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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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Last Updated on September 2, 2020

How to Set Financial Goals and Actually Meet Them

How to Set Financial Goals and Actually Meet Them

Personal finances can push anyone to the point of extreme anxiety and worry. Easier said than done, planning finances is not an egg meant for everyone’s basket. That’s why most of us are often living pay check to pay check. But did anyone tell you that it is actually not a tough task to meet your financial goals?

In this article, we will explore ways to set financial goals and actually meet them with ease.

4 Steps to Setting Financial Goals

Though setting financial goals might seem to be a daunting task, if one has the will and clarity of thought, it is rather easy. Try using these steps to get you started.

1. Be Clear About the Objectives

Any goal without a clear objective is nothing more than a pipe dream, and this couldn’t be more true for financial matters.

It is often said that savings is nothing but deferred consumption. Therefore, if you are saving today, then you should be crystal clear about what it’s for. It could be anything, including your child’s education, retirement, marriage, that dream vacation, fancy car, etc.

Once the objective is clear, put a monetary value to that objective and the time frame. The important point at this step of goal setting is to list all the objectives that you foresee in the future and put a value to each.

2. Keep Goals Realistic

It’s good to be an optimistic person but being a Pollyanna is not desirable. Similarly, while it might be a good thing to keep your financial goals a bit aggressive, going beyond what you can realistically achieve will definitely hurt your chances of making meaningful progress.

It’s important that you keep your goals realistic, as it will help you stay the course and keep you motivated throughout the journey.

3. Account for Inflation

Ronald Reagan once said: “Inflation is as violent as a mugger, as frightening as an armed robber and as deadly as a hitman.” This quote sums up what inflation could do your financial goals.

Therefore, account for inflation[1] whenever you are putting a monetary value to a financial objective that is far into the future.

For example, if one of your financial goal is your son’s college education, which is 15 years from now, then inflation would increase the monetary burden by more than 50% if inflation is a mere 3%. Always account for this to avoid falling short of your goals.

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4. Short Term Vs Long Term

Just like every calorie is not the same, the approach to achieving every financial goal will not be the same. It’s important to bifurcate goals into short-term and long-term.

As a rule of thumb, any financial goal that is due in next 3 years should be termed as a short-term goal. Any longer duration goals are to be classified as long-term goals. This bifurcation of goals into short-term vs long-term will help in choosing the right investment instrument to achieve them.

By now, you should be ready with your list of financial goals. Now, it’s time to go all out and achieve them.

How to Achieve Your Financial Goals

Whenever we talk about chasing any financial goal, it is usually a two-step process:

  • Ensuring healthy savings
  • Making smart investments

You will need to save enough and invest those savings wisely so that they grow over a period of time to help you achieve goals.

Ensuring Healthy Savings

Self-realization is the best form of realization, and unless you decide what your current financial position is, you aren’t heading anywhere.

This is the focal point from where you start your journey of achieving financial goals.

1. Track Expenses

The first and the foremost thing to be done is to track your spending. Use any of the expense tracking mobile apps to record your expenses. Once you start doing it diligently, you will be surprised by how small expenses add up to a sizable amount.

Also categorize those expenses into different buckets so that you know which bucket is eating most of your pay check. This record keeping will pave the way for cutting down on un-wanted expenses and pumping up your savings rate.

If you’re not sure where to start when tracking expenses, this article may be able to help.

2. Pay Yourself First

Generally, savings come after all the expenses have been taken care of. This is a classic mistake when setting financial goals. We pay ourselves last!

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Ideally, this should be planned upside down. We should be paying ourselves first and then to the world, i.e. we should be taking out the planned saving amount first and manage all the expenses from the rest.

The best way to actually implement this is to put the savings on automatic mode, i.e. money flowing automatically into different financial instruments (mutual funds, retirement accounts, etc) every month.

Taking the automatic route will help release some control and compel us to manage what’s left, increasing the savings rate.

