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Starting a Small Business after College Graduation

Starting a Small Business after College Graduation

Imagine this scenario: You’ve just graduated from college. You are given two options: (a) work at a well-known company, or (b) start your own business. Which would you choose?

Many new college graduates would most probably play it safe and choose option (a). Increasing numbers, though, would rather take the risk and go the entrepreneurial route to start up their own businesses.

Donna Fenn, author of Upstarts, a book about the Generation Y start-up phenomenon, says graduates are “starting businesses in droves.” This is due to a number of reasons, among which are the inspiring success stories of Internet entrepreneurs like Steve Jobs and Bill Gates; the founders of Facebook Inc.; and the founders of the photo-sharing app Instagram.

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Aside from these, graduates are also aware of regular downsizing and layoffs, meaning lack of job security at large companies.

Starting your small business

Nowadays, with advancements in technology, especially the Internet, it really doesn’t take much to start your own company. Most entrepreneur-wannabes just need a few laptop computers, a reliable Internet connection, and start-up capital.

Speaking of start-up capital, it is getting relatively easier for aspiring small business owners to get investors. CB Insights, a New York firm that monitors start-up funding, reports that investors made 1,749 seed investments, generally worth no more than $1.5 million each, in early-stage companies in 2012.

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Aside from investors, graduates can also get the capital they need by applying for a business loan. However, this may prove to be challenging if one has a poor credit score.

Fortunately, there are some things you can do to manage a bad credit rating.

First, determine the “damage” that needs to be “repaired” – check your credit score and think about what you can do to turn it around, if indeed it is in the bad credit range.

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More often than not, a person obtains a poor credit score when he or she does not manage his or her credit properly. Sometimes, though, this may not be the only reason. If you are a victim of credit scams, this can lead to bad credit as well. This is why it is important to perform regular credit checks, and to protect one’s identity as much as possible.

Managing your business credit

Once you have your small business set up, make sure that you manage your business credit as you would your personal credit. Here are a few tips:

  • Find out if you already have a business credit file.
    If you are a small business owner, determine whether or not you have a business credit file with D&B, which is the world’s leading source of commercial information and insight on businesses. If you discover that you already have a business credit file, go over it thoroughly so that you know what information it contains. If needed, make changes so that people looking at your business credit (e.g. financial institutions and suppliers) have the correct information.
  • Establish your business credit history.
    Small business owners usually use their personal credit and financial resources when they’re just starting out. However, they must establish a separate credit history for their business. This can be done by placing expenses, like a business phone line, under their business name, or opening a commercial bank account and using it to pay business-related bills.
  • Always pay your bills on time, and in the full amount as much as possible.
    One of the easiest ways to manage business credit scores well and build a good payment history is to pay your bills on time. As much as possible, pay every bill in the exact amount on or before its due date. Also, be sure to use your lines of credit carefully.
  • Keep your business credit file updated through regular monitoring.
    Monitor your business credit so that you may know if there are any changes in your credit ratings, as these may affect your relationships with customers, financial institutions and suppliers. Always make sure that your credit file is updated and accurate, and shows any changes like location, number of employees and revenue. These all have an effect on your credit rating.
  • Monitor your customers’ and merchants’ credit.
    Performing credit checks will give you an idea of the credit standing of your customers. This will in turn help you decide how much credit, and on what terms, you should extend to them.

Advantages of business credit management

Small business owners will find that managing their business credit proactively can help guarantee positive cash flow, which is, of course, something every business owner desires.

