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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 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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