Starting

5 Key Financial Tips When Starting a Business from Home

By Marco Carbajo, Guest Blogger
Published: August 14, 2017 Updated: August 14, 2017

Did you know more than 52% of all small businesses in the U.S. are home based?

According to the Small Business Administration, there are more than 28 million small businesses in the United States, making up 99.7 percent of all U.S. businesses.

If you are considering or are in the process of starting a business from home, it’s an exciting and important undertaking. And as with any venture, it’s crucial to take the right steps to set yourself up for success.

Part of making sure you follow the necessary steps when starting a business from home can set the foundation needed to be successful. Here are five key financial tips to follow when starting a business from home.

 

1) Choose your entity structure

One of the easiest structures to start and cost the least to maintain is a sole proprietorship. If you select this structure then the legal name of your business is your own name. In most states, if you want to operate the business under a different name, you'll need to file for a DBA, "doing business as."

If you want to limit your potential liability then you may want to consider another entity structure such as a limited liability company. Be sure to consult with your attorney, accountant, or business counselor on the right entity structure for your business.

 

2) Obtain any required business licenses

As a home-based business chances are you will be required by your city or county to have a business license and permit to legally operate. Be sure to check your city or county’s website for details and the forms needed to file if required. The requirements and fees will vary based on your company’s activities, location, and rules outlined by your city or county.

 

3) Set up a designated office space

No matter how big or small your living space is, set aside a space just for your business.  Since you will be running a business from home you are required to establish a workspace to use in your home regularly and exclusively for your own business purposes. 

 

4) Open a business bank account

Your business bank account is a key financial tool that you will use to manage your business finances. From the moment, you start accepting or spending money as a business, you should have a business bank account set up. It enables you to keep accurate records, prepare reports, make deposits, and separate your business banking from personal banking.

To open a business bank account, you will need to provide your employer identification number) or social security number, if you’re a sole proprietorship), your business formation docs, ownership docs and business license if required.

 

5) Get a business credit card

A business credit card is a must have financial tool to keep your personal expenses separate from your business expenses. Not only does a credit card for your business make tracking expenses easy, it enables your business to start establishing its own credit identity and payment history with the business credit reporting agencies.

Starting a business from home can be challenging and overwhelming to say the least. There is a great deal to think about, organize, plan, and execute. The good news is there are many free resources, training, and support readily available to you both online and offline from the SBA. Be sure to check out all the free courses and support available through the Small Business Administration website.

About the Author:

Marco Carbajo
Marco Carbajo

Guest Blogger

Marco Carbajo is a business credit expert, author, speaker, and founder of the Business Credit Insiders Circle. He is a business credit blogger for Dun and Bradstreet Credibility Corp, the SBA.gov Community, About.com and All Business.com. His articles and blog; Business Credit Blogger.com, have been featured in 'Fox Small Business','American Express Small Business', 'Business Week', 'The Washington Post', 'The New York Times', 'The San Francisco Tribune',‘Alltop’, and ‘Entrepreneur Connect’.

How to Develop and Use a Good Executive Summary

By Tim Berry, Guest Blogger
Published: July 6, 2017 Updated: July 6, 2017

Most business owners have a general idea of the executive summary that comes with the traditional business plan.  However, in the real world, summaries come up much more often than just in the business plan. How to create the summary, and how to use it, depends on the business objective.

The summary you say every day

I’ve always liked “Say your business plan every day,” which I heard first from Jim Blasingame, small business advocate.  Business is normally chaotic, so a quick reminder is a good idea.

Start with a sentence or two describing the fundamental strategy. Keep that in mind as you go through the day.

  • What do you do for whom?
  • How do you do it differently?
  • Why are you particularly good at it?

Add a sentence or two highlighting your most important tactics. It might be low or high price, high value, distribute via the web, market via social media, focus on repeat business, or whatever.

Then add the next major milestone you’re working towards. Maybe that’s some number, like 100 lunches in a day or 1,000 subscribers. Maybe it’s the new website launch, or the new product, or the new location. Give yourself an attainable nearby goal that is measurable.

Remind yourself once a day by reciting your personal business summary.

Create written summaries for special uses

Every business has to provide business summaries from time to time. For these you want to focus on the specific details so you can tailor your summary to your real business needs.

