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Январь 2023

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How to take better photos with your smartphone camera | 8 Tips and tricks

Have you ever heard the expression ‘the best camera is the one you have with you’?

You can have all the amazing equipment, but if its tucked away in a cupboard at home at the precise moment that you want to capture an unforgettable candid moment, then it’s not much use to anyone!

Using a smartphone camera

Nowadays, we almost always have our mobile phone at our fingertips … and smart phones have pretty good cameras. So why not learn a few easy tricks and techniques to be able to make the most of the photos you take with your phone, you will be amazed at the difference it makes … and just to prove it to you, all the photos in this blog post are snaps that I have taken with my phone!

1 Keep your lens clean

This might sound obvious, but our phones are heavily used on a daily basis. We are always carrying our phones around in bags and pockets so it is easy for them to get smeared with dust and dirt. I always wipe my lens before I use it – it’s pretty easy to remember as buguru it’s usually so dirty it looks like I’m peering through vaseline if I don’t!

2 Find the shortcut

Things happen quickly, especially when kids are involved! Knowing how to get to your camera quickly will make sure that you don’t miss the perfect moment. Most phones have a shortcut to the camera from the home screen, so you can access it without having to unlock the phone first.

3 Set your focus

Your phone will automatically try to focus on the nearest person/object, but you might not want to the focus of your photo to be there. Instead of letting it decide what you want to focus on, you can take control. Simply tap the screen on the person/object that you want to focus on, and voilà! You’ll be able to get much more creative with your compositions once you master focus.

4 Use a grid

I challenge you to find any photographer, amateur or professional, who doesn’t shoot a wonky horizon! Not only is a grid a great tool to help you get straight horizons, it also really helps your composition when you’re new to photography. Have you ever heard of ‘the rule of thirds’? Basically, if you place your subjects/points of interest on the lines of third, or even better at the points where the lines intersect, then it helps you to create a more visually dynamic image. To turn your grid on, go into your camera settings, the guides will show on your screen but not on your finished photo.

5 Don’t zoom

Don’t be tempted to zoom in with the zoom tool, it really degrades the quality of the photos you take. Instead, use your feet to get closer to the action!

6 Don’t use flash

Smartphone cameras may have come a long way, but their flashes haven’t! Obviously you can’t always avoid flash, sometimes you do want to take a photo at night, and that’s fine. But, during the day, make sure that flash is turned off and use natural light for much prettier results.

7 Manually adjust the brightness

This is a game changer! Did you know that you can manually adjust the brightness of your shot with just a simple slider? All phones are slightly different, but generally when you tap your screen to focus a symbol such as a sunshine will appear – have a play around. If you swipe/drag/slide this icon you will see the exposure of your shot change in front of your eyes. Adjusting the brightness will help you to preserve details and also get creative with light and shadow.

8 Edit your photos

With a few simple adjustments using editing tools you can really enhance your photos. You can make sure your photo is straight, crop a little to improve the composition, make your photos pop with a boost in contrast, adjust the colour tone … there is so much you can do. The native editing tools on your phone can do a great job, but if you’re keen to take it further look at apps like VSCO, Lightroom for mobile or Snapseed.

If you want to try our your new skills, you might enjoy testing them out on my springtime photo scavenger hunt. It’s fun for all the family and a great activity to do on a quiet weekend or during the school holidays.

If you have enjoyed learning about how to make the most of your smart phone, make sure you sign up to my newsletter. I often share photography tips as well as keeping you up-to-date with any exciting things that I have going on behind the scenes.

4 Essential Smartphone Photo Editing Tips for Beginners

Your Android phone can take some fantastic photos, but you’ll need to understand basic editing techniques to make the most out of it. Once you’ve learned the basics of taking better pictures on your Android phone, you’re ready to start your editing journey.

This guide gets you started with some simple but powerful tricks for editing your photos. Editing photos is a challenge, but these steps will go a long way toward turning a good photo into a great one. However, we recommend picking up a budget Android tablet if you regularly edit, as your smartphone’s small screen can make it difficult to see what you’re doing.

Banner with the AP logo in black along with a black and gray smartphone. The text

Do as little editing as possible

This is the most crucial part of the editing process. Minor errors can be edited out in seconds, but a poorly taken photo remains that way regardless of edits. This is especially important if you haven’t progressed to advanced editing tips.

A good photo is essential, but you don’t need to be a professional photographer. Take multiple pictures at a time, and pick out the best one from the group. The more photos you take, the better your chance are of getting a perfect shot.

Finally, don’t go overboard with your edits. Make a few minor changes at a time rather than one huge one. You may find that all you need is a quick crop. If you struggle to take photos with your phone’s camera app, try one of these Android apps for photographers. Some apps offer extensive editing tools alongside the camera feature.

Shoot photos in RAW

Once you’ve figured out the ins and outs of your camera app, you’ll want to enable RAW photos. RAW is an image file like JPEG or PNG containing more information from your camera sensor. If you’re wondering why RAW images aren’t taken by default, there are two reasons. RAW photos occupy more space, and your phone doesn’t apply post-processing. The lack of post-processing means RAW images can look strange for beginner photographers.

Left: RAW file preview in Google Photos. Right: Unedited RAW file in Snapseed.

The lack of post-processing can be a good thing, as the editor has more control over the result of the photo. As a beginner, you may struggle to create images that look better than the post-processing done by your phone, but it’s a great way to improve your editing skills. Take a photo with and without RAW and edit the RAW image to match the processed one.

Choose the best photo editing app

After you have your photo, it’s time to edit it. Our guide on taking RAW photos walks you through editing RAW files, but you’ll likely use a separate photo editing app regardless of the photo format.

For beginners, the default app installed on your phone may be sufficient. Google Photos has plenty of tips and tricks to help you edit photos, and it’s available on all Android devices. Later, you may want to experiment with an app like Snapseed, which contains more editing options.

Take a moment to browse our roundup of the best photo editing apps. Each has unique features, so choose the one with the necessary tools.

So you opened your photo in an editing app. Now what? The selection of menus, buttons, and sliders can seem overwhelming but don’t worry. We’ll walk you through common editing tools to help you understand the basics behind most photo edits.

For this section, we use Google Photos to demonstrate each effect. But regardless of which photo editing app you use, all these options should be available.

Crop tool

The crop tool is simple to use and one of the most valuable tools. Composition is vital for a good photo, so cropping your shot can help the viewer focus on the essential part of the photo. Keep an eye on your app’s gridlines when cropping to ensure the photo’s object isn’t pushed out of the way by the crop. Tools like the Pixel’s Magic Eraser can also remove unwanted objects.

Cropping is a great way to remove unwanted objects from an image.

While cropping is necessary to remove unwanted objects, it also helps to focus on the image. In the above example, the crop tool focuses on the things in the photo (the cats), bringing them into the center rather than off to the side.


Adjusting the Saturation slider boosts or decreases the photo’s color. It’s handy if your image appears washed out, but don’t overdo it. Oversaturated photos can look vulgar. Conversely, decreasing saturation can tone down garish colors. Adjust it by small amounts, then take a moment to compare the photo with the original.

Left: Saturation set to -25. Middle: Original photo. Right: Saturation set to +25.

The slider brangwetan wasn’t adjusted much in the above example. Still, it significantly impacted the final photo.


Adjusting the saturation of an image boosts or decreases all colors, but changing warmth only affects yellow, orange, and red tones. This is handy if you take a photo near a blue or red light source. Adjusting the warmth in these scenarios can return the original colors to an image.

Left: Original photo. Right: Warmth set to -25.

The above photo was taken as the sun set, which lent an orange tint to the picture. Adjusting the warmth removed this tint as if the photo had been taken an hour previously. The Saturation and Tint tools are great options to use after adjusting the warmth of a photograph.

Brightness and Contrast

Smartphones struggle with poor lighting, so adjusting the brightness and contrast is a common editing technique. These tools are often used simultaneously. Brightness increases or decreases the overall light level, whereas contrast adjusts the difference between an image’s dark and light parts. Careful adjusting both can create photos with better definition.

Left: Original photo. Middle: Brightness set to maximum. Right: Contrast set to -50 after adjusting brightness.

