not enable a business owner to maximize the company’s true financing potential.

When you build your small business credit; the business itself establishes its own unique credit identity with the business credit reporting agencies. With an established business credit file; banks, suppliers, vendors, retailers and other businesses will be able to assess your company’s creditworthiness rather than rely on personal credit alone.

 

Here are the 4 key differences between small business credit and personal credit:

Credit Checks – When you apply for personal financing you provide your social security number on credit applications. This is the information a bank uses to trigger an inquiry with a consumer credit agency in order to review your personal credit report.

With business credit, your company provides an Employer Identification Number (EIN) or D-U-N-S® number on credit applications in order for banks, vendors or suppliers to check your business credit reports.

 

Credit Identity – As an individual you have the ability to establish only one credit identity that is tied to your social security number.

As a business you have the unique ability to create a business credit identity for each business you own.  Since each business entity is assigned its own Employer Identification Number, it can also establish its own individual business credit file and score.

 

Credit Capacity – Your personal credit worthiness is based on your ability to pay your financial obligations such as credit cards, student loans, auto loans, mortgages etc. Your personal credit capacity is impacted by many variables including but not limited to debt to income ratio, new credit, payment history, credit utilization, credit limits, and inquiries.

With small business credit; a company’s credit capacity is based on factors such as company revenues, years in business, tangible and intangible assets, credit card transactions, payment history, industry classification, credit limits, inquiries, and a host of others.

 

Credit Ratings – The most popular credit scoring system used for personal credit are FICO® scores. According to Fair Isaac, 90% of “top” U.S. lenders use FICO® scores.

However, with business credit there is no single uniform risk assessment model used by banks, suppliers, vendors and retailers. Instead, various risk assessment tools and scoring systems are used such as FICO® SBSS, Paydex®, Intelliscore, and the Small Business Credit Risk Score.

As you can see there are major differences between business credit and personal credit. As a business owner it’s vital to invest the time in building your small business credit. Ultimately, a strong business credit report and score will enable a company to acquire credit and financing based on its own creditworthiness with favorable rates and terms.

Being a Born Entrepreneur Doesn’t Automatically Mean You’re a Born Leader

More often than not, we tend to think of entrepreneurship and leadership as synonymous qualities.

Entrepreneurs are expected to break new ground, be innovative, start something new. It only stands to reason they would naturally take charge of what they’ve created and lead it.

However, it turns out that the required skills of an effective entrepreneur are almost entirely different from the required skills of an effective leader. As many CEOs of growing companies can tell you, there’s a vast difference between creating a business and growingone.

One of the primary reasons great entrepreneurs including Bill GatesSteve Jobs and Henry Ford were so influential was precisely because they were both master entrepreneurs andleaders.

To successfully grow a business, an entrepreneur must learn how to become an effective leader. Here are the five leadership skills every entrepreneur must master:

 

Delegation

Entrepreneurs, and especially solopreneurs, who run growing businesses are eventually shocked to realize it is impossible to do everything by themselves. Most entrepreneurs are uncomfortable with the idea of delegation. They want to do everything themselves because they have a natural sense of ownership over their work. They find it difficult to believe anyone else would do what needs to be done. After all, they were the ones who built the business from scratch all by themselves.

The reality is, though, as a business grows, so does the amount of work that needs to go into running it.

Leaders understand their own time and energy are finite resources. Great leaders understand that, to be most effective in the company, they must play to their strengths and delegate their weaknesses to others who are more qualified.

Steve Jobs famously played a very small part in building the OS and designing the original Apple computers. He knew how to grow a business, so he focused on what he could do and wisely left it to Steve Wozniak and his team to execute his vision.

 

Communication

The perk of being a lone wolf is that you know exactly what needs to be done and the right way to do it. But, that has to change when you find yourself a leader.

We all have horror stories of working for a manager who didn’t communicate instructions effectively, which inevitably leads to confusion and frustration from both parties. As a leader, you’ll need to clearly and succinctly explain everything from your vision to administrative tasks to your employees.

But, communication is not a one-way street. You need to know what to say and how to listen. Effective leaders don’t simply give orders. They accept feedback and criticism, as well.

A constant bridge of communication between a leader and an employee not only reduces inefficiencies but also leads to a healthier and more productive workplace for all.

 

Inspiration

Entrepreneurs seldom lack in the inspiration department. They were passionate enough to start a business themselves, but not everyone shares their enthusiasm. A key skill of any good leader is to inspire the people around them.

It’s not enough to simply tell people what their job is and expect them to do it. To get the most out of your team, you have to make them believe in your vision and feel like they’re actively making an impact in their role. This is especially important when working in a startup.