The general summary for publications and listings

Have a good summary on hand for general use. Think of it as a marketing document whose key goals include defining a target market and sending a message to that market. Often it starts with a tagline that comes straight from your main marketing. Follow that with information that generates a call or inquiry. You have to fit word count to the words allowed in your situational summary. Within that word count, optimize the information you can include to generate interest, include a call to action, and the information needed to follow up, such as phone number or website.

The executive summary for business loans and allies

For these summaries you start with either the personal summary or the general business summary above. Tailor these summaries to the specific use. The summary of strategy, tactics, and milestones is more likely to be appropriate for banks, and the more sales oriented summary of product, market, and main messages is likely to be more appropriate for allies, partners, and vendors.

For a summary going to a bank, related to a commercial loan, you probably want to add a financial summary including recent annual sales and profitability. The bank will require submission of detailed financial information as part of the application, so you don’t need to go in detail in the summary. You should make sure to include two or three sentences on business history, and two or three sentences describing the management team. It is also common that you add a paragraph about how the money involved will be used to help your business.

The executive summary for investors

To create a summary to be sent or submitted to potential investors, it’s good to start with a description of the problem you solve, how you solve it, and why you are well positioned to offer such a solution. Being well positioned includes your secret sauce, like proprietary technology or a special position in the market.

Investors also want to know the highlights of the recent past, recent milestones met, and key milestones for the future. Often that’s a matter of projected revenues for the next three years; but in some cases, other measurements such as numbers of users or subscribers can be used even if they are free. Investors want to see growth and growth potential.

For investors you also have to include a description of the management team with key details from team members’ track records and backgrounds.

And always, form follows function

Build a repository of text summaries, somewhere in your business materials online with backup copies in print. These are texts you’ve used in the past. Business summaries and executive summaries have to meet specific objectives. Most businesses end up saving various versions of different summaries. They pull them up and tailor them to the specific need each time a need is found.

About the Author:

Tim Berry
Tim Berry

Guest Blogger

Founder and Chairman of Palo Alto Software and bplans.com, on twitter as Timberry, blogging at timberry.bplans.com. His collected posts are at blog.timberry.com. Stanford MBA. Married 46 years, father of 5. Author of business plan software Business Plan Pro and www.liveplan.com and books including his latest, 'Lean Business Planning,' 2015, Motivational Press. Contents of that book are available for web browsing free at leanplan.com .

Starting a High-Tech Business? You May be Eligible for Government Funding

By Caron_Beesley, Contributor
Published: June 5, 2017 Updated: June 5, 2017

Looking to start or grow your high-tech entrepreneurial venture? Need financing to help fund research and development (R&D) efforts and realize your business potential? The U.S. federal government can help!

In fact, annually, nearly 5,000 small businesses receive over $2.5 billion in federal government grants and contracts to help them carry out the R&D necessary to develop and bring high-tech products to market through the Small Business Innovation Research Program (SBIR). SBIR, affectionately known as America’s Seed Fund, is the largest source of non-dilutive, early stage see capital in the world.

So how can your small business get in on the act? Here’s what you need to know:

What Can the Government Do for the High-Tech Small Business Sector?

If you are starting or already operate a high-tech startup, high-growth or high-impact firm, you may be eligible for grants and contracts that help fund R&D and product commercialization under the federal government’s Small Business Innovation Research Program (SBIR).

The risk and expense of conducting serious R&D efforts are often beyond the means of many small businesses. But, by reserving a percentage of federal R&D funds for small business, SBIR helps small businesses to compete on the same level as larger businesses. In turn, SBIR helps the federal government meet its own R&D needs in areas such as defense, healthcare, environmental protection and more. Eleven federal agencies set aside a portion of their budget each year to fund the SBIR program, with the SBA acting as the coordinating agency of the program.

Companies such as Symantec, Qualcomm and MedImmune all got a kick start from SBIR funds in their early years.

How does the SBIR Program Work?

