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Why do we start a new enterprise?

Getting started in business is never an easy road. Typically we are entering our new endeavour on a shoestring budget or trying to get business running while continuing as an employee in another company to be sure there is enough money to pay the bills. Not many startups have the benefit of being bankrolled by someone with an excess of cash. Especially not until they have proved they are viable. So why do we decide to move away from stable employment into the topsy turvy world of Startups and SMEs. With the current business environment and the number of startups that actually do not survive the first year, surely you would need to be insane to jump into your own enterprise. Some of us look at the challenge of commencing a Startup as being the necessary penance to be paid in order to make a difference to the current situation. When I started GBOS (www.gbos.com.au) , I had come from a career of working in Australian manufacturing. I had seen my particular industry sector wither and die in the new Global Marketplace and I had also seen and heard of the issues and problems that arose from embarking on a ill-prepared venture to offshore manufacturing.There was (and still is) a lot of propaganda surrounding the decision of some companies to manufacture offshore. Persistent quality issues fuelled this sentiment. Basically a lot of Australian companies were left in a situation where they had no viable option. Domestic manufacture was too expensive to be viable but offshore manufacture was too unreliable to be an alternative.  There needed to be another alternative for these struggling industries. We did not need another company offering to move manufacturing offshore (although this was the original concept for the business). We needed an option where we could manufacture offshore without the quality and understanding problems. As is sometimes the case when you are trying to start something new, the idea you have for your business becomes distilled and refined over time. You start to identify exactly where you offer a difference to the rest of the market, then you start to focus your marketing specifically on this area. Everything else becomes superfluous and irrelevant. The focus of GBOS became on minimizing and preventing non-conformances and quality issues encountered with offshore manufacturing. We became obsessed with specifications, both from the client and the transfer and understanding of these specifications to the factory. This is really the area where we add value. We can get it done and get it right in the shortest possible time. I started sharing insights into the industry and trying to dispel some of the mythology involved. Manufacturing offshore was not a venture into a dark foreboding territory that was doomed to failure unless you used a trading company or manufacturer representative. Most failures were due to the lack of specifications or lack of understanding not the business relationship. We also decided to assist in the decision making process and introduced a quick online build or buy analysis (www.gbos.com.au/index.php/buildorbuy​) on our website to help companies make an informed decision before jumping to an offshore manufacturer. We are now advocates for informed manufacturing whether it be onshore or offshore and the control of non-conformances and quality issues.  While getting into a new startup has its own stresses and challenges and getting a reputation and market traction is often a long and arduous journey, the end result when you start to see success, even in small steps and see that your customers feel the money spent on your services was well worth the outcome they enjoyed, all of the financial and personal stresses getting there become worthwhile.

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Why You Don’t Need Funding To Get The Wheels Turning