3. Make a Plan and Vow to Stick With It

Learning to create a budget is the best way to get around the uncertainty that financial plans always pose. Decide in advance how spending has to be organized

Nowadays, several money management apps can help you do this automatically.

At first, you may not be able to stick to your plans completely, but don’t let that become a reason why you stop budgeting entirely.

Make use of technology solutions you like. Explore options and alternatives that let you make use of the available wallet options, and choose the one that suits you the most. In time, you will get accustomed to making use of these solutions.

You will find that they make it simpler for you to follow your plan, which would have been difficult otherwise.

4. Make Savings a Habit and Not a Goal

In the book Nudge, authors Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein advocate that, in order to achieve any goal, it should be broken down into habits since habits are more intuitive for people to adapt to.

Make savings a habit rather than a goal. While it might seem to be counterintuitive to many, there are some deft ways of doing it. For example:

  • Always eat out (if at all) during weekdays rather than weekends. Weekends are more expensive.
  • If you are a travel buff, try to travel during off-season. You’ll spend significantly less.
  • If you go shopping, always look out for coupons and see where can you get the best deal.

The key point is to imbibe the action that results in savings rather than on the savings itself, which is the outcome. Focusing on the outcome will bring out the feeling of sacrifice, which will be harder to sustain over a period of time.

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5. Talk About It

Sticking to the saving schedule (to achieve financial goals) is not an easy journey. There will be many distractions from those who are not aligned with your mission.

Therefore, in order to stay the course, surround yourself with people who are also on the same bandwagon. Daily discussions with them will keep you motivated to move forward.

6. Maintain a Journal

For some people, writing helps a great deal in making sure that they achieve what they plan.

If you are one of them, maintain a proper journal, where you write down your goals and also jot down the extent to which you managed to meet them. This will help you in reviewing how far you have come and which goals you have met.

When you have a written commitment on paper, you are going to feel more energized to follow the plan and stick to it. Moreover, it is going to be a lot easier for you to track your progress.

Making Smart Investments

Savings by themselves don’t take anyone too far. However, savings, when invested wisely, can do wonders.

1. Consult a Financial Advisor

Investment doesn’t come naturally to most of us, so it’s wise to consult a financial advisor.

Talk to him/her about your financial goals and savings, and then seek advice for the best investment instruments to achieve your goals.

2. Choose Your Investment Instrument Wisely

Though your financial advisor will suggest the best investment instruments, it doesn’t hurt to know a bit about the common ones, like a savings account, Roth IRA, and others.

Just like “no one is born a criminal,” no investment instrument is bad or good. It is the application of that instrument that makes all the difference[2].

As a general rule, for all your short-term financial goals, choose an investment instrument that has debt nature, for example fixed deposits, debt mutual funds, etc. The reason for going for debt instruments is that chances of capital loss is less compared to equity instruments.

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3. Compounding Is the Eighth Wonder

Einstein once remarked about compounding:

“Compound interest is the eighth wonder of the world. He who understands it, earns it… He who doesn’t… Pays it.”

Use compound interest when setting financial goals

    Make friends with this wonder kid. The sooner you become friends with it, the quicker you will reach closer to your financial goals.

    Start saving early so that time is on your side to help you bear the fruits of compounding.

    4. Measure, Measure, Measure

    All of us do good when it comes to earning more per month but fail miserably when it comes to measuring the investments and taking stock of how our investments are doing.

    If we don’t measure progress at the right times, we are shooting in the dark. We won’t know if our saving rate is appropriate or not, whether the financial advisor is doing a decent job, or whether we are moving closer to our target.

    Measure everything. If you can’t measure it all yourself, ask your financial advisor to do it for you. But do it!

    The Bottom Line

    Managing your extra money to achieve your short and long-term financial goals

    and live a debt-free life is doable for anyone who is willing to put in the time and effort. Use the tips above to get you started on your path to setting financial goals.

    More Tips on Financial Goals

    Featured photo credit: Micheile Henderson via unsplash.com

    Reference

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