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Insights for Entrepreneurs

Category: Social Media

How To Run a Business On Instagram

Many people are starting to become more aware of the business opportunities which are present on the platform of Instagram.  With millions of unique users daily and its recent integration of allowing users to create a business profile, it’s entirely possible to run a business right from Instagram and into your pocket.

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The President Proclaims November 19th as National Entrepreneurs’ Day

In May of 2010, David and I started a petition to the President to create a National Entrepreneurs’ Day. We didn’t understand why the most entrepreneurial country in the world didn’t have a day to recognize entrepreneurs.

Now, only 6 months and thousands of signatures later, it seems that the effort was worth it and that anything is possible: the President of the United States has proclaimed the last day of National Entrepreneurship Week, November 19th of this year, as National Entrepreneurs’ Day – making November a great month for entrepreneurs everywhere.

We’re incredibly grateful to everyone who signed and supported the petition and realized that this was more than just a novel idea, but a real movement to support entrepreneurs. A special thank you goes to the Kauffman Foundation for being our partner in this endeavor.

Fueling Progress

Back in May 2009, we launched a little video called Entrepreneurs Can Change the World; you may have seen it. The main goal of the video was to remind current and would-be entrepreneurs that anything is possible, even those dreams that you may have had as a kid, but decided were too lofty or were unrealistic. We wanted to remind people everywhere that with hard work, ambition and tenacity, we can create the future we imagine for ourselves.

Entrepreneurs are America’s real “bailout”; by investing in their ventures, we’ll be able to stimulate a real economic turnaround. Instituting our first National Entrepreneurs’ Day and having it recognized by the President is a major step towards fueling this incredible forward motion. So, we extend our deepest gratitude to the President for instituting this important addition to the calendar, and in doing so, shining a spotlight on the ways in which entrepreneurs support our economy and serve as catalysts for real economic growth.

The Business of Bad Credit: 14 Dos and Don’ts for Small Business Owners

If you own a small business, you’re eager to bring in more cash flow. But business requires working capital– hiring new employees, buying new inventory, equipment and supplies, and paying for a new marketing campaign to get more customers.

If you’re struggling with funds, a small business loan might be a good option. But how to get a loan if you have bad credit – or no credit at all?

Even if your personal or business credit is bad or nonexistent, you can still get a loan. In fact, if you apply these dos and don’ts from our business loan experts, you’ll take the steps to improve your credit, and find alternative ways to obtain a business loan with a less-than-favorable credit score.

Do start paying on bad debt you have

Last year’s changes to the FICO credit score calculations rewards those who make good on delinquent debts. In even a few months, the upgrade to your credit score can qualify you for a bigger loan on better terms.

Don’t forget you have other financial history

Utilities, mortgage or rent, relationships with vendors, and payroll made are all examples of bills you’ve been paying (mostly) on time and in full. You can use all of these to help negotiate with potential lenders, putting them up against the adverse events. This one is especially helpful if most of your credit mistakes are older than the newer action.

Do take out a credit card

Or get strategic with the one you have. Establishing a history of making purchases and paying off the balance will begin to counteract the bad marks on your record. Like paying off the bad debt, this will incrementally improve your credit score to help you with pretty much every kind of credit you could find. And if you do pay off a card, don’t close the account – leave it open with a zero balance. The more credit you have, and available credit, the better.

Don’t put plans on hold

Bad credit is no reason to miss an opportunity. Instead of saying “I’ll wait until my credit is good enough,” ask “What can I do to get it done anyway?” This is not only good advice for finding business loan resources, but a powerful change of mindset for all business tasks.

Do work hard on your business plan

You should have one anyway – trying to run a business without one is like trying to drive to a new location without a map or GPS. This is doubly important when looking for ways to finance your business growth, since lenders look at both the strength and feasibility of a company’s business plan when deciding whether or not to approve a loan.

Don’t discount family and friends

Most people who have a little extra money like being able to help the people they care about. A cash loan, investment and partnership, or even some free help from an expert you know can help you make forward-looking changes despite any problems from bruised credit.

Do carefully research anybody who calls you with an offer of credit

Not every business that cold calls companies with offers of easy credit is predatory, but enough are that you should never take their offers at face value. Use resources likeRipOffReport and the Better Business Bureau to carefully vet any kind of incoming credit offer.

Don’t overlook grants

Few grants look at your credit rating, and none ask you to pay the money back. Free money is a great deal for any business, especially businesses with rough spots on their credit report. Good sources of grants include local government commerce departments, colleges and universities in your area with local business programs, and empowerment groups for any demographic group you might be a part of. Some industry and trade associations also offer grants, gifts, and contests that can provide growth money for your business.

Do run quickly from tax refund loans and car title loans

All of these are predatory lending scams that hide literally illegal levels of interest behind fees and charges that would add up to over 1000% APR if you worked the math that way. They are not worth it. Ever.