A lot of entrepreneurs are demotivated to start their implementing their great ideas because they don’t have the necessary funding. This story is here to tell you that you do not need funding in order to start your business and succeed. Get the wheels turning with taking the first step of reading this inspiring story. There is such a bubble at the moment about funding, that I am sure there are plenty of hopeful not-yet entrepreneurs out there, who are scared they will fail because they don’t have any funding. People, who cannot picture that big fancy office with a $15,000 conference table, they cannot even see how they will pay their next bill but they have this idea, which they think can solve a real problem. In my eyes, that’s all that really matters. The pure grit, the guts to go ahead and do it. The rest they will figure out later. Where to start? Nike, Apple, Amazon, Disney, and many businesses (including mine) started from the humblest of beginnings with a small amount of savings, a few credit cards maxed out, and lasted beyond the first hurdles because the founder had pure guts to solve that problem, to go after THAT thing. Many never use or receive funding. I fit that rule too. Many businesses out there will not fit the VC model—tech, modern, hip cool businesses. In fact, most won’t, and when I visit my clients’ premises, I quickly re-confirm that not all businesses start from a big tech dream. The majority don't. The media portrays the image of an entrepreneur as being part of the big tech realm and working in an incubator. While there is some truth to this, the actual reality is 90% of businesses start with a dream at a kitchen table. Not all businesses are tech-based and the majority of businesses don’t receive funding either. A great example of this can be Beauté Pacifique (BP) – Denmark’s leading skincare brand. BP is based in Denmark and has been selling skin care products for over 20 years. In 1997, Beauté Pacifique started from scratch, with no funding—just pure will at a kitchen table with a few family members. Today, they stand at the top of the Danish skin care industry and are a reference in anti – aging products and technology. Last year, I had the honour to be invited by BP to visit their Danish headquarters. I was honoured to be given a tour by the owner himself, and we sat in his car discussing his fondness for hounds and how the whole thing started. No need to say I was silently being mind – blown. The love he had for his product and its cause was impossible to not notice, and it goes to show that passion alone is worth more than any amount of funding. He told me the story of building his business, starting from the very beginning. It all started with an engineering angle and in the kitchen of his home. His family would sit around the table, each with a specific role, and manually package the products for hours at a time. With very few resources, the family put in the time and effort to turn the dream into a reality, and boy – that they did. An overnight success of 20 years. In conclusion The BP story will forever sit with me, and I use it as a tool to maintain perspective on what entrepreneurship really is. By believing in your business with an unrelenting passion and surrounding yourself with the true supporters of your idea and advisors, I promise that your business will shape together one way or another, and, who knows, you might even retain a 100% stake in the thing. I went back to my hotel thinking about how legacy companies start and why I love supporting an underdog… and probably always will. So, if you have the sole idea and will to start, don't be scared. 

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Why You Need A Lawyer When Starting A Business

So, you’ve got an awesome startup or business idea and you’ve validated it with credible traction.  Now you’re ready to launch your business. When should I engage a Lawyer is a common question we are asked and who should I engage? Here’s a few suggestions as to how you can engage a lawyer to get it right the first time and save you a massive headache down the track.   1.     Uncle Jack, my Lawyer Using your family or friends sounds like a good deal, but if this area of law is not their expertise, then you may end up paying for it in the long run.  Depending on how you want to structure your company there may be different options. A Lawyer well versed in the space may be able to provide you with more flexibility that will cater to your company and it’s growth in the short, medium and long term.   2.     Setting up, properly You’re spending a great deal of time and effort on establishing your business. Are you getting the basics right?  LawPath gives you the ability to select the right level of legal support for your business.  There are some relatively low cost precedents  (templates) available and you can access up to 30 minutes with a Lawyer free of charge to discuss and review your legal position. Some key things to consider when establishing your business: Company name - have you done a company search? Sounds basic but Is anyone else using your company name globally? If so, what are the implications? Are there trademarks in place or will you need to register some to protect your business?  Do you have an established ABN/ACN established, or do you need Incorporation? Are you establishing a shareholders agreement?    Customers – your customers are providing you with their data and using your service.  Are you up to date in terms of implications of the recent amendment to the Privacy Act? Is your company compliant and operating within Australian law? And what about your Terms and Conditions of Use, does it indemnify you against mis-use of your services? Could your company be doing more to better protect its intellectual property?  Or could you be extracting more value from your IP?   Staff - you’ll be looking to bring on staff in the short to medium term and you’ll need an employment agreement that best protects your business.   3.     Developing a working relationship with your Lawyer  Post establishment of your business, you’ll need Legal advice throughout different events within your business such as taking on investment or issuing employee (share) options, acquiring a competitors business, in the case of a commercial dispute, or possibly even a sale of the business.  Developing a working relationship can only benefit your business and help you better understand your position and options when such events arise. I asked one of our LawPath Lawyers, Paul Miller from Deutsch Miller to provide insight into common shareholder agreement disputes.   “There are various procedures that can be inserted in a shareholders agreement where the pre-agreed initial dispute resolution process has failed. I will comment on two of the more draconian solutions below: “Russian Roulette” clause – one shareholder serves a notice on the other setting out a specified price for a half share of the company. The other shareholder is required to give notice to either buy the notifying shareholder’s half share, or to sell its half share, at the specified price. If the shareholder who receives the notice does not elect to do either, it will be deemed to have agreed to sell its shares to the other shareholder;  and “Texas Shootout” clause – both shareholders submit to an arbitrator sealed bids of the price at which they are prepared to buy out the other shareholder’s half share in the company.  The sealed bids are opened together and shareholder who submits the higher bid must buy and the shareholder who submits the lower bid must sell their half share in the business. There are other solutions that may fit better with the shareholders depending on their particular circumstances and the type of business. We would strongly recommend a Shareholders Agreement contain a robust dispute resolution clause to ensure there is a process that can be followed in circumstances where the relationship between the shareholders irrevocably breaks down.” 