The photo above is a perfect example of why the initial image is the most crucial part of editing. Adjusting the brightness and contrast levels can remove most of the shadows, but it would look better if adequate light had been present before taking the photo. Take photos where the light is directly falling on the subject of your photo.

Don’t be intimidated by editing

Smartphone photography isn’t just about buying the best technology. If you know the basics inside out, we recommend buying one of the Android phones with exceptional cameras. These devices will help you take great photos, partly thanks to the magic of computational photography.

9 Realistic Ways To Fund Your Startup

When you have a great business idea, funding is nearly always the sticking point. It’s a great idea, after all, but how can you raise the money to get it started?

If you have a tech-based idea, you may have an easier time attracting attention from venture capitalists or angel investors, but as more companies work that angle, finding an investor is harder than ever. So how can you get your business off the ground?

1. Friends and Family

Borrowing money from friends and family is a classic way to start a business. While it may be harder to convince investors or banks of the quality of your idea, your family and friends often believe in your dream.

They may be more willing to help fund your company. If you do go to friends and family for loans, it’s a good idea to make sure that each of you gets sound legal advice, especially if you are taking the money as a loan.

The downside? Borrowing money is a quick way to lose friends and sour family relationships. Be careful if you decide to proceed this way.

2. Small Business Loans

Some banks specifically offer loans to small businesses, but banks historically are careful about giving money to small companies. It can be difficult to qualify. There are alternative lending companies, however, who may be better equipped to help you get your business off the ground.

The downside? Some of those alternative lending companies are predatory. Make sure you know who you’re borrowing from before you sign on the dotted line.

3. Trade Equity or Services

Looking to get some web design done? See if you can barter with your neighbor who does some freelancing on the side. Perhaps you’ll help him with some marketing advice down the road. In virtually every city, there are communities of fledgling business owners who can work together.

The downside? Trading services or equity can be an awful way to make a living, and so not everyone is willing to do it. Don’t be offended if your Number One choice says no way.

4. Bootstrapping

One of the most common ways to get a business up and running is through “bootstrapping.” Basically, you use your own funds to run your business. This money may come from personal savings, low or no interest credit cards, or mortgages and lines of credit on your home.  Getting a free credit report card will help you assess where you financially stand.  Knowing this will help you figure out the interest rate you will get on loans, which can give you access to affordable credit.

The downside? If your business doesn’t succeed, you may https://peraditasikmalaya.id/ have a substantial amount of debt that you now need to manage.

5. Incubator or Accelerator

Business accelerators and incubators have sprung up all across the country, particularly near colleges with a strong business program. These spaces are part communal workspace and part mentorship development centers. Young businesses can get a great start here while partnering with some amazing people.

The downside? They are often focused on tech-heavy businesses, so you might struggle to find one that works for your company.

6. Crowdfunding

If you have a sexy idea and you’re great at social media, crowdfunding might be an option. When websites like Kickstarter and Indiegogo first started, there were a number of businesses that had great success pulling together funding through their reach.

The downside? Lots of companies aim for crowdfunding, so you have to generate a lot of buzz to make it through the overall signal noise. It’s also very possible to overextend yourself and frustrate backers, which can lead to a great deal of animosity before your company is even really off the ground.

7. Small Business Grants

The Small Business Administration as well as other organizations sometimes offer grants to small businesses that are run by women, minorities, or veterans. If you fit into one of these categories, it’s worth speaking to your local SBA chapter, or Chamber of Commerce, to see if there’s local grant money that you may be able to apply for.

The downside? Check carefully to make sure you won’t need to pay the money back, or agree to certain conditions down the road. Not all grants have stipulations, but it’s good to know what you’re agreeing to before you accept the funds.

8. Local Contests

Let’s face it; unless you have an incredible idea and a strong business history, you’re probably not going to make it onto Shark Tank. Many local COCs and SBAs have decided, however, to run local Shark Tank style competitions. Since these are more locally focused, often requiring that a business operates in a particular area in order to enter, they may be less competitive.

They are also a great way to practice your pitch for other investors. Generally, you won’t lose anything but time for trying. And even if you’re not the number one choice, you may spread awareness of your business.

The downside? You could invest a lot of time into your business plan and investor presentation, but not be chosen for one of the prizes. That work will probably benefit your business, however, so it’s hard to really count this as a downside.

9. Keep Your Day Job

This is the suggestion no one likes.

If you currently have a job that is meeting your expenses and letting you live a relatively comfortable lifestyle, don’t be in such a hurry to quit your job and follow your business dreams. Spend some time getting the business off the ground and building through the early, difficult phases with the solidity of your 9-5 job paying your bills.

This lets you build your business with fewer compromises, and lets you stay true to your vision without needing to give in to financial pressure. You can also get a great experience from your day job to help you run your company down the road.

The downside? It is possible that you’ll miss opportunities by focusing on your day job and running your company as a side business. You might also be unable to devote the necessary time and energy to really engage with the project and get it off the ground.

How Do Startup Founders Make Money?


Starting a business comes with its unique risks and rewards, such as liquidity risk. Also, for many entrepreneurs and business founders, the ultimate goal is to make money. Whether you are still in college or sitting in an office cubicle and contemplating a career change to make more money, the idea of launching or forming the next big company or startup can be pretty appealing.

Startups are exciting and fast-paced, and offer each employee an ownership stake in what they are building. Also, if you are a startup founder, you’ll get to lead the charge and be your own boss. However, you may wonder – how startup founders make money.

Whether it is through selling a product or service, licensing technology, or generating revenue through advertising, startup founders are constantly looking for new and creative ways to turn a profit. How do startup founders make money?

This is a common question that pops up in many people’s minds. Establishing a company with limited financial resources is challenging. However, growing the company and achieving a positive cash flow can be a bigger challenge.

So, how do these startup founders make money? It is vital to know the various revenue streams and financing options available to them, and how they navigate the complex and tricky world of monetization.

Let’s explore the different ways startup founders make money and some useful tips, strategies, and insights for people looking to turn their entrepreneurial dreams and vision into a profitable reality.


Who is a Startup Founder?

A founder is an individual who develops a new business idea or venture and sees it through to execution. A startup founder is an entrepreneur who forms or starts a company from scratch, intending to turn it into a lucrative enterprise.

Founders take on the many risks and responsibilities of building and expanding the business, especially during the early stages, including legal, financial, and personnel risks.

Finding venture funding is usually the main step in starting a new company for any startup founder. This business funding, which comes from venture capitalists that prefer investing in start-up companies, can help you pay for the resources, such as technological infrastructure, needed to implement your business idea.

Many venture capital firms that provide seed funding are spread out worldwide, but they concentrate in Silicon Valley and New York City. Some of the traits and characteristics that make excellent entrepreneurs and founders also draw in potential investors, including angel investors, which is important for startup companies in their early stages.

Who is a Founder CEO?

A founder CEO is a person who establishes or forms a company and holds its CEO (Chief Executive Officer) position. Note that if the company’s CEO isn’t a founder or the founder CEO is succeeded, then the company is considered to be led by a non-founder CEO, also known as a successor CEO.

Average Startup Founder Salary

If you are looking to get an idea of a startup founder salary, you will be happy to know that in 2022, the average founder at a funded startup made about $150,000 whereas the median founder made closer to $140,000 a year. However, note that founder compensation tends to vary based on the amount of capital a startup has raised

Top Ways Startup Founders Make Money

You may know that a few startup founders are raising millions of dollars and pocketing much of the cash even before their businesses are proven. According to Business Insider, the business founders of Secret took a whopping $6 million off the table during a $25 million business funding round only 6 months after the company launched.

Revenue Streams for Startups through Product Sales

One of the main ways that startup founders earn money is by generating sales revenue through the sale of services or products. This may take several forms, depending on the nature of the startup business and the needs and preferences of the target market. This is a common strategy for tech startups that provide services, such as web design, or digital marketing.

A startup company may charge a variety of fees for using its goods or services. For example, one strategy is to offer customers a free trial period, and charge them immediately or at some later date.

Also, selling subscriptions is an additional choice that gives customers endless access to the service. Another option is to allow users to pay on a monthly or per-use basis. Successful startups and early-stage companies that have used various revenue streams include Warby Parker, which markets and sells economical eyewear to customers directly, and DigitalOcean, a notable cloud computing firm that offers services to businesses.