The federal government has specific scientific and technological R&D goals and priorities, all of which are reflected in these solicitations from participating agencies and federal grants (listed at SBIR.gov or on individual agency sites). You can search and explore these solicitations and grant opportunities to see where your R&D efforts may align with the government’s needs. Then follow the application process described below (see “How Do I Get Started?”). Each agency reviews proposals based on technical merit, qualifications and potential benefits to industry and society. Once agencies grant awards to small business, they embark on the R&D process.

The Awards Process

SBIR awards are structure in three phases to reflect the R&D development cycle:

  • Phase I: These awards are usually around $150,000 and cover a timeframe of less than 6 months. During this initial stage, the small business and sponsoring agency explore the feasibility of the project in order to get a better sense of its commercial potential and technical requirements.
  • Phase II: These awards are only available to small businesses that already received Phase I awards. Phase II enables a longer-term commitment. Awards are usually around $1 million for two years. During this period, R&D is expanded and commercial viability can be assessed.
  • Phase III: During this stage, innovations transition from the lab to the market, and small businesses begin the search for follow on private sector or non-government investment. Keep in mind that the SBIR program set aside does not fund Phase III; funding comes from private sources or other government grants.

Who is Eligible for SBIR?

The eligibility requirements for SBIR are straightforward – your business must be for-profit, have less than 500 employees, be independently owned and operated and located principally in the U.S. It must also be majority-owned (51 percent) by U.S. citizens or permanent resident aliens and the principle researcher must be an employee of the company.

As you can imagine, SBIR is a highly competitive program. Check out this interactive directory of SBIR awards for a review of past awards, proposal abstracts and more.

How Do I Get Started?

SBIR.gov includes information for applicants, but, as mentioned above, the application process starts with research:

  • Check the list of past awards and open solicitations at SBIR.gov. Each solicitation explains the areas of R&D that agencies are interested in.
  • If you have questions, contact the individual agency. Refer to this contact list.
  • Register your business with SBA’s Company Registry prior to submitting an application and get on the SBIR newletter mailing list.
  • Get tips and training on applying to the SBIR program.
  • Watch SBIR On-Line Tutorials prior to submitting your application.Submit a proposal. Typically, an SBIR Phase I proposal submission package has the following components: a business plan, executive summary, cost and technical proposal.

TipSBIR.gov is a good place to start looking for SBIR/STTR program opportunities. Just click "Open Search Topics" under the “Funding” menu, and off you go!

Additional Resources

About the Author:

Caron_Beesley
Caron Beesley

Contributor

Caron Beesley is a small business owner, a writer, and marketing communications consultant. Caron works with the SBA.gov team to promote essential government resources that help entrepreneurs and small business owners start-up, grow and succeed. Follow Caron on Twitter: @caronbeesley

Financial Fitness for Your Small Business

By CeceliaT, SBA Official
Published: April 3, 2017 Updated: April 4, 2017

On March 31, 2017, President Donald J. Trump proclaimed April National Financial Capability Month and the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) is excited to be a part of its observation. National Financial Capability Month is dedicated to promoting the resources that help Americans make informed financial decisions. The SBA knows that at no point is it more important to make an informed financial decision than when someone decides to start or expand a small business. We are dedicated to equipping everyone, especially entrepreneurs, with the knowledge and protections necessary to have a secure and stable financial future.

The SBA wants to bring financial literacy not only to America as a whole, but specifically to small businesses and future entrepreneurs. Whether your target market is global or local, the SBA’s network of Small Business Development Centers, Women’s Business Centers, and SCORE chapters can help at every stage of turning your entrepreneurial dream into a booming business.  Additionally, the SBA’s Online Learning Center offers free 24/7 online courses to help you brush up on your financial skills.

If you want to start a business or learn how to better manage your business finances, begin with the Money Smart for Small Business (MSSB).  The SBA and FDIC collaborated to provide a free instructor-led business curriculum that introduces practical business topics related to starting and managing a business. MSSB has 13 modules, including Managing Cash Flow, Banking Services Available for Small Businesses, Credit Reporting, Tax Planning and Selling a Small Business. The curriculum is available for download at no cost in both English and Spanish.

For more information on MSSB or to download the free course visit www.sba.gov/moneysmart.

For free resources on money management and on making the best financial decisions for you, visit www.MyMoney.gov or call 1-800-FED-INFO (1-800-333-4636).

