Monday

Understanding the basics of business blogging

While a personal blog may contain nearly any type of information that the owner of the blog wants to put into it, a business blog requires some very specific type of content.  Blogs are gaining popularity and for thousands of small business owners, they can provide a great platform for sharing information, connecting with customers and building the brand of a business. This means that before a company decides to launch a blog, they should evaluate the basics of business blogging.

Knowledge based writing

While a personal blog may lend itself to personal reflections and opinions, business blogs do not fare as well with this type of content. Business blogging requires fact based, knowledge based blog posts. While it may not be necessary to provide links to credible sources of information, it certainly cannot hurt. Blog posts can be short or long depending on the topic that is covered. However, make sure that they cover the topic (title) of the post thoroughly. Failing to address topics to the satisfaction of the reader could result in a loss of readers and credibility.

Contact information required

Blogs nearly always collect a fair number of spam comments to posts, especially posts that are ranking well in search engines. In spite of this, business blogs should have a valid contact email address or a contact form. This helps those who are legitimately interested in a product or service to contact the blog owner. While this may involve having to filter out a lot of garbage contacts, business bloggers need to be available to their audience.

Wednesday

Business Financing: Gathering of Angels Company

For those who are starting a business that requires capital and have exhausted personal loans and assets, there may be another option.  Obtaining venture capital is a difficult obstacle for some small businesses for the simple fact that the criteria is often very specific and requires entrepreneurs to sacrifice equity and meet certain minimum financing amounts which may exceed $1 million. For those who need substantially less capital “angel” investors may provide the assistance that is needed. One option for these entrepreneurs is the company “Gathering of Angels”.

Currently based in Atlanta Georgia (originally founded in Santa Fe, New Mexico) Gathering of Angels brings together venture capital companies, angel investors and investment bankers and allows entrepreneurs to make presentations that could lead to funding.  The process significantly different than presenting a simple business plan to a potential investor. The Gathering of Angels process works like this:

Meet the Entrepreneur

The potential business owner pays a fee of $2,500 to Gathering of Angels and in return is awarded an opportunity to promote their business.  The promotion is limited to six presenters per event. The presentation must be no more than 20 minutes and is followed by question and answer session that typically lasts approximately 5 minutes. In return, the entrepreneur does receive some services including coaching, mentoring and assistance with the presentation. Making a presentation does not guarantee that a business will obtain funding.

Tuesday

Resources for finding startup investments

One of the possible business ventures that can prove very lucrative is investing in startups.  However, not everyone knows how to find startup investment opportunities and not everyone has millions of dollars to invest in startup companies. Fortunately, the advances in technology have created an entirely new marketplace for smaller investors and they can be found using these resources.

National Business Incubation Association (NBIA) - the National Business Incubation Association (NBIA) is a great opportunity for entrepreneurs to seek capital or for those who are seeking startup investment opportunities. This organization helps match those investment money with entrepreneurs seeking funding.  With more than 1,500 members worldwide, this is a good organization that can help provide education, information and provide additional resources for startup investment opportunities.

Inc. Angel Investor Directory  - Inc. Magazine compiled a comprehensive list of business entities known as Angel Investors. In general, these groups are small groups who have specific criteria for investing in startup ventures.  Whether you are searching for financing for a startup or you are interested in investment opportunities, these groups can help provide information. Make sure that each group is vetted for their individual requirements before agreeing to borrow (or invest) money.

Smarter Money Crowdfunding  - peer-to-peer lending (also called crowdfunding) can be a great opportunity for entrepreneurs. Whether seeking funding for a small business startup or expansion, this may be the ideal mode of borrowing money. For those who are interested in investing in small business ventures, there are several startup investment opportunities.  Some well known crowdfunding sources include the micro-finance company Kiva and CapAngel. However, limiting your potential to these two sources would be a mistake since there are so many additional opportunities.

Sunday

Writing the perfect article to promote your business

Internet marketing is growing in popularity since there are so many people who now search for information about companies and products online. One of the challenges for business owners is finding the perfect tone to catch the attention of a consumer. This oftentimes means writing the perfect article to promote your business. There are some simple tips to help a business owner promote their business without appearing to be pushing the envelope including:

Write for the audience

When creating an article, it is important to remember that the reader does not always have the base of knowledge that the writer does. While it is important to not “talk down” to readers, it does mean avoiding overly-complicated phrases and acronyms. The best way to write the perfect article to promote your business is to assume that the reader knows nothing about the business and write accordingly.

Be mindful of grammar and spelling

Potential customers are interested in having someone make an impression on them. Make sure that the impression you are leaving is not negative. Taking the extra time needed to check grammar and spelling can help boost credibility. Articles that are riddled with typographical and grammatical errors can leave the reader with a poor impression of the business.

Saturday

Common legal mistakes entrepreneurs make

Starting a business is exciting and for many, means the first time they were not working for someone else. Those who have decided that working for themselves is the best alternative should be aware of the common legal mistakes that entrepreneurs make. Entrepreneurs with a solid plan to move forward can often find great levels of success and gratification from owning their own business.
Structuring a business

Many entrepreneurs start a business without any formal business structure. Some select a trade name (e.g., doing business as (DBA)) while others may form a sub-chapter S corporation. Unfortunately, as too many entrepreneurs discover later, neither of these business types offer any type of personal liability exemption.  This common mistake can be devastating if a business owner is sued - it can put personal property at risk.

It is also worth noting that the structuring of a business entity does have an impact on tax filings. Entrepreneurs should review both state and federal taxes for businesses before they decide which business structure works best for their needs. For example, not all states recognize a limited liability corporation for tax purposes which could create tax problems that can easily turn into legal problems.

Giving up too much control

Depending on the business, an entrepreneur may decide to being in one or more partners. This decision can be very good for a business, depending on how the agreement with partners has been established. Entrepreneurs should always structure agreements with fellow business partners in a way that allows them to maintain control over the business. Those who bring on two additional partners and give up 25 percent of their business to each may find they lose control over the direction or mission of the business. Entrepreneurs should try to maintain majority control over their business as much as feasible.

Many entrepreneurs who need financing to launch their business will offer equity in return for funding. While this is a good method for securing financing, it can be problematic making long-term decision for the business. Carefully consider all options when exchanging equity for services or financing. The wrong decision could have far-reaching consequences that may impact hiring, purchasing new equipment or growing a small business.