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Why You Should Use Guerrilla Marketing (And How to Do It)

Are you on a budget thinking about great marketing techniques? Guerrilla marketing is aimed to increase the visibility of your brand without spending extra money on it.  What are the perks of this marketing type? What's so unique about it? Let's discuss some important points for your guerrilla marketing strategy to be highly engaging and inspiring. Guerrilla marketing is a unique branch of marketing that doesn’t require huge financial investments like a conventional advertising campaign or significant time investments like an ongoing marketing strategy. The main goal of this marketing is to increase the visibility of a brand through a creative public stunt that takes viewers by surprise and impresses them. Naturally, achieving this purpose requires superb creativity, energy, and the ability to produce advertising that connects with the viewers on a more memorable and personal level. When done properly, guerrilla marketing can create social buzz, make a great impression, and raise or increase awareness of the brand. Here’s a great example of guerrilla marketing.  hu   Image Source: Creative Pool In this incredibly creative piece of advertising, bowling pins play a role of teeth supported by dental implants. Knocking down pins in this case implies that the implant can come off in various circumstances, so it’s better to insure them. It’s very easy to understand and relate to, plus it can give any viewer a good laugh. Indeed, this advertising is well-designed and beautifully illustrates what guerrilla marketing is all about. Now, let’s see the benefits of such marketing: It can be cheaper. Advertising in a bowling club is cheaper than on television or press. Depending on the location of the advertising, it can be even cheaper than online advertising. This makes it great for startups and brands with a limited marketing budget. It can be more memorable. Creativity is what guerrilla marketing is all about. Traditional advertising can be pretty boring, but seeing something like the ad above would definitely be more memorable because it’s funnier and much more creative. It can create free publicity. People who see ads like the one above tend to take photos of them and share them on social media. Such free advertising is awesome for brands because customers trust user-generated content much more than conventional advertising. So, your brand can go viral without a significant involvement on your part. It can help to connect with customers on a whole new level. Guerrilla marketing speaks on a more personal level because it provokes thoughts and doesn’t require you to create complex texts such as a professional essay, as opposed to conventional advertising that is associated with ‘salesy’ slogans. So if your current marketing strategy isn’t getting the traction you need, you can add it with guerrilla methods. Below, you’ll find some of the high-performing ones. Tips for Successful Guerrilla Marketing In order for your guerrilla marketing strategy to be highly engaging and inspiring, you have to meet the following requirements: It must be entertaining and fun for everyone It must be social It must be doable The dental implant insurance is again a great example that meets all three requirements. It’s fun, can be shared on social media, and it obviously easy to participate in. Naturally, the biggest benefit is the potential for your stunt to go viral on social media. While getting some exposure among locals is good, even a couple of shares can expose the content to a lot more people. Here are more tips to enhance your guerrilla marketing effort. 1. Go Offline Marketing online is certainly a good idea, but it doesn’t mean that you have to focus all your efforts on promoting your business on the Internet. Offline advertising can be just as enticing and fun, and the ad of dental insurance serves as a great example of that. Being creative is critical here, and you have much more creative liberty than with traditional advertising because you’re not limited in terms of words you use or visual space. For example, check out the idea of Gold Toe. The company has manufactured one of the largest underwear and placed it on the famous statue of Charging Bull in Chicago. The result of this incredible stunt? Thousands of selfies shared on social media and press coverage. 2. Open a Pop Up Shop Pop up shops aren’t popular as they used to be but they are still one of the most effective low-cost guerrilla marketing tactics. They are those small temporary stores that the owner can easily set up and take down. By setting a physical store, you’re bringing yourself closer to the customers and can communicate with them directly about the benefits of your products. But don’t forget to ensure that the location of your pop up shop is appropriate and has a lot of people coming by. 3. Create a Social Challenge Remember how everyone went crazy for that ice bucket challenge several years ago? It seemed like everyone tried it because the ones that engaged first challenged their friends and even world leaders. You can also create a social challenge of your own. It doesn’t have to be spectacular and requires special equipment to complete, but it should be fun and easy to do. 4. Make Your Stunt Memorable The best way to ensure that is to surprise anyone who sees your stunt. An element of surprise is something that shocks (like the underwear on the Bull) or delights the viewers, but should leave them with a positive lasting impression of your business. A project by Folger’s Coffee is a great example of a memorable stunt. They printed stickers that transformed typical New York City’s manholes into brewed cups of coffee. This project made a lot of New Yorkers pleasantly surprised when they saw these stickers. People took a lot of photos of them and shared them on social media, thus increasing the awareness of the brand. Moreover, it’s safe to assume that they thought of Folger’s when they saw a steaming manhole, so the goal of making a memorable advertising was achieved. Conclusion The limit with guerrilla marketing is only your creativity, so let your imagination be your guide. The bottom line that this kind of marketing can be effective if executed in the right way. To get unique rewards, a brand must be the one that stands out and shows incredible creativity.