 

Note: This blog is co-authored by Donald Malcolm Smith, Director of the SBA's Office of Entrepreneurship Education. 

 

About the Author:

Cecelia Taylor

SBA Official

CeceliaT is a moderator for the SBA Community. We appreciate your participation and feedback on how we can continually improve the community to meet your small business needs.

Why December is a Great Time to Review Your Business Plan

By bridgetwpollack, Guest Blogger
Published: December 1, 2016 Updated: December 1, 2016

While December is a busy time for small businesses trying to end the year on a high note, it should also be a time for introspection and review. After all, December is National Write a Business Plan Month!

You might think this occasion is reserved for new, aspiring business owners. But a business plan is so crucial for success that it’s also a good idea to take time to review your plan on a regular basis. This month is a great time for that.

Here’s how to review your business plan to prepare for success in the coming year.

1. Set aside one hour to review your business plan

Yes, you can make progress in just one hour! Set aside quiet time to read through your business plan — no matter how old it is — cover to cover.

Don’t be hard on yourself if your current business reality isn’t the same as your plan projected. Celebrate your successes, of course! But your real task here is to read and contemplate your plan. Pay attention to how you feel as you do this, and jot down any ideas or thoughts that come to mind.

2. Step away from your plan for a short time

Don’t rush to any conclusions or judgments when you finish reading your plan. Set aside the document. Take a walk. Get back to work for a few hours.

See what thoughts bubble up about your plan. Do any ideas spring to mind to improve your business plan?

If you find yourself feeling frustrated during this step, remember that your business plan is a living document that can be changed at any time. No plan is set in stone unless you want it to be.

3. Set goals for 2017

It’s time to set goals for 2017. What do you hope to accomplish? Do those goals fall in line with your original business plan, or is it time to draft a new version?

One of the best ways your business plan can guide you in setting new goals is by reviewing your weaknesses.

Your business plan includes a SWOT analysis, evaluating the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats for your own business compared to your competition. Go back to the “weaknesses” portion of that report. Do you still agree with what you listed for your business? Are those weaknesses still true for your business, yourself as the boss, or both? Whether you’ve added skills and strengths to your business endeavor or you’re still struggling, think about how you can grow — or ask for more help — in 2017.

When you’re finished, you’ll probably have a lot of ideas for your business for 2017 and years to come. The beginning of the year is a great time to set up a meeting with a SCORE mentor to talk about how to help your business grow. Anxious to get started right away? Don’t wait! Volunteer mentors work all year round — including around the holidays — to support small business.

About the Author:

bridgetwpollack
Bridget Weston Pollack

Guest Blogger

Bridget Weston Pollack is the Vice President of Marketing and Communications at the SCORE Association. She is responsible for all branding, marketing, PR, and communication efforts. She focuses on implementing marketing plans and strategies to facilitate the growth of SCORE’s mentoring and trainings services. She collaborates with SCORE volunteers and develops SCORE’s online marketing strategy.

10 Reasons All Business Owners Should Plan

By Tim Berry, Guest Blogger
Published: November 30, 2016 Updated: November 30, 2016

Whether you're just starting out, growing your business or seeking outside help, good business planning will help you achieve that goal. And take note: this means you, business owners. The startups know why they need a plan, but we business owners often think planning is just for startups. That’s not the case.

Also, to be clear, I’m writing about planning, not just a plan. That’s an important distinction. It’s almost 2017. Planning means planning process, a lean business plan with monthly reviews and revisions to guide management. Planning is not a document that you use once and throw away. It’s an ongoing management process.

Furthermore, I’m not talking about a big formal business plan. I’m talking about lean business planning, with a simple plan that is just big enough to manage the business.

