#small business tools
Top 5 Small Business Tools
Being your own boss can mean being your own marketing department, public relations team or sales squad you name it, small business owners often end up handling it themselves, at least at some point. With so many hats to wear, you need to make every second count.
Luckily, there are plenty of tools out there that can streamline tasks, boost productivity and, in sum, save lots of time and money. Since I travel frequently, I ve built up a list of favorites that help me prioritize when I m short on time and that get me where I need to go as quickly as possible. Most of these services are free, and all of them do a fantastic job addressing the everyday challenges that small business owners face. What s not to love?
Buffer — Social media made easy
This user-friendly social media management tool helps me distribute content across major channels Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, etc. with minimum hassle. It lets me schedule posts in advance, selecting prime times to optimize my reach, which is especially helpful when I m away from my computer or traveling. And it allows me to leverage analytics to improve my engagement rates, as well as add clean visual elements, perfectly formatted for each different channel, through its intuitive Pablo tool.
You can use Buffer as a browser extension or handle your social media on the go through the mobile app for iOS and Android. It s free for individuals, but Buffer offers upgraded packages starting at $10 a month to cover multiple profiles, teams and agencies. Sleeker and easier for beginners than tools like Hootsuite, Buffer simplifies the management aspect so you ve got more time to hone your message.
Outlook — Smarter inbox, smarter email
I don t spend enough time on email, said no small business owner ever. Managing and organizing an email inbox can be one of the biggest time wasters entrepreneurs face. That s why I use Microsoft Outlook to either delete, respond, drag to, task or process all mail. Never keep email in your inbox. It creates unnecessary stress and leaves you always feeling behind. Most people use folders, but that s highly inefficient. Processing mail immediately helps me prioritize and label every email that comes my way. This eliminates the need for folders (and trying to determine which one an email should be assigned to), by allowing me to label each email with one or many categories of my choosing. This makes them simple to find when the time comes.
OnStar — Your car as your ally
Since many newer cars include a free trial of OnStar, people already know about many features it offers: a turn-by-turn navigation system, a mobile hotspot, a diagnostics system, and services such as emergency response, stolen vehicle and roadside assistance. When I m on the road, OnStar is my go-to. I rely on its excellent AtYourService tool, which comes at no extra cost with my Guidance Plan. With a press of OnStar s blue button, I can connect to a live adviser for assistance in looking up destination addresses, finding nearby gas stations, making restaurant reservations and even booking hotel rooms. There s a mobile app as well.
Waze — Savvy navigation
There s nothing more frustrating than wasting time in a traffic jam especially here in the Seattle area. Enter Waze . a community-based navigation app that issues turn-by-turn voice directions and provides road alerts before you get stuck in a back-up. When you enter a new destination and leave the app open on your phone, it contributes passively to traffic data, but app users can also actively share information, pointing out cheap prices at gas stations, reporting accidents and editing maps to update local road data. Available free for iOS, Android and Windows Phones, this handy app saves me time, gas money and headaches.
TripIt — Taming your travel itinerary
Gone are the days of shuffling through reams of printed travel reservations or even searching through multiple emails, for that matter. TripIt consolidates confirmations for flights, hotels, car rentals and restaurant bookings into an easy-to-digest master itinerary that I synchronize with my calendar or share selectively with colleagues or family. The free app allows me to access all my info on most of my devices, even offline.
For $49 annually, you can upgrade TripIt to receive real-time travel alerts, alternative flight route information, notifications for potential seat upgrades and frequent-flyer point tracking. TripIt also offers group packages to coordinate itineraries for whole teams, with master calendars and expense tracking.
Saving time for what really matters
These tools leverage technology so that you don t lose time that s critical to your business success. You can turn your car into your office, and you can use the spare minutes you spend waiting in line for coffee or to board a plane to knock out key communications. The more effectively you work, and the more time you save, the more you can concentrate on the aspects of your business (and life) that are near and dear to your heart. For me, that s what it all boils down to.