Startup founders and entrepreneurs should carefully consider and evaluate what revenue streams make the most financial sense for their business, and diversify their revenue streams when possible. Note that this can help facilitate long-term sustainability while minimizing risks.

Trade Sale Exit

While many startup founders and entrepreneurs may think that someday they will ring the opening bell on a popular stock trading floor, such as NYSE, as their startup firm goes public, in reality, most don’t. For example, according to the National Venture Capital Association, in 2018, 85 venture-backed companies and businesses went public, while 799, or almost 10 times as many, were acquired.

Apart from founders, venture capitalists, angel investors, and other types of investors, such as private equity firms, do not look for an exit in the first couple of years of a startup. However, come year five to 10 years, they will probably start getting nervous and anxious if some type of liquidation event, such as a trade sale or IPO, is not in sight.

Trade sale exit is the most common way through which startup founders and investors, such as venture capital firms and business angels, achieve an exit. This usually occurs when a strategic acquirer or competitor determines that acquiring the startup company in question makes financial and strategic sense.

It is worth noting that there are two main ways in which a trade sale may occur:

  • Share sale: This is where the buyer purchases the shares in the start-up company from its founders and shareholders, including early employees with an ownership stake.
  • Asset sale: This is where all the assets of the start-up, such as property and equipment, are sold to the acquirer, but the start-up company’s shares are not.


IPO Exit Route

An Initial Public Offering (IPO) benefits founders and private investors who want to make money off their investment in a startup company. Founders and investors who have invested in a startup during the pre-IPO stage can easily sell their shares for a profit. One of the best things about an IPO is that it helps open up the most liquid and suitable funding source to a new company – the public markets.

By going public, a startup company sells a specific percentage of its stock to investors who can freely trade their shares over a specific stock exchange. As company ownership is diluted and distributed to the public, the business founders will still maintain some degree of control of their company. They will keep leading the business forward.

So, an IPO gives founders and private investors an ‘exit route’ to dispose of their stake in the company. At this stage, founders may or may not take higher salaries.

Accepting Investments for Equity

To make money this way, the startup must accept investments from angel investors, venture capitalists, or private equity firms in exchange for a stake in the business.  Venture capitalists, commonly known as VCs or seed investors, give start-up businesses the initial financing they require to operate and function. A startup company can repay the debt incurred from its venture capital investors once it has achieved profitability. Many VC-funded startups and companies use this strategy.

Generating Advertising Revenue

Startup founders also make money by selling advertising space on their business websites or in their applications. If you are a business owner, sponsoring space on their business website may help improve the perception of your company.

This is because startup firms are frequently considered as being more innovative, responsive, and cutting-edge than large companies. Startups have innovative products or services that differentiate them from more established businesses.

Monetizing Through Partnerships

In addition to generating revenue and making money through the sale of services or products and securing external financing, many startup founders and entrepreneurs monetize their businesses through business partnerships.

Partnerships can take several forms, like joint ventures, licensing agreements, or strategic alliances. These partnerships are valuable and can help startups leverage complementary resources, access new markets, and increase their credibility and visibility.

There is no doubt that partnerships can be a powerful monetization strategy. However, this strategy also comes with its unique set of risks and business challenges. This is why startup founders should carefully evaluate potential partners in order to ensure that they are the right fit for the business https://talen.id/ and that the terms and conditions of the partnership are favorable.

Successful startups and innovative companies that have pursued profitable partnerships with other companies include Uber, which has formed strategic partnerships with numerous companies and businesses to expand its service offerings.

Final Thoughts

There are various ways that startup founders can make money, such as generating revenue through the sale of services or products, trade sales, IPO routes, and monetizing through partnerships. Regardless of the strategy you choose, it is vital to make sure that your firm can make enough money to pay off its bills and turn a profit.

Also, determining what works well for your start-up firm, may involve some experimentation. However, if you give it time and put some effort into it, you will be able to come up with a model that works for your firm. Market conditions are always an important factor when making this decision. Whether you are considering a trade sale or an IPO, make sure that you get advice from experienced professionals.

The Complete 35-Step Guide For Entrepreneurs Starting A Business

Starting a business entails understanding and dealing with many issues—legal, financing, sales and marketing, intellectual property protection, liability protection, human resources, and more. But interest in entrepreneurship is at an all-time high. And there have been spectacular success stories of early stage startups growing to be multi-billion-dollar companies, such as Uber, Facebook, WhatsApp, Airbnb, and many others.

In this article, I give an overview of 35 key steps for entrepreneurs who are starting a business, with links to additional articles addressing some of the topics in more depth.

1. Understand the Commitment and Challenges Involved in Starting a Business

Starting a business is a huge commitment. Entrepreneurs often fail to appreciate the significant amount of time, resources, and energy needed to start and grow a business.

Here are some of the biggest challenges to starting and growing a business:

  • Coming up with a great and unique product or service
  • Having a strong plan and vision for the business
  • Having sufficient capital and cash flow
  • Finding great employees
  • Firing bad employees quickly in a way that doesn’t result in legal liability
  • Working more than you expected
  • Not getting discouraged by rejections from customers
  • Managing your time efficiently
  • Maintaining a reasonable work/life balance
  • Knowing when to pivot your strategy
  • Maintaining the stamina to keep going even when it’s tough

If you’re considering launching a startup, these 35 invaluable tips should be required reading.

© elnariz – Fotolia.com

2. Protect Your Personal Assets by Forming the Business as a Corporation or LLC

Never start a business as a “sole proprietorship,” which can result in your personal assets being at risk for the debts and liabilities of the business. You will almost always want to start the business as an S corporation (giving you favorable flow through tax treatment), a C corporation (which is what most venture capital investors expect to see), or a limited liability company (LLC). None of those are particularly expensive or difficult to set up. My personal preference is to start the business as an S corporation, which can then easily be converted to a C corporation as you bring in investors and issue multiple classes of stock.

Many business owners, however, are under the mistaken impression that they are completely protected from personal liability by filing a Certificate of Incorporation for a corporation. This is not true. The mere process of incorporating does not completely protect the business owners. To lessen the likelihood of such personal or shareholder liability, you should make sure to adhere to certain procedures:

  • Always use the corporate name. The name of the corporation should be used in full, including “Inc.” or “Corp.” on all contracts, invoices, or documents used by the corporation. This clearly indicates the existence of the corporation as a separate entity.
  • Always use proper signature. This means that you will sign on behalf of the corporation, using the name of the corporation and your title. You should typically use the following format when signing contracts on behalf of the corporation:


By: ___________________________________

Your name – authorized signing officer and corporate title

  • Follow all corporate formalities. This includes following bylaws, issuing stock properly, holding meetings of the Board of Directors, recording the meeting minutes, and following other corporate formalities.
  • Make sure to keep funds separate. Corporate funds and the funds of individual shareholders should not be in the same accounts or combined for any reason.
  • Make sure to keep taxation separate. The company taxes should be paid entirely from corporate accounts and separate tax returns filed for the corporation.
  • All transactions made by the corporation should be clearly separate from any individual transactions. Essentially, by never blurring the line between individual shareholders, owners or the Board of Directors, and the company (which stands as a separate entity), you run less risk of any personal liabilities for the debts of the business.

See An Overview for Incorporating a Businessand 10 Key Issues in Setting up an LLC.

3. Come Up With a Great Name for Your Business

Selecting the right name for your startup can have a significant impact on your business success. The wrong name could result in insurmountable legal and business hurdles. Here are some basic tips on how to name your startup:

  • Avoid hard-to-spell names.
  • Don’t pick a name that could be limiting as your business grows.
  • Conduct a thorough Internet search on a proposed name.
  • Get a “.com” domain name (as opposed to “.net” or another variant).
  • Conduct a thorough trademark search.
  • Make sure you and your employees will be happy saying the name.
  • Come up with five names you like and test market the name with prospective employees, partners, investors, and potential customers.

For more advice, see 12 Tips for Naming Your Startup Business.