  1. Manage cash flow. Profits are accounting creativity, while cash flow is your bank balance. You can’t spend profits. Plan cash flow with linked projections of sales, spending, and cash. It’s the number one essential of business planning.
  2. Set strategy. Strategy is focus on specific differentiation points, target market, and business offerings. Most business owners want to do everything for everybody; but success requires focusing on doing the right things for the right market segments. So we write down the key points. Then we refer back to them, regularly, as reminders.
  3. Match tactics to strategy. Tactics are decisions you make on product or service, marketing, pricing, promotion, financing, and so forth. Too often we forget the strategy while executing tactics. Does pricing match differentiation and target marketing? Does promotion?
  4. Set specific milestones, metrics, tasks, responsibilities, dates, and deadlines. Management is about setting expectations, tracking results, and comparing the two. So expectations need to be specific, trackable, written down, and communicated. So do results. Accountability requires specific metrics and task responsibilities. All of this happens with planning. Use planning to get everybody in your team on the same page. Communicate expectations and results as part of the planning process.
  5. Deal with displacement.  You can’t do everything. You have your strategic focus laid out, so then you decide what you can and can’t do, realistically, in the context of strategy. The principle of displacement says that everything you do rules out something else that you can’t do because you are doing that first thing.
  6. Manage fixed costs, locations, and spending.  Use your planning process to put numbers on key concepts to guide decisions about new locations, upgrades of equipment, and so on.
  7. Know when and why to hire new people. Use your planning process to pinpoint needs for new hires, functions required, and related expenses.
  8. Manage a team. People work better when they know their specific metrics, tasks, and expectations. Use the planning process to keep those clear and share with the team. Accountability is a lot easier when you have numbers and tracked results. Your review process gets a boost when it links to the plan vs. actual numbers in your planning.
  9. Plan and execute financial needs. Know ahead of time before you need a loan or seeking investors. Understand the relationship between growth and working capital. Fill financial needs before your back is against the wall.
  10. Grow your business. Your planning gives you a forum to review strategy and results, review tactics, and develop plans for growth into new markets or into new business offerings.

 

About the Author:

Tim Berry
Tim Berry

Guest Blogger

Founder and Chairman of Palo Alto Software and bplans.com, on twitter as Timberry, blogging at timberry.bplans.com. His collected posts are at blog.timberry.com. Stanford MBA. Married 46 years, father of 5. Author of business plan software Business Plan Pro and www.liveplan.com and books including his latest, 'Lean Business Planning,' 2015, Motivational Press. Contents of that book are available for web browsing free at leanplan.com .

Veterans: SBA Has Tools to Build a Successful Business

By Barbara Carson, SBA Official
Published: November 2, 2016

The U.S. Small Business Administration’s (SBA) Office of Veterans Business Development is  proud to provide entrepreneurial counseling and training to veterans, service-disabled veterans, military spouses, and National Guard and Reserve service members through programs like Boots to Business, Boots to Business Reboot , and the Veterans Business Outreach Centers (VBOC). 

This week the SBA celebrates National Veterans Small Business Week.  SBA district offices are hosting events nationwide that connect current and future veteran entrepreneurs to entrepreneurship resources while highlighting the accomplishments of veteran small business owners, such as:

During National Veterans Small Business Week, and going forward, share your veteran small business success story or show your appreciation for veteran entrepreneurs by joining the conversation online using the #MyVetBiz hashtag.

Celebrate this National Veterans Small Business Week by visiting www.sba.gov/myvetbiz to learn more about events, courses and resources available to support your entrepreneurial success.

About the Author:

Barbara Carson
Barbara Carson

SBA Official

Barbara Carson is the Associate Administrator for the U.S. Small Business Administration Office of Veterans Business Development.

SBA Extends Resources to Service-Disabled Veteran Entrepreneurs

By Barbara Carson, SBA Official
Published: November 1, 2016

This year, to support current and future service-disabled veteran entrepreneurs, the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) awarded three institutions and one business the Service-Disabled Veteran Entrepreneurship Training Program (SDVETP) grant. 

Offered by the SBA’s Office of Veterans Business Development, this grant assists the grantees in providing entrepreneurial training to service-disabled veterans looking to start or grow a business.  The awardees include:

Despite the challenges they faced, service-disabled veterans have pursued entrepreneurship and established successful companies nationwide.  Veterans like Dr. Ray Jardine, Staci Redmon, and Quiana Gainey--all of whom have used the resources available at Veterans Business Development Centers--have leveraged the skills and experience they gained in the military to accomplish their dreams of small business ownership.

The SBA looks forward to working with these outstanding awardees to create opportunities for service-disabled veterans and their families who want to start or grow a small business.