#small business finance
5 Small Business Financing Trends to Watch
Entrepreneurs, fasten your seat belts. Whether you re starting up your dream business this year or managing your established small company, 2016 will be a rollercoaster ride of potential opportunity and pitfalls. Here are five trends to watch closely so you can jump on or off at the right time for your business:
1. The online lending market will grow but unwary borrowers beware!
The online lending sector of the financial technology (fintech) industry exploded in 2015 and shows no signs of slowing down this year. These lenders attract entrepreneurs by offering faster, more streamlined application processes than traditional banks. They are a true market disruptor: who doesn t want to fill out an online form and get loan approval mere hours later?
But be careful. These online lenders aren t regulated the same way as banks, and you need to read the fine print carefully. Generally, these lenders focus on merchant cash advances (with a payment arrangement that takes weekly or even daily dips from your incoming cash) or working capital loans with repayment front loaded into the first few months of the loan term. Their terms may be unclearly stated, and unsophisticated borrowers can find themselves on the hook for as much as 30 to 80 percent in rates and fees.
Online lenders have a place in the business landscape: they pressure traditional banks to pay more attention to small businesses and startups, and they can help you kick start your new business or put operational upgrades in place. There is already a movement afoot for lending organizations and financial service firms to support a Small Business Borrowers Bill of Rights. But until standards are in place, make sure you re crystal clear on the APR and cash flow implications of any loan you take out online.
2. Banks will edge back into the (small) lending business
And it s about time. Lower-dollar business loans have dwindled in the last ten years, even as Small Business Association funding caps have risen. In 2015, 79 percent of SBA loans were greater than $350,000. and most big banks would only consider applications from businesses with a minimum two-year financial track record. That left a lot of entrepreneurs out in the cold.
In 2016, thanks in part to the market threat presented by the booming fintech industry, traditional banks will ease back into lower-dollar lending and will explore alternative funding options. Karen Mills, former SBA chief, expects banks to move towards greater online automation themselves, and perhaps even partner with online lenders.
Since the SBA only guarantees loans through traditional banks, anything those banks do to open up to smaller businesses is good news for everyone.
3. The SBA has plenty of money to fund your business in 2016, but watch those rates.
SBA approved $23.6 billion in business funding in 2015, and the 7(a) funding cap for fiscal year 2016 is currently set at $26.5 billion. SBA loans are still the resource of choice for many entrepreneurs (my company, Guidant Financial. saw a 200 percent increase in SBA lending services last year). SBA is out in front of most traditional banks with its online application process and continues to streamline their processes.
But do your math, and keep a close eye on the Fed. SBA loans are variable and reset quarterly: with a volatile worldwide stock market and potentially rising interest rates in 2016, these loans will become more expensive than in the past 5 7 years.
4. Boomer entrepreneurs usage of 401(k) business financing will continue to climb.
Baby boomers continue to surge as a percentage of entrepreneurs. The 2015 Kaufmann Index found that people age 55-64 make up a quarter of all new entrepreneurs .
These owners are often in the enviable position of having ample retirement savings that they can use to fund a new business without tax penalties. The Rollover as Business Startup (ROBS) strategy can fully fund their business, or work as an equity injection in conjunction with a traditional SBA loan. This strategy has been in use for over a decade and has become increasingly popular since 2008. With rising interest rates, this popularity will only increase as ROBS does not have traditional loan fees associated with it, nor is it affected by the stock market.
The advantages of ROBS? Avoiding the higher costs of alternative lending or traditional loans, and providing the equity reassurance to loan underwriters, even in the absence of a two-year track record of business. But as with any investment, ROBS can be a risk. Canny entrepreneurs will make sure their business plans are rock-solid, and then put their retirement funds back to work.
5. Get ready for business to hit the brakes in August through early November.
It s common for presidential elections to derail the momentum of the economy as candidates make undeliverable promises or dire threats, and Congress freezes like a deer in headlights. Already, small business owners confidence is wobbling and may result in self-imposed delays in startups or acquisitions.
We ll know more about the potential benefits or challenges for small business when clear candidates emerge and take specific positions on issues like tax changes, industry regulation and health care.
There s a lot to keep your eye on in 2016. But for entrepreneurs who build and execute solid financial and operational plans, and keep a clear eye on their funding options, 2016 can be a banner year. Remember that opportunity always feels like a rollercoaster. Buckle up and enjoy the ride!
