Author: Michelle Davidson

6 Alternatives to VC Funding that Every Entrepreneur Should Know

Venture capital has become famous due to the news and television. Most startup founders assume that VC funding is perfect for them. However, it is actually not a good fit for many small companies.

If you are taking VC money, then you need to give up a large chunk of your startup. You need an amazing growth rate for meeting the VC expectations. Your investors will always ask questions from you. If you are a women entrepreneur, then you should consider other funding options first. 

1. Bootstrapping 

In this, you are going to fund your company with your own resources. It is not glamorous like VC funding. However, it is best for new startups. If you are self-funding your startup, then you will limit your startup growth. 

But, bootstrapping will ensure that you have flexibility. You can run your business without any questions. In simple words, you are betting money on yourself. You can look for better investment options in the future. Bootstrapping will help you in negotiating better results in the future. 

2. Family and friends 

Outside investment mainly starts with family and friends. Only your family and friends can invest money in a business that is still not making any money. Your family and friends have full faith in you. 

However, there are some limitations. Not everyone has friends that can give you a five-figure check. Also, your friends are going to take a big risk by investing in your money. This can lead to an awkward Thanksgiving.

3. Debt

Small business owners can take loans from banks. Most founders don’t like taking a loan from banks. If you are taking a traditional loan, then you need revenue, credit rating, and collateral. Founders can also take a personal loan from the bank. You should be ready to take the risks associated with the loan. 

4. Angel Investors 

Angel investors invest their own money in different startups. They have the freedom to pick any startup they want. Thus, they can fund any startup that they want. If an angel investor feels passionate about your startup, then they can write a big check for your startup. 

You should invest your time in creating a relationship with your angel investor. It is important to develop relationships with investors that can add value to your startup. For example, make good relationships with investors that can provide you advice, resources, and connections. 

5. Non-dilutive funding 

The most famous example of non-dilutive funding is government grants. It is not like debt or equity funding. You don’t need to worry about giving a big chunk of your business. Also, you don’t need to worry about paying it back. Most governments are helping their small businesses during the coronavirus crisis.

Non-dilutive funding comes with its own set of challenges. Grant-writing is a very time-consuming process. You need to first find a grant program that is perfect for your business. If your startup is qualified for a government grant, then you should definitely take it.

6. Strategic Partnerships 

This type of partnership is formed when a business partners with a small business that complements its strategy, product, or service. They will provide you funding, resources, and support in return. 

This type of funding is still underrated. This investment won’t depend on huge ROI. Most startups can enjoy the benefits of a strategic partnership. It is better when compared to traditional venture capital. Most women entrepreneurs find it easy to raise funds from strategic partnerships. Your partner will also provide you with support and exposure. Thus, they will help you in growing your business. It is one of the best funding options available for startups.

6 Habits That You can Learn From Highly Effective Entrepreneurs

Effectiveness will help you in producing the results that you desire. The most successful entrepreneurs are also the most effective people. They know how to work smarter and how to eliminate wasted time. You can’t become successful if you are lazy. Also, effectiveness can be only achieved by routine and discipline. You can’t achieve it just because you are talented. Successful entrepreneurs try to be organized and detailed. They know how to execute their plans. In this article, we are going to talk about 6 Habits that you can learn from highly effective entrepreneurs. 

1. Visionary 

Most entrepreneurs will spend a lot of their time thinking and visioning. You can become innovative by following a strict routine. The most powerful asset for an entrepreneur is imagination. It will help you in dreaming about new things. You can convert these dreams into reality by acting on them. Successful entrepreneurs don’t limit their creativity and success. They try to have a positive impact on other lives. 

2. Early Risers

Most successful entrepreneurs are early risers. They start their day by visualizing their dreams first. Some entrepreneurs also start their day from physical activity. They use this method for waking themselves up. You can get your blood pumping by doing physical activity. This will ensure that your mind is active and alert. You will get extra time to collect your thoughts and create a schedule. This will help you in organizing your day.

