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Entrepreneur Corner: 5 Ways to Generate and Preserve Revenue Streams in Your Startup

Entrepreneur Corner: 5 Ways to Generate and Preserve Revenue Streams in Your Startup

On average, approximately 90% of startups fail to become successful. Most common reasons for failure include insufficient funding, low break-through rate, too many expenses, poor revenue streams. Being in one of the following markets gets you a higher chance to survive: IT, finance, real estate, education, health, services, and wholesale. Over 50% of businesses in these industries seem to still be active after 4 years(Tech.co: Startup Failure Rates Industry 2016). But don’t give up if you’re in a more challenging market. In support of young entrepreneurs, here are five ways to generate and preserve revenue streams in your startup, to meet day’s end.

Freelance Work and Independent Contracts

With freelancing as an emerging trend and more legal backing up, this type of work can prove helpful in the early days of a startup. As a Founder, you have many responsibilities including the financial well-being of your employees. Your Facebook or LinkedIn account may read “CEO”, but it’s more of a “title” with a leadership role than it is a financial bliss. Living off dividends takes about a year, literally, so freelancing and independent work can be a great solution to cover your own expenses and generate extra revenue for other purposes. Many stories among entrepreneurs start with “I did freelancing work while also working on my startup company,” so there is nothing to feel ashamed of. It is a great way to enhance our skills, acquire new ones, get a deeper understanding of the business world and, last, but not least, build a personal brand.

Search for opportunities in the market consisting of consulting contracts that pay a good hourly fee, or even short-term projects with fixed payment terms, locally or remotely. Services and products are a great way to generate extra income and form long-lasting relationships with clients which might prove beneficial for your startup’s future, as well.

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Creative Finance: Selling Items That Have a Story

There has been an increased demand on the market in the past few years for vintage items, from watches to diamonds and unique jewelry. Perhaps a Hollywood or VIP-inspired trend, second-hand expensive items are a great way to generate an additional revenue stream, especially if they have a story to back them up. Here’s how you can do it:

  1. Sell your items to a pawnshop or jewelry retail store. When selling locally, shop around various stores to see who can offer more.
  2. Sell your items on eBay, online. Good chance to get a good price if the buyer is knowledgeable and the seller knows how to pitch the right angle, plus present the uniqueness and quality of the item.
  3. Sell on Craig’s List. Similar to eBay, but with the probability of encountering more scammers, since the platform isn’t as reliable as it used to be. Same conditions apply: knowing the exact worth of your item, plus solid negotiation skills.
  4. Sell your items to an “expert buyer”, directly. While you can sell your diamonds, jewelry and watches on platforms such as Craigslist or Ebay, selling to online diamond buyers such as WP Diamonds is a faster and safer option. Transactions are done fast, usually, in less than 48hrs and the agency covers the FedEx fee for shipping your items to their store.

Please note that this is an alternative way to generate additional revenue, and not necessarily a long-term solution. However, in the early stages of startup life, it can be your hidden Superman.

Smart Renting, Even Smarter Subletting

We all heard about the success story of AirBnB. Following the example of the founders, you can make use of renting spaces and apartments or rooms to generate more revenue. As a local, you have access to cheaper prices if the contract allows and not restricts you to sublet a venue or an apartment (in case you don’t own it). Tips:

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  • rent or own an apartment or venue in a centrally-located area; it is more attractive to potential guests and preferred by most travelers and nomads;
  • either rent the whole apartment (see real estate laws in your area) or just one room for 1-to-3 months. This can get you to at least cover the monthly costs for the place, and even generate some profits;
  • rent a venue or an office for your startup that allows 24/7 access. Sublet to nomads or freelancers who prefer to work during the night. I.e. If you’re based in the US, but have clients from Europe, the 7-9hrs time difference can be covered if you work during night-time when it is daytime over there;
  • Allow small groups to organize weekend events in your space;
  • Organize networking events yourself – great way to generate additional income and meet people;
  • Synchronize your holidays and vacations, so that no one is really at the office. Sublet the office space during your travels;
  • Work from home with your entire team 2-3 days per week. Apply the same strategy when no one is around at the office;
  • Share your office space with another startup and split the costs. Ideally, a company that offers different services, which you can both combine.

Warning: Pay attention for the legal part. Some real estate property contracts do not allow you to sublet your venue or your apartment, partially or fully to another party unless you notify the actual landlord.

Safety Measures for Your Business Contracts

This is more about preserving revenue streams. Newsflash: the US government’s tech budget is 8 times that of Apple. Translation: there’s a huge interest in Federal funding for tech startups, with a special cater towards cyber security. Big players in Federal IT contracts in 2016, apart from the Defence Department, include CSRA Inc., Lockheed Martin, HP Enterprise, Booz Allen Hamilton and Accenture(Bloomberg Government: Tech Startups Struggle to Tap 82 Billion in Federal Contracts). Tech&IT is a good industry to be part of and everybody can get a slice from this cake. But don’t worry, other industries are profitable if you know how to tie loose ends.