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Why your product has to fit your business

A strange thing happens when a business adds to its products or services. Often by trying to expand and diversify they add a “complimentary” service they fall in to the trap of moving beyond what they’re known for. A great idea for a product (or service) isn’t enough reason to create it and sell it. There are some key areas a new product or service should satisfy before it is considered and developed further. The impact, positive or negative, goes far beyond the financial - succeed or fail, your new offering could become what you’re known for, so you have to get it right. Who needs it? This is more than identifying the market for the product. You should be identifying what the product is, what it does and why that is important to someone who might buy it.  If there isn’t a clear market for your product, one which will purchase in quantities to make the endeavour worthwhile, entering into the space will be a risk for the business. If you are producing something without a perceivable need the market may see it as a negative, solely profit driven move, and you may find yourself damaging your brand. What does it add? This one has two parts. What does this project add to the customer, that they can’t get from your competitors and their offering? If what you are aiming to present doesn’t innovate or revolutionise an element of what the customer can already purchase, it needs work, or it isn’t a great idea. The other part is what does your business get from producing it? You should be thinking beyond the financial - there should be a strategic gain to come out of what you’re doing. Building a strong business stems from what you offer. If you don’t  Why are we doing it? The answer to this one shouldn’t be only profit. Any new endeavour should have a sound strategic goal as well as financial ones. The new product should have a link back to the way you have done business in the past. Diversifying your offering is great, but you should be sticking to your strong suits. Your business will become confused and costly to run if you start to provide services outside of your core organisational knowledge. Do we know how to do it? This is probably the most important point. You need to be able to deliver what you’re promising as a business. This means having the strategic and physical resources as well as the capacity to do so. Learning new skills or buying them is expensive, but it is possible. The fundamental step many businesses miss when they are expanding their offering is acknowledging the parts they don’t know how to deliver. Identifying early in the process what the additional costs over your normal product or service development and delivery is important to being able to make an educated and accurate estimate regarding your financial position. It is common for costly delays and revisions to stem from needing to revisit parts of a project the business didn’t know how to do. Identifying these potential issues early is vital to accurately weighing up the viability of the new product. What is the message? I’m not saying your business shouldn’t go for something new, not by any means. I am saying it is really important you carefully examine the way a new product fits in to your business before you get to the point where you are offering it to the market. If something truly has merit and is viable there should always be a way to make the most of it. It might be a matter of setting up a new or subsidiary company to do it, or partnering with another business to protect both the new and the existing part of your business. The best way I have found to make sure you have a fit is to be ruthless with yourself and your business, and to let others be ruthless with your business and ideas. If you can break it right down and emerge on the other side with a way forward you will be much stronger and ready to capitalise. The Coaster Group approach is focused on getting the best version of an idea in to the hands of the consumer. Visit our website to find out more or email me - if you have some thing on the boil, I'd love to hear about it!

