8 Top Predictors of Handmade Business Success

shutterstock_406962421

Since launching the Indie Business Network in 2000, I’ve made a career out of studying Makers and Handmade Entrepreneurs. Day in and day out, all I do is work with, mentor, and coach people who sell the products they make. This intense and passionate focus, coupled with my personal entrepreneurial experience, has uniquely equipped me to understand what works and what does not work, and to fairly accurately predict success within the industry. Here are the eight top predictors of handmade business success.

Predictors of Handmade Business Success

1. You Have a Plan for How Your Business Will Serve Your Life

The only way to plan how your business will serve your life is to have a plan for your life. What is your vision for your life? What would make you feel like your life is “successful,” according to your definition of success? What do you see yourself doing and becoming in the future?

It’s never too late or too early to answer these types of questions, and doing so is the only way you can plan a business that serves your life.

The most successful entrepreneurs have a vision and a plan for what their lives will look like, and they build a business around that plan.

2. You Invest More Time in Yourself than You do in Your Business

One of the biggest predictors of handmade business success is how quickly you begin investing more time in yourself than you do in your business.

Do you read at least as many books to strengthen yourself personally as you do to strengthen yourself industry-wise? Do you put personal boundaries around yourself so meaningless time suckers do not threaten your productivity? Do you take intentional time off to focus inward? Do you have a coach or mentor whose mission it is to help you achieve your personal goals?

The most successful entrepreneurs are relentlessly focused on bettering themselves so they can be better leaders of their businesses.

3. You Learn How to Delegate

As an entrepreneur, it’s your job to make sure things done, but that does not mean that you have to do everything yourself. After a few years in business, you should be able to delegate tasks to others so you have the head space to lead you business.

Whether it’s help preparing meals, help with children, help with housework, help with social media, or help with customer service, if you do not delegate to other people, you will not grow personally. If you do not grow personally, you won’t grow as a business leader.

The most successful entrepreneurs delegate as much as they possibly can, freeing up head space for their role as leader.

4. You Create and Nurture a Positive Support System

I’m not talking solely about friends and family members here. I’m also talking about a circle of friends composed of entrepreneurs who are like-minded to you. You choose these people very carefully, bearing in mind that, as Jim Rohn said, you are the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with.

Choose people from a variety of industries so you can pull new ideas from a cross section of disciplines. The more you invest in nurturing these types of relationships, the more successful your business will be.

5. You Focus on a Tightly Defined Target Niche

If the market you are going after is a large one, then you might as well not have a market. This is especially true for Makers and Handmade Entrepreneurs because so much of the work you is winning the hearts of consumers who are used to getting everything on the cheap.

Successful Makers offer products that are well-made and packaged to showcase your unique brand and value proposition to a tightly defined niche. You know who those people are like the back of your hand, and your sole focus is to engage in activities that reach out directly to them.

The most successful entrepreneurs are not selling to everyone. They are selling to the same person over and over again, just at a different address.

6. You Know the Difference Between Making Money and Making a Profit

Anyone can make money, but only those who make a profit will be around for the long haul. To be successful, you must know exactly how much money you want to make, and exactly how much money you need to (wisely) spend in order to reach that goal. You know that the difference between those two numbers is profit, and you understand that just because you make money every day does not mean you are making a profit.

7. You Learn How to Market and Sell Both Yourself and Your Products

Successful Makers fully embrace the fact that they need more than just great products in order to be sustain their business over the long haul. You need to learn how to infuse who you are into your marketing routine so your customers experience more than a product when they make a purchase from you.

The most successful entrepreneurs learn how to weave their personal story into their brand story, and to consistently and simultaneously leverage both to win sales.

8. You Regularly Look for and Shore up Cracks Before Walls Begin to Weaken and Fall

It’s not the big and obvious missteps that bite most small business owners. It’s the tiny chinks in the armor that do you in. It’s the little cracks that go unnoticed, and then, before you know it, the walls are caving in.

One of the biggest predictors of handmade business success is your ability to see the cracks before they become gaping holes, and to handle important little cracks before mature into urgent emergencies. This is a learned skill.

The most successful entrepreneurs do it every single day.

Fortune Teller Photo via Shutterstock

[“source-smallbiztrends”]

How to Manage a Handmade Business of One

shutterstock_290175728

At the start of your business, you are doing everything yourself. As you grow, may decide to hire people to help you act on and manage certain tasks. But not everyone wants to hire help. Some people enjoy making products and managing a business on their own. They want to be a handmade business of one and “stay small and keep it all.”

Whichever camp you fall into, if you happen to be a handmade business of one, there are some specific things you’ll need to do on a regular basis to build a profitable and sustainable venture. Here are 11 of them.

Helpful Habits For A Handmade Business Of One

1. Choose a Tiny Niche of Retail and/or Wholesale Customers

Make absolutely sure you are not trying to be all things to all people. Become uber selective about who you sell to, and do not complicate your life by selling internationally. Only sell into retail stores that order regularly and never balk at paying your prices. Spend most of your time treating your repeat customers like gold, and less time working to attract new customers.

2. Use a Shipping Service That Will Pick Up Your Orders

Don’t waste time going back and forth to the post office. Use a shipping service that will pick up orders at your door and deliver them safely to your customers. Invest your time making, marketing, selling, and packing your products. Let the shipping experts handle the rest.

