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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 July 10, 2020

The Definitive Guide to Get out of Debt Fast (and Forever)

The Definitive Guide to Get out of Debt Fast (and Forever)

Debt can feel crushing, like a weight that is always weighing you down. Looking at those numbers, it can feel as if you’ll never get out from under it. However, if you really want to learn how to get out of debt, it is possible with a great deal of focus and self-control.

Getting out of debt isn’t impossible. Like any big goal, all that it takes is an action plan to identify where you are and creating a plan to zero out your debt.

Identifying All of Your Debts

The first part of paying off your debt is getting a complete picture of what you owe. When you have everything written out in front of you, it makes it much easier to create an action plan. Depending on how much you owe, it might also help you realize it’s not as bad you might have originally thought.

Here’s how you can get started identifying your debts:

1. Own Your Debt

Before you start identifying all of your debts, take a moment to process that you have debt but want to get out of it.

Forgive yourself for any past mistakes, missed payments, or overspending. It might be painful to accept how much debt you have at first, but you must own it.

2. Make a Debt Tracker

It’s astonishing how few people ever created a tracker to understand their total debts. Most likely, it comes from not wanting to accept the guilt of having debt, but, if avoided, it can make it nearly impossible to get out of debt.

Open up a new Google or Microsoft Excel sheet and list out all of your debts. Start with the name of the creditor, interest rates, total balance, loan term length (if any), and the minimum amount due each payment. This will include student loans, credit cards, and any other type of debt owed.

3. Get Your Debt Number

Once you’ve made your debt tracker and taken the other steps, identify your total payoff number. This is crucial, as you will have a starting point and a clear goal that you are trying to achieve.

Prioritizing Your Debts

All debt is not created equal. It’s imperative to understand that there are different types of debt.

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1. Understand Bad and Good Debts

Bad debts are usually paying for things you want instead of always need. While there might be some emergencies that max out your credit cards, often times it’s excessive spending[1].

There are three main types of bad debt:

  • Credit Card Debt: The average American household owes over $16,000 in credit card debt!
  • Auto Loan Debt: According to CNBC , the average auto loan in the US is $30,032!
  • Consumer Loan Debt: Consumer loan debt isn’t as common as credit card and auto loan debt, but it’s still considered bad as interest rates are usually between 10-28%.

Good debt is identified as investments in your future. Here are three common types of good debt:

  • Student Loan Debt
  • Mortgage Loan
  • Business Loans

2. Decide Which Debt to Pay off First

Once you know each type of debt and their interest rates, you can begin to pay off debt quickly.

Focus on paying off bad debt first, regardless of if it is a credit card or auto loan. Start by paying off the loan with the highest interest rate first.

If you have several credit cards with different interest rates, you want to focus on the one with a higher APR. You will actually save more money by eliminating the card with the highest interest rate.

3. Don’t Pay the Minimum Amount

Paying the minimum amount digs you into a hole as interest rates will offset your payment. Even a small amount more than the minimum can help you pay off debt much faster.

Removing Obstacles to Pay off Debt Quickly

Creating a debt tracker and prioritizing a plan is simple, but avoiding temptation can be difficult.

1. Set a Reminder to Track Your Debt

“If you can’t measure it you can’t manage it.” -Peter Drucker

It’s so important to track your debt to ensure that you get it paid off quickly. Similar to working out and measuring your results, you need to track your debt constantly. Start with a weekly reminder, where you sign on and log your updated number. Did you increase, decrease, or stay the same?

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Regularly tracking your student loan balance can be incredibly motivating, as well. You will get a huge confidence boost each time you see your total debt amount decreases.

Set weekly and monthly goals so you can have short term wins and keep the momentum going.

2. Hide Your Credit Cards

If your biggest debt is credit cards, you need to eliminate temptation and remove them from your wallet.

Some people have gone to extreme measures by freezing their credit cards. Why? This would create an ice block around your card, which would require you to chip away at it slowly. This will give you time to think if it’s the best idea to buy that thing you’re about to buy.

3. Automate Everything

Willpower can be a huge downfall to paying off your debt. By automating your bills each month, you will ensure that willpower isn’t involved.

4. Plan Ahead

Getting out of debt will require some sacrifices, but with enough planning, you can make it work.