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Why your ‘to do’ list is killing you – and what you can do about it

Like most people, I have a lot of things to get done.  Personally and professionally.  Specific tasks related to supporting my clients, creating new workshops, updating my business systems, finances and the like.  Then there’s my health.  And my personal finances.  My relationships.  Being in the school of CANI (constant and never ending improvement) there’s a whole lot of reading, research, and study.  And then there’s looking after my home and family. Oh, and the dog needs feeding.  And walking.  And at the back of my mind … do I have any clean underwear? I’m sure we’ve all been there – if not all the time, at least some of the time. The dreaded list To feel like I had a handle on things, I used to write a list with the words “To Do” emblazoned on the top.  It might even have “To Do Today” to really give it a sense of urgency.  You might have a piece of software to help you manage it all or an electronic organiser.  Maybe a really cool binder.  Maybe you’ve done a time management course and you know your first meal of the day should be a really big, ugly frog. For me, it was always a long list.  Which included at least one thing I’d already done on it.  Then I could cross one thing off immediately, and experience some sense of achievement. So what about you?  Got it all under control?  Or are you regularly looking at a To Do list longer than your arm?  Overwhelm and Procrastination If you shut your eyes and think of all the things to do on your list – how do you feel?  Excited?  Empowered?  Ready to ‘go get ‘em’.  Or is there a sense of dread?  Of overwhelm?  Do you spend the time you should be ‘switched off’ totally ‘switched on’ and mentally running the equivalent of a marathon in your head, going over all the things you need to do? Are you juiced about achieving your goals … or do they seem a very long way away.  Are you procrastinating? I hear different versions of overwhelm and procrastination every day from clients. Their brains do the old ‘1, 2, 3 … many’.  Anything over three things to do and it can feel like too much. They either think too ‘big picture’ or they focus on the minute detail.  They focus on what they need to go through to get things done.  Either way, they don’t know where to start.  Procrastination often follows.  Like drinking from the fire hydrant, they don’t know where is best to start and they end up doing nothing.  Or trying to do everything and drowning. A better way So I looked for a better way.  Or, I should say, a better mindset.  Because how I think about a problem is half the problem.  If I can change my mindset, I can do the same action and have a completely different experience.  My action in a negative state will feel different to the same action in a positive state.  (My own success coach was an incredible asset in this area.)   My emotional state has a massive impact.  And one way we can all manage our state is by asking better questions.  By changing focus.   Reasons come first.  Answers come second – Tony Robbins   One of the reasons your To Do list is killing you is that is sucking out all your joy*.  There is no ‘feeling’ in a To Do list.  So the answer?  Get associated with your dreams.  Easy?  Well, try this.  Take one chunk or area you want to work on.  Say health.  Or finances.  Or career.  Pick one to start, and then complete the process for each remaining area. First get clear on your outcome – ask yourself what do I really want?  What result do I want? What am I committed to getting?  Write it down. Then get clear on your purpose – ask yourself why do I want this?  What will it give me?  Why is this so important?  Write it down next to the outcome that you wrote down. And next, we need an action plan.  Get all the options out of your head, onto a piece of paper.  Every possible, conceivable option.  Think big, even if they might seem a bit daft at first glance.  Get them out of your head and onto the page.  Open up and let your creative juices flow.  Brain dump it all.   Write these on a separate piece of paper that you will keep. Next, ask what is the 20% that could make 80% of the difference?  