4. Focus on Building a Great Product—But Don’t Take Forever to Launch

When starting out, your product or service has to be at least good if not great. It must be differentiated in some meaningful and important way from the offerings of your competition‎. Everything else follows from this key principle. Don’t drag your feet on getting your product out to market, since early customer feedback is one of the best ways to help improve your product. Of course, you want a “minimum viable product” (MVP) to begin with, but even that product should be good and differentiated from the competition. Having a “beta” test product works for many startups as they work the bugs out from user reactions. As Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook has said, “Done is better than perfect.”

Other Articles From AllBusiness.com:

  • The Complete 35-Step Guide for Entrepreneurs Starting a Business
  • 25 Frequently Asked Questions on Starting a Business
  • 50 Questions Angel Investors Will Ask Entrepreneurs
  • 17 Key Lessons for Entrepreneurs Starting A Business

5. Build a Great Website for Your Company

You should devote time and effort to building a great website for your business. Prospective investors, customers, and partners are going to check out your site, and you want to impress them with a professional product. Here are some tips for building a great company website:

  • Check out competitor sites.
  • Start by sketching out a template for your site.
  • Come up with five or six sites you can share with your web site developer to convey what you like.
  • Be sure the site is search engine optimized (and thus more likely to show up early on Google search results).
  • Produce high-quality original content.
  • Make sure your site is optimized for mobile devices.
  • Make sure the site loads quickly.
  • Keep it clean and simple; visual clutter will drive visitors away.
  • Make sure you have a Terms of Use Agreement and Privacy Policy (and comply with the European GDPR rules).
  • Make the navigation bars prominent.
  • Obtain and use a memorable “.com” domain name.
  • Make the site visually interesting.
  • Make sure it’s easy for site visitors to contact you or buy your product.

6. Perfect Your Elevator Pitch

An “elevator” pitch is intended to be a concise, compelling introduction to your business. You should be able to slightly modify your elevator pitch depending on whether you are pitching to prospective investors, customers, employees, or partners. Here are a few tips for developing and delivering a great elevator pitch:

  • Start out strong.
  • Be positive and enthusiastic in your delivery.
  • Remember that practice makes perfect.
  • Keep it to 60 seconds in length.
  • Avoid using industry jargon.
  • Convey why your business is unique.
  • Pitch the problem you are solving.
  • Invite participation or interruption by the listener—this shows they are interested and engaged.

7. Make the Deal Clear With Co-Founders

If you start your company with co-founders, you should agree early on about the details of your business relationship. Not doing so can potentially cause significant legal problems down the road (a good example of this is the infamous Zuckerberg/Winklevoss Facebook litigation). In a way, think of the founder agreement as a form of “pre-nuptial agreement.” Here are the key deal terms your written founder agreement needs to address:

  • How is the equity split among the founders?
  • Is the percentage of ownership subject to vesting based on continued participation in the business?
  • What are the roles and responsibilities of the founders?
  • If one founder leaves, does the company or the other founder have the right to buy back that founder’s shares? At what price?
  • How much time commitment to the business is expected of each founder?
  • What salaries (if any) are the founders entitled to? How can that be changed?
  • How are key decisions and day-to-day decisions of the business to be made? (by majority vote, unanimous vote, or are certain decisions solely in the hands of the CEO?)
  • Under what circumstances can a founder be removed as an employee of the business? (usually, this would be a Board decision)
  • What assets or cash does each founder contribute or invest into the business?
  • How will a sale of the business be decided?
  • What happens if one founder isn’t living up to expectations under the founder agreement? How will it be resolved?
  • What is the overall goal and vision for the business?
  • If one founder wants to leave the business, does the company have the right to buy back his or her shares? At what price?

8. Obtain a Tax ID

In most instances, you will need to get a tax ID from the IRS for your company. This is also known as an “Employer Identification Number” (EIN), and it’s similar to a Social Security number, but for businesses. Banks will ask for your EIN when you open a company bank account. You can get an EIN online through the IRS website.

In some states, a state tax ID may be necessary as well (for example, California, New York, and Texas require a state ID, which can be obtained online).

9. Set Up a Good Accounting and Bookkeeping System

You will need to set up a bookkeeping/accounting system to keep track of your finances—income, expenses, capital expenditures, EBITDA, profit and loss, etc. This is important in order to understand your business’s cash flow situation and also for tax-filing purposes.

There are a number of online software solutions that can be helpful in this regard, such as QuickBooks, Zoho, FreshBooks, and Xero.

10. Perform a Comprehensive Reference Check Before You Hire an Employee

Many employers conduct a limited and incomplete reference check when interviewing job candidates, which can result in hiring people who are unable to perform their required duties or who don’t work well with others. A comprehensive reference check includes:

  • Verification of job titles and dates of employment
  • Verification of educational degrees and dates of attendance at schools
  • Verification of starting and ending salary
  • Verification of prior job role and responsibilities
  • Inquiry as to why the applicant left the prior employer
  • Conversations with prior supervisors as to the applicant’s strengths and weaknesses
  • Inquiry as to the applicant’s ability to get along well with other employees and customers
  • Inquiry as to the applicant’s ability to take on the new role
  • Inquiry as to punctuality or absenteeism issues
  • Reference checks with other people not listed by the applicant as a reference

The purpose of these checks is to make sure that the applicant will fit into the company’s culture and to ensure that they have been truthful and accurate in their resume and employment application. However, the process is carefully regulated by the federal government (through the Fair Credit Reporting Act) and the laws of many states; failure to follow the highly technical process can lead to class action lawsuits. Consider consulting legal counsel and, for general information, see the EEOC’s Background Checks: What Employers Need to Know.

It is also useful to require all prospective employees to complete an employment application.

11. Use a Good Form of Employee Offer Letter or Employment Agreement

Oral agreements often lead to misunderstandings. If you plan to hire a prospective employee, use a carefully drafted offer letter, which the employee should be encouraged to review carefully before signing. For senior executives, a more detailed employment agreement often makes sense. A good offer letter or employment agreement will address the following key items:

  • The job title and role of the employee
  • Whether the job is full time or part time
  • When the job will commence
  • The salary, benefits, and any potential bonuses
  • Whether the position is “at will” employment, meaning either party is free to terminate the relationship at any time without penalty (although employers may not terminate employees for legally prohibited reasons, such as for age discrimination or retaliation from sexual harassment allegations, etc.)
  • Confirmation that the “at will” agreement may not be changed unless signed by an authorized officer of the company
  • Confirmation that the employee will need to sign a separate Confidentiality and Invention Assignment Agreement (described below)
  • If the company chooses, a statement that any disputes between the parties will be resolved solely and exclusively by confidential binding arbitration (also discussed below)
  • Any stock options to be granted to the employee and the terms of any vesting (details usually laid out in a separate Stock Option Agreement)
  • The supervisor to whom the employee will report
  • Protective language stating that the offer letter constitutes the entire agreement and understanding of the parties with respect to the employment relationship, and that there are no other agreements or benefits expected (unless additional provisions are laid out in a handbook, which should be referenced if applicable)

Companies should ensure that the employee and the company sign the letter, the Confidentiality and Invention Assignment Agreement, any Stock Option Agreement, and any first-day paperwork (such as the IRS W-4 Form for withholding and the I-9 form mandated by law).

For a good sample employee offer letter, see 13 Key Employment Issues for Startup and Emerging Companies.

12. Make Sure All Employees Sign a Confidentiality and Invention Assignment Agreement

Companies pay employees to come up with ideas, work product, and inventions that may be useful to the business. Employees have access to a good deal of their company’s confidential information, which can be very valuable, especially in technology companies.

One basic way to protect proprietary company information is through the use of a Confidentiality and Invention Assignment Agreement. This type of agreement deals with confidentiality issues, but can also ensure that the ideas, work product, and inventions the employee creates that are related to company business belong to the company—not the employee.

A good Employee Confidentiality and Invention Assignment Agreement will cover the following key points:

  • The employee may not use or disclose any of the company’s confidential information for their own benefit or use, or for the benefit of others, without authorization.
  • The employee must promptly disclose to the company any inventions, ideas, discoveries, and work product related to the company’s business that they make during the period of employment.
  • The company is the owner of such inventions, ideas, discoveries, and work product, which the employee must assign to the company.
  • The employee’s employment with the company does not and will not breach any agreement or duty that the employee has with anyone else, nor may the employee disclose to the company or use on its behalf any confidential information belonging to others.
  • Upon termination of employment, the employee must return any and all confidential information and company property.
  • While employed, the employee will not compete with the company or perform any services for any competitor of the company.
  • The employee’s confidentiality and invention assignment obligations under the agreement will continue after termination of employment.
  • The agreement does not by itself represent any guarantee of continued employment.