The SBA celebrates service-disabled veterans, as well as all-era veterans, service members, and military spouses during National Veterans Small Business Week, Oct. 31-Nov. 4. SBA district offices are hosting events nationwide that will connect current and future veteran business owners to entrepreneurship resources, while highlighting the accomplishments of veteran small business owners.

During National Veterans Small Business Week, and going forward, share your veteran small business success story or show your appreciation for veteran entrepreneurs by joining the conversation online using #MyVetBiz.

Celebrate National Veterans Small Business Week by visiting www.sba.gov/myvetbiz to learn more about events, courses and resources built to support your entrepreneurship success.

About the Author:

Barbara Carson
Barbara Carson

SBA Official

Barbara Carson is the Associate Administrator for the U.S. Small Business Administration Office of Veterans Business Development.

Can You Really Start a Business With Just a Smartphone? Yes!

By smallbiztrends, Guest Blogger
Published: September 22, 2016 Updated: September 22, 2016

It might seem a bit surprising it’s absolutely possible to start and run a business from your smartphone. At the very least, you can start a business and run the majority of it from a smartphone and without a computer, from your home.

Imagine for a moment that you don’t have a full-fledged computer, and you can’t afford expensive equipment.  That’s not so far fetched, because many budding entrepreneurs have minimal resources, yet most of us have a smartphone these days. 

Or perhaps you simply love the idea of being a mobile. You want the freedom that comes with running a business from your phone.

With the right idea and the right mobile tools, you can run a business without investing in tons of expensive equipment or tying your business to one specific location. Here are some tips for starting a business from your smartphone.

Start with a “phone friendly” business model

This part is essential. 

Certain types of businesses naturally lend themselves to being run on mobile devices, whereas others may present more challenges.

For instance, you probably cannot start a full-service web design firm with just a smartphone. You’d need a desktop computer and some professional software in order to really get the job done. However, if you want to develop mobile apps, there are tools available for you to do that on a mobile device.

Some other businesses that you could potentially start with just a smartphone include:

●Social media marketing

●Consulting

●Event planning

●mCommerce (mobile commerce)

●Videography

●Podcasting

●Writing

●Personal shopping

Think also about business professionals who don’t require a computer or a place of business that customers visit, and require only a small amount of supplies and equipment. Types of businesses include handymen, maid service, gutter cleaning, home decorator, seamstress and car detailing to name a few.  These are still low cost businesses to start and run, and it’s not absolutely necessary they have a computer; instead they can rely on a smartphone. You can often get leads through home-services sites, online yellow pages, social media or word of mouth, directly to your phone­– and you can work out of your home or by visiting clients at their residences or places of business. Be sure to check on any licensing and other requirements in your locale.

Get the right apps

A smartphone is made more powerful and versatile by choosing and using the right software apps.

For some businesses you definitely will need add-on apps.  For example, to run an mCommerce business (the term “mCommerce” stands for a mobile based eCommerce business) you will need a commerce application that is mobile friendly, and a fulfillment or drop ship service.  And as a writer, it might be possible to type by hand on your smartphone’s on-screen keyboard, but wouldn’t it be so much better to use a voice transcription app of some kind?

Also, you will need basic apps necessary to run a business today.  For example, you might need a note taking app to keep track of information and organize tasks. You probably will need some kind of expense tracking, invoicing and/or accounting software app to keep your books straight and get paid.  And many businesses could use a cloud project management app, especially for businesses like event planning where organization skills are central to daily execution.

Master mobile communication

Communication with team members, customers or potential clients is an essential part of running any business, whether you have tons of expensive equipment or just a smartphone to work with.

You’re going to have to work around the limitations of a small keyboard.

Email is one of the most popular communication methods for mobile professionals. While a quick response with some abbreviations or spelling errors might be okay if you’re sending a quick message to your business partner, that’s unlikely to go over well with clients or customers. So if you’re communicating with clients or anyone who might expect a detailed response, you need to take the time to communicate in a way that’s satisfactory. And if you use a voice app to dictate responses, be sure to review the communications for accuracy before hitting “send.”

Consider storing canned responses so you don’t have to always fully type out long emails. 

You can also shore up your mobile communication strategy with apps like Google Hangouts, Skype or Apple FaceTime that let you communicate with others on other devices through voice, video or text chat. 

