How Start-Up Accelerators Could Redefine Entrepreneurship

start up acceleratorsIf you have the entrepreneurial spirit but lack the essentials needed to start your own business, then a start-up accelerator is just the thing for you. Start-up accelerators are redefining the way entrepreneurs get their businesses up and running by offering different levels of support and unique mentorship. When you’re ready to get your business off the ground and into acceleration mode, consider these ways start-up accelerators can help you do just that.

Upfront Financial Support

Ask any successful business owner and they’ll all tell you the same thing: finding startup capital for your new business is the hardest step of the entire entrepreneurial process. But, start-up accelerators are redefining the way new businesses are acquiring financing by exchanging funding for equity in the very companies they’re helping to start.

Not all start-up accelerators work the same way, but the majority function on the basic principle that you have to give a little to get a little in return. With this mindset, the creators of start-up accelerators, most of whom are successful business professionals themselves, make a small investment in the start-ups attending the accelerator program. In return, the start-up shows its appreciation by giving the accelerator program equity in its future business. It’s a win-win for both parties.

Instant Recognition

Start-up accelerators are gaining the reputation of creating some pretty successful companies. Because of this, the business world considers graduates of accelerator programs as bred for success, which translates to instant brand recognition for the start-ups involved.

Early brand recognition is a make-or-break achievement that many start-ups find hard to obtain in their first few years of business, let alone their first few months. But, thanks to the mentorship, advice, and financial help that start-ups receive during their short time in accelerator programs, they hit the ground running when starting their business. That’s something the business world is quick to recognize.

Unparalleled Networking

Success in the business world means connecting with the other entrepreneurs around you in order to create long-lasting industry relationships. Start-up accelerators not only introduce the idea of effective business communication early on, they also provide program attendees with a built-in network of peers, mentors, and other leaders in the business world. It’s also to network with those who may be outside of your niche. For instance, if your startup business facilitates healthcare informatics and technology, having the right contacts in healthcare and tech will be crucial to your success.

Most start-up accelerator programs last anywhere from one to three months, but that doesn’t mean the networking stops there. In fact, many accelerator programs have alumni networks that actually connect recent graduates with accelerator alumni companies who are already making waves in the industry. In other words, start-up accelerators are redefining entrepreneurial relationships in an ongoing capacity.

Morale When it’s Needed Most

Something that’s needed most in the early stages of a start-up’s timeline is morale, which is exactly what the accelerator atmosphere provides. For starters, accelerator programs surround start-ups with support in just about every form imaginable. From financial support to creative reassurance to mentorship, start-up accelerators not only accelerate businesses, they also boost morale.

In addition, start-up accelerators put like-minded entrepreneurs within reach, which speaks wonders to the morale boosting effects of working in close proximity to other business go-getters. Not only can participants of accelerator programs support one another, they can also share in each other’s failures and, more importantly, successes. With an environment like this, morale has nowhere to go but up.

A New Level of Motivation

From the networking aspects to the morale boosting effects, everything mentioned above heightens motivation. And, when it comes to starting a new business, motivation is worth its weight in entrepreneurial gold. Start-up accelerators are motivation accelerators in that they give start-ups every tool necessary to get the job done and the business up and running.

Start-up accelerators give no guarantees when it comes to success. With that said, the most successful accelerator program graduates use their motivation to achieve their business goals. Whether it’s putting the advice and criticism from their mentors to good use or leveraging their start-up contacts in order to move ahead in the industry, start-up accelerator graduates and alumni apply their motivation to real world situations, which always results in business success.

When you’re ready to get your business going, let a start-up accelerator program redefine your entrepreneurial attitude.

Review: Waveapps.com

Waveapps.com is an online financial service aiming at small businesses with 10 or less employees. It promised seamless cross-platform features for the business owners on the go. However, under careful scrutiny, a lot of the features fell short of the promised usability.

My first impression of wave was not positive due to the design choices of using picture icons instead of words for different sections and to have a vertical menu on the left hand side of the screen. From top to bottom, the icons are for Dashboard, Transactions, Invoices, Bills, Receipts, Accounting, Reports, and Payrolls.

I was rather lost when I first logged on. I was not sure where to start and what to click on. Even after I finished reviewing the website, I still could not remember which section was which just by looking at the little pictures. In addition to that, I found myself constantly having to drag my mouse cursor a long way across the screen to the left to access the menu. This was the reason that most websites and software mainly used horizontal menus at the top of the page.

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The second pet peeve I had was that the dashboard not only did not easily fit on one screen, but also required significant scrolling. The dashboard was split into two even windows: recent activities and financial snapshot. Since financial snapshot included four groups of information, “Income and Expenses”, “Payable and Owing”, “Net Income”, and “Business Expenses”, it occupied significant more screen area. The result was such a long dashboard that it defeated the main purpose of giving users a quick glance of their status.

 

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The third annoyance I had while using the website was a small but very intrusive window which kept popping up on the lower right hand corner of the screen. It was asking for customer feedback and there was no way to turn it off.  However, as I was writing this and needed to take a screenshot, it was nowhere to be found.