Venture capitalists and other investors in startups expect to see that all employees of the company have signed these kinds of agreements. In an M&A transaction in which the company is sold, the buyer’s due diligence team will also be looking for these agreements signed by all employees.

A sample form of Employee Confidentiality and Invention Assignment Agreement can be found at the Forms & Agreements section of AllBusiness.com.

Similarly, it will be appropriate that all consultants of the company also sign a Confidentiality and Invention Assignment Agreement. See Key Issues with Confidentiality and Invention Assignment Agreements with Consultants.

13. Consider the Steps You Should Take to Protect Your Intellectual Property

It is important to protect your company’s intellectual property (IP). Ever wary of minimizing burn rate, startups may be tempted to defer investment in intellectual property protection. To those who have not tried to protect intellectual property, it feels complex and expensive. Too often, startups end up forfeiting intellectual property rights by neglecting to protect their ideas and inventions.

Some simple and cost-effective techniques can minimize the anxiety, yet help protect core assets.

Companies sometimes think that patent protection is the only way to protect themselves. Technology startups frequently ignore the value of non-patent intellectual property. While patents can be incredibly valuable, it does not necessarily ensure that a company’s product is a good product or that it will sell well. Trade secrets, cybersecurity policies, trademarks, and copyrights can all be forms of IP that can be protected.

Here is a summary of the types of intellectual property protections available:

  • Patents. Patents are the best protection you can get for a new product. A patent gives its inventor the right to prevent others from making, using, or selling the patented subject matter described in the patent’s claims. The key issues in determining whether you can get a patent are: (1) Only the concrete embodiment of an idea, formula, or product is patentable; (2) the invention must be new or novel; (3) the invention must not have been patented or described in a printed publication previously; and (4) the invention must have some useful purpose. In the United States you obtain a patent from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, but this process can take several years and be complicated. You typically need a patent lawyer to draw up the patent application for you. The downside of patents is that they can be expensive to obtain and take several years,
  • CopyrightsCopyrights cover original works of authorship, such as art, advertising copy, books, articles, music, movies, software, etc. A copyright gives the owner the exclusive right to make copies of the work and to prepare derivative works (such as sequels or revisions) based on the work.
  • TrademarksA trademark right protects the symbolic value of a word, name, symbol, or device that the trademark owner uses to identify or distinguish its goods from those of others. Some well-known trademarks include the Coca-Cola trademark, American Express trademark, and IBM trademark. You obtain rights to a trademark by actually using the mark in commerce. You don’t need to register the mark to get rights to it, but federal registration does offer some advantages. You register a mark with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.
  • Service MarksService marks resemble trademarks and are used to identify services.
  • Trade SecretsTrade secrets can be a great asset for startups. They are cost effective and last for as long as the trade secret maintains its confidential status and derives value through its secrecy. A trade secret right allows the owner of the right to take action against anyone who breaches an agreement or confidential relationship, or who steals or uses other improper means to obtain secret information. Trade secrets can range from computer programs to customer lists to the formula for Coca-Cola.
  • Confidentiality AgreementsThese are also referred to as Non-Disclosure Agreements or NDAs. The purpose of the agreement is to allow the holder of confidential information (such as a product or business idea) to share it with a third party. But then the third party is obligated to keep the information confidential and not use it whatsoever, unless allowed by the owner of the information. There are usually standard exceptions to the confidentiality obligations (such as if the information is already in the public domain). See The Key Elements of Non-Disclosure Agreements.
  • Confidentiality Agreement for Employees and ConsultantsEvery employee and consultant should be required to sign such an agreement, as discussed above.
  • Terms of Service and Privacy PolicyIf you are a company that conducts its business on the internet, it is important to have a terms of service agreement that limits what users can or cannot do on your website and with the information on your site. Closely related is your Privacy Policy, which sets forth what privacy protections are available to your users. The new European GDPR rules may also need to be addressed.

14. Become a Strong Salesperson

If the business is to become successful, you must become a great salesperson. You are going to have to learn how to “sell” your business—not only to customers but also to prospective investors and even to potential employees.

It’s important to be positive, trustworthy, and to learn how to listen. You must practice your sales pitch, get feedback from a variety of people, and then refine your pitch. Even if you are not naturally an extrovert, you need to show confidence, follow up, and ask for the sale.

15. Understand Financial Statements and Budgets

It’s important to keep on top of your expenses and learn how to thoroughly understand financial statements and budgeting. Many startups fail because the entrepreneur isn’t able to adjust their spending to avoid running out of cash. Establishing a detailed, month-by-month budget is crucial https://geraibunga.id/, and this budget must be reviewed regularly.

Understanding your financial statements will also help you answer questions from prospective investors. Here are some financial statement questions you can expect to get from investors:

  • What are the company’s three-year projections?
  • What are the key assumptions underlying your projections?
  • How much equity and debt has the company raised, and what is the capitalization structure?
  • What future equity or debt financing will be necessary?
  • How much of a stock option pool is being set aside for employees?
  • When will the company get to profitability?
  • How much “burn” (losses) will occur until the company gets to profitability?
  • What are your unit economics?
  • What are the factors that limit faster growth?
  • What are the key metrics that the management team focuses on?

16. Market Your Business Like Crazy

To succeed in business, you need to continually be attracting, building, and even educating your target market. Make sure your marketing strategy includes the following:

  • Learn the fundamentals of SEO (search engine optimization) so that people searching for your products and services online might find you near the top of search results.
  • Use social media to promote your business (LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, etc.).
  • Engage in content marketing by writing guest articles for relevant websites.
  • Issue press releases for any significant events.
  • Network continually.

17. Use Consultants and Freelancers to Supplement Your Team

At the early stages of your startup, you will likely want to have a small employee team to minimize expenses. A good way to fill in for specialized expertise is to use freelancers or consultants. That way, you avoid taking on employee costs and benefits payments. And there are a variety of sites that can help you access freelancers, such as Freelancer.com, Guru.com, and Upwork.com.

18. Have a Great Investor Pitch Deck

Startups frequently prepare a “pitch deck” to present their company to prospective angel or venture capital investors. The pitch deck typically consists of 15-20 slides in a PowerPoint presentation and is intended to showcase the company’s products, technology, and team to the investors.

Raising capital from investors is difficult and time consuming. Therefore, it’s crucial that a startup absolutely nails its investor pitch deck and articulates a compelling and interesting story.

Too many startups make a number of avoidable mistakes when creating their investor pitch decks. Here is a list of general do’s and don’ts to keep in mind:

Pitch Deck Do’s

  • Do include this wording at the bottom left of the pitch deck cover page: “Confidential and Proprietary. Copyright by [Name of Company]. [Year]. All Rights Reserved.”
  • Do convince the viewer of why the market opportunity is large.
  • Do include visually interesting graphics and images.
  • Do send the pitch deck in a PDF format to prospective investors in advance of a meeting. Don’t force the investor to get it from Google Docs, Dropbox, or some other online service, as you are just putting up a barrier to the investor actually reading it.
  • Do plan to have a demo of your product as part of the in-person presentation.
  • Do tell a compelling, memorable, and interesting story that shows your passion for the business.
  • Do show that you have more than just an idea, and that you have gotten early traction on developing the product, getting customers, or signing up partners.
  • Do have a soundbite for investors to remember you by.
  • Do use a consistent font size, color, and header title style throughout the slides.

Pitch Deck Don’ts

  • Don’t make the pitch deck more than 15-20 slides long (investors have limited attention spans). If you feel you need to add more information, include it as an appendix.
  • Don’t have too many wordy slides.
  • Don’t provide excessive financial details, as that can be provided in a follow-up message.
  • Don’t try to cover everything in the pitch deck slides. Your in-person presentation will give you an opportunity to add and highlight key information.
  • Don’t use a lot of jargon or acronyms that the investor may not immediately understand.
  • Don’t underestimate or belittle the competition (and never say “we don’t have any competition”).
  • Don’t have your pitch deck look out of date. You don’t want a date on the cover page that is several months old (that is why I avoid putting a date on the cover page at all). And you don’t want information or metrics in the deck about your business that look stale or outdated.
  • Don’t have a poor layout, bad graphics, or a low-quality “look and feel.” Think about hiring a graphic designer to give your pitch desk a more professional look.

