Category Archive : Startup

Get Free Startup Tools and Software-min

21 Places to Get Free Startup Tools and Software

Taking a startup from idea to reality can be a daunting task. Once you decide to start your business, you then have to navigate the complicated worlds of branding, marketing and hiring. 

But beyond the must-dos, there are also a large number of costs to consider before a business can get up and running. And for new business owners, these costs can sometimes be intimidating at best and prohibitive at worst. 

Luckily, there are many free tools available to help new business owners shoulder these costs. Things like domain names, invoices and SEO analysis can be done online for free, reducing the financial burden of going into business. 

This infographic from Wikibuy details a few of these free resources.

online learning management system-min

How Online Learning Management System Benefits Your Organization

What is an Online Learning Management System?

A Learning Management system is a software product that allows learning programs to be offered to participants. An online LMS is where the software is available online on a website or as an app for people to use. Educational institutes that want to deliver courses to students can install an LMS that will help them offer all their courses to students. Apart from educational institutes, an LMS can be extensively used in the corporate world.

Most of the top companies encourage their employees to keep learning. They would like employees to be constantly updated and pick up new skills and learn new technologies and other topics related to their work. An LMS would help the organization deliver these training and courses to its employees in an effective way. Any type of content, whether text-based notes, audio, or video can be delivered to employees.

How Organizations can benefit from Online LMS?

An LMS is a convenient way of learning for employees. It allows them to learn at the time and place of their choice. They can even use apps and learn through their mobile phones. While online LMS is definitely helpful for employees, organizations can also have many benefits. The multiple benefits it provides are the reasons why organizations must consider implementing an online LMS.

The following are the benefits of an online LMS for organizations.

1. Saves Money and Time

An online LMS can help an organization save on time and money. The time spent on attending training or traveling for training is saved. The expenses spent on organizing training can be saved, which would prove to be quite significant. Implementing LMS and creating a learning program online are one-time expenses. Once created, the same programs can be offered for everyone in the organization.

2. Effective Learning

Learning through learning classroom training can be boring for employees. LMS allows employees to enjoy the experience. The use of multimedia in an LMS makes learning interesting and more effective. Text-based notes, interactive lessons, audio clips, video lectures, animated videos; interactive quizzes can all be created in an LMS. All these techniques can help to make learning more effective.

3. Allow Personalization

All employees do not require the same type and level of training. Customization of training in the form of personalization makes training more effective. Personalization can be effectively implemented through an LMS. Based on an analysis of the skills of an employee and future learning needs, it is possible to offer personalized learning solutions. Each employee on logging in to the LMS can get personalized recommendations of online training courses and modules to be taken. This ensures training relevance and helps in upgrading employee knowledge. Personalization will be very effective for organizations that have branches in different countries and cities. Personalized programs can be offered in the local language or customized to local requirements.

4. Learning Management is Easy

The training or HR department in an organization needs to put in a lot of effort to manage to learn. There is planning to be done and training to be organized. Employees need to be informed about this. The training has to be monitored on a daily basis. Feedback needs to be taken from participants. Training evaluation may have to be done. All these tasks become easier when an LMS is used. The LMS allows the entire learning process to be automated, making it easy for the organization to manage the entire process.

5. Instant Access and Availability

One of the most powerful benefits of a Learning Management System is the content and information access and availability. In today’s world, information is power. Employees need to be informed about products, technologies, services, operational processes, etc. This information must be available at their finger-tips to help them function effectively. Studies have shown employees spend up to one and a half hours each day on average searching for information. This time can be saved if the information is provided through content on an LMS. An LMS would give access to employees to the information that they need to know. Most importantly, this information would be available instantly at the click of a mouse.

6. Analytics

An LMS would have an analytics module that provides reports with detailed analysis of management. It helps the management know-how effectively the LMS has been used. The time is taken to complete courses, results of assessments, the number of employees completed training are just some of the data that can be analyzed easily. Management can get reports instantly and can even use these reports to identify areas of improvement in learning processes.

The many benefits an LMS offers makes it advantageous for organizations to implement an online LMS. It can help them offer the best learning programs to their employees to help them improve their performance.