3. Sleep

If you want to be effective, then you should understand the importance of sleep. The more you will sleep the sharper you will become. Sleep will help you in decreasing your stress levels. However, lack of sleep can have a negative impact on your body. It will increase your stress levels which will disturb your entire sleep cycle. You need to manage your poor sleeping patterns for improving your affectivity. 

4. Flexible 

Successful entrepreneurs are also flexible. They can change their routine according to the circumstances. You should be flexible as it will increase the chances of success. It will also help you in enhancing your own growth. You should follow a simple routine as it will ensure that you can easily change it. Effective entrepreneurs are more productive because they only need the essentials. They can do their work from even a simple office.

5. Curious 

Boredom can kill the success of entrepreneurs. Thus, entrepreneurs should make sure that they are never getting bored. They will always spend their time on productivity things. Effective entrepreneurs are curious about everything. This will ensure that they are always asking questions and looking for new ideas. They don’t drain their creative reservoirs because they are always curious about new ideas. Elon Musk is the best example of this thing. If he is curious about a new idea, then he directly starts creating a plan. He has become the most successful entrepreneur just due to his curiosity and hard work. If you are curious, then you will never run out of ideas. 

6. Simplicity

Simplicity will also help you in improving your effectiveness. Most successful entrepreneurs are following simple but practical routines. You can avoid a large workload by creating a simple routine. It is very difficult for entrepreneurs to handle a huge amount of workload. You can only achieve good results if you are not under a lot of stress. Thus, you should set some limits on your schedule. Make sure that you are not working too hard every day. It can affect both your mental and physical health. The only way to become effective is by doing self-care. 

How to Create a Unique Brand Identity

Consumers are becoming more powerful in the modern business landscape. The market is already saturated and consumers are bombarded with hundreds of marketing messages. Thus, even small businesses are now working on their brand identity. In this article, we are going to share some simple tips that will help you in creating a unique brand identity. 

Definition of Brand Identity:

Branding is a communication strategy that will help your consumers in identifying your brand. It is the most important thing in competitive markets. If you have created a unique brand identity, then your customers will automatically recognize your brand. It will help you in increasing both your sales and customer retention rate. You should focus on creating a unique brand identity as it will help you in becoming an industry leader.

1. Be Different 

You should look for a key selling point that only you can offer to your customers. Make sure that you are pushing these qualities forward to your ideal customer base. This will help you in convincing your customers. There are thousands of businesses in every sector. You need a unique selling point for attracting customers towards your brand. Coca-cola is the best example of this point. They have become famous due to their unique taste and unique bottle packaging. Coca-cola is branding its drinks as refreshing drinks that you can have after working hard in the office. Thus, they have successfully associated their brand with happiness, freedom, and celebration. 

2. Consistent Visual Expression 

Visual elements can help you in creating a unique brand identity. Your customers can identify your brand by your brand name and logo. The logo is the most important visual element. Your customers will always notice your brand logo first. For example, you can easily recognize the apple brand by its logo. 

3. Give a voice to your brand 

You can make your brand identity unique by personifying your entire brand. The visual elements will help you in creating your brand personality. However, your brand voice is also important for your business. You should first research about your target consumers. Make sure that you are using a specific tone that will help you in attracting these customers. You can associate your brand with various different personalities. For example, deodorant brands mostly associate themselves with a playful personality. Make sure that the voice of your brand is an actual representation of your entire brand. Also, your brand’s visual expression and voice should match. They should always remain consistent. You can’t use colorful visuals with a professional tone. If you want to send a strong brand message, then you should ensure that your brand voice and visual expression are matching with each other.

4. Create an amazing brand experience 

You can’t attract new customers just by relying on aesthetics. It is important to create an amazing brand experience for your consumers. Customers will go for the brands that have similar values. If consumers can associate themselves with your brand, then they will definitely buy your product. This will also help you in building a loyal customer base. The brand experience should help you in creating a unique connection with your customers. You can use visual expressions and your brand voice for creating a unique brand experience. However, make sure that your customers are directly interacting with your brand. You should always try to provide a good customer experience. This will help you in increasing your customer retention rate.