Do look into “alternative lending”

The power of the internet has given rise to online alternative lenders – like Kabbage – that offer business owners online loans on terms that differ from those of traditional lenders. Since the “credit crunch” of the middle 2000s, traditional lending has aimed more and more toward safe loans from large institutions, a trend which leaves small businesses out in the cold. However, alternative lenders make it easier for small businesses to get a loan using business data like your PayPal, Square and checking account vs. just a FICO score. If you have bad credit and can’t receive a loan from a traditional bank, consider taking a look at an alternative lender.

Don’t forget your business has value

A secured loan (one with collateral behind it that the lender can seize if you default on payment) is easier to get, can be larger, and will carry less interest than an unsecured loan. Most businesses have assets you can use as collateral. Some examples include inventory on hand, specialized equipment, buildings or vehicles the company owns, or fixtures and furniture. Depending on your cash flow situation, you could use the business itself.

Do hit up good credit references

Your credit report gives more “time on stage” to the bad parts of your credit record, so it’s up to you to solicit some letters of reference from lenders you did right by over the years. Bring these when meeting to discuss credit. Although more and more traditional lenders are taking human judgment out of their processes, this can make a big difference with any potential lender that hasn’t made the shift.

Don’t even think about payday loan places

Remember what we said about tax refund and car title loans? Payday loans were the original version of this model, and remain the worst. Most actually build trapping the “client” into a cycle of increasing debt where they lend a little more money a little earlier each month. This is not hyperbole, but a documented part of their written business plans. Avoid them at all costs. Seriously.

Don’t get a loan to continue bad habits

If you need a loan to make a significant and positive change to your business, that’s a great reason to get a loan regardless of your credit situation. But if you’re looking for credit to simply maintain an unsustainable business model or bad financial habits…you might want to reconsider. Look first to how you’ve been spending your money and how you’ll use the cash influx, and only after that look into how you’ll get that small business loan.

6 Tips for Building a Community When You Work from Home

Do you ever have those days when you work from your couch in sweatpants and don’t speak to a single soul? You send emails while blasting music and eating popcorn, just because you can.

Working from home has obvious perks: no dress code, no commute and a flexible schedule. But for a lot of entrepreneurs and small business owners, independence comes at the cost of isolation.

It’s not as easy as water cooler talk with co-workers or company wide outings, but with a bit of creativity, you can develop a community while you build your business at home.

Here are six tips to help you to feel more connected:

1. Join Professional Organizations

Joining professional organizations and trade associations allows you to tap into networks as big as Fortune 500 companies. With a web of peers that big supporting you, what can’t you do?

Here are a few to get you started:

Attend organizational conferences and check out the local chapters of these groups. Utilizing powerful networks is a great way to start developing peer and mentor relationships. If you prefer a more casual approach, start by searching Meetup for a group of like-minded professionals in your area — you can connect with people over a drink after work.

Keep in mind that a feeling of belonging is essential to communities. As you seek out organizations to join, make an effort to focus on groups that mirror your values and goals.

7 Inspiring Podcasts for Solopreneurss

If you’re an avid multi-tasker like me, you probably see a real value in podcasts.

You can digest valuable information for your business while walking the dog, commuting to a client meeting, or even while working at your desk.

And yes, there are lots of excellent podcasts for entrepreneurs out there, but today, I wanted to put together a list of some up and comers in the world of podcasting aimed at the one-person shows of the world: The solopreneur.

With a variety of different run times and subject matter covered, these podcasts for solopreneurs are the perfect way for you to expand your business mind on the go.

1. Working Without Pants

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Jake Jorgovan’s podcast (formerly known as the Creative Freelancer Show) is dedicated to interviewing past and present solopreneurs who are all about living a non-traditional lifestyle. Jake asks questions about how his guests found their path and discusses his own interesting story (which includes one about his year spent traveling working remotely from 13 different countries.)

A Few Past Guests: Paul Jarvis, Danny Margulies, Ilese Benun

Run time: 30-60 minutes

2. Finely Crafted

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This podcast by Matt Cheuvront and Blake Stratton is built around creative entrepreneurs and solorpreneurs who have a story to share. Specifically, the “why” and the “what” that drives their on-going stories full speed ahead. Covering topics like “Building Your Nation” and “Discovering Your Secret Sauce,” guests share the lessons they’ve learned from putting theory into practice.

A Few Past Guests: Sarah Bray, Dane Maxwell, Jonathan Baker

Run time: 20-25 minutes

3. The Side Hustle Show

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This podcast is aimed at the solopreneur who hasn’t yet made the leap into full-time entrepreneurship, but wants to…and wants to do it soon. Guests share their personal experiences on making the transition from a side gig into a full-time operation and offer their unique insights that can help turn a small idea into a thriving business. Host Nick Loper gets straight to the core of why and how his guests were able quit their jobs and transform their side businesses into their sole source of income.