3. Keep Products to a Minimum

Don’t overwhelm yourself by creating a huge line of products. Keep your inventory fresh and small. Rather than spending time making new lines of products to sell, spend time making your small line of products as unique as you possibly can — with price points to match.

4. Automate Everything

You may spend some money here, but it is worth it. Automation is the tool that frees you up to truly enjoy your business, and you can implement it and still maintain the personal touch. Here are just a few automation ideas that pay off big.

Automate emails requesting that ordering customers share a review of a product they recently purchased from you. Set up a system where the review automatically goes into a cue for your review, and where you can push it to your website with a click of a button.

Use HootSuite, Edgar or another social media tool to automate your social media posts.

Use email auto-responders to let people know when you are away from your business so they know when you will be getting back to them.

5. Publish a Bi-monthly Blog Post

Even solopreneurs need to regularly add new content to their websites to feed the search engines and attract organic traffic. Blogging 24 times a year gives you several search engine boosts without wearing you out.

6. Hire an SEO Specialist or Take Classes to Learn How to Boost SEO Yourself

A bi-monthly blog post will keep you in the online game and provide great content for your website visitors, but it alone will not crack the SEO nut for you. To do that, you’ll need to hire a good SEO specialist or take some classes and learn how to manage SEO for yourself.

7. Publish a Bi-monthly Newsletter

No matter the size of your business or your staff, you’ll need to be consistently engaged in list building activities. Make sure it’s easy for people to sign up for your newsletter by clearly displaying a newsletter sign up option. When you travel to events, offer everyone an opportunity to sign up for your list.

Send out an update to everyone twice a month so you can remain top of mind for the people who have opted in to hear from you. Offer information that will help them live a better life and remind them of how easy and fun it is to purchase and experience the products you have to offer.

8. Take Several Vacations Each Year

If you are doing everything yourself, make sure you fit in as many vacations as you can. One or two of your vacations may last a week or more, but if you cannot get away for that large a chunk of time, try taking several mini-vacations throughout the year. Getting away to a favorite spot for one or two nights can mean the difference between burning out and thriving.

9. Schedule Everything

Whether you use Google Calendar, a paper planner, a smart phone app, or an open email edited to update your schedule daily, a calendaring tool specifying exactly what you will do every day will be indispensable to your success. At the end of each day, applaud yourself for accomplishing everything on your list.

10. Buy Ingredients and Supplies in Bulk

Order as much as you can in bulk, and at regularized intervals. This will save you the time consuming task of checking your stock to order what you are nearly out of. It also virtually ensures that you never run out of anything you need to make your products. It will also save you money since buying in bulk lowers the per unit cost of everything you use to make your products.

11. Master a Single Social Media Outlet

Like all entrepreneurs, you’ll need to use social media. The difference between you and others who use social media is that if you are doing everything yourself, you are better off using a single outlet than to try to manage half a dozen of them.

The best thing to do is to have a minimally maintained presence on all of the major outlets (Twitter, Facebook, Instgram, and Pinterest), but make it your business to become a master at just one of them. In this way, you can maintain a stellar brand presence at one social media platform, rather than a sub-par presence on all of them. Refer your customers, the media and other stakeholders to your main social media outlet and perform minimal monthly maintenance on the rest of them.

I’m sure there are more things you can think of that a handmade business of one needs to do on a regular basis to keep the orders flowing in and the quality product flowing out. What did I miss? I’d love to hear what your experience has been. Do share in the comments below.

Shoemaker Photo via Shutterstock

[“source-smallbiztrends”]

20 Examples of Great Halloween Advertising Inspiration

20 Examples of Great Halloween Advertising Inspiration

Halloween offers many potential advertising opportunities for businesses. You can use the holiday to promote a sale or event. You can show off your festive spirit. Or you can even show off how some of your products might be useful for various Halloween activities.

If you’re unsure where to start when it comes to Halloween advertising, there are many great examples out there that you can learn from. Below are 20 great ads you can use for inspiration for Halloween advertising ideas.

Halloween Advertising Ideas

M&M’s

20 Examples of Great Halloween Advertising Inspiration - M&M's

These minimalist M&M’s ads show off the product in a really festive way, with Halloween imagery and colors. They don’t include a whole lot of actual information, but consumers pretty much already know what they’re getting with M&M’s. So the ads serve as a simple but festive reminder.

Disneyland

20 Examples of Great Halloween Advertising Inspiration - Disneyland

In a series of ads released by Disneyland Paris, the company used some of its recognizable characters to get a Halloween message across. The holiday is the perfect time to highlight villains of any kind, so the ads featured a number of Disney’s famous bad guys.

McDonald’s

20 Examples of Great Halloween Advertising Inspiration - McDonald's

This ad repositions a classic McDonald’s menu item as another classic treat. Since you normally think of candy when you think of Halloween, showing off the burger in that setting adds a festive twist to the ad.

Heineken

20 Examples of Great Halloween Advertising Inspiration - Heineken

In this ad, Heineken uses humor and a selection of recognizable Halloween characters to get a message across about celebrating with Heineken.

Snickers

20 Examples of Great Halloween Advertising Inspiration - Snickers

This is another ad that uses humor to get a point across. Snickers sends a clear message about its candy by using a familiar Halloween scene with just one strange twist.