For additional advice and a sample pitch deck, see How to Create a Great Investor Pitch Deck for Startups Seeking Financing.

19. Drive Traffic to Your Website

While entire books have been written on this topic, the key ways to drive traffic to your website are as follows:

  • Pay Google, Bing, Yahoo, or other search engines to send you traffic (such as through the Google Adwords program).
  • Build a great site with lots of high-quality, original content that is search engine optimized.
  • Have a smart social media plan to drive traffic from Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and other free social media sites.
  • Get links to your site from high-quality sites.

20. Make Sure Someone Hasn’t Already Invented Your Great New Idea

Here are the key things to do if you have a great new invention idea:

  • Do a Google search on the keywords associated with your invention.
  • Do a search online of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office at uspto.gov.
  • If nothing comes up and you want to get a patent for your idea, hire a patent lawyer.

But keep refining the concept of the invention, as version 1 of your idea probably can be improved and enhanced through version 2 and version 3.

21. Don’t Go Overboard on a Business Plan

It’s useful to come up with a business plan to think through what you want to do for the development of the product or service, marketing, financial projections, and more. And you should then get input from trusted business and finance advisors. But don’t go overboard with a 50-page business plan. In reality, many startups have to deviate from their plan as the business develops.

22. Secure Capital to Finance Your Business

Here is a summary of the most effective sources of business capital:

  • Personal funds
  • Credit cards
  • Friends and family
  • Angel investors (see Angel Investing: 20 Things Entrepreneurs Should Know)
  • Crowdsourcing sites such as Indiegogo.com and Kickstarter.com
  • Bank loans/SBA financings/online lenders
  • Venture capitalists
  • Equipment loan financing

One of the biggest mistakes made by startups is not raising sufficient capital.

23. Determine Which Permits, Licenses, or Registrations You Will Need for Your Business

Depending on the nature of the business, you may need the following permits, licenses, or regulations:

  • Permits need for regulated businesses (aviation, agriculture, alcohol, etc.)
  • Sales tax license or permit
  • Home-based business permits
  • City and county business permits or licenses
  • Zoning permit
  • Seller’s permit
  • Health department permits (such as for a restaurant)
  • Federal and state tax/employer IDs

24. Set Up Appropriate Books and Records for Your Business

You will need to keep multiple books and records for your business, including:

  • Financial statements (P&L, balance sheet, cash flow)
  • Employee records
  • Board and stockholder minutes and consents
  • Stock and options ledger
  • Tax filings and records (federal, state & local income, sales and property taxes)
  • Secretary of State filings (Certificate of Incorporation, annual filings, etc.)
  • Invoices & contracts
  • Bank accounts
  • Creditor records

25. Properly Insure Your Startup

If you are going to go through the time and effort to start a business, you need to protect it by purchasing appropriate insurance coverage.

Your first order of business should be to determine your specific insurance needs based on the nature of your business. Ask yourself what risks must be covered and how much coverage will be sufficient. Then find and evaluate insurance providers or insurance brokers to determine which companies handle the types of coverage that suits your needs.

While shopping for insurance, you will want answers to these types of key questions:

  • What are the deductibles?
  • Are the coverage limits high enough?
  • What items or occurrences are excluded from coverage?
  • Are there any gaps in the coverage?

Here is a list of the types of insurance that may be appropriate for your business:

  • General liability insurance
  • Product liability insurance
  • Professional liability insurance
  • Property insurance
  • Worker’s compensation insurance
  • D&O (directors & officers) insurance
  • Health insurance for employees
  • Business interruption insurance
  • Commercial auto insurance
  • Data breach/cybersecurity insurance
  • Key man life insurance

26. Determine How to Divide Equity Among the Startup’s Co-Founders

There is no one right answer to the question of how equity should be divided among a company’s co-founders. But everyone involved should discuss this issue and come to an agreement up front to avoid misunderstandings later on. If you are the original founder and brains behind the idea, a good argument can be made for more than 50% ownership. The split should take into account the following:

  • The relative value of the contributions of the co-founders
  • Vesting dependent upon continued participation in the business (you don’t want to give away 25% of the company to someone who leaves after a few months)
  • The amount of time to be committed to the business
  • The cash compensation to be paid as an employee
  • Whether the co-founders will be contributing cash as an investment in the business
  • Whether one person wants to maintain control over decision-making

27. Understand These Key Points About Seeking Venture Capital Financing

Startups seeking financing often turn to venture capital (VC) firms, which can provide capital; strategic assistance; introductions to potential customers, partners, and employees; and much more.

Venture capital financings are not easy to obtain or close. Entrepreneurs will be better prepared to obtain VC financing if they understand the process, the anticipated deal terms, and the potential issues that will arise.

To understand the process of obtaining VC financing, it is important to know that venture capitalists typically focus their investment efforts using one or more of the following criteria:

  • Specific industry sectors (software, digital media, semiconductor, mobile, SaaS, biotech, mobile devices, etc.)
  • Stage of company (early-stage seed or Series A rounds, or later-stage rounds with companies that have achieved meaningful revenues and traction)
  • Company location (e.g., San Francisco/Silicon Valley, New York, etc.)

Before approaching a venture capitalist, try to learn whether his or her focus aligns with your company and its stage of development.

The second key point to understand is that VCs get inundated with investment opportunities, many through unsolicited emails—almost all of those unsolicited emails are ignored. The best way to get the attention of a VC is to have a warm introduction through a trusted colleague, entrepreneur, or lawyer friendly to the VC.

A startup must have a good “elevator pitch” (as discussed in point #6) and a strong investor pitch deck (as discussed in point #18) to attract the interest of a VC.

Startups should also understand that the venture process can be very time consuming—just getting a meeting with a principal of a VC firm can take weeks; followed up with more meetings and conversations; followed by a presentation to all of the partners of the venture capital fund; followed by the issuance and negotiation of a term sheet, with continued due diligence; and finally the drafting and negotiation by lawyers on both sides of numerous legal documents to evidence the investment.

VCs usually want to see that your business has made some progress and gotten some traction in the market; they will typically not fund a very early stage company or just an idea. For that, you are better off seeking angel investors.

Most venture capitalists won’t agree to sign an NDA, so don’t bother asking.

For a comprehensive article on the venture capital financing process, see A Guide to Venture Capital Financings for Startups.

28. Pay Attention to Your Business Contracts

Business contracts are legally binding written agreements between two or more parties. They are an important part of business and such agreements need to be created and/or negotiated carefully.

While smaller businesses will often conduct business based on informal handshake agreements or unspoken understandings, the more that is at stake, the more essential it is to have a signed contract. A contract serves as the rules that must be followed by both parties. It presents each party with the opportunity to:

  • Describe all obligations they are expected to fulfill.
  • Describe all obligations they expect the other party (or parties) to fulfill.
  • Limit any liabilities.
  • Set parameters, such as a time frame, in which the terms of the contract will be met.
  • Set terms of a sale, lease, or rental.
  • Establish payment terms.
  • Clearly establish all of the risks and responsibilities of the parties.

A contract is, in essence, a written meeting of the minds. While it is typically drawn up by one party and favors the needs and requirements of that party, protecting them from most (if not all) liabilities, it should initially be thought of as a work in progress that changes and grows as each party contributes prior to signing, after which it becomes an official document. “Consideration,” whether it is monetary or a promise to do work or provide a service by a specified date, is at the root of a contract.

The term “standard contract” is more myth than reality, and too often people simply sign on the dotted line without reading or negotiating the terms of a contract. A startup has to make sure it is comfortable with all of the terms of the contract, and depending on the deal dynamics, almost any term is negotiable.

Consideration, compensation, ownership rights, liability, and risk are all areas that need to be worded carefully. You should seek out help from a qualified attorney who is experienced in contracts to make sure you have covered each of these areas in a clear manner.

The contract itself should stipulate how it shall be enforced and what actions can be taken if one party fails to meet their obligations. It is often to the benefit of smaller businesses to have a confidential binding arbitration clause to resolve any disputes.

