How to Get Seed Funding

Funding

Funding of seed money is traditionally territory for angel investors--wealthy individuals with knowledge and experience regarding entrepreneurial endeavors. However, venture capital firms are also involved in this early financing stage for businesses. Attracting seed funding from individual angels generally provides greater flexibility for future fundraising. When companies work with a venture capital firm in the early seed stage, they become tied to that funding source. A business can find that its future capital access is limited should a venture capital firm decline to fund rounds beyond seed money. Regardless of the venture capitalist's reasons, word of the event spreads to cause a negative impact on the growing business.

Things You'll Need
  • Business name
  • Website developer
  • Prototype of company's product
  • Marketing plan
Attracting Seed Investors

1. Incorporate your business by filing Articles of Incorporation with the secretary or department of state in your state. Angel investors share in a company's ownership. These equity positions require the existence of corporate stock.

2. Assemble an experienced management team. Seed funding angel investors are more interested in a company's leaders than the business concept. Attracting capital requires managers who understand how to efficiently use the seed funding provided by angel investors.

3. Launch a company website. You can hire someone else to put the website online, but you should provide the content and layout that shows angel investors your company's style.

4. Create a working prototype of your product. After an entrepreneur develops a plan or design, a tangible prototype is needed to attract angel investors.

5. Complete at least one sale. This is referred to as validating the company's business model. It provides an opportunity to reveal the utility of a product by getting a customer response.

6. Compose a one- or two-page summary of your company. This provides investors with a general description of the company's product, managers and marketing plan. Make it brief and compelling to make seed funding investors want more information.

7. Write a business plan that details the company's strategies. Describe the spending plan for the seed funding. Provide a comprehensive description of the company's market, competitors, intended sales efforts and financial projections.



How to Apply for Grants for Women Starting a Business

How to Apply for Grants for Women Starting a Business

The money is out there for your business; you just have to know where to find it. Define your business, articulate your goals and secure a grant fit for you.

Finding Grants Online
few keyboard strokes, professional grant writer Ron Flavin explained. Two of his trusted resources are the Foundation Center and Grants.gov, websites that offer free search engines to pinpoint grant prospects. One caveat: “There are a lot of scams online,” Flavin said. “You should never have to pay to find grants; avoid people selling secret lists.”

Foundations vs. Government
According to the Small Business Administration, the government does not generally provide grants for starting a business. “There isn’t the government free-for-all that some people would have you believe,” Flavin said. “If you’re a woman with a dream of starting a business, you would definitely want to start with charitable or corporate foundation grants.”

Grants for Specific Businesses
Much like scholarships, grants often designate very specific recipients -- great news for your unique business. For instance, the Eileen Fisher Business Grant Program awards grants to women who own businesses that focus on social change and sustainability, while Etsy Hacker Grants are aimed at women in technology. And demographics play a role, too. Whether you’re a single mother, immigrant, veteran, or minority, chances are grants exist designed solely for you.

Why Proper Positioning Matters
Having trouble? It might be time to expand your approach beyond the obvious. “Think creatively when exploring grant opportunities,” Flavin said. “Find other applications for what you’re doing, and repackage so it has a different appeal.” One of Flavin’s clients, an eating disorder prevention group, found success upon tailoring their focus toward healthy eating and childhood obesity; another client who manufactured antibacterial hand sanitizer sought grants for worker protection.

In-Kind Gifts
Grants don’t have to be all about cold hard cash. Consider seeking in-kind gifts of equipment, supplies, or services to give your business the boost it needs. You might be able to outfit your office with computers or lower your overhead by obtaining costly services for free or at a significant discount. If your business is a non-profit, consider working with a clearinghouse like Gifts In Kind International to pinpoint potential donors.

Hiring a Grant Writer
Depending on the scope and amount of grants being applied for, you might want to consider working with a grant writer. “It seems like a simple process, but it can be overwhelming,” Flavin said. “If you’re applying to a grant with a large dollar award at stake, like the Knight Foundation’s $100,000 competition, I would definitely recommend considering a professional unless you are skilled at writing and/or proposal preparation.”

Dollars and Sense
Grants can be a great launch pad for your business, but Flavin said not to view them as the solution to all financial concerns: “Use grants to get your project off the ground, but remember that foundations and governments don’t like to keep funding the same people over and over. They only plan on being involved for the short haul, so it’s up to you to develop the business and make it stand on its own.”



Grants for a Tutoring Business

Grants for a Tutoring Business

Tutoring businesses provide a valuable community service by supplementing student learning opportunities outside of class time and helping to instill effective study skills. Unfortunately, it is sometimes hard for tutoring businesses to simultaneously meet the needs of their students and their own financial obligations. To help encourage and support tutoring services, governments and private foundations award grants for tutoring businesses. Looking to grant guidelines and criteria is important for businesses contemplating a funding opportunity.

Upward Bound Program
The Upward Bound Program is a funding opportunity available to tutoring businesses from the U.S. Department of Education. Upward Bound supports efforts to encourage and facilitate postsecondary educational achievement among disadvantaged students. Upward Bound provides assistance to tutoring organizations and businesses that offer educational advancement for first-generation college students and military veterans. Upward Bound Program grants are awarded annually with deadlines in late summer or fall.

Student Support Services Grant
The Department of Education also awards grants for tutoring activities specific to individual institutions of higher education. The Student Support Services Grant is available to develop and implement tutoring programs at both private and public colleges that assist with academic coursework and career advising. To be eligible for the Student Support Services Grant, at least two-thirds of a program's enrollment must consist of either disabled students or students from low-income families with no prior college graduates. Only academic institutions may apply, so tutoring businesses without an affiliation or partnership with a college or university may not be eligible for assistance from this program.

Gates Foundation Community Grants
The Gates Foundation is a major private supporter of grant programs in education and workforce development. The Gates Foundation provides grants that support schools, tutoring businesses and other educational programs through its United States Program. Grant recipients from the Gates Foundation in the past include tutoring businesses like Tutor.com, an online service that provides tutoring both for students and teachers. Gates Foundation educational grants are offered primarily to applicants in the Pacific Northwest region whose activities build constructive partnerships between schools and community.

State Supplemental Education Services
Many states provide grants for tutoring businesses and nonprofits under the supplemental education services