Pick the top ones from your action plan brain dump that resonate with you. Write these next to your outcome and purpose.  These will then become your weekly action plan.  Tip: if you do those selected actions and you’re not getting the results you want, or you've finished the top ones and are ready to do more – guess what, you have a whole list of new options on your original action plan brain dump that you can tap into straight away.  No need to start from scratch! Got it?  I’ll give you an example. My outcome is to double my income to $2m by the end of August 2014 by increasing the number of sessions I offer to clients each week (there are other ways, but I've chosen to increase my availability in this example) My purpose is to expand my business even further internationally so that I can spread my message of 'unplug from the matrix', touch the lives of even more people, live my dream life - one of direction, purpose and fufilment - and take care of my family. My brain dump - a potential action plan is (this is a short one for the sake of this article!): Ask all my existing clients for testimonials for my website and post them Ask all my existing clients for referrals and follow them up Set up a referral bonus scheme and communicate it to my clients Get really clear on what type of clients I want – what’s my niche and ideal client? Set up and test Facebook ads Set up a power group and look at a JV with other behavioural specialists and educators Get a celebrity endorsement  Research and join a networking group Find and connect with a mentor who specialises in my area Find out who is getting the results that I want, discover their core values, primary question, mindset and model them Of those action items, I'll distil the top ones into my weekly action plan.  This week I will: Find out who is getting the results that I want, find out what they do/think and model them Make sure I’m clear on who my ideal client is based on recent results Research and visit a networking group Ask my existing clients for referrals and at least a testimonial Now get connected to your dreams With your clearly articulated outcome, purpose and weekly action plan, you’re then ready for the next stage.  Becoming emotionally associated with it. This might seem a bit 'woo woo', but it works.  And it’s fun.  And who isn’t up for a bit more fun in their life? (And if you think you're no good at visualising stuff, just think about what you had for breakfast.  Got a picture of it in your mind?  Good.  You're great at visualising!)  In a space where you can’t be interrupted (yup, that means giving your phone a rest for a few minutes), close your eyes, take a deep breath in.  Fill out your belly.  And then let it all out.  Then do that again, in for the count of four, hold for sixteen, out for eight.  Do it once more for good measure.  (If you want to have meaningful music or sounds playing in the background by all means, play it, so long as it doesn’t distract you.) Now visualise your outcome and your purpose.  See them in your mind.  Take a good look at all the colours, all the detail.  Make the images bolder, make them brighter.  Make them richer in colour, with even more detail.  Visualise your outcome being achieved.  What will you be seeing?  How you will be feeling?  What will you be hearing?  Turn it into a movie.  You're looking through your eyes, feeling all the excitement, joy and fulfilment of achieving your goals, your dreams, and living your purpose.  Sharing it with your loved ones.  Breathe deep. Now open your eyes.   With those feelings anchored in your body, take your action plan and start creating.  Start doing.  As Tony Robbins says, never leave the site of a decision without taking some action.  So what can you do, right now?  This instant. And each time you look at your action plan, reconnect with your outcome and your purpose.  It'll be right there in front of you. I guarantee it’ll feel very different from a To Do list.  And it might just save your sanity, if not your life. * This is just one small snippet of a much larger strategy for life management.