The key features of Wave included transaction records, invoice, bills, and receipts. Transactions could be added individually or in bulk by connecting to bank accounts or uploading a bank statement. Once I clicked on the “Add bank account” button, Wave presented me with the security employed to keep my banking information and my money secured. This is the fifth online bookkeeping services I had reviewed and they were only the second website out of five that actually included such information and assurance.

 

 waveapps.com dashboard

The transactions could be in US dollar as well as a wide range of other currencies. They could be transferred to different accounts and merged from existing transactions.

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 The “Invoices” and “Bills“ sections were self-explanatory and easy to use. My favorite features were the two boxes at the bottom corners of both pages: one on the lower left corner to choose how many lines to display per page and one on the lower right corner to jump directly to a certain page. This made the lists more fluid and faster to navigate as they would grow longer with time.

 

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Wave also included advanced features such as Accounting, Reports, and Payrolls which I did not test due to the limited time and data I had.

There were multiple ways to file receipts on Wave. From the website, I could upload a picture file of the receipt. There were also iOS and Android apps available for filing receipts on-the-go, and an email address to forward the receipts that I had lying around in my email inbox. This was the most elaborate system of receipt filing I had have encountered and I had high hope for it but it did not work very well. I snapped a picture of a receipt from the iPhone app. The picture was synced to the website fairly quickly but the processing was completely wrong as shown below.

 

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While the receipt filing system was an interesting extra feature, the lack of a dedicated page for contact list management and list of products and services was puzzling. Contacts (customers and vendors) could be added as I added the expenses and payments. Items (products and services) could be added as invoices were created. However, no master list was from such information. No option to import or export the list. Wave was the only bookkeeping service that had chosen to leave these out and I thought that was either a huge oversight or a very unfortunate design choice.

Last but not least, wave accounting app was free to use. There were charges for added on services such as payroll or accepting credit cards payment on invoices. Otherwise, it was not clear how the company made money while providing the service. This made me uncomfortable as I was not sure whether I was trading my information for the free service I was getting, or whether the company was trying to get me to use it before rolling out a paying model that I would not like in the future. Wave was one of two out of the six websites that I reviewed that had this business model.

In summary, while Wave was a free service with a reasonable list of features and decent usability, I did not think it would be my online financial service of choice.

Have you ever tried waveapps.com?

Check out what we think of other small business accounting services.

4 Things New Small Business Owners Need

You’ve got your great idea and you’re ready to go into business, but you’re just not sure what all you need.

Starting a new business is exciting and scary. And with proper planning you’ll have a better chance of making your business a success.

If you’re getting ready to start your small business here are four things you might need.

A Dedicated Work Place

If you’re starting a retail business then much planning should have already went into this choice. You need a space in the right location that will draw customers in to you.

But what if your business isn’t retail?

You will still need a dedicated work place. While many solopreneurs dream of working from home sitting in their pajamas all day on the couch, that rarely works out. You need a dedicated space that will put your mind into work mode. This could be a specific spot in your home or an outside office location.

The Right Technology

This world is built around technology and for business owners there’s no way to get around it.

You’ll need a computer to keep records and communicate with vendors and customers, a phone to conduct business calls, and if you’re a retail establishment you’ll need cash registers and credit card machines.

You’ll also need the right software to go with this technology. For instance, every business owner will need a good bookkeeping program. In addition retail establishments need reliable POS software. You can visit Fedelta for POS software.

A Business Plan

A lot of new business owners under estimated the value of a business plan. But a business plan can be your best friend when times get tough.

In your business plan you should list the goal of your business, where you think your business will be in 1, 2, and 3 years from now and the specific steps you’ll take to get your business to this level. You’ll also need to include how you’ll fund your business and your marketing plan.

This business plan is for you. It’s a guide of how you’ll make your business successful and some steps you can take to get there.

If you don’t know where to start you can perform a quick internet search for free business plan templates. These can act as a guide.

Strong Connections

Any successful small business owner will credit his success to the help of other people. When you’re an entrepreneur it’s easy to think it’s you against the world but without the help of other, more successful people it will take a while for your business to grow.

Find a mentor in your field. Someone who can help guide you and point out mistakes that you might be oblivious too.

Final Thoughts

There are necessary physical objects that every new small business owner will need. Inventory, a work space, and the right technology are crucial.

It’s also important that you focus on the behind the scenes things that will most benefit your business like a good business plan, a marketing strategy, and strong connections.

Would you add anything to the list?

Six Environmental Start-Up Business Ideas

environmental startupThe recent green revolution has opened up doors to plenty of new green business ideas. Existing businesses are going green as well. They want to save the environment as well as decrease business expenses. Going green is a new concept. It is here to stay for a very long time. The trends within the green movement are gaining a lot of ground. They are generating ample opportunities for the development of new green business and green products. The increasing awareness of customers for environment friendly products adds to the scope of the green business start-ups. Starting a green business does not mean investing much. You can start with a small green business and watch it grow on its own. You are automatically successful in business when you get into the green business space. The trend of utilizing products and services from units that are employing green business practices is expanding at a fast pace.