Cheetos

20 Examples of Great Halloween Advertising Inspiration - Cheetos

Cheetos included some Halloween imagery in this campaign. But it sticks with its recognizable branding by including mascot Chester Cheetah in that Halloween setting.

Mini Cooper

20 Examples of Great Halloween Advertising Inspiration - Mini Cooper

Mini Cooper normally sticks with a pretty minimalist style in its ads. So when it released the Halloween themed ad above, it added a little bit of a spooky twist.

Burger King

20 Examples of Great Halloween Advertising Inspiration - Burger King

Burger King used Halloween as an excuse to release a whole new product. The ads touted both the look and the flavor of the Halloween Whopper, which was a special product just released for the season.

Martha Stewart Pets

20 Examples of Great Halloween Advertising Inspiration - Martha Stewart Pets

Sometimes you don’t even need a groundbreaking idea to sell a product. For example, if you sell Halloween costumes for pets like Martha Stewart Pets and Petsmart, you can just use some pictures of cute dogs dressed up in funny outfits.

Chobani

20 Examples of Great Halloween Advertising Inspiration - Chobini

Even if you’re not a business that sells products for animals, you can still use the cute factor in your advertising like this one from Chobani.

Papa John’s

20 Examples of Great Halloween Advertising Inspiration - Papa John's

Pumpkin carving is a popular Halloween activity. So you can use that method to show off your logo or branding in advertisements. This Papa John’s ad also details some deals customers can get around Halloween.

Guinness

20 Examples of Great Halloween Advertising Inspiration - Guinness

Guinness released an actual promotional item to celebrate Halloween – some simple coasters with a Halloween theme. So the company created an add to promote those items along with its beer.

Woolite

20 Examples of Great Halloween Advertising Inspiration - Woolite

In this ad, Woolite wanted to show off how dark it can keep clothing even through many washes. So the depiction of witches (or lack thereof) is a unique way to integrate the holiday.

Oreo

20 Examples of Great Halloween Advertising Inspiration - Oreo

Oreo constantly comes up with new and different ways to show off its products in ways that celebrate different seasons or events. This one has a Halloween theme, but still features branding elements that are consistent with Oreo’s other campaigns.

Chipotle

20 Examples of Great Halloween Advertising Inspiration - Chipotle

For its Boorito campaign, Chipotle wanted to highlight its own natural ingredients by positioning the ingredients used by other companies as “spooky.”

Goodwill

20 Examples of Great Halloween Advertising Inspiration - Goodwill

Goodwill can be a great place for people to get Halloween costumes or other supplies. So it created a minimalistic ad campaign to support the idea of celebrating Halloween without creating a lot of additional waste.

Pepsi/Coca-Cola

20 Examples of Great Halloween Advertising Inspiration - Pepsi/Coca-Cola

Halloween also presents a unique opportunity for brands to position themselves against the competition. Pepsi tried that here by positioning Coca-Cola as scary. But Coke fired back with a different interpretation of the same image.

Steak-n-Shake

20 Examples of Great Halloween Advertising Inspiration - Steak-n-Shake

Steak-n-Shake opted for a retro vibe for this advertisement for its fall and Halloween themed flavors. It works with the restaurant’s vibe but also presents a festive twist for the restaurant.

Absolut

20 Examples of Great Halloween Advertising Inspiration - Absolut

Absolut sticks with a very consistent design throughout its ads. So for its Halloween and fall themed ads, it simply included some festive and seasonal elements in that same recognizable format.

Reese’s

20 Examples of Great Halloween Advertising Inspiration - Reese's

Reese’s also has a very recognizable advertising style. So the brand kept it simple with its signature orange packaging, which also happens to work for Halloween, and a zippy tagline.

Halloween Cake Photo via Shutterstock

Check out our Business Gift Giving Guide for more tips about holiday trends.

More in: Holidays

[“source-smallbiztrends”]

10 Sources of SMB Loans for Veteran Entrepreneurs and How to Apply

shutterstock_212376721

As small business owners, veterans play a very important role in driving the U.S. economy. Veteran-owned businesses employ more than six million workers, and generate approximately $1.2 trillion in annual receipts, according to the Small Business Administration (SBA).

What’s perhaps most interesting is that the number of veterans pursuing their entrepreneurial dreams is growing at a swift pace. To give an example, one in every 10 small businesses is veteran-owned today. Inspired by this phenomenal growth, Silicon Valley is taking a keen interest in these businesses.

If you are a veteran interested in setting up your own small business, here are some of the most popular sources of small business loans and information on how to apply.

Sources of Funding for Veteran Entrepreneurs

StreetShares

A peer-to-peer lending marketplace for small business loans, StreetShares was co-founded by Mark Rockefeller, an Air Force veteran who served in Iraq. The company has an auction-based funding model that connects entrepreneurs with investors. The StreetShares marketplace combines lowest bids into a single loan to reduce the borrower’s cost to the lowest-possible rate. The platform is open to non-veteran small business owners as well, although about 60 percent of the loans listed are for veteran-owned businesses.

How to Apply?

StreetShares has a four-step process to funding businesses. You can apply for a loan in 10 minutes online, or call the company to understand the application process. Once you complete this step, you will instantly find out if you qualify. The next step is to submit all documents for verification purposes and build a business pitch. The loan will be funded via auction on the StreetShares marketplace.