#sba loan requirements
How to Qualify for a Small-Business Loan in 5 Steps
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Qualifying for a small-business loan is easier when you’re prepared. Below is a to-do list that will help you qualify for the cash you need to grow your business.
Whether you end up applying for an SBA loan through a bank or opt for an online small-business loan, you should be familiar with the requirements of each lender. Knowing whether you meet their criteria before you apply will save you time and frustration.
How to quality for a small-business loan
1. Improve personal and business credit scores
Your personal credit score ranges from 300 to 850 (the higher, the better), and evaluates your ability to repay debts. The score is typically weighed more heavily by small-business lenders if your business is new and lacks credit history. It’s based mainly on three factors: your payment history (35% of your score), the amounts owed on credit cards and other debt (30%) and how long you’ve had credit (15%).
Paying your bills on time is, of course, crucial to improving your score. But even if you pay your bills like clockwork, credit report errors could be damaging your score one in four consumers has damaging credit report errors. However, four out of five consumers who filed a dispute got their credit report modified, according to a study by the Federal Trade Commission. You can get a copy of your credit reports for free once a year at AnnualCreditReport.com and dispute any inaccuracies you find through each of the credit bureaus’ websites (Experian, Equifax and TransUnion).
Businesses that are more established and applying for bank loans can check out their business credit scores (which generally range from 0 to 100) at the three business credit bureaus: Experian, Equifax and Dun Bradstreet. Check out these five steps to building business credit, and if you see any mistakes on your reports, contact the bureaus.
More than likely, you’ll need an excellent business credit score as well as good personal credit to qualify for an SBA loan or traditional loan from a bank, although this will depend on the individual lender and factors such as your business revenue and cash flow. In general, online lenders look at personal credit scores but are a bit more lenient when it comes to credit score requirements, as they place more emphasis on your business’s cash flow and track record.
2. Know the lender’s minimum qualifications
There’s no way around it: If you don’t meet a lender’s minimum qualifications, applying is a waste of time.
Borrowers typically need to meet minimum criteria related to credit scores, annual revenue and years in business. And lenders generally frown upon recent bankruptcies and other past delinquencies.
To qualify for SBA loans, borrowers also must be current on all government loans and can’t have any past defaults. So if you’re late on a federal student loan or a government-backed mortgage, you’ll be disqualified. You also can’t be on the SBA’s ineligible businesses list. which includes life insurance companies and financial businesses such as banks.
Qualifying for online lenders can be easier. While these lenders typically underwrite loans based on traditional factors such as credit scores, annual revenue and cash flow, the loans carry less stringent requirements than banks.
3. Gather financial and legal documents
Banks and other traditional lenders typically ask for a wide range of financial and legal documents during the application process. They include:
- Personal and business income tax returns
- Balance sheet and income statement
- Personal and business bank statements
- A photo of your driver’s license
- Commercial leases
- Business licenses
- Articles of incorporation
- A resume
- Financial projections if you have a limited operating history
These requirements can make getting a bank loan time consuming. That may not be an issue if you’re in the market for a long-term business loan to finance a major investment.
However, if you need money faster, online lenders may be a better fit, as they can provide a streamlined online application process with fewer documentation requirements and faster underwriting. But they may come with higher borrowing costs. If you have good credit and business finances, however, some lenders may provide rates comparable to those of bank loans.
4. Develop a strong business plan
Lenders will want to know how you plan to use the money and will want to see that you have a strong ability to repay. They may require a solid business plan that details the purpose of the loan and how you expect it to increase profits.
Your business plan should include current and projected financials, and clearly demonstrate that your business will have enough cash flow to cover ongoing business expenses and the new loan payments. This can give the lender more confidence in your business, increasing your chances at loan approval. Your p lan should include :
- Company description
- Product and/or service description
- Management team
- Industry analysis
- Facilities and operations plan
- Promotional, marketing and sales strategy
- SWOT analysis (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats)
5. Provide collateral
To qualify for a small-business loan, you may have to provide collateral to back the loan. This refers to an asset, such as equipment, real estate or inventory, that can be seized and sold by the lender if you can’t make your payments. It’s basically a way lenders can make back their money if your business fails.