Author Bio: The article has been written by Marilou Alcaide, Marketing Coordinator, and content crafter at Coggno, a learning management system. Creating appealing content to engage the readers all around the world is the author’s keen desire.
guide to starting small business

The Complete Guide to Starting a Small Business

If you sequence the steps to starting a small business right, you could be more than halfway to small business success. We discuss the steps to starting a small business in the UK, in the sequence to be followed. These steps can be adapted to different countries also, however.

Assess Yourself

Assessing yourself is the first step to starting a small business.

  • Would you enjoy doing this business?
  • Would you be able to face the inevitable frustrations and delays involved in running a business?
  • Do you have the basic business knowhow – marketing, selling, planning, organizing, communicating and controlling?
  • Could you learn, or get competent help with, what you do not know?

Assess the Market

The second of the key steps to starting a small business is looking at the market for your product or service. This small business start step has two dimensions:

  1. Does the product or service have a significant enough demand to base a business upon?
  2. Have existing suppliers left any gap for you, or would you have to compete with them head-on?

With a clear insight into both these aspects, you could go into the most important step of starting a small business – developing an effective marketing strategy. This strategy has four elements: Product, Price, Place, and Promotion.

The product includes not just the physical product or your specific service but the total package that you offer. It would include packaging, warranty, and after-sales support.

The price can be a competitively low price or an image-building premium price. Pricing would also include discounted pricing for large volume customers.

Places are where customers get the product and are concerned with the distribution channels you use to deliver the product or service to customers.

Promotion includes advertising, public relations, exhibitions, trade shows, and direct mail. If you are facing serious competition, you would also have to develop a Unique Selling Proposition that attracts customers to you instead of a competitor.

Start on the Business Plan

After the marketing study, the next key step to starting a small business is to develop a complete business plan. You start on the core plan by forecasting your sales. The information gathered in the previous step would be used for doing this.

Three approaches are used to develop forecasts:

  1. Assume that what happened in the past will continue into the future and project future sales from past sales history;
  2. Learn what customers and prospects plan to do in the forecast period, by talking to them or using published surveys;
  3. Understand what customers are doing and use this understanding to project their future buying behavior.

Based on the sales forecast, you develop production budgets, revenue and expenditure budgets, and projected financial statements. These core documents would help you assess the implications of what you plan to achieve. You would answer questions like the following in the process:

  • What kind of premises would you need for the business? Where?
  • What production capacities need to be added?
  • Where would you source all the requirements, and at what costs?
  • How would you deliver to customers? What channels of distribution would you use?
  • What would be the working capital requirements, considering the credit you would have to extend and you might receive?
  • What would be your profit margins and net profits?
  • How much funding would you need till cash inflows equal outflows?

You might have to rework the estimates a few times till a satisfactory and feasible alternative is found. With the implications made clear, you would go to the next step to starting a small business – preparing the business plan document.

The Business Plan Document

Your business plan document is much more than the budgets you prepared above. In this most important step to starting a small business, you have to outline your vision and show in detail how you would achieve this vision. It would be a concisely and clearly written document, supported by factual evidence that would enthuse bankers and investors about your business idea.

The final result would be a neatly bound document of less than, say, 20 pages that would contain:

  • A table of contents page with page numbers;
  • A cover sheet identifying yourself – business name, address, contact details, owners’ names, addresses and contact details;
  • An executive summary of about two pages bringing out the essence of the business idea – current position, products, and competitive advantages, readable summaries of forecasts and business objectives and the funding proposal;
  • The body of the document, with narrative descriptions of existing and proposed activities, marketing strategy, manpower development, capacity creation and assumptions used in forecasts;
  • Cash flow patterns and funding requirements showing funds available from owners, operations, and borrowings (and how the borrowings would be repaid);
  • Supporting statements as appendices, evidencing what you have stated in the narrative part, and in particular, showing how any borrowings would be repaid.

This step to starting a small business is not complete until you have thoroughly digested the contents of the plan document. You should now be able to make an oral presentation with supporting details.

Forming Your Business

Around this stage, another step to starting a small business would begin to emerge. You would need to decide on the form in which you do business, and then attend to incidental regulations.