There is a heavy market for your green products. Your brand gets green identity when you make your own contributions towards the environment. Customers automatically flow in. You need to stay updated with the type of products that they are searching for. When you keep green products on the shelves, it gives you an edge over the brands that are already established. This can be in any field you want to start a green business. Here are a few environmental start-up business ideas:

Green Foods

You can grow your own food. It doesn’t matter where you live. This green business idea allows people to grow small seeded trays or garden parks. They can be placed anywhere in your residence. You can grow your own food, or anything you want to sell in the local market. If space is an issue, you can hire a garden designer. They can create garden installations for backyards or rooftops. Look for clients in the local area to save on costs. You can also try to find clients that also believe in going green. This can give you an advantage. You may also get a permanent contract from units such as fast food joints and restaurants.

Green Consulting

Green homes are becoming popular as well. People often need professionals to help them accomplish their goals of green living. This is one of the best low budget businesses. You do not even need to rent out space for any office. You just need a presence that can be easily obtained utilizing free methods for advertising your business. Other than that, you will need a phone number and/or email ID. This is so that people will be able to contact you. You can do word of mouth advertising as well. Begin in your own neighborhood. The Internet can also be used to get information and knowledge to help your clients. This can be done in your spare time. Make notes or bookmark important pages if you need to.

Green Vehicles

You can consider manufacturing or repairing hybrid vehicles. You can go for sales and management of electric vehicles as well. You do not need to invest a fortune. Most of the newer alternate fuel companies are searching for people to promote their products. You can check out electric cars and electric scooters. There are similar products that you can check out as well. You can either buy or resell them.

Green Buildings

You can convert an existing building into a green building. You will need to have knowledge on this subject. You can get training online or in person.

Green Appliances

The electrical appliances that have the Energy Star logo means substantial savings. You can start a manufacturing unit or a store to build appliances that save on electricity.

Reusable Containers

This include jelly glasses, canning jars, metal bins and attractive fabric feed sacks. These are great for existing manufacturers or a new manufacturer.

You should think twice before utilizing specific techniques to advertise your green business. Avoid using any method that sends out signals that you are not maintaining green business principles. If you need to get business cards printed, get them printed using all green techniques so that people can believe that you really mean green.

3 Things To Consider When Choosing Your Business Location

business locationYou’ve probably heard that location is key to the success of a business. Well, that’s a factual statement. Location is one of the most important things to think about before setting up shop, and here are three crucial aspects to think about if you want a suitable spot for yourself and your customers.

 

1. Building Has Easy Access

Many business owners and customers will agree that easy access is the number one priority for a physical location. What does easy access really mean? First of all, a business should be situated in a spot that is commonly visited by people who live in the surrounding area. Ideally, the chosen building would be on a busy street in a city center, in popular strip mall, or at another “hot” location. By opening your business where the population is dense and the traffic is heavy, you’ll highly increase your chances of having a curious individual walk in through the front door.

Easy access also refers to picking a location that can be easily spotted in plain view from a major road or other high-traffic area. You don’t want your gorgeous restaurant or art gallery to be obstructed by large trees, tall structures, other buildings, or awkward storefront placement. People shouldn’t have to run circles around a block before catching sight of your hidden facility.

Last but not least, easy access means that it shouldn’t take a lot of effort for customers to enter and exit your store. Ideally, the place would have adequate parking, be open for at least five hours out of the day, and sit on flat ground and not at the top of a hilly or narrow street.

 

2. Facility is Adequate for Your Business Needs

You might’ve discovered the most amazing location ever, but that would do you no good if the facility was unable to support the activities of your business or accommodate the needs of your customers. There are a number of things that might force you to scratch the option off your list including: improper size, nonfunctional or poorly maintained HVAC systems, presence of health hazards like asbestos or black mold, and more. Check in with a company specialized on these services to get a grasp of what you should be looking for. Upgrading the building is possible in most circumstances, but the expenses could be far out of your budget. Even if you had the money to upgrade the HVAC systems or expand the space by adding to it, it might not be worth investing in the place if there are multiple big problems.

 

3. Business Is Located in a Safe Area

Being a good business owner means creating a comfortable environment for your customers to shop in, but they can never feel that way if it’s situated in a notoriously dangerous area. The two major factors that determine whether an area is safe are its immediate surroundings and the people who frequent the area. If your shop sits on a beach that’s always bombarded by violent waves, it’s not very safe. If your shop sits on the corner or a street known for drug dealing and drive-by shootings, it’s not very safe. You get the idea. If you can’t avoid a naturally hazardous or high-crime area, ensure that your business is protected by investing in: security cameras and systems, heavy-duty locks and shutters, impact-resistant glass, an emergency escape plan, or even a legal firearm or other weapon.

Setting up shop in a prime location will greatly increase the odds of your physical business’ success. However, some successful businesses are located in odd, hard-to-reach places–but they’re usually already well established. Those kinds of places either developed such a serious reputation that people are willing to endure the trek to get there or have such a loyal fan-base that they can stay open with just a handful of regulars. For a new business owner, none of that applies.

What else should you consider when choosing a business location?