For example, if you know that you have a friend’s birthday or family dinner coming up, plan ahead for the costs. Whether you need to cut back on spending the week before, pick up a side job, or meet them after dinner, do what is needed.

5. Live Cheaply

The only way to get out of debt is to make some sacrifices on your spending habits. Find ways to save money each month so you can apply that amount to your outstanding debts. Here are some ways to save money each month:

  • Live with roommates
  • Cook dinners and prepare lunches for work instead of eating out
  • Cut cable and choose Netflix or Amazon Prime
  • Take public transit or bike to work

Finding the Lowest Interest Rates

The higher your interest rates, the harder (and longer) it will take you to pay off any debt.

If possible, you want to find ways to lower your interest rates to help get out of debt quickly. Here’s how you can get started:

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1. Maintain a High Credit Score

Your credit score will have a large impact on your ability to refinance your loans and receive a lower interest rate. If you have a low credit score, it’s unlikely you will be able to refinance your loans. Use these credit tips to increase and maintain an excellent score:

  • Never miss a payment
  • Don’t exceed 30% of your credit limit
  • Don’t sign up for more than one card at once
  • Limit hard inquires, like auto-loans and new credit cards
  • Monitor frequently with free credit-tracking software

2. Find Balance Transfer Offers

Start by opening a free account on credit.com. Credit.com offers you the chance to open a free account and see what type of balance transfer offers you can receive. Some of your existing credit cards might already have 0% or lower APR balance transfer offers available.

Contact each of your credit card providers to ask about lowering your rate for a one-time balance transfer offer[2].

If you do take advantage of this option, make sure that you use a balance transfer and not a cash advance. Cash advances have a ton of high interest fees (15-25%, depending on your credit card) and will only compound your debt problem.

How to Get Rid of Debt Forever

Setting up a plan, removing temptations, and getting the lowest interest rates is the first step to get out of debt.

1. Keep Monitoring and Adjusting

Once you have a plan, don’t get comfortable. Track your debt payoff plan and make the necessary adjustments when needed.

Monitor your credit scores with a free site like CreditKarma. The higher your credit score climbs, the more likely you will be to secure a new, lower-interest loan.

2. Earn More Money

There are only so many ways to save money. Instead of clipping another coupon or making sacrifices for your morning coffee, find ways to earn more money!

Think about it…it is much easier to find ways to earn an extra $1,000 per month than find $1,000 to cut from your budget.

Here are some examples of ways to earn more money:

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Talk to Your Boss

Have a conversation with your boss about current salary and/or commission rates. If you’re not satisfied or want a change, don’t be afraid to look around at other positions. Some of them might even have a student loan debt reimbursement plan!

Start a Side Hustle

This could be coaching students on the weekends, driving for Uber, or taking paid online surveys. There are tons of ways to make money outside your 9-5. Now that you have a clear plan to pay off your debts, you’ll be more motivated than ever to figure out creative new ways to earn money.

Build an Online Business

There are so many websites and blogs that earn money from ads, affiliates, and other online products. Find your niche and get started.

3. Celebrate Your Wins

As you progress in your debt payoff journey, don’t forget to celebrate your wins. You need to always reward yourself for the hard work and discipline that is required to get out of debt.

While you shouldn’t celebrate so big that it increases debt, make sure to factor in little rewards to keep you motivated.

4. Set New Financial Goals

Eventually, with a plan and these steps, you can rid yourself of your debt. Once you do, make sure to celebrate your monumental achievement, but don’t stop there.

Now, you can focus on acquiring wealth and increasing your net worth. Set new financial goals so you have a new target to aim toward. Here’s how to set financial goals and actually meet them.

These could be anything now that you are debt free! Think about where you want to travel, buying your first home, or saving for your future retirement. Just like before, make sure that your goals are specific, measurable, and achievable.

Conclusion

Congrats, you can now set a plan in motion to finally pay off your debt quickly (and hopefully forever)!

Remember, if you want to get out of debt quickly, it’s not always easy. Just like any big goal, there will be sacrifices, challenges, and problems to overcome.

More Tips on Getting out of Debt

Featured photo credit: Pepi Stojanovski via unsplash.com

Reference

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