You can do business as a sole trader, in partnership with others or as a limited liability partnership/company. A quick comparison of these alternatives is given below:

Sole Trader: A minimum of formalities and easy to start. However, you would be responsible for all aspects of business, and your personal assets would be at risk if the business fails.

Partnership: Agreeing to terms of the partnership, and drawing up a deed evidencing these, would be the major formality. Partners could attend to those aspects of business in which they have experience. More money could be raised. Personal assets of partners would be at risk in case of failure.

Limited Liability Company/Partnership: You have to comply with a number of formalities, both during establishment and subsequent operations. Business must be done under a name that is available. However, your liabilities are limited to the amounts you have agreed to invest or loans you have guaranteed. A company form also gives greater ‘respectability’.

In addition to the formation, you would also need to register your business under Tax and National Insurance regulations. You would also have to comply with health and safety procedures and employment laws.

Funding Your Small Business

Finding finance is a key step in starting a small business. You can finance your small business start with:

Equity: Equity means the owner’s funds. This can come from your savings or you might borrow from relatives and friends. For an existing business, profits plowed back into the business also constitute equity. There are also venture capitalists and business angels who might take shares in your business.

Debt: Debt is the more formal kind of borrowings from banks and other financiers. In addition to loans and overdrafts, you could also go in for factoring or invoice discounting, hire purchase or leasing to meet your funding needs.

Grants: To encourage the development of certain regions or industries, or for other purposes, governments and others might provide grants. These are not repayable but are subject to strict conditions, and your business must also meet eligibility conditions.

You can make this step to starting a small business more meaningful by following a systematic approach.

  • Check if a grant is available in your area for your kind of business.
  • If your business is already operating successfully and following good credit management policies, you could get money against your credit invoices from factors or invoice discounters.
  • If your business is successful and growing, and you are willing to share control to some extent, you could get equity financing from venture capitalists or business angels.
  • If you need rolling funding for working capital and have good security to offer, you could obtain overdraft facilities from banks.
  • If the funding is needed for fixed assets or other long term commitments, you could obtain a term loan from banks against business assets.
  • If banks decline your loan requests, you could approach Small Business Service for a Loan Guarantee.
  • If you do not want to incur heavy monetary expenditure immediately, you could go in for hire purchase or leasing of equipment and machinery.

And Now the Final Step

The final step to starting a small business is going ahead and implementing your plans.

  • Complete the required registrations and other regulatory formalities
  • Open your business bank account, submit loan proposal and do the necessary follow-up
  • Make arrangements to keep proper records of your business transactions – cash payments and receipts, purchases and sales, materials receipts and utilization, employee payroll
  • Assemble the tools to carry on your business – premises, equipment, power supply, communication facilities, and materials
  • Recruit any employees with requisite skills
  • Get things going with an acceptable degree of effectiveness
  • Publicize your offer and get customers
  • Monitor results and improve
Successful Small Business Ideas

10 Successful Small Business Ideas for Beginners

Coming up with a good business idea is the worst nightmare for every entrepreneur who is just planning to start a business. It feels like all the good and new business ideas are already taken with no one left for you to start with.

If you are in the same shoes, you need to understand that not every successful business started with a good idea. Some were as a result of trial and error, others were as a result of the entrepreneur seeing the need to do better by leaving their current jobs, while others started as apprentices.

Whichever it is you belong, all you need to get a creative small business idea is the right mindset, and the determination to reach your goals. To help with that, we will be sharing a list of top 10 successful small business ideas that you can start with as a beginner that doesn’t require too much of immediate capital and practical skills.

1. A Specialist in Lawn Care

This is a small business idea that quires nothing but some equipment and a means of transportation. The moment you have that in place, all you will be needing is clients and how to make each client your permanent customer.

2. Home Contractor

To start this business, you need a little bit of technical knowledge. So if you are fortunate to have worked in a company that offers home repair service, you should be able to start this small business without any kind of difficulties.

3. Be a Blogger Or A Freelance Writer

When it comes to small business ideas for beginners, you should be able to kick start this anytime without much investment if you are good at content creations or have good writing skills. All you need to do is get a web designer to help design a blog for you and begin to create amazing content. To earn more, you can even offer your services as a freelancer.