Get social

Being active on social media is an essential activity for a lot of businesses, regardless of whether or not they’re run on smartphones. But luckily for mobile business owners, most popular social platforms have comprehensive mobile apps to make this function fairly straightforward.

In fact, some social apps like Instagram and Snapchat are only really available for full use on mobile devices. So if you’re running a business on your smartphone, take full advantage of those social platforms by using them to showcase your social media strategy, branding and marketing from anywhere.

Back up important data

While smartphones can be great business tools, many aren’t known for having enough storage space. And what space you have may be eaten up by adding multiple apps.  If you’re running a business, you’re going to need a place to store all of your important documents, images, videos and other files.

For ample storage, add a large data card, but one flexible and secure option is to expand your data storage to a secure Cloud storage app.  That way, even if your smartphone drops into the river or is lost, your important business files will still be available and protected.

Some smartphone companies, including Apple and Samsung, have some cloud storage options that you can use for certain items. But you might also explore apps like Dropbox, OneDrive or Google Drive to store some of your important items in the cloud. With these services, you can also potentially share items with team members using other mobile devices. 

About the Author:

smallbiztrends
Anita Campbell

Guest Blogger

My name is Anita Campbell. I run online communities and information websites reaching over 6 million small business owners, stakeholders and entrepreneurs annually, including Small Business Trends, a daily publication about small business issues, and BizSugar.com, a small business social media site.

8 Tips for Building Your Business Support Network

Published: August 31, 2016 Updated: September 8, 2016

Whether you are just branching out or gearing up for your umpteenth year in business, it never hurts to have a supportive network around you. Owning a business can not only be stressful but lonely. Not every family member or friend will understand or emphasize with your entrepreneurial journey. The key is to surround yourself with like-minded individuals who can offer advice, share opportunities and listen to your big ideas. Go beyond your typical inner circle and broaden your network of support.   

Consider the following strategies in either engaging with people you hope to connect with or need to re-engage to strengthen the support around you as well as to look for new business opportunities.

1. Alumni: Reconnect with college and/or high school staff and classmates by letting them what you are doing now and what you have accomplished or plan to accomplish in your business. There might be opportunities to collaborate with university or community college by speaking at the school, hiring seasonal workers or bidding on a project. 

If you have children or are engaged in your local community, this strategy applies to reaching out to the parents and teachers association (PTA) or a similar group within the school.

2. Chamber of Commerce: Join a local or state chapter and meet and support business leaders. Becoming an active member can expose you to other industries, opportunities and like-minded contacts.

3. SCORE: Supported by the SBA, SCORE is a nonprofit that helps entrepreneurs launch and grow their business. There are SCORE locations throughout the U.S. Between workshops and mentorship business owners can access professional support year-round.

4. Faith-based community: Your spiritual relationship with the members at your place of worship can have a positive effect on your personal life and business goals. Lean on faith-based organizations and activities that promote a healthy, productive lifestyle.

5. Extracurricular groups: It’s easy to forget that we form bonds with people we meet through leisure activities like sports leagues, volunteer and travel groups. When not working on or in your business, it’s essential to have a release.  

6. Former co-workers: If you’ve shared ideas or worked well with previous coworkers and staff, re-engage them to share your current business venture. Their skillset might be useful in your next idea or they can provide insight or contacts that you may have not consider.

7. Professional organizations or conferences: Depending on the nature of your work and business, there might be an established network of professionals who meet annually. Conferences and professional groups are instant support systems because they bring together small and large crowds of people who are similar. You can get a lot of inspiration and information by not only attending events but potentially sponsoring or speaking at one.

8. Online groups via forums, private Facebook groups or Slack communities: Thanks to the internet and social networking, interfacing with other business owners across the world is reality. Building connections that go beyond day-to-day business matters, can provide new ideas and a different perspective. 

About the Author:

Ijeoma S. Nwatu
Ijeoma S. Nwatu
Ijeoma S. Nwatu is a digital strategy and communications consultant. She is the Communications Manager for ColorComm, an organization that aims to uplift women of color in the communications field. When not working with clients, Ijeoma can be found speaking about career transitioning and social media marketing. Follow her on Twitter: @ijeomasnwatu.

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