Veteran Entrepreneur Portal

The Veteran Entrepreneur Portal (VEP) is part of the Veterans Affairs Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization. The VEP connects veteran entrepreneurs to BusinessUSA and offers listings of small business loans for veterans. It also offers growth lessons, resources geared toward the veteran small business community, franchising opportunities and more.

How to Apply?

To access financing options, you need to fill out some basic information such as your location, financing needs, and the industry you operate in. Once you provide all the information, you will receive a recommendation of state and federal financing programs based on your answers.

Veterans Business Services

Veterans Business Services (VBS) connects veterans to financing and provides resources as well as knowledge to move in the right direction. This private consulting service has tie-ups with national SBA 7a Lenders — loan providers with government guarantees from the U.S. Small Business Administration — and other respected financial intermediaries to provide a range of financing options to veterans across the United States. VBS also helps veteran entrepreneurs develop a financing strategy to blend eligible and practical capital resources.

How to Apply?

You can visit the VBS site and provide information about your business interest, business plan and NAICS code to get started.

Military Reservist Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program

The Military Reservist Economic Injury Disaster Loan program (MREIDL) is intended to provide for the necessary expenses that cannot be met when an essential employee has been summoned to active duty in their role as a military reservist. The purpose of these loans is not to cover lost income or lost profits. Moreover, the program offers loans at low interest rates of four percent.

How to Apply?

For loans over $50,000, you need to show collateral. Although a loan is not typically declined for the lack of collateral, the SBA requires the borrower to pledge collateral that is available. It’s also important to note that the filing period for small businesses to apply for the economic injury loan assistance program begins on the date the essential employee is ordered to active duty and ends one year after the employee is discharged.

You may apply directly to the SBA for assistance. The SBA will send an inspector to estimate the cost of your damage once you have completed and returned your loan application.

SBA Express Loan Program

SBA’s Express Loan Program provides financing of up to $350,000. One of the best things about this program is that you will receive a response to your request within just 36 hours! It is this quick turnaround time that has made the program vastly popular among veterans.

How to Apply?

To apply, you will have to provide a variety of information, including your personal background, tax returns, credit report, and bank statement among other information. For a complete description of the application process, check SBA’s SOP 50 10 5(G) (PDF).

SmartBiz

SmartBiz is a San Francisco-based marketplace for online small business loans.  SmartBiz’s website claims the company makes it easy for veterans to access funds by making the application process simpler and less time consuming — that includes application for an SBA-backed loan. It is ideal for veteran entrepreneurs interested in expanding their business with the least expensive financing.

How to Apply?

To qualify, you should have a credit score of 600 or higher and report a revenue between $50,000 and $5 million. You must also have been in business for at least two years with no bankruptcies or foreclosures in the past three years. The pre-qualification process takes just five minutes and requires you to provide basic information. Once the process is completed, it takes about seven days before the funds reach your account.

Minnesota Reservist and Veteran Business Loan Program

The Minnesota Reservist and Veteran Business Loan Program provides business loans to firms that are affected when their employees are called to active military duty. It also offers business loans to veterans who have returned from active military duty and want to set up their own business.

Both types of loans provide one-time, interest-free sums of $5,000 to $20,000. The loan terms are 54 months, with no repayment for the first 18 months and equal monthly payments over the remaining 36 months.

How to Apply?

To be eligible for the startup loans, your business should have 20 or fewer employees and have had less than $1 million in annual gross revenue in the preceding fiscal year.

Veterans who qualify under this program must have been:

• On active duty on or after September 11, 2001.
• Separated from service under honorable conditions after having been on active duty for at least 181 consecutive days or for the full period for which called to active duty (or after reason of disability incurred while on active duty).

Generally, it takes four to six weeks for the application process to be completed and funds to reach you.

Connect2Capital

Connect2Capital offers loans to veterans who own small businesses. A non-profit lender, Connect2Capital provides loans in the range of $50,000 to $4 million. A key feature of the loan by the organization is the lower down payments that start as low as 10 percent.

How to Apply?

To get started, you need to provide information about your business, your financing needs and credit score, along with other details.

Veteran Launch

Veteran Launch is an affiliate of OBDC Small Business Finance, a non-profit organization specializing in financing California veteran-owned businesses through financing, consulting and networking support. The organization offers access to micro and small business term loans with low fees and competitive interest rates. Loans in the range of $25,000 to $250,000 are available with no prepayment penalty.

How to Apply?

To apply, you can give Veteran Launch a call, or simply fill out an online form where you need to provide some basic information about your business.

Veterans Business Fund

Veterans Business Fund is aimed at helping veteran entrepreneurs expand their business with adequate financial support. Do note that at the moment, Veteran Business Fund is raising the required capital to assist businesses. Until the necessary fundraising is complete, no application will be accepted.

Once applications are accepted, Veteran Business Fund will issue non-interest bearing loans to veterans. The loans will be for a term of five years or longer.

How to Apply?

When Veteran Business Fund gets ready to accept applications, veterans will be required to first apply to a lending institution of their choice for a loan. The lender will specify the amount of equity required for the loan. After receiving the requirements from the lending institution, veterans will have to contact Veteran Business Fund. The application process is expected to capture essential information based on which a decision will be made within three weeks.