Independent of the industry, there are always risks: bad clients, dishonest employees, dried funds etc. How can you protect your business from all this? While being aware and cautious can save a few sweats, there’s no service that covers all risks in one go. But specific services cover certain risks. For example, a good lawyer will be a great asset when dealing with risky contracts. A handy accountant will know exactly what to do to prevent huge financial losses. An experienced Business Development Manager can help you in getting good clients and keep a nice clean client portfolio.

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There is also a way to keep your clients and your business safe from employee dishonesty, which is not easily detectable by HR, Talent Acquisition or Occupational Health departments. A coverage called fidelity bond that has your back, so to speak. This infographic by JWSuretyBonds explains the costs involved with each coverage plan. While fidelity bonds imply a flat cost based on the amount of coverage amount needed and the number of employees, other types of bonds have flexible fees, influenced by personal credit history, financial expertise in the company (good accountant, as mentioned before), equity left in your company and more.

Crowdfunding for New Products and Services

Why crowdfunding, when everybody does it, nowadays? Well, there’s a right way to crowdfund your product and it’s called “pre-ordering”. In my brief experience with this strategy, I learned that perks are everything. People want to know what they are donating for. Just giving them “a thanks” for $5 won’t cut it. Give them a signed handwritten letter or custom postcard from you, then that might be worth the $5. The best way is to give your community the chance to pre-order the service or product. Be in a book, course, physical product, online or offline service. Doesn’t matter. What matters is this simple principle of “what you pay is what you get”, taken to a different level. Crowdfunding is a great way to get you covered, and not a way to generate profit or revenue. This strategy purely helps you cover specific costs and preserve the revenue you already have.

There’s a lot to cover about crowdfunding. From experience, the pre-campaign can generate up to 30% of your funding goal in the first 3 days. And to prepare for that, you need about 6 to 8 weeks in advance, campaign booster services, a pool of influencers and thought leaders that are backed by a community.

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Resources you can use to document the process include Crowdfunding PR, Donor Search, CrowdCrux’s list of influencers in Crowdfunding you can connect with via Twitter, IgnitionDeck and more. I found BackerCamp to be the only honest campaign booster service, the Founder responded to my email in a time fashionable manner and told me it was too late to do anything for one of the campaigns my friends and I launched this year on Indiegogo. Other campaign booster companies were thrilled with the idea and went straight for the money.

Final Thoughts…

Keep going forward, no matter how hard it is to generate or preserve the revenue you already have for your startup. Use any of the 5 ways mentioned above, and even a combination of two or more. See what works best and continue implementing the improvement process. Maybe freelancing is a good option for you. Or selling your grandma’s old jewelry. Perhaps renting and subletting can save you more than just a few pennies. Or use surety bonds and crowdfunding to keep the funds you already have and secure a better relationship with your clients and your community. Bottom line: don’t give up!

Entrepreneurship is one challenging ride, but if you’re cut for it, it’s worth every sweat.

 

Featured photo credit: StevePb via pixabay.com

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Last Updated on January 2, 2019

How Personal Finance Software Helps You Get More Out of Your Money

How Personal Finance Software Helps You Get More Out of Your Money

Do you know what mental health experts point to as the biggest cause of stress in the United States today? If you said “money,” then ding, ding, we have a winner!

Three out of four adults today report feeling stressed out about money at least part of the time. People are either worried about not having enough money or whether they’re putting the money they do have to use in the best possible way.

Your money is either in charge of you or you’re in charge of it, there’s no middle ground. Using some type of personal finance software can help alleviate some of that money stress and better allow you to manage your money effectively. Without it, you may just be setting yourself up for constant financial worry. Life is already tough enough and there’s no need to make it more difficult by simply hoping your money issues will all work out in your favor. Hint: they won’t.

This guide will help you to understand how personal finance software can better assist with both accomplishing long term financial goals and managing day-to-day aspects of life.

Whether it’s tracking the savings plan for your child’s college fund or making sure you won’t be in the red with the month’s grocery budget, personal finance software keeps all this information in one convenient place.

What Exactly is Personal Finance Software?

Think of it like the dashboard in your car. You have a speedometer to tell you how fast you’re going, an odometer to tell you how far you’ve traveled, and then other gauges to tell you things like how much gas is in the tank and your engine temperature. Personal finance software is essentially the same thing for your money.

When you install this software on your computer, tablet, or smartphone, it helps to track your money — how much is going in, how much is going out, and its growth. Most personal finance software programs will display your budget, spending, investments, bills, savings accounts, and even retirement plans, levels of debt, and credit score.

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How It Leads to Financial Improvement

It shouldn’t come as a surprise, but people who regularly monitor their finances end up wealthier than those who don’t. When you were a kid, keeping track of all of your money in a porcelain piggy bank was pretty easy. As we get older, though, our money becomes spread out across things like car payments, mortgages, retirement funds, taxes, and other investments and debts. All of these things make keeping track of our money a lot more complicated.

Some types of personal finance software can help make things a little less complicated, setting you up to meet financial goals and taking away some of the stress associated with money.