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This is because they can:

  • Obtain more financing at better terms.
    Small businesses that have good credit will be able to get financing when they need it. Conversely, businesses with poor credit ratings may be charged higher credit card and loan interest rates.
  • Get the supplies they need at the best possible terms.
    Suppliers usually evaluate the credit of small businesses before deciding on how much credit to extend to them. Having good business credit means you can get the supplies you need at the terms you can afford, which means you free up more money for other business needs.
  • Make wiser credit decisions on their customers.
    If business owners know the credit of customers, they can give better terms to credit-worthy customers. They can also avoid dealing with customers who don’t pay on time. Both of these can help improve cash flow.
  • Protect themselves against business identity theft.
    Business owners who actively manage their business credit file help ensure that false or fraudulent information is not in the file. They will always be aware of any inaccuracies and missing data so that they can address these immediately.

Starting a small business, especially if one is still a fresh graduate, may seem challenging. But once you are armed with all the knowledge, tools and resources you need, the journey will not seem so tough anymore. So go ahead and launch that business, and reach for your dreams.

Do you have any useful tips to share with new graduates on how to set up a business? Please feel free to share them in the comments section below. If you find this post useful or know others that could use some tips, go ahead and share it with your friends.

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Published on November 8, 2018

How to Answer the Tough Question: What are Your Salary Requirements?

How to Answer the Tough Question: What are Your Salary Requirements?

After a few months of hard work and dozens of phone calls later, you finally land a job opportunity.

But then, you’re asked about your salary requirements and your mind goes blank. So, you offer a lower salary believing this will increase your odds at getting hired.

Unfortunately, this is the wrong approach.

Your salary requirements can make or break your odds at getting hired. But only if you’re not prepared.

Ask for a salary too high with no room for negotiation and your potential employer will not be able to afford you. Aim too low and employers will perceive as you offering low value. The trick is to aim as high as possible while keeping both parties feel happy.

Of course, you can’t command a high price without bringing value.

The good news is that learning how to be a high-value employee is possible. You have to work on the right tasks to grow in the right areas. Here are a few tactics to negotiate your salary requirements with confidence.

1. Hack time to accomplish more than most

Do you want to get paid well for your hard work? Of course you do. I hate to break it to you, but so do most people.

With so much competition, this won’t be an easy task to achieve. That’s why you need to become a pro at time management.

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Do you know how much free time you have? Not the free time during your lunch break or after you’ve finished working at your day job. Rather, the free time when you’re looking at your phone or watching your favorite TV show.

Data from 2017 shows that Americans spend roughly 3 hours watching TV. This is time poorly spent if you’re not happy with your current lifestyle. Instead, focus on working on your goals whenever you have free time.

For example, if your commute to/from work is 1 hour, listen to an educational Podcast. If your lunch break is 30 minutes, read for 10 to 15 minutes. And if you have a busy life with only 30–60 minutes to spare after work, use this time to work on your personal goals.

Create a morning routine that will set you up for success every day. Start waking up 1 to 2 hours earlier to have more time to work on your most important tasks. Use tools like ATracker to break down which activities you’re spending the most time in.

It won’t be easy to analyze your entire day, so set boundaries. For example, if you have 4 hours of free time each day, spend at least 2 of these hours working on important tasks.

2. Set your own boundaries

Having a successful career isn’t always about the money. According to Gallup, about 70% of employees aren’t satisfied with their current jobs.[1]

Earning more money isn’t a bad thing, but choosing a higher salary over the traits that are the most important to you is. For example, if you enjoy spending time with your family, reject job offers requiring a lot of travel.

Here are some important traits to consider:

  • Work and life balance – The last thing you’d want is a job that forces you to work 60+ hours each week. Unless this is the type of environment you’d want. Understand how your potential employer emphasizes work/life balance.
  • Self-development opportunities – Having the option to grow within your company is important. Once you learn how to do your tasks well, you’ll start becoming less engaged. Choose a company that encourages employee growth.
  • Company culture – The stereotypical cubicle job where one feels miserable doesn’t have to be your fate. Not all companies are equal in culture. Take, for example, Google, who invests heavily in keeping their employees happy.[2]

These are some of the most important traits to look for in a company, but there are others. Make it your mission to rank which traits are important to you. This way you’ll stop applying to the wrong companies and stay focused on what matters to you more.