Army Uniform Photo via Shutterstock

[“source-smallbiztrends”]

How to Gather Small Business Loan Documents: A List of What You Need

How to Gather Small Business Loan Documents: A List of What You Need

Gathering documents while applying for a small business loan is often a hassle. Yet there’s no way to avoid loan documents when you’re trying to secure funds.

The best way to minimize the hassle is to be prepared and understand how to value a small business. In other words, know all the loan documents your lender is likely to ask for when you approach them.

To make it simple for you, here’s a list of all the loan documents you need when you approach a lender so that you don’t have to find a documentation specialist for the job.

The List of Business Loan Documents You’ll Need

SBA 7(a) Loans/Bank Loans

SBA’s 7(a) Loan Program is one of the most popular borrowing options for small businesses. It’s worth noting that SBA does not extend loans itself. Rather it guarantees small business loans made by participating lending institutions. (As a result, much of the information you’ll need is the same documentation you’d need to apply for a loan from a more traditional lender.)

What makes SBA loans attractive to many small businesses is the low interest rates, but it also involves lengthy paperwork.

Once you have decided to apply for an SBA loan, you will have to gather all your documents. The process will then begin with your local lender, working within the SBA guidelines.

Here are all the documents you will need to submit.

SBA Loan Application: This is the first thing you will have to complete to process your request. You can find the most current form here (PDF).

Personal Background and Financial Statement: To evaluate your eligibility, the SBA requires you to complete a few forms where you will have to provide personal background and financial information.

Business Financial Statements: You must also be able to show that you can repay the loan. For that, you need to provide the following financial statements: Profit and Loss Statement and Projected Financial Statements.

Ownership and Affiliates: You must include a list of names and addresses of any subsidiaries as well as affiliates. These may include concerns in which you hold a controlling interest and other concerns that may be affiliated by franchise, proposed merger, stock ownership or otherwise with you.

Business Certificate or License: Your original business license or certificate of doing business is also needed. If your business is a corporation, you need to stamp your corporate seal on the application form.

Loan Application History: You should include records of any loans you may have applied for in the past.

Income Tax Returns: Add signed personal and business federal tax returns of your business’ principals for the last three years.

Résumés: Also include personal résumés for each principal.

Business Overview and History: Provide a short history of the business and its challenges. Add an explanation of why you need an SBA loan for your business.

Business Lease: Provide a copy of your business lease, or a note from your landlord.

For Purchasing an Existing Business: Provide the following information: 1) current balance sheet and P&L statement of business to be bought, 2) last two years federal income tax returns, 3) proposed Bill of Sale including Terms of Sale, 4) asking price with schedule of inventory, machinery and equipment, furniture and fixtures.

Alternative Lenders

If your business does not meet a traditional bank’s financing requirements and you are wondering how to get a business loan, you may want to consider alternative lenders.

Alternative lenders provide financing to even those small businesses that haven’t been around for a long time. And they have a less paperwork-intensive application process that can be completed online.

Here are the documents that most alternative lenders are going to ask you to submit.

Tax Returns: Make sure you submit the last three years of signed personal and business federal income tax returns.

Bank Statements: Submit three most recent bank statements for your business and personal accounts.

Cash Flow Statements: Include your balance sheet, cash flow statements and profit-and-loss statements.

Personal Identification: Includes social security, driver’s license or any such current government-issued photo ID.

Business Lease: Provide a copy of your business lease, or a note from your landlord.

Peer-to-Peer (P2P) Lending

P2P lenders help businesses by connecting capital from retail and institutional investors via platforms such as Funding Circle, Prosper and Lending Club. Over the years, P2P lending has become a popular source of funding for a large number of small businesses.

Here are the documents that you will have to submit when you approach a P2P lender.

ID Documents: Make sure you get your ID documents in place to set up direct credit as soon as you can.

Proof of Social Security: Provide a copy of your Social Security Award Letter or Form SSA-1099 for the last tax year.

Proof of Pension or Annuity Income: If you receive income from a pension or annuity, include a copy of your award letter or most recent statement.

Online Marketplaces

These days, a number of online marketplaces have become a popular source of small business financing. These marketplaces operate like exchanges, centralizing and streamlining the loan application process. They connect businesses to a range of traditional and alternative lenders. Some of the well-known players are Fundera and Biz2Credit.

Some of the documents that you should provide when you approach an online marketplace for funding include the following:

Personal Background: Submit your ID and address proofs along with the proof of your professional qualification.

Income Tax Returns: Include the personal and business federal tax returns of your business’ principals for the last three years.

Signed Application: Provide all the basic information about yourself and your business.

Bank Account Statements: Submit six most recent bank statements for your business and personal accounts.

Business Lease: Provide a copy of your business lease, or a note from your landlord.

Paperwork may sound like a lot of work, but preparing in advance can actually help save time. Just make a quick checklist of all the documents you need to submit before you begin the process. You may also want to speak to a representative to gather and organize your papers on time. Once you have prepared yourself, it will be easy to complete the work.