SBA loans require “adequate” collateral for security on all loans, plus a personal guarantee from every owner of 20% or more of the business. A personal guarantee puts your credit score and your personal assets on the hook.
Some online lenders do not require collateral but may want a personal guarantee. Others may also take a blanket lien on your business assets essentially another form of collateral giving the lender the right to take business assets (real estate, inventory, equipment) to recoup an unpaid loan. Each individual lender has its own requirements, so don’t be afraid to ask questions if you are unsure.
If you don’t have collateral to get a loan or don’t want to take on the risk of losing personal or business assets, unsecured business loans may be a better option.
Find and compare small-business loans
If you’re looking for financing, NerdWallet has created a comparison tool list of the best small-business loans to meet your needs and goals. We gauged lender trustworthiness and user experience, among other factors, and arranged them by categories that include your revenue and how long you’ve been in business.
This post was updated. The post was originally published on Dec. 1, 2015.
Image via iStock.
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The 5 Components of a Turnkey Business
Here is the script of this video blog on how to create a turnkey business!
Hi, I m Glenn Smith, the Growth Coach in Houston, Texas, and I want to talk to you today about how to create a turn key business, and specifically, I want to talk about the 5 Components of a Turn Key Business.
Great business leaders build great businesses that can run without them. That s what I encourage all the business owners I work with to work toward. To create a business that can function and perform consistantly and predictably, without their constant presence and their constant attention.
The 5 Components of a Turn Key Business are these that I have listed here: Marketing, Selling, Fulfillment, Admin, and HR.
Every business has to have these 5 basic systems. You might call them the 5 major systems of a turn key business.
If you re a soloprenuer or a small business owner with just 1 or 2 employees, you may want to take HR and make it a sub-component of Admin and only have 4. But if you have multiple employees, and you re going to grow to even more, you definitely want to have a separate component that s HR.
This area covers things like talent acquisition, training and development, coaching and correction, conflict resolution, performance management. All of those things are key pieces of your HR system.
Admin is typically the back office type things like bookkeeping, accounts payable, accounts receivable, inventory control, data management, compliance issues related to taxes, personnel law, and issues like that. They come under the Admin system, and you want all of that documented and running very well.
But the 3 core systems of a business are these first 3: Fulfillment, Selling, and Marketing.
Marketing is lead generation. You want to generate a certain number of qualified leads for your business. So you build a marketing engine or marketing system to do just that. This will include all of your major marketing mediums:
All of those systems make up your marketing system. You want to document them all and make sure it s measurable so that it s producing the number of quality leads that you want.
Then we move to selling. This is lead conversion. Marketing is lead generation, selling is lead conversion. In your business, your selling system may be a transactional system like in a retail business, or it may be a consultative selling system like in professional services, or it may be a bidding or quoting system. Whatever it is, you want to define it, document it, and refine it. Build it out as your selling system.
The third core system is fulfillment. This is where you deliver your product or service. And you document here exactly how you do this to ensure that every time it s done with excellence and quality.
These are the five major systems of a turnkey business. I want to encourage you as a business owner to build it, document it, and train people to operate it. IF you document it well with checklists and measurable outcomes, you can train people to do it with excellence every single time.
As a business coach. this is what I help people do. This is what business owners hire me to help them with. In fact, we have a two-year program that we take business owners systematically through to help them create turnkey businesses.
I hope you found this to be helpful and hope it elevates your vision and mindset about what your business can be. Thanks for watching.
How to Create a Facebook Business Page in 5 Simple Steps Tutorial #business #consulting
How to Create a Facebook Business Page in 5 Simple Steps [Tutorial]
It’s no longer a “good idea” for most businesses to be on Facebook. With 829 million people actively using Facebook every day, it’s become a go-to component of almost any inbound marketing strategy.
Thing is, as more and more Facebook features change, so does the process of setting up a Page.
Don’t waste another day poking around aimlessly on Facebook, trying to figure out what the heck to do to get your Facebook Page up and running like a social networking pro.
The following presentation provides a visual tutorial to help you get your Page up in no time (you can also read the transcription below). Over 600,000 have found this tutorial helpful, hopefully it proves beneficial for you or a marketer you know, too.
How To Create a Facebook Business Page
Step 1: Choose a Classification.