Conclusion 

These are some simple tips that you can use for creating a unique brand identity. Branding has become the most important thing for modern businesses. Even small businesses can succeed by creating a unique brand identity. 

Top 7 Reasons Why Content Marketing is Important for Your Business

Marketing is somewhat of the most important part of any business. Either a start-up or a successful business, marketing can affect in numerous ways. Many marketing strategies are rolled out each year, and businesses make a lot out of them. One of them is content marketing. Content doesn’t just  fill your web pages on your business website, but it also builds trust among you and your clients. It’s a famous verse in the enterprise world that it doesn’t matter what you are selling, but how you are seeling it.

The following are some of the top reasons why you should do content marketing for your business.

1. Builds brand awareness:

The content you use for your business builds brand awareness. If done right, content marketing can prove to be a doorway to get maximum traffic every month. Through the content, you let your probable clients know that you exist and that you are seeling the best services or products as per niche specified. If you are wondering what type of content would bring the most leads and will make the most sales, then video content it is. It helps your client know exactly what you are selling. 

2. Helps you make links:

Other websites will only want to link with you if you have great content at your site that is also bringing in traffic. The joint venture of you with other websites having similar content can benefit both of the websites. Other sites linking to you, aka backlinking can prove to bring other benefits like higher page rank. Websites with higher DA and PA when a link back to you can resultantly increase traffic to your site as it will build the credibility of your website.

3. Awesome digital marketing:

Digital marketing is based on good content. You can not expect good results from digital marketing if the content you are using to do so is of low quality. Digital marketing is done through SEO and SMM, where high quality is written, and visual content is used to promote the business and gain an audience eventually. Excellent text content on a website makes it a better-ranking site.

4. Text content is evergreen:

Evergreen content means traffic that never stops flowing towards you. Written content, except only a few, is evergreen and can always be used for brand recognition. You need not make any efforts to make written content useful for more traffic other than just slight updates in it to keep it fresh. But you can also repost the same content and get the same rewards.

 5. Makes your audience learn:

Content is written only to tell your side of the story to the audience. You use content either in text or audio form to tell your customers what you are all about. Your company needs to have educated clients who can advantage of your services and products just as you taught them to through your content. This is why your content must be a perfect representation of what your business is.

6. Makes your ties with customers strong:

Your content must be believable. Nobody will visit your site if you are making impossible vows. Your content should represent only what you can do and must be written most finely. This content, when shared with the audience, will make a stronger bond with them.

7. Generate sales and leads:

And then the purpose of marketing your business fulfills here. Your business will end up getting the spotlight after doing the perfect content marketing. You start generating leads. And if your content is powerful enough, it starts giving your business some boosting sales.

6 Inexpensive Branding Strategies for Your Business

Most small business owners think that only big companies like Google can do branding. However, the truth is that every business owner should think about branding their business. Larger companies will have access to a larger budget for branding. But, you don’t need a large budget for creating an effective branding strategy. There are various things that you can do for grabbing your customer’s attention. In this article, we are going to share some tips that will help you in creating your branding strategy.

1. Plan a Strong Brand Name 

Your brand name will eventually become your business identity. Many business owners don’t think about their brand names in the starting. This can hurt your business in the long run. You should brainstorm through hundreds of ideas. This will help you in finding the perfect name for your project. Make sure that your brand name is not boring, long, or too short. You should stay away from dull descriptions and acronyms. If you think that some name is funny, then you should immediately drop it. Also, you don’t need to get too creative during this process. Branding is a simple process of broadcasting your project to the world. You should look for a simple brand name that can define your project.

2. Social Media 

Social media is the best platform for small businesses. You can use social media sites like Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn for promoting your business. The best thing about these sites is that they are completely free. You can promote your business in ads, chats, and groups. However, make sure that you are posting consistently on your social media account. This will help you in attracting more customers.

3. Encourage Feedback

Feedback is very important for your business as it will help you in improving your services. You should always ask for feedback from your customers. Also, many companies get scared of negative feedback. Negative feedbacks will eventually help you in improving your products. If you are using a video for promoting your brand, then you should check the comments of your video. Your customers will help you in removing inefficiencies from your business operations.