Ducks in a Row Photo via Shutterstock

[“source-smallbiztrends”]

Mi Notebook Air May Remind You of Another Computer — But Cheaper

Mi Notebook Air, the New Xiaomi Laptop, May Remind You of Another Computer -- But Cheaper

The founder and CEO of Xiaomi, Lei Jun, doesn’t like to be compared to Steve Jobs, but the latest product from the company, the Mi Notebook Air will do very little to convince people otherwise. You don’t have to have a degree from Stanford in computer science to see the similarities with Apple’s Macbook Air, right down to a portion of the name. That said, the Mi Notebooks are a worthy challenger for the computers coming out of Cupertino.

Who is Xiaomi?

Just in case you haven’t heard of Xiaomi, the Chinese company was founded in 2010 by Jun, and its rise to the smartphone leader board has been remarkable.  In just five short years, the company has become the fifth largest smartphone maker, selling close to 71 million units in 2015.

In addition to the phones, the company has a range of other products, including tablets, personal transports, drones, healthcare monitors, cloud services and more.

First Xiaomi Laptop: The Mi Notebook Air

The first ever laptop line by Xiaomi was a big surprise when it was announced at a recent press event in Beijing. And the company didn’t disappoint when it introduced two notebooks, a 13.3″ and a 12.5″ version. So here is a basic comparison between the Xiaomi and Apple Air notebooks.

The 13.3″ Mi Notebook Air

The 13.3″ Mi notebook is 14.8mm (0.58 inches) thick and weighs in at 1.28kg or 2.82 pounds, which makes it slightly thinner and lighter than the Apple version. The real differentiator is the discrete Nvidia Geforce 940MX graphics card and 256GB SSD storage that come standard on the Xiaomi. Not having to share the memory to process games and graphic intensive applications means the Mi notebook is going to work well for gamers and designers.

Xiaomi Laptop - Mi Notebook Air-970-80

The processor is an Intel 2.3GHz Core i5-6200U (Turbo up to 2.7GHz), with 8GB of DDR4 RAM and a 9.5 hour battery life, according to the company. These are all great features for a flagship PC, but what is more impressive is the price, which comes in at less than the 11″ Macbook Air at $750.

The 13″ inch MacBook Air has many different configurations, but the one that currently has the $999.00 price tag on the company’s site has the following specs. It comes in a little bigger than the Mi Note at 17mm (0.66 inches) thick and weighing in at 1.35kg (2.9 pounds). The processor is a 1.6GHz dual-core Intel Core i5 processor (Turbo up to 2.7GHz), with 8GB of RAM, and 128GB of flash storage.

The 12.5″ Mi Notebook Air

The 12.5″ Mi notebook is slimmer and weighs less, coming in at 12.9mm (0.5 inches) and 1.07kg (2.3 pounds). The specs also come down considerably, which is not surprising since it is more than $200 cheaper.

The processor is an Intel Core M3 CPU and it includes 4GB of RAM, a 128GB SSD, one USB 3.0 port and an HDMI port. The battery life is much better on this version, which lets you enjoy two additional hours compared to the 13″ model. You get all this for $520, not bad when you compare it to the 11″ Macbook air.

Xiaomi Laptop - Mi Notebook Air with a diagonal of 12.5 inches

The 11″ Macbook air is thicker at 17mm or 0.66 inches and weighs almost the same at 1.08kg. However, the Mac has a better processor with the Intel Core i5 and more options as to how you can configure your device. The standard version includes 4GB of RAM, 128GB SSD storage, and 9 hours of battery life. The latest available price for these specs from Apple is $899, which is $379 more expensive than the Xiaomi.

The Price Difference for Small Businesses

Small businesses are always on the lookout for affordable technology, and Xiaomi makes a great case to merit a second or even a third look at what it is offering. Price differences of $249 and $379 are considerable and may be enough to sway many owners to make the change. But it is important to remember Apple has carved out a niche market for creative types who will almost always go for the Macbook, and there is nothing Xiaomi or anyone else can do about that.

Both the Mi Notebook and Macbook have great specs, but Apple gives you more configuration options. Since this is the first offering from Xiaomi, it is limited, but if the company takes the same route for its notebooks as it did its smartphones, it won’t be long before it makes more options available for its customers.

Though there’s no knowing when Xiami will offer this notebook for sale outside China, those determined enough can doubtless find a way to get it. The question is, would this device be an asset to your business?

Image: Xiaomi

[“source-smallbiztrends”]

Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare and Titanfall 2 to Blame for EA Share Crash: Analyst

Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare and Titanfall 2 to Blame for EA Share Crash: Analyst

HIGHLIGHTS

  • In video games, like Hollywood, it’s tough to repeat past hits
  • EA may have erred by Titanfall 2 so close to a new Call of Duty
  • Titanfall 2 features mechanized titans fighting in a futuristic world

The video-game designers who gave birth to the hit Call of Duty franchise are finding it’s hard to outgun their own creation.

Titanfall 2, released Friday, was designed by Jason West and Vince Zampella, who developed Call of Duty for Activision Blizzard Inc. Sales of the new title fell short of one analyst’s forecast, in part because of competition from Call of Duty. That sent shares of Electronic Arts Inc., which released Titanfall 2, to their biggest loss in almost nine months.

Doug Creutz, an analyst at Cowen & Co., cut his sales forecast for the new Titanfall by a third to six million units, based on tracking of purchases at Amazon.com Inc. The projection suggests that in video games, like Hollywood, it’s tough to repeat past hits, particularly in a crowded market.