To begin, navigate to https://www.facebook.com/pages/create.php . This page will showcase six different classifications to choose from:
- Local Business or Place
- Company, Organization, or Institution
- Brand or Product
- Artist, Band, or Public Figure
- Cause or Community
Each of these classifications provides more relevant fields for your desired Page.
For this tutorial, we’ll select the second option: company, organization, or institution. After selecting our desired classification, we’ll be asked for an official name for our Business Page. I recommend carefully selecting your name. Although Facebook allows you to change your name and URL once. it’s a difficult and tedious process.
Step 2: Complete Basic Information.
Facebook should automatically walk you through the following four basic sections to complete the fundamental aspects of your Page.
Finish “About” Section
The “about” section will serve as the main 2-3 sentence description for your company. It will be on your main page, so make it descriptive but succinct. Be sure to include a link to your company website as well. Also ensure that this information differentiates your brand, making your page even more appealing to potential followers.
This is also where you can select your unique domain (that, as mentioned above, can only be changed once). For example, the Sidekick by HubSpot Facebook Page employs the URL facebook.com/getsidekick.
Upload Profile Picture
Next you’ll be asked to upload a picture. This will serve as the main visual icon of your page, appearing in search results and alongside any comments you publish. While any perfectly square image will work, the recommended size is 180 x 180 pixels.
Add to Favorites
Every individual Facebook user has a vertical navigation bar to the left of their News Feed. You can add your Business Page as a “Favorite” item here — similar to bookmarking a web page in your web browser — for easy access.
Reach More People
Facebook will prompt you to create an advertisement to draw attention to your Page. Whether employing paid tactics is a part of your strategy or not, I recommend avoiding starting any ads at this stage — there’s no compelling content on the Page yet that would convince them to ultimately “Like” your page.
Step 3: Understand the Admin Panel.
The basic skeleton of your Business Page is now live. Facebook will ask if you’d like to “Like” your Page. Again, I recommend avoid doing so at the moment. This activity will appear in News Feeds of those you’re connected to personally to on Facebook. Without any content on the Page, we want to save that organic Timeline story for when you’re really ready for people to view the Page.
In the top navigation, you’ll see an option for “Settings.” Click that. Along the left side, a vertical navigation bar with different sections should appear. We’ll focus on three core ones now:
- Page Info: This is where you can add additional details about your business. This section will also unveil different fields based on the classification you chose in Step 1.
- Notifications. This section allows you to customize when and how you’d like to receive Page alerts. Set a frequency that fits your social media marketing schedule.
- Page Roles. Whether or not you’ll be the main manager of the Page, there may be others at your organization who need access to your Facebook Page. Here, you can invite other colleagues to make changes to your Pages. Some common use cases here include:
- A public relations manager who needs to respond to any delicate questions.
- A support representative who can assist those asking technical questions.
- A designer tasked with uploading new photo creative to the Page.
Step 4: Populate Page With Content.
Now it’s time to actually publish content to your Page and then invite users to be a part of your growing community. Let’s start with the basic content needed to get your Page kicking.
The rest of your Page will populate over time as you publish more updates. Facebook currently provides six different posting options:
- Plain text status
- Photo with caption
- Link with caption
- Video with caption
- Event page
- Location check-in
When posting on your page, just be sure to use a variety of content. What images would your audience like to see? What stats would they like to read? What links would they like to click? You can also click the little grey arrow in the top-right corner of each post and then click “Pin to Top” to move one of your posts to the top of your Page’s Timeline for seven days. Use this feature for product announcements, business anniversaries, and other major events pertinent to your brand.
If you want to dive deeper into Facebook posting best practices, check out this blog post.
This is the large, horizontal image that spans the top of your Facebook Page. Typically, this is a branded image to help attract people to your Page. The official photo dimensions are 851 x 315 pixels. To help you create these cover photos, we have free PowerPoint templates here pre-sized for the right dimensions.
Now that there’s content on the Page, we can start strategically inviting users to Like it. I recommend inviting users in the following cadence:
- First, invite colleagues to Like your page and its content to build some initial activity.
- Second, invite supporters in your network. Encourage them to engage.