4. Content Marketing 

Content marketing is both a powerful and cheap tool. Thus, it is perfect for small businesses. Content marketing will help you in projecting yourself as an authority. This will help you in building respect and loyalty. It will give a strong brand voice to your business. You can use your website blog for connecting with your audience.

5. Excellent Customer Service

There are millions of online businesses running right now. The key differentiator between these businesses is customer service. You can build your brand reputation by providing quality customer service. The word-of-mouth marketing is still the most effective marketing strategy in the market. Make sure that you are keeping your customers happy. You should pay attention to your customer’s feedback. Try to resolve their complaints quickly. This will ensure that you can attract more people to your brand.

6. Partnerships 

The easiest way to build your brand is by working with other like-minded entrepreneurs. You can use this technique for building your trust by proxy. If your customers are getting referred by some other brand that they already trust, then they will also trust your brand. However, you should look for businesses that have a non-competitive but similar audience. For example, companies that are offering protein bars can partner up with local race event hosts. They can also partner up with a workout blog. This will help you in attracting the right audience.

Conclusion

You can use these tips for creating an inexpensive branding strategy. These are some of the best branding strategies that won’t cost you a fortune. Thus, both small and medium-sized companies can use these strategies. These strategies will help you in gaining a competitive advantage.

Six Free Tools that Can Help you in Managing Your Money

Money management is missing from the school syllabus. Thus, consumers mostly learn money management from their parents or on their own. You might even consider hiring a financial advisor that will help you in managing your money. However, you should first check free money management tools before hiring a financial advisor. These online tools are user-friendly and they will help you in tracking your spending. You can also use these tools for creating your financial budget and analyzing your financial decisions. In this article, we are going to talk about the best money management tools available in the market.

1. Mint.com

Mint is a free budgeting tool that will help you in tracking every aspect of your finances. It will act as a centralized location where you can check your credit cards and bank accost. Mint is one of the best money management tools available in the market. It will provide you charts and graphs that will help you in reviewing your financial situation. Sometimes, it is very hard to review your financial situation by looking at numbers. Thus, the Mint will convert all the data into graphs and charts. This app will automatically categorize your cash flow and spending. It will suggest methods that will help you in saving your money. The only disadvantage of Mint is that you need to sync important information like card numbers and bank accounts. This app is completely secure and they will protect your data by encrypting it. 

2. Yodlee.com

Yodlee is also providing various money management services for free. You can use this tool for tracking your investments and accounts. This tool will also help you in creating your budget. You can use it for tracking your real estate value and spending.

 3. Check.me

It is very difficult to keep track of all your statements, financial documents, and bills. This tool will help you in solving this problem. It is very similar to Mint and you need to link your accounts with this tool. This tool will automatically remind you about pending bills. You can also schedule your payments for the future. It will also alert you if you have very few funds in your account. This app will ensure that you are always organized. Thus, you can use this app for avoiding overdraft charges and late fees.

4. Smartypig.com

If you want to track multiple saving goals, then Smarty Pig is the perfect tool for you. You can open free online savings account on this site. Smarty pig will provide you free savings account that you can use for reaching your savings goal. These accounts are different from the traditional bank accounts as they are fee-free. You need to deposit $25 while creating this free account. After that, you can link your main account with the Smarty Pig account.

 5. AnnualCreditReport.com

Every customer can get one credit report for free every year. You should review your yearly credit report. This will help you in finding potential lenders. You can fix errors on your report. Also, this tool will suggest you various tips that will help you in improving your credit profile. If you have a good credit profile, then you can easily get new credit cards and loans. 6. BudgetPulse.com

This tool will offer you a simple budget system. You can use this site for monitoring your savings and spending. Budget Pulse will also allow you to track finances in different currencies. This feature is very useful for frequent travelers. 

Conclusion

All the tools mentioned in this list are completely free. Thus, you should try out them and find the best tool for your needs. These tools will help you in managing your money. You can use these tools for getting a hold of your finances without ever hiring a financial expert.