The good news is that anyone can become an inspiring leader as long as they create a clear culture around the company’s vision, values, and beliefs.

When Howard Schultz returned to Starbucks as CEO, he quickly realized the majority of his employees were no longer focused on providing customers with a positive experience. This led him to shut down 7,100 stores one day to retrain all baristas on making an espresso. This bold move not only sharpened his employees’ technical skills, but also quickly brought Starbucks’ ultimate vision back into focus.

 

Coaching

As an entrepreneur, you should be well aware of just how powerful a mentor can be to personal and professional growth. As a leader, if you want your employees to be as effective as possible, you need to do more than just give them orders.

Along with giving them the resources they need to do their job well, you also need to be able to help them move forward in their own careers.

This can be as simple as offering them training in skills they are interested in, giving them more responsibilities, or spending more one-on-one time with them. Leaders should be able to do more than just lead from the front; they have to be able to provide support from behind as well.

By adopting a coaching mentality, you can be assured of your employees’ loyalty to you and your vision. Plus, helping your employees achieve their full potential means they’re more likely be an asset to you and your business.

Adaptability

It should go without saying that being innovative and adaptive is key for entrepreneurs. But, instead of only using their knack for problem-solving on market opportunities, leaders are also focused on providing solutions for problems within the company.

A large part of running a growing company is learning how to deal with internal problems like employee disputes, disorganization, or a lack of motivation. Employees will always look to the leader to solve these issues.

When no clear-cut solutions are present, leaders need to be able to think outside the box. One surefire way to quickly lose both the respect and trust of your employees is to outsource the solution to someone else or avoid responsibility by blaming others.

Last-minute changes and mishaps happen in any business, so it’s up to the leader to adapt quickly and show everyone else the right way to handle these situations.

If entrepreneurs who have the passion and innovation to start their own businesses can develop these five skills of great leaders, they will be most effective in leadingthose businessess into growth and a bright future.

SBA Presents Six-Part Webinar Series to Help Small Businesses Navigate the HUBZone Program

SBA Presents Six-Part Webinar Series to Help Small Businesses Navigate the HUBZone Program

Published: January 25, 2018

The U.S. Small Business Administration’s (SBA) Historically Underutilized Business (HUB) Zone program helps small businesses in urban and rural communities gain preferential access to government contracting opportunities. If your business is located in an area where business development and growth has been fairly limited, you may qualify.

To learn more about the HUBZone Program, check out SBA’s free six-part webinar series for information on:

  • how to obtain and maintain the HUBZone certification;
  • how HUBZone areas are designated;
  • how to file HUBZone appeals and protest;
  • the regulatory requirements for joint ventures;
  • how affiliated businesses are evaluated; and
  • the various HUBZone contracting requirements.

The webinars are designed to help small businesses get and maintain their HUBZone certification, survive HUBZone status protests to contracts, maintain good recordkeeping to ensure compliance in the program, locate HUBZones, and compete for HUBZone contracts.

To get the most out of the webinars, review the HUBZone website and the frequently asked questions. All webinars will be archived on SBA’s YouTube channel.

Webinar Schedule

HUBZone Contracting:  Make the Federal Government Your Customer
February 7 | 2:00 -3:00 p.m. EST

During this webinar, you will learn about HUBZone contracting vehicles and regulations. Click on this link 10 minutes before the webinar begins.

HUBZone Joint Ventures: How to Partner with Other Companies for HUBZone Contracts
February 14 | 2:00-3:00 p.m. EST

During this webinar, you will learn how to enter into a HUBZone joint venture and the importance of having a well-defined joint venture agreement whether or not the agreement falls under the All Small Mentor-Protégé Program. Click on this link 10 minutes before the webinar begins.

Continued HUBZone Compliance:  How to Maintain Your HUBZone Certification
February 21 | 2:00-3:00 p.m. EST

During this webinar, you will learn how to remain compliant to reap the benefits of your investment. Click on this link 10 minutes before the webinar begins.

How Does HUBZone Consider Employees and Affiliation?
February 28 | 2:00-3:00 p.m. EST

During this webinar, you will learn who to count as an employee for the purpose of the HUBZone Program.  The webinar will also help you understand when to combine the employees from your other businesses to evaluate the principal and employee residency compliance of the HUBZone firm.   Click on this link 10 minutes before the webinar begins.

Understanding How HUBZones are Designated
March 7 | 2:00-3:00 p.m. EST

During this webinar, you will learn how areas become designated as HUBZones. Link to the webinar will be announced by mid-February.

HUBZone Protests and Appeals
March 14 |2:00-3:00 p.m. EST

During this webinar, you will learn the process for filing HUBZone protests and appeals; and for responding to protest notices. Link to the webinar will be announced by mid-February.