- Third, invite customers. With some activity now on the Page, they’ll be more interested.
With content published and users invited, you can go to the “Activity” tab in your Page’s top navigation to monitor how people are engaging with your Page and content.
Step 5: Measure Your Growth.
Finally, we need to measure our efforts to ensure we’re making valuable marketing decisions on Facebook. Fortunately, Facebook has embedded in some decently helpful metrics for us to take advantage of. Simply click the “Insights” option in the top navigation to see the following:
- Overview. This tab shows a 7-day snapshot of your metrics such as Page Likes, post reach, and overall engagement.
- Likes. This tab shows your overall fan growth and losses. If you’re employing paid efforts, you’ll be able to see the breakdown of paid versus organic growth.
- Reach. This tab highlights the raw number of people your Page is reaching every day. If you notice spikes on a specific day, try cross-checking what you posted that day to see if you can replicate that reach.
- Visits. This tab indicates where on Facebook your viewers are coming from. You can see the difference in visits on Facebook Timelines, your information tab, reviews, and others.
And if you really want to spend time perfecting your Facebook content strategy, watch this brief tutorial on how to analyze exactly that .
And voila! You have a Facebook business page. Now go post interesting content and amass a loyal base of fans!
Want to see how HubSpot uses Facebook? Like our Facebook Page here .
Editor’s note: This post was originally published in 2010, and it’s since been completely updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.
- A public relations manager who needs to respond to any delicate questions.
- A support representative who can assist those asking technical questions.
- A designer tasked with uploading new photo creative to the Page.
#business ideas for kids
It is summer time and the kids are out of school. One way to preoccupy them during the warm summer months is to introduce them to the joys of entrepreneurship.
One way to make this summer memorable for them is to help them start a business – one that they enjoy and are passionate about. A summer business venture can teach them the basics of business. They get to have a taste of becoming a business owner. It will be a great exercise to expose them to the value of hard work and dedication. They’ll also start learning about money, even the concept of cash flow. Plus, it will help them take pride in their creations and work.
Here are some summer business ideas for kids:
With your help, your child can create an online store and start selling on the Web. The key is choosing the right items to sell, preferably products that resonate with them. One option is to choose items that they think will resonate with other kids in their age group. Read the story of Hannah Altman: A 10-Year Old CEO’s Success with Pencil Toppers .
An easier way will be to become an affiliate for other companies. This will allow the kid to earn commission from the sale, without spending money for inventory. This is the business model followed by the 15-year old entrepreneur Lachy Groom with his iPadCaseFinder.com website.
Cool Zips products from 10-year old entrepreneur Hannah Altman
The neighborhood lemonade stand is the most common business for kids in the summer. It is a fun, easy business for kids.
Easy to setup, your child needs to make a refreshing pitcher of lemonade (may need the help of adults) and sell it by the cup. The key is to find a high traffic area to set up the stand. The stand can be a simple table with chairs for the kids (umbrella preferred) or more complex with a wooden stand. The price of a lemonade cup can be anywhere from $0.25 to even a dollar, depending on how hot is it that day. However, check with your local county if there are any restrictions or tax implications for a seemingly simple business like a kid’s lemonade stand (the last thing you want is for your kid to be slapped with a fine for operating a business without a license.)
3. Pet sitting business.
During summer, some people go off on vacations but choose to leave their pets behind. If your kid loves pets and is capable of taking care of pets, one option is to start a pet sitting business. Your kid can take the dog for a walk, feed the cat or birds, and just make sure that the pets are being taken care of. For ideas, read the article “How to Develop a Pet Sitting Brand” .
If your kid is adept in creating and editing videos, your child can use the skill to make money. Your kid can make short videos and upload them to the massively popular Youtube. If the videos are able to attract a sizeable audience, your kid can join the Youtube Partner Program http://www.youtube.com/partners and start earning from the videos through advertising. Read the article “8 Ways to Earn Money from Online Videos” .
5. T-Shirt Design Business.
If your kid is pretty crafty and artistic, one option is to start designing t-shirts. Your kid can make it as colorful as he/she wants, even full of wacky design ideas. The key is to highlight that these are unique and one-of-a-kind t-shirts. You can then sell them online such as eBay or the handmade auction site Etsy.com. Another way is to approach a small boutique owner in your area and check if they would be interested in selling your kid’s t-shirts.