(Also see:Titanfall Review)

Electronic Arts “appears to have wound up shooting its own foot off,” Creutz wrote in a note Friday.Electronic Arts, based in Redwood City, California, fell 4 percent to $79.45 at the close in New York. The stock was up 20 percent this year through Thursday. Activision, based in Santa Monica, California, fell less than 1 percent to $43.32.

Creutz lowered his rating on Electronic Arts to market perform from buy and cut his target price for the shares to $82 from $96.

Although Titanfall 2 scored with critics, Electronic Arts may have erred by releasing the first-person shooter game so close to a new Call of Duty due out November 4 and Battlefield 1, another Electronic Arts title that was released last week, Creutz said. Call of Duty was the top-selling video game in the US last year.

(Also see: Everything You Need to Know About the Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare Beta)

Dusty Welch, the chief operating officer of West and Zampella’s design studio, Respawn Entertainment, said he was pleased with the release.

“The team here at Respawn poured their hearts into this game, and we’re happy to see that hard work pay off not only through overwhelmingly positive reviews, but also by the response from our fans,” he said in an e-mailed statement.

Titanfall 2 features mechanized titans fighting in a futuristic world. Unlike the previous title in the series, Titanfall 2 is available for Sony’s PlayStation 4 console as well as for Microsoft’s Xbox One. It’s also available for the first time a single player game.

West and Zampella were fired by Activision in 2010. They later sued for past-due royalties in a case that was settled out of court. Their first title in their new series, 2014’s Titanfall, was a hit for Electronic Arts.

John Reseburg, a spokesman for Electronic Arts, declined to comment on the forecast, citing the quiet period companies typically adhere to before releasing earnings. Electronic Arts is scheduled to report fiscal second-quarter results on November 1.

© 2016 Bloomberg L.P.

Tags: Titanfall 2, EA, Electronic Arts, Call of Duty, PlayStation 4, PS4, Xbox One, Infinite Warfare, Gaming, Apps
[“source-ndtv”]

Sony Surprises With Profit Warning on Sale of Battery Business

Sony Surprises With Profit Warning on Sale of Battery Business

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Sony to concentrate on videogames, entertainment and camera sensors
  • Expects JPY 270 billion in operating profit for year ending in March
  • Sony to sell its battery business for about JPY 17.5 billion

Sony Corp cut its annual profit outlook due to losses related to the sale of its battery business – disappointing a market that had been hoping for an upward revision on buoyant sales momentum for PlayStation 4 and the launch of its virtual reality headset.

Emerging from years of restructuring, the consumer electronics giant is refocusing its business to concentrate on videogames, entertainment and camera sensors and the sale of its battery business was part of that effort.

But while the sale to Murata Manufacturing Co had been flagged in July, its impact on earnings appeared to be greater than expected.

Sony now expects to post JPY 270 billion ($2.6 billion or roughly Rs. 17,175 crores) in operating profit for the year ending in March, down JPY 30 billion from its previous forecast made in July and an 8 percent decline from the previous year.

It also falls short of a Thomson Reuters Starmine SmartEstimate of JPY 308.65 billion (roughly Rs. 19,623 crores) derived from 27 brokerage estimates.

Analysts have been hopeful that brisk sales of PlayStation 4 gaming consoles and software titles would boost profits and that this would only improve with upgraded versions of the console during the year-end holiday shopping season.This month Sony also unveiled its PlayStation VR headset and it said that production of image sensors would return to full capacity in the second half due to a pickup in smartphone demand.

(Also see: PlayStation VR: Almost There but Not Just Yet)

Sony said on Monday it has agreed to sell its battery business for about JPY 17.5 billion and expects to book an impairment charge of JPY 33 billion related to the sale.

It will announce its first-half results and further details of its full-year outlook on Tuesday.

© Thomson Reuters 2016

Tags: Sony, Sony Profit, PlayStation 4, PlayStation VR, Wearables, Virtual Reality, VR, Gaming, Cameras, Mobiles, Home Entertainment
[“source-ndtv”]

Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare Has an Early Release Date in the UK

Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare Has an Early Release Date in the UK

Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare Has an Early Release Date in the UK

HIGHLIGHTS

  • The Legacy Edition of Infinite Warfare is already on sale
  • Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare’s official release date is November 4
  • This hasn’t stopped copies from being sold early

Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare is out on November 4. Unless of course you’re in the UK. Retailer CEX – which specialises in used gadgets and games, has wrangled early copies for sale. Albeit for a princely sum of around Rs. 7,337.

“ Perks of working in CEX! 3 days early who wants to im selling for £90! Brand new! No codes used! Just opens seal!” exclaimed a description on an image posted on Instagram by user verace_ridz.

The picture is that of the Legacy Edition of Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare which includes Call of Duty: Modern Warfare Remastered – an HD re-release of 2007’s Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare.

This isn’t the first time CEX has had a game available for sale ahead of its official release. Earlier in the year, Uncharted 4 could be purchased two weeks ahead of time. Later Sony stated the copies for sale were stolen.

With the game due on November 4, it’s unlikely that India will see an early release. Activision’s distributor World Wide CD ROM is known for running a tight ship, particularly for popular titles such as this.

