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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 September 17, 2018

How Being Smart With Your Money Leads to Financial Success

How Being Smart With Your Money Leads to Financial Success

Achieving financial success is not something that just happens. Maybe if you win the lottery or something, but for the average person like you or me, it comes from a series of small steps you take over a long period of time.

With each step, you form a new smart money habit. And with each smart money habit, you build towards financial independence.

So what sort of habits can you form to get on that path? Let’s take a look at smart money habits you can start today to get you closer to a financially independent future.

1. Avoid being “penny wise but pound foolish”

It’s tempting to try saving a couple cents here and there when buying small items. However, that’s not where the real money is saved. You’re putting in extra effort for something that doesn’t move the needle.

You get the most bang when you’re able to cut down on your bigger bills. For example, finding a lower interest rate for your mortgage could save you $50+ per month. And cutting your transportation bill by purchasing a cheaper car or taking public transportation can provide large gains as well.

So, look at your recurring expenses such as housing, transportation, and insurance, and see where there’s wiggle room. It’s a much better use of your time than trying to pinch pennies here and there on smaller purchases.

2. When you want something big, wait

Impulsivity can get you in trouble in most aspects of life. Finances are no different.

It’s human nature to see something and want it right then and there. It starts as a kid in the checkout line at the grocery store, and it continues on through adulthood.

We get an idea in our head of something we want, and it’s hard not to go out and get it right then.

A good example is wanting a new car. Perhaps you’ve had your car for several years. It’s crossed the 100k mile mark. Maybe maintenance is due, and you’re annoyed that you need to replace the timing belt or purchase new tires.

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So, you get the itch.

You start digging around online, and you realize you could trade in your current car for something newer and more exciting… all for a few hundred bucks a month. Then you get obsessed.

Here’s where you have to take a step back.

Your newfound obsession is clouding your judgement. Rather than giving into the impulse, wait it out.

Set a timeframe for yourself. Maybe you come back to the decision three months down the road. See if the obsession lasts.

It might, but often, a funny thing happens. Often, you forget about it. And often, you find that the new car wasn’t a need at all.

The impulse faded. And you just saved yourself a ton of money.

3. Live smaller than you can afford

You finally get that big raise. And you want to celebrate – and why not?

You’ve been looking forward to this forever. And after all, it was all due to your hard work.

That’s fine, splurge a little. However, make it a one-time deal and be done.

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Don’t get caught in the trap that just because you’re now making more money, you should spend more.

Too often, people get more money and feel like they that gives them the means to buy a bigger house, a bigger car… you know the drill. Resist.

The fact is that living smaller than what you can afford is one of the fastest ways to build savings.

But if you constantly upgrade as you begin to make more, then you’ll never get ahead. You’ll just build up more debt along the way and have just as little wiggle room as before.

4. Practice smart grocery shopping

Food… it’s one of the biggest portions of any budget. And if you’re not careful, it can be one of the biggest drains on your wallet.

But luckily, there are a few things you can do to ensure that you stay smart with your money when buying groceries.

Create a grocery budget

Set a strict weekly grocery budget. When you know how much you can spend on groceries, you can then plan your weekly menu around it.

Once you know what all you need, you can go shopping and keep a running tally as you shop to ensure you’re on track.

I tend to do this in my head, rounding for each item. However, writing it down as you go would probably work best for most people.

Make a list… and never deviate

Never go to the grocery store without a list. If you go to the store with a ballpark idea in mind, you don’t have a true ide of what you need.

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You’re not well-researched. You don’t know what the sales are. As a result, you’re going to make decisions on the fly.

These impulse decisions will lead to overspending, which will derail your grocery budget.

Eat before going grocery shopping

It’s also important to eat prior to going to the grocery store. Hunger is a powerful force.

If you’re shopping on an empty stomach, everything is going to look good. In particular, you may find a lot of ready-made, processed snacks will look enticing.

After all, you’re hungry now and that food is easily available. So subconsciously, you may lean towards those items.

Unfortunately, not only are those items typically less healthy, but they’re likely more expensive. You pay for convenience.

However, when you eat prior to shopping, then you’ll shop with a clear mind. Your hunger won’t cloud your judgement, influencing you to make poor decisions like a cartoon devil resting on your shoulder whispering in your ear.

This makes it much easier to stick to your grocery plan.

5. Cancel your gym membership

Now that you’re all set on your food, it’s time to get smart about managing your budget in terms of physical fitness. And let’s begin by avoiding the gym. The gym bill, that is.

The average gym membership costs around $60 per month. That’s $720 a year.

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Yet, two out of three gym memberships go unused. That means two-thirds of people who have a gym membership are literally giving away almost a thousand bucks a year. It’s crazy!

I recommend seeking an alternative. One good alternative is to look into fitness streaming services.

Streaming services allow you to stream hundreds of workouts like Insanity and p90x, right in your own home for around $10-20 a month. That’s $40-50 less a month than the average gym membership.

Of course, then there’s the free option. The internet is full of free workouts that you can do on your own with minimal or no equipment.

For example, there’s the Couch to 5K program, that I personally used a decade ago to ease myself from couch potato to running my first 5K race. If I could do it, anyone could.

Then there are free resources like reddit that have limitless information on workouts. The Fitness subreddit has done all the research for you, populating workout tips and detailed workout routines for anyone to use in their wiki.

There are several routines that require no equipment. And you can join in on the subreddit to become part of the community, making it easier for those seeking comraderie and encouragement in their fitness goals. All for free.

It’s baby steps… And baby steps can start now!

I’ve never met anyone that can’t stand to be a bit smarter with their money. And on the flip side, anyone can get smarter with their money. But remember, it doesn’t happen all at once.

Begin by fighting your impulses. Prepare for the week and be smart at the store. And cut monthly expenses like gym memberships that are overpriced and you probably aren’t getting your money’s worth out of anyway.

The devil is in the details. And the details can change your lifestyle and prep you for a financially independent future.

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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