Even if you already have a Certified Financial Planner (CFP) some type of personal finance software can be of great benefit. Whereas CFPs focus on the big picture of your money, they don’t handle the day-to-day aspects that determine your overall financial health.

It’s also not nearly as complicated as you might think and can take out a lot of the tedium that comes with doing everything on an Excel spreadsheet or with a pad and pencil.

Types of Personal Finance Software

When it comes to personal finance software, it generally fits into two categories: tax preparation and money management.

Tax preparation software such as Turbo Tax and H&R Block’s software can help with everything from filing income taxes to IRS rules and regulations and even estate plans. Plus, there’s the benefit of filing online and getting your refund check a lot faster than if you were to mail off your forms after waiting in line at the post office.

For the purpose of this article, however, will be focusing more on the personal finance software that aids with money management.

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Money management personal finance software will help you to see the health of your cash flow, pay down debt, forecast for expenses and savings, track investments, pay bills, and do a host of other things that 30 years ago would have practically required a team of accountants.

When to Use Personal Finance Software

So far we’ve gone over what exactly personal finance software is and how it can be a benefit to your money. The next logical step in this whole equation is determining when it should be used and how is the best way to go about getting started using it.

Below are four of the most common and practical ways to use personal finance software. If all or any of these apply to you and your money, then downloading some type of personal finance software is going to be a smart move.

1. You Have Multiple Accounts

There’s a good chance that when it comes to your money, it’s in more than one place. Sure, you probably have a checking account, but you may also have a savings account, money market account, and retirement accounts such as an IRA or 401k.

If you’re like the average American, you probably have two to three credit cards as well. Fifty percent of Americans also don’t have loyalty to just one bank and spread their money across multiple banks.

Rather than spending hours typing in every detail of every account you have into a spreadsheet, many programs allow you to easily import your account information. This will help to eliminate any mistakes and give you a bird’s eye view of everything at once.

2. You Want to Automate Some or All of Your Payments

Please don’t say that you’re still writing out paper checks and dropping each bill in the mailbox. While it’s noble that you’re doing your part to keep postal workers employed, we’re 18 years into the 21st century and you can literally pay every bill online now.

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There’s no need to log into every account you have and type in your routing number either.

With personal finance software you can schedule automatic payments and transfers between all of your imported accounts. Automatic transfers will help to make sure you have the necessary funds in the right account to ensure all bills are paid on the appropriate date. Late fees are annoying and do nothing but cost you money. It’s time that you said goodbye to them once and for all.

3. You Need to Streamline Your Budget

Perhaps the best feature of personal finance software is that it allows you track everything going in and out of your virtual wallet.

Nearly every brand of personal finance software out there has easy-to-read graphs and charts that allow you track every cent you spend or earn, should you choose. You might be pretty amazed when you see just how much you spent on eating out last month or if you splurged a little more than you should have on Christmas gifts last year.

Every successful business on the planet has a budget and using personal finance software can help you trim the fat on your spending in ways that affect your everyday life.

4. You Have Specific Goals to Meet

Maybe it’s paying off debt or saving for up something like a European vacation. Whatever your financial goal is, whether it’s long-term or short-term, personal finance software programs are one of the savviest ways to go about reaching those goals.

You can do everything from set spending alerts to notify you when you’re over budget to automating what percentage of your paycheck goes to things like retirement investments. The personal finance software that you choose should show you exactly how close you are to hitting those goals at any given time.

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How to Get Started

From AceMoney to Mint and Quicken, there ’s no shortage of personal finance software apps out there. Many of these programs are free to download and will allow you to pay bills, invest, monitor your net worth and credit profile, and even get a loan with the swipe of a finger.

Other programs may only offer you limited services and will require a one-time fee or subscription to unlock all that they offer. These fees can often vary from as little as two dollars to 50 bucks a month.

It’s best to start off with the free version and then gauge whether you’re able to accomplish everything you’d like or if it’s worth exploring one of the paid options. Often times the subscription programs come with assistance from financial planning and investment experts — so that can be a real benefit.

When deciding which personal finance software program to use, it’s also important to look at how many accounts you wish to monitor. Certain programs limit the number of accounts you can add. Be sure that if you have checking, credit card, and investment accounts to monitor, that you choose a service that can monitor them all.

Finally, when looking around for the right personal finance software that meets your needs, make sure that you’re comfortable with the program’s interface. It shouldn’t be expected that you recognize every single feature instantly, but if the features don’t seem readable and manageable to you, then you’re not as likely to use it and get the full benefits.

Final Thoughts

Personal finance software can go a long way in helping you to take control of your money and meeting your financial goals. It’s important to note, however, that some focus more on budgeting and expense tracking while others prioritize investing portfolios and income taxes. Explore several different programs and read reviews to find the one that’s right for you.

In this day and age, managing one’s personal finances in a secure manner that allows the user to have a real-time visual representation of their money is easier than ever before. With the numerous applications that are out there — both free and subscription-based — there’s no reason that every person can’t take control of their money and ensure they’re making smart money moves.

Featured photo credit: rawpixel via unsplash.com

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