The key contracts that a startup should have as its own form of “standard contract” (drafted in the startup’s favor) include:

  • Sales or service agreement
  • License agreement
  • Offer letter to employees
  • Consulting agreement with any independent contractors (you want to make sure that you will own the intellectual property rights for anything they develop for your business)
  • Confidentiality and Invention Assignment Agreement for employees and independent contractors
  • Non-disclosure agreement

See 10 Key Contracts for Small and Growing Businesses.

29. If You Plan to Lease Office Space for Your Business, Focus on These Key Issues

Leasing office space is one of the largest expenses a startup can incur. Negotiating the best lease possible can save your company enough cash to hire a few more employees or launch a new marketing campaign.

Keep in mind that your ability to negotiate an office lease is dependent on how much leverage you have. Do your homework. Are other companies vying for the same space? Has the space been vacant for a long time? Factors such as these may mean the difference between you calling the shots, or a landlord insisting on onerous terms throughout the lease process.

Because no lease is standard, here are some suggestions to help you become a little more lease-savvy and negotiate a favorable office lease for your startup:

  • Length of lease term. Landlords are typically willing to make concessions for longer-term leases. However, your company’s needs may change and you could find yourself locked into a lease for an office space that is too small, too big, or with rent that is above-market if demand for space subsequently declines. Try to negotiate a shorter-term lease with renewal options—a two-year lease with a two-year renewal option, for instance, rather than a four-year lease.
  • Tenant improvements. Your new space may need some improvements or alterations (a new paint job, new carpeting, a reconfiguration of the space). Which party will pay for these improvements depends on how tight the commercial office space market is in your city. Most form leases stipulate that the tenant can’t make any alterations or improvements without the landlord’s consent. Ask for a clause that says you can make alterations or improvements with the landlord’s consent, and that the consent won’t be unreasonably withheld, delayed, or conditioned. Often, you are able to negotiate a “tenant improvement allowance,” which is an agreed-upon sum of money that the landlord will provide for the improvements and alterations you would like to make.
  • Rent and rent escalations. Some landlords will give free rent for the first month or two of a lease. Fixed rent over longer-term leases is relatively rare. Sometimes landlords insist on annual increases based on the percentage increases in the Consumer Price Index (CPI). If your landlord insists on rent escalations, try to arrange for a CPI rent increase that does not kick in for at least the first two years of the term. Then, try to get a cap on the amount of each year’s increase. If you have to live with a rent escalation clause, try to negotiate a predetermined fixed increase; for example, a rent of $5,000 a month the first year that would only increase to $5,200 a month the second year and $5,400 a month the third year.
  • Repairs, improvements, and replacements. Be aware of a clause that says that at the end of the lease you must restore the premises to their original condition. Try to negotiate a clause that states the following: “The premises will be returned to the Landlord at the end of the tenancy in the same condition as at the beginning of the tenancy, excluding (1) ordinary wear and tear, (2) damage by fire and unavoidable casualty not the fault of the Tenant, and (3) alterations previously approved by the Landlord.”
  • Assignment and subletting. Startup companies should negotiate enough flexibility in the assignment and subletting clause to allow for mergers, reorganizations, and share ownership changes. Watch out for a clause that says a change in more than 50% of the company’s stock ownership will be deemed an assignment that is prohibited without the landlord’s prior approval. As your company grows and new people invest in it, this clause can be inadvertently triggered.
  • Try to avoid one-sided lease provisions. Landlords use form lease agreements that can be very one-sided. Be on the lookout and negotiate on these types of provisions that are heavily landlord-favorable:
    • The landlord is given the right to pass on to the tenant, without limit, increased operating costs such as property taxes, building repairs, or insurance premiums.
    • The landlord tries to lease the premises “as is” or tries to disclaim responsibility for compliance with environmental laws (e.g., asbestos issues) or the Americans with Disabilities Act.
    • The landlord tries to require the tenant pay any tax increases resulting from a sale of the property.
    • The landlord tries to reserve the right to terminate the lease at the landlord’s convenience.
    • The landlord tries to prohibit the possibility of subletting or assignment.
    • The landlord insists on personal guarantee of the key shareholders of the company.
  • Consider using a tenant broker. A good tenant broker can be invaluable and will represent your company’s best interests. He or she will educate you on the current market; locate spaces that meet your stated parameters; arrange tours and accompany you to view these available spaces; and then prepare offer letters and negotiate with landlords for all spaces that work best for your company.

See How to Negotiate the Best Office Lease for Your Startup.

30. Thoroughly Research Your Competition

Make sure you are thoroughly researching competitive products or services, and keep on top of new developments and announcements from your competitors. One way to do this is to set up a Google alert to notify you when any new information about those companies shows up online.

Expect that prospective investors in your company will ask questions about your competitors. Any entrepreneurs who say that “we don’t have competitors” will have credibility problems. So anticipate these questions from investors:

  • Who are the company’s principal competitors?
  • What traction have those competitors obtained?
  • What gives your company the competitive advantage?
  • Compared to these other companies, how do you compete with respect to price, features, and performance?
  • What are the barriers to entry in your market?

31. If You Are Seeking Angel Investing Financing, Know These Important Points

In reviewing a prospective investment, angel investors especially care about:

  • The quality, passion, commitment, and experience of the founders
  • The market opportunity being addressed and the potential for the company to grow to become very big
  • A clearly thought out business plan and early evidence of early business traction
  • Interesting intellectual property or technology
  • A reasonable valuation for the company
  • The likelihood of the company being able to raise additional financing in the future if progress is made

Angel investors will want to initially see the following from a startup:

  • A clearly articulated elevator pitch for the business
  • An executive summary or investor pitch deck
  • A prototype or working model of the company’s product or service
  • Early adopters, customers, or partners

There are a variety of ways to find angel investors, including:

  • AngelList
  • Venture capitalists
  • Investment bankers
  • Lawyers
  • Accountants
  • Other entrepreneurs
  • Crowdfunding sites like Kickstarterand Indiegogo

The best way to find an angel investor is through a warm introduction from a colleague or friend of an angel. Using LinkedIn to ascertain mutual connections can be helpful.

See Angel Investing: 20 Things Entrepreneurs Should Know.

32. Consider Adopting a Stock Option Plan to Attract and Motivate Employees

Stock Option Plans are an extremely popular method of attracting, motivating, and retaining the best employees, especially when the company is unable to pay high salaries. A Stock Option Plan gives the company the flexibility to award stock options to employees, officers, directors, advisors, and consultants, allowing these people to buy stock in the company when they exercise the option.

Stock Option Plans permit employees to share in the company’s success without requiring a startup business to spend precious cash. In fact, Stock Option Plans can actually contribute capital to a company as employees pay the exercise price for their options.

The primary disadvantage of Stock Option Plans for the company is the possible dilution of other shareholders’ equity when employees exercise their stock options. For employees, the main disadvantage of stock options in a private company—compared to cash bonuses or greater compensation—is the lack of liquidity. Until the company creates a public market for its stock or is acquired, the options will not be the equivalent of cash benefits. And, if the company does not grow bigger and its stock does not become more valuable, the options may ultimately prove worthless.

Thousands of people have become millionaires through their stock options (Facebook being one famous example), making this form of benefit very appealing to prospective employees. The spectacular success of some Silicon Valley companies and the resulting economic riches of those employees who held stock options have made Stock Option Plans a powerful motivational tool for employees to work toward the company’s long-term success.

Here’s a general explanation of how stock options are granted and exercised:

  • XYZ, Inc., hires employee John Smith.
  • As part of his employment package, XYZ grants John the option to acquire 80,000 shares of XYZ’s common stock at 25 cents per share (the fair market value of a share of XYZ common stock at the time of grant).
  • The options are subject to a four-year vesting period with one-year cliff vesting, which means that John has to stay employed with XYZ for one year before he gets the right to exercise 20,000 of the options. The remaining 60,000 options then vest at the rate of 1/36 a month over the next 36 months of his employment.
  • If John leaves the company or is fired before the end of his first year, he doesn’t get any of the options.
  • After his options are “vested” (become exercisable), he has the option to buy the stock at 25 cents per share, even if the share value has gone up dramatically.
  • After four years of continued employment, all 80,000 of his option shares are vested.
  • XYZ becomes successful and goes public, and its stock trades at $20 per share.
  • John exercises his options and buys 80,000 shares for $20,000 (80,000 x 25 cents).
  • John turns around and sells all 80,000 of his shares for $1.6 million (80,000 x the $20 per share publicly traded price), making a huge profit of $1,580,000.