A Few Past Guests: Dan Faggella, Nate Dallas, Jessica Lawlor

Run time: 30-60 minutes

4. Breaking Down Your Business

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Jill Salzman and Brad Farris come together for a high-energy podcast that helps solopreneurs tackle tough questions. In each episode, they speak with a small business owner who needs advice on everything from hiring to pricing. They ask the question, “What’s your problem?”and then provide actionable tips and suggestions that will help solve it. Much more informal in nature, this podcast for solopreneurs is a nice way to break up your day–and break down your business.

A Few Past Guests: Lisa Katona, Brent Williams, Stacia Pierce

Run time: 20-30 minutes

5. Entrepreneurs and Coffee

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Yes, this one has entrepreneurs in the title–but it’s a great fit for those in the solopreneur category, too. Host Brendan Hufford speaks with interesting guests about deliberate action that pushes a business forward and plucks the most valuable tips from their business brains. Grab a cup of coffee and soak up the information.

A Few Past Guests: Re Perez, Hal Elrod, Michael Hyatt

Run time: 5-50 minutes

6. Rise of the Entrepreneur with Zac Johnson

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Zac Johnson was a teenage solopreneur in the 90s who figured out how to make money online. Today, he teaches fellow business owners how to do the same thing. With his vast network of connections built over the years, he brings guests from all different industries and experience levels together to talk about how finding your niche can results in a successful business.

A Few Past Guests: Gary Vaynerchuk, Brian Dean, John Lee Dumas

Run time: 25-50 minutes

7. The WOW Small Business Show

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Bryan Orr is a no-nonsense kind of host. He skips the warm and fuzzy moments of solopreneurship and gets straight to the tips, tricks, and resources that make being an entrepreneur more effective and efficient. Topics range from time hacking to to leadership skills with finite takeaways that can help small business owners grow into experts of their craft.

A Few Past Guests: Jeremy Miller, Bryan Orr, Ruth King

Run time: 20-45 minutes

Podcasts for Solopreneurs: Maxmizing Your Time

The beautiful thing about all of these selections is that you can glean some of the most insightful tips and tricks from experienced professionals in less than an hour–and while you’re doing something else. No need to drop everything and focus on reading for watching a video–it’s information right in your ear.

What would you add to this list of podcasts for solopreneurs?

[Contest] Show Your SMBLove!

Here at Grasshopper, we love it when small businesses support each other. So, we’re honoring National Small Business Week by holding a contest so you can show support, and have the chance to win an awesome gift pack.

All you need is the logo of your favorite small business and a reason why you love them. Really, that’s it!

How Do I Enter?

Upload the logo of your favorite small business and share it with us on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, or through this blog post.

Or Enter Here:

What’s The Prize?

We have an amazing small business gift pack, which is over a $500 value! The gift pack includes:

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  • A shiny new stapler, pen cup, pens, tape dispenser and notebook from Poppin
  • USB powered to-go mug (keeps your drinks hot!)
  • $25 Starbucks card
  • $50 Moo.com gift card
  • $50 Grasshopper credit
  • One year of Batchbook service FREE

When and How Will The Winners Be Announced?

One winner will be randomly chosen from the eligible entries. We’ll be announcing the winners on May 8th, the Friday of National Small Business Week. You’ll be contacted through the network you used to submit the logo.

What Are The Rules?

The contest begins at 12:00 AM EST on 4/27/2015 and ends at 11:59 PM EST on 5/7/2015. All entries must be received during this time period. Late entries will not be eligible.

All entries must include a valid business logo.

Entries from Facebook must be submitted through the contest application on our page, found here:  Support Small Business Contest and include the name of the business in the description.

Entries from Twitter and Instagram must include the hashtag #SMBLove2015 and must include the name of the business in the tweet or the text field of the Instagram photo.

Each logo counts as one entry. Enter as many times as you’d like!

Help! I’m Still Confused

What counts as a small business?

Any business that is independently owned counts as a small business – this includes online businesses.

How do I get a business’s logo to upload?

If you’re on a PC:

  1. Go to the business’s website and right-click on their logo
  2. Click “Save Image As”
  3. Name the file
  4. Click Save

If you’re on a Mac:

  1. Go to the business’s website and Ctrl+click on their logo
  2. Click “Save Image As”
  3. Name the File
  4. Click Save

You’re good to go!

Wait! My favorite small business is right around the corner. Can I submit a photo of their sign?

You sure can! Just make sure you can clearly see the business name in the photo.

Can I enter using my cell phone?

Yep! Whether you’re using Facebook, Twitter or Instagram, just attach a photo from your phone’s gallery or camera roll.

What Are The Terms and Conditions?

You can find all the official rules, terms and conditions here: Grasshopper Contest Rules. By entering this contest, you agree to the rules, terms and conditions associated with this contest.

25 Ways to Celebrate National Small Business Week

This week, we’re celebrating entrepreneurs. We’re holding a contest, co-hosting a webinar, and partying all week. It’s National Small Business Week! What will you do to celebrate? Continue reading »