Nonetheless, if you prefer getting it digitally, you can pre-load Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare on the PS4 and Xbox One right now. There’s been no announcement of when it will be available for download on the PC, but according to some you can expect to download it from November 1, 10am PST (10:30pm IST) onwards. This is when the Steam store updates globally, and would put it on par with the pre-load of previous COD games.

Tags: CODIW, Call of Duty Infinite Warfare Street Date Break, Call of Duty Infinite Warfare, Call of Duty Infinite Warfare Preload,Infinite Warfare, Activision, Infinity Ward, Call of Dut
[“source-ndtv”]

10 Business Valuation Calculators To Gauge Value of A Business for Sale

shutterstock_77171374

Believe it or not, there’s no right or wrong way to work out how much a business is worth. Experts use loads of different valuation methods — and the number those calculations come up with will vary greatly depending upon the criteria set forth.

That being said, if you know exactly what it is you value in a business, it’s not hard to work out a ballpark figure. After all, nobody in their right mind would pay for an existing business without knowing what it’s worth.

To help you get started, here are some of the Web’s top free business valuation calculators.

10 Business Valuation Calculators

1. CalcXML

CalcXML has been providing a wide range of financial tools to small businesses for a while now. And the company’s valuation calculator is a tried-and-tested model.

It’s a simple tool designed to give potential buyers a quick snapshot. It takes all of the basics into consideration, including: annual earnings, excess compensation and level of business risk. Best of all, it only takes a few minutes.

2. EquityNet

EquityNet is one of the globe’s leading pioneers in crowdfunding. Established in 2005, the platform works to connect thousands of entrepreneurs with investors of all shapes and size — and has already helped start-ups across the globe raise hundreds of millions in equity, debt and royalty-based capital.

As part of that mission, EquityNet provides a valuation calculator backed by real market data gathered from over 3,000 business across North America. That enables you to weigh the value of a business against potential competitors — which is a factor some analysts often overlook.

EquitNet also provides free calculators to work out a company’s profit margin, cash flow and startup risk.

3. ExitAdviser

ExitAdviser is an online support service that enables business owners to connect with potential buyers. In line with that service, ExitAdviser plays home to an extremely quick business valuation calculator designed to give potential buyers quick quotes.

To get an estimate, buyers simply need to enter net profit from a company’s most recent financial year and forecast its sales growth. That said, there are plenty of more advanced input options to help generate more accurate valuations.

4. BizEx

Like most free valuation calculators, BizEx hosts a platform based upon the ‘Multiple of Earnings’ method. But their calculator is far more advanced than most of the free models you’ll find kicking about on other sites.

By including an in-depth breakdown of a company’s discretionary and multiple earnings, you’re able to create instant valuation ranges depending upon a range of variables. Afterwards, you’re given the option to talk these numbers over with a broker if you’re so inclined.

5. Bridge Ventures

The Bridge Ventures calculator is designed to create an estimated market value for a company based upon a diverse set of attributes. Technically speaking, this calculator is only meant to be used for small businesses with revenues of under $2 million.

It’s worth noting this calculator is most compatible with Google Chrome, as there are a few unwanted kinks when opened on Internet Explorer. That said, it’s a simple calculator that renders quality results.

6. Hadley Capital

Hadley Capital’s business valuation calculator is slightly different, in that it applies a multiple of EBITDA to determine the Enterprise Value of your business. In general, a small business will usually trade for around three or four times its normalized EBITDA. That said, the multiple will slide dramatically based upon a variety of characteristics specific to your business.

This calculator understandably places particular emphasis on your annual EBITDA, annual capital expenditures and how much of your revenue comes from top customers.

7. John Hancock Life Insurance

John Hancock has been around for a long time. As such, you’d expect the company to have worked out a pretty reliable way in which to tally up the value of a business.

First-time buyers may be inclined to check out this calculator, as it includes an incredibly useful glossary of terms designed to cut through all of the meaningless financial jargon associated with business valuations. It also clearly explains all methodologies involved in calculating your valuation.

8. MassMutual Financial Group

MassMutual is an all-encompassing insurance provider that represents over 13 million clients across the globe. Consequently, the company values user experience far more than some of the industry’s smaller websites. Its business value calculator is no exception.

This user-friendly calculator very clearly and concisely walks you through every step of the valuation process in order to work out a decent estimate in as little as two minutes.

9. HelpSME

HelpSME is a great resource for small businesses in need of tutorials and advice. That’s why the site offers an easy-to-use valuation calculator using the Net Present Value (NPV) method. This approach uses a company’s future cash flows to try and work out how much it’s worth in the here and now.

HelpSME’s calculator also includes useful guides designed to help you wrap your head around the value provided.

10. National Life

National Life is an all-encompassing collective of financial services companies, and its online valuation calculator draws upon that power in order to generate fairly well-informed market estimates.

Similar to HelpSME, National Life’s calculator finds the worth of a company by looking at the present value of its expected future earnings. It places particular consideration on a company’s lack of marketability and excess compensation.

In the same way that no two valuations are alike, it’s crucial to bear in mind that this list is by no means exhaustive. There are loads of brilliant valuation calculators online that you can use in order to generate a snapshot of how much a business may be worth.

Just remember: these free business valuation calculators aren’t always accurate. At the end of the day, it’s up to you to do your homework in order to ensure you’ve put in (or accepted) the best possible offer for an existing company.

Calculator Photo via Shutterstock

[“source-smallbiztrends”]