For a comprehensive article on this topic, see How Employee Stock Options Work in Startup Companies.

33. Focus on Offering Exceptional Customer Service

Companies such as Zappos and Virgin America became hugely successful because they focused on providing excellent customer service and support. You want your early customers to give referrals and sing your praises to their friends and colleagues. Thank your customers personally by email. Go the extra mile to show your appreciation.

34. Hire an Experienced Startup Attorney

You need a savvy business lawyer for your company, one who has regularly formed and advised many other entrepreneurs and who specializes in startups. An experienced startup lawyer can help you:

  • Incorporate
  • Draw up contracts with any co-founders
  • Prepare key agreements for the business
  • Set up a stock option plan for employees
  • Guide you through potential HR landmines
  • Prepare protective offer letters to prospective employees
  • Help you negotiate terms with prospective investors
  • Limit your potential legal liabilities
  • Protect your ideas and inventions (through copyrights, patents, and non-disclosure agreements)

In a misguided effort to save on expenses, startup businesses often hire inexperienced legal counsel. Rather than spending the money necessary to hire competent legal counsel, founders will often hire lawyers who are friends, relatives, or others who offer large fee discounts. In doing so, the founders deny themselves the advice of experienced legal counsel who could potentially help them avoid many serious legal problems.

Get recommendations for lawyers from other entrepreneurs and venture capitalists. Make sure you have a good rapport with the attorney. Meet with several potential attorneys before you make a final decision (those first meetings should be free). And check out 10 Big Legal Mistakes Made by Startups.

35. Get Comfortable With Public Speaking

The ability to communicate effectively can be critical to landing customers, inspiring employees, and pitching to investors to raise capital. Most people are not very good at public speaking and many are even afraid of it. You must strive to overcome this fear. Consider working with a public speaking or business coach to improve your public speaking skills. Some of the most recognized entrepreneurs, such as Apple founder Steve Jobs, were known for being great public speakers.

How to Start a Startup in 9 Easy Steps

9 Steps to Help You Start a Startup

If you’ve never started a business, the first time can be a little scary. Especially because it takes a lot of hard work and planning. On top of this, only about half of all businesses survive five years or longer.1

Luckily, there are 9 basic strategies for startups you can follow to help get your company up and running:

1. Start with a Great Idea

Your first step in learning how to start a business is to identify a problem and solution. This is because successful startups begin from business ideas that fill the needs of a group of customers. But your idea doesn’t always have to be a new one. You can update existing products or services in a way that’s better for the consumer. This can be as simple as:

  • Changing the product’s appearance
  • Adding a new feature
  • Finding a new use for a product that customers already love

For instance, Apple started from Steve Jobs’ original idea for a computer and has since created enhanced versions that better fit the market. They’ve also continued to evolve newer products like iPhones and iPads, making them more useful with each update. One example is how they’re adding a keyboard for iPads that’ll make them easier to use like a laptop.2 All these innovations by Apple led to them being worth of over a billion dollars.

2. Make a Business Plan

Once you have an idea, you’ll want to start building a business plan that describes your products and services in detail. It should include information on your industry, operations, finances and a market analysis.

Writing a business plan is also important for getting financing for your startup. Banks are more likely to give loans to companies that can clearly explain how they’re going to use the money and why they need it.

3. Secure Funding for Your Startup

The cost of a startup is different for every business owner. However, no matter what your costs are, you’ll likely need to get startup financing from:

  • Friends and family
  • Angel investors
  • Venture capitalists
  • Bank loans

You can also apply for a business credit card. Many companies offer 0% APR promotions, which means you won’t pay interest on your purchases if you pay off the balance before the end of the offer period. We’ve partnered with Fundera, which put together a list of the top credit cards offering 0% interest rates.

If you don’t get the right amount of funding or can’t raise money for your business, you’ll risk not being able to pay your operating costs. This may cause you to close your doors. In fact, it’s estimated that 29% of startups fail because they run out of money.3

To make sure you get the right amount, you’ll want to estimate your costs and cash flow, including the interest rates on your loans. Once you do that, you can use QuickBooks or FreshBooks to track your expenses and help you stick to a budget.

4. Surround Yourself With the Right People

There can be a lot of risk in starting a business. That’s why you’ll need essential business advisors to help guide you along the way, like:

  • Attorneys
  • Certified Public Accountants (CPAs)
  • Insurance professionals
  • Bankers
  • Co-founders
  • Contractors
  • Initial employees, including remote workers

5. Make Sure You’re Following All the Legal Steps

From designing your product to setting up your workplace, opening your dream startup can be a lot of fun. But before you officially enter the market, you’ll want to take the right legal steps to give you the best chance at success, including:

  • Applying for a business license
  • Registering your business name
  • Getting a federal tax ID number
  • Filing for a trademark
  • Creating a separate bank account
  • Familiarizing yourself with industry regulations
  • Building contracts for clients and others you plan to work with

6. Establish a Location (Physical and Online)

Whether you need to establish a manufacturing facility, set up an office space or open a storefront, you’ll want to determine if leasing or buying a property is right for you. In many cases, you can get tax deductions for managing a commercial space, which is a benefit to owning your own place. You’ll also be able to rent it out to make extra income.

However, one reason startups lease in the beginning is so they can invest their money into other aspects of the company. Leasing can also be a cheaper way to get your startup in a prime location. Keep in mind that rent prices can spike unexpectedly, which can force you to spend more or move. You also won’t build any equity while you lease.

In today’s digital era, it’s important to set up an online presence and e-commerce platform. In fact, you’ll have trouble being successful without it. This is because customers are increasingly shopping online and using google to find out more information on your products. On top of this, websites offer advantages like:

  • Keeping your store open 24 hours a day, on weekends and on holidays, which increases sales.
  • Helping you reach customers around the world.
  • Allowing customers to read reviews about your products, which can raise your brand’s credibility.

You can enhance your online presence even more by starting a blog. This can help you establish yourself as an expert in your field. You can also use search engine optimization (SEO) to increase your brand’s visibility on Google searches. And it’s always a good idea to post on social media platforms, where your audience visits frequently.

7. Develop a Marketing Plan

Every startup needs to spend different amounts of money and time on marketing. It’s an important expense, because it helps you:

  • Establish a brand identity
  • Stand out from competition
  • Create customer relationships and build loyalty
  • Increase visibility, which attracts new customers
  • Strengthen your company’s reputation
  • Using social media to engage customers and promote coupons or deals
  • Giving rewards out for referrals, which brings in more business
  • Offering free samples or demos in your store
  • Sponsoring events to get your name out there in local communities

8. Build a Customer Base

In order for your startup business to have long-term success, you’ll want to build a customer base. These loyal customers can help with:

  • Boosting your sales, because they’re willing to keep spending at your company
  • Sending a message to new customers that your brand is trustworthy
  • Gaining referrals, which saves you time and effort with finding new customers

Some ways you can attract and retain customers include:

  • Regularly offering a great product or service
  • Launching loyalty programs to keep them coming in
  • Using affiliate marketing on social media, which involves paying influencers to promote products to your target audience
  • Focusing on great customer service
  • Using market research to understand your customers’ expectations better
  • Asking for feedback directly from the customer

On top of this, the International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC) found that 92% of consumers said their loyalty to specific retailers was because they offered prices that were fair and matched the value of their product, while 79% said it was because of product quality.

9. Plan to Change

Startups change drastically within their first few years in operation. A key to success is to evolve and adapt your business model to your market and industry.

Some strategies to make sure you’re prepared to adapt are:

  • Hiring forward thinkers so you know your team is adaptable
  • Listening to feedback from customers, suppliers and others that you work with
  • Staying updated on trends in your industry

Remember, it’s businesses that are willing to evolve with consumer expectations that are able to establish themselves for years to come.

U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), “Frequently Asked Questions https://kopetnews.id/.”

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