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3. Continuously invest in yourself

Investing in yourself is the best investment you can make. Cliche I know, but true nonetheless.

You’ll grow as a person and gain confidence with the value you’ll be able to bring to others. Investing in yourself doesn’t have to be expensive. For example, you can read books to expand your knowledge in different fields.

Don’t get stuck into the habit of reading without a purpose. Instead, choose books that will help you expand in a field you’re looking to grow. At the same time, don’t limit yourself to reading books in one subject–create a healthy balance.

Podcasts are also a great medium to learn new subjects from experts in different fields. The best part is they’re free and you can consume them on your commute to/from work.

Paid education makes sense if you have little to no debt. If you decide to go back to school, be sure to apply for scholarships and grants to have the least amount of debt. Regardless of which route you take to make it a habit to grow every day.

It won’t be easy, but this will work to your advantage. Most people won’t spend most of their free time investing in themselves. This will allow you to grow faster than most, and stand out from your competition.

4. Document the value you bring

Resumes are a common way companies filter employees through the hiring process. Here’s the big secret: It’s not the only way you can showcase your skills.

To request for a higher salary than most, you have to do what most are unwilling to do. Since you’re already investing in yourself, make it a habit to showcase your skills online.

A great way to do this is to create your own website. Pick your first and last name as your domain name. If this domain is already taken, get creative and choose one that makes sense.

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Here are some ideas:

  • joesmith.com
  • joeasmith.com
  • joesmithprojects.com

Nowadays, building a website is easy. Once you have your website setup, begin producing content. For example, if you a developer you can post the applications you’re building.

During your interviews, you’ll have an online reference to showcase your accomplishments. You can use your accomplishments to justify your salary requirements. Since most people don’t do this, you’ll have a higher chance of employers accepting your offer

5. Hide your salary requirements

Avoid giving you salary requirements early in the interview process.

But if you get asked early, deflect this question in a non-defensive manner. Explain to the employer that you’d like to understand your role better first. They’ll most likely agree with you; but if they don’t, give them a range.

The truth is great employers are more concerned about your skills and the value you bring to the company. They understand that a great employee is an investment, able to earn them more than their salary.

Remember that a job interview isn’t only for the employer, it’s also for you. If the employer is more interested in your salary requirements, this may not be a good sign. Use this question to gauge if the company you’re interviewing is worth working for.

6. Do just enough research

Research average salary compensation in your industry, then wing it.

Use tools like Glassdoor to research the average salary compensation for your industry. Then leverage LinkedIn’s company data that’s provided with its Pro membership. You can view a company’s employee growth and the total number of job openings.

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Use this information to make informed decisions when deciding on your salary requirements. But don’t limit yourself to the average salary range. Companies will usually pay you more for the value you have.

Big companies will often pay more than smaller ones.[3] Whatever your desired salary amount is, always ask for a higher amount. Employers will often reject your initial offer. In fact, offer a salary range that’ll give you and your employer enough room to negotiate.

7. Get compensated by your value

Asking for the salary you deserve is an art. On one end, you have to constantly invest in yourself to offer massive value. But this isn’t enough. You also have to become a great negotiator.

Imagine requesting a high salary and because you bring a lot of value, employers are willing to pay you this. Wouldn’t this be amazing?

Most settle for average because they’re not confident with what they have to offer. Most don’t invest in themselves because they’re not dedicated enough. But not you.

You know you deserve to get paid well, and you’re willing to put in the work. Yet, you won’t sacrifice your most important values over a higher salary.

The bottom line

You’ve got what it takes to succeed in your career. Invest in yourself, learn how to negotiate, and do research. The next time you’re asked about your salary requirements, you won’t fumble.

You’ll showcase your skills with confidence and get the salary you deserve. What’s holding you back now?

Featured photo credit: LinkedIn Sales Navigator via unsplash.com

Reference

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