4. Child Care Services

This should be a perfect business idea if you are the type that loves being around kids. All you need is a clean hope with enough space to accommodate kids and make them comfortable. You can even visit homes to hope babysit if you need extra income.

5. Be a Virtual Assistant

Being a virtual assistant is another best business idea which you will find profitable if you have the required skill sets. A virtual assistant offers services such as email organization, bookkeeping, social media scheduling, and other relevant services. The best part of being a virtual assistant is that you get to work online from home and for as many clients as possible.

6. Event Planner

This should go well with you if you have good organization and communication skills. With this in place, you will be a force to be reckoned with in the event planning industry and this will attract more clients to you.

7. Home Cleaning Service

This might seem like offering an odd job. But if you don’t mind and you enjoy cleaning, this will pay handsomely in the long-run. Rendering home cleaning services doesn’t require any capital, neither does it require an office space.

8. Social Media Influencer

Social media platforms are another business avenue for those who know exactly how to make use of it the right way. You can build your social media account and end up becoming a social media influencer. With this, you will be able to make money by helping brands to promote their products and services.

9. Photography

If you have the required skill, you can also photography services for people holding an event or take portrait pictures for individuals.

10. Courier

Here is another business idea that you might want to consider. What you will simply be doing here is to help clients deliver their packages to a specific destination. You won’t be needing to expect to make this work, so you might want to consider getting started this.

Starting a small business shouldn’t be difficult anymore with all the ideas shared above. All you need to do is choose one that you are quite comfortable with and organize all you need to get started.

start how to business without invstment

How to Start a Business without any Investment

Starting a business without investment can be quite overwhelming and discouraging. However, that shouldn’t make you back down and bury that bright idea of yours. There are several ways to start a business without investment and right here, we will be sharing all you need to know about how to get this done.

With the recent statistics of about millions of small start-ups in the US, this might seem rather impossible to start a business without investment and compete with the existing businesses. You need to understand the fact that this is possible, all you need is good business idea, confidence and you need every other thing that we will be sharing with you right here.

Here is a Checklist for Starting a Business Without Investments

1. Start By Retaining Your Present Job

When it comes to starting a business, you need a steady flow of income because there is a high tendency of you losing some amount of money at the initial stage. Therefore, you should keep your current job while you practicalize your business idea.

Although you will need to work harder and spend extra working hours to balance up the two. But in no time, you will get to balance things up and be able to haha a smooth transition from being an employee to an employer.

2. Develop Your Business Idea

Thinking of a business idea is just a single phase of your entrepreneurial journey. For your business to succeed, you need to develop your business idea and groom into becoming a fine piece of art that will catch the attention of potential investors and also clients or customers.

To flesh out this business idea of yours, you need to ask yourself certain questions. These include; What value is my business idea bringing to the table? Is my business idea unique enough to stand out? Is my idea of solving a major problem. The answers you will get will clearly show your business idea strength and weakness.

3. Analyze Your Target Market & Challenges

You having a good business idea doesn’t mean that you won’t face challenges or have competitors. For your business to be a Victor, you have to make plans ahead by knowing what you are up against and what is currently ongoing in your target market. Another thing here is that potential investors will want to know about this. Which means you have to understand this better than anyone else. 

4. Take Advantage Of Crowdfunding Platforms and Network With People

If your business idea is good enough and you wish to start a business without investment, this is exactly what you need.  By exploring crowdfunding platforms and networking with people by attending events in line with your business idea, you will be able to expose your idea to the world and have people come on board to invest.

5. Give It A Trial

Every big enterprise started with a trial. Doing the same allows you to test run your business idea on a smaller scale. With this, you will be able to figure out areas that need adjustments and how to fix them. Technical mistakes at better made at the initial stage or smaller scales than on a large scale.

More so, while doing this try as much as possible to gather feedback from people and look to get experts’ opinions. This will save you from a lot of crises as a result of ignorance.

6. Secure A Small Business Loan To Kick-start

Lastly, you can go ahead to secure a small business loan If you think you must do so. But you need to ensure that servicing this business loan won’t ruin your business in the long-run.

Although investments have a crucial role to play when it comes to establishing a business. But with the checklist above, you should be able to get started with an investment to back up your business plan.