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Your customer doesn't care about your brand

Controversy Time. Branding is dead. As a concept and as a moniker it has had its day - looking at branding in the traditional, advertising derived sense is holding businesses back.  The value of a company's brand has always been in what it represents to the customer - being recognisable and trusted were products of good branding. Good brands were deeply embedded through their organisations, but branding to most businesses was simply about the logo, colours and a tag line, and making sure their market knew what each was. It's all about engagement Customers have changed, engagement is now most important to them. The customer still looks for businesses and products they can trust and recognise, but they want to engage with the business to decide which is the best for them. This makes engagement the primary tool to communicate with an audience, the brand has moved to the supporting role. I'm not saying your business shouldn't have a brand, and especially not that the elements of a traditional brand are not important. Your brand though is now an internal tool, which you use as the basis of the ways you communicate with your customers and audiences, not all of what you communicate to them. As business (especially retail) has moved towards more impersonal sales models, customers have moved their need for interaction with a business to a deeper level. With face to face interaction decreasing, customers look for the entity as a whole to provide them with the relationship traditionally received from the sales transaction. There is a much greater emphasis now on corporate good and an organisation’s high level position on key issues relating to its field or industry. The branding ship has sailed This means the concept of branding as being able to encompass everything about a company and its products is no longer enough to satisfy the market. Traditional branding was like a picture and a good brand was a talking picture. The new brand is a container. It is where your customers, and the wider market, will place everything they think and feel about your company and product. The way you fill your container, or give the market the things they need to fill it (hopefully the way you want them to) comes down to transparency. The whole of your organisation should be accessible to those who wish to find it, nothing should be hidden. Integrated communications - where all of the organisation’s marketing, promotion, public relations, advertising and internal communications talk to each other, is where your strategy should be focused. To be effective against the raft of competition, companies need to concentrate on coming to life for your customers. Coming to life means existing in the same world as them. Your company's brand lives in your world, not theirs. You need to communicate it to your customers, but you also need to listen to what they're telling you. The traditional brand is a one way tool. You send it out, but it doesn't provide a way itself for anything to come back. If you can't hear its difficult to establish a dialogue, and when dialogue breaks down there can be serious repercussions for a company and its reputation (some oil and automotive brands are examples of this in recent history). Trying to use your brand as the only tool to communicate with an audience is like trying to listen with your fingers in your ears. It just doesn't work. Your brand isn't everything, in the modern marketplace it doesn't even come close to being enough.  By all means have a brand. By all means use it. But remember it must form part of a much more comprehensive approach in order to satisfy your customers and set you apart from your competition.  Your customer doesn't care about your brand. They want to know who you really are. 

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Your Startup's First Office Space: 4 Things to Consider

Securing your first office space marks a major first milestone in the life of a startup. It can be easy to get caught up in the excitement but here are a few things that you should consider before you make your final decision. 1. Know what your office space requirements are If you begin your search knowing what your needs are, it will ensure the process goes smoothly. In order to define your objectives clearly, you want to list out your plans for future business growth. Do you expect your startup to grow quickly or do you foresee slower, steadier growth for your business? How you answer these questions can make all the difference when it comes to the size of the office you rent and the features available. Other questions to ask yourself: ·         Does your startup need to be located in a particular area? ·         What are your transportation requirements? ·         What kind of parking requirements do you have? ·         How many offices or spaces will you need for the people you have and how many more will you be needing in the foreseeable future? ·         What amenities, if any, are important to you? (Think kitchen, break room, conference area, security.) 2. Build your team You will want to decide on one person who will be the point of contact throughout the process. Bring in a real estate broker who specializes in representing tenants. If they have experience with startups, that will be even better. A good broker can help you navigate the process while pointing out helpful things. Be sure to let them in on all of your requirements. They will be able to steer you toward the right properties and more importantly, keep you away from the office spaces that could be problematic for you. A talented real estate attorney can ensure that you negotiate enough flexibility into your lease so that you don't end up being shackled to an office space that is no longer suitable. You also want to make sure that all of the terms and conditions in your lease are fair and will protect you in the event any unexpected problems arise later on. 3. The search for the perfect space Give yourself at least one month to find a suitable location. In that time you should expect to be viewing new spaces and constantly searching. It can take some time. You can be proactive in your search by going online and using services like Gumtree. They feature a variety of real estate listings to suit every need. 4. Have your references ready and finances in order Most landlords that you will find are going to want to rent to only the most financially secure tenants possible. In this way, they lessen their risk. But, of course, that means that you will need to provide rock solid references and proof that your financials are secure. You may be required to show tax returns, bank statements, as well as putting down a security deposit. It is not unusual for landlords to ask for leases that are at least five to seven years long. If you can negotiate a shorter lease, perhaps three years, that will give you more flexibility down the road when your startup hits a growth period and you need to consider larger spaces. Another possibility to consider is subleasing your first office space. You can often find properties at rates that are below the current market value. While you likely won't be allowed to make any improvements to the property and your options for renewing the lease may be limited, your financial liability will be lessened considerably.

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