For any of the above business ideas, parental guidance is important (even necessary). Think of this time as a way you can bond even more with your kids. And have fun while doing it!
How to Start Your Own Commercial Cleaning Business – Steps 1-5
Step 1: What Buildings to Clean:
First and foremost, decide what you want to do with your commercial cleaning business. Do you want to clean small buildings or large buildings? Do you want to keep this business small or do you want to hire employees to do the work for or with you? This will determine what sort of buildings you are going to target.
There are many different areas of commercial cleaning. You can do small buildings such as banks, gyms, day cares, mom and pop shops or convenience stores. You can do small office buildings or large skyscraper buildings and schools. There are many options here. You will need to decide what you want to do.
If it is just you or just you and a partner, you may want to start small. Target smaller buildings that you can do by yourself. Then, when you get the feel for your business and want to hire help, target larger buildings.
So, now you know what sort of building you want to clean. Now, you need to set up the business. First, you need to decide on a business name. You will want to pick something professional since you are dealing with professional people that you will have to sell yourself to. I don’t recommend using a “cutesy” name. This will turn off many of those professionals that will be hiring you. Choose something that shows what you are made of. For example, Florida’s Best Cleaning Service or Tampa Bay’s Professional Commercial Cleaning. Adding your service area to your business name is also a big plus because your clients will be able to relate to you.
Step 3: Business License and Bank Account:
Now that you have a name, it is time to get your business license and bank account. Go to http://www.business.gov/register/licenses-and-permits/ and find your state. Contact a representative to see what sort of license is required for commercial cleaners. Most times you will only have to file for a DBA (doing business as), but this will vary from state to state.
Once you have a business license, you can then get a business checking account. There are many out there that will give you free checks and free transactions, so shop around. My business and personal are at the same bank, so they gave me a plan where I get free checks and free deposits and withdrawals. Check to see if your bank offers the same.
Step 4: Commercial Cleaning Insurance and Bond:
Now that you have a license and bank account, it is time to get liability insurance. Liability insurance will be a requirement for commercial cleaning. They will want to see your insurance certificate and some businesses may even want you to carry a certain limit on your insurance policy. The most any business should need would be a $1Million policy, but usually $500k would suffice.
You can find commercial liability insurance through your local agents as well as by going to http://ww.netquote.com. Just click on business insurance and get a quote right there. This can be costly depending on where you live, but the average is around $500/year. So, be sure to shop around to get the best coverage and quote.
If you are going to hire employees or you have a partner, it would be a good idea to get a bond. A bond will protect your business against employee theft. Bonds are not expensive and most of your clients will want you to have one as well. Your local agent should be able to help you get one or you can get one at http://www.janitorialbonds.com/. You can also shop around for a bond. Just do a search on the web for a janitorial bond. There are many companies.
The last step for setting up the backbone of your business before you start the operations part of the business is determining your rates. This doesn’t have to be as difficult as people make it out to be. There doesn’t have to be some magical formula. You can make up one if you want, but the best thing to do is determine what you need your hourly rate to be to make the kind of profit you want to make. Don’t forget to factor in things like expenses (insurance, license, gas, maintenace, supplies, etc.). Once you determine your hourly rates, do you think your service area can pay that kind of money or is that even lower than the norm for your area? Don’t know, just ask.
Once you figure out your hourly rate, you will have to figure out how many hours it will take for you to complete the cleaning job. Many factors will determine this. What kind of floor, how many rooms, how large is the building, how many employees, how many bathrooms.
This will be a learning curve for your to get your calculations correct, but don’t worry. Even if it took you longer to clean than you thought, you will get better and faster as you get used to the building.
Once you know how many hours, multiply by your hourly rate. Then multiply that by how many times you will clean in a month and put the monthly rate on your bid sheet. Most businesses will pay by the month, so you need to give them a monthly rate. Don’t tell them your hourly rate because they will start to nit-pick at certain areas or question why you need this much time to clean. Just give them your bottom line price, unless they ask for a breakdown.
That is all there is to the back end of your business. In steps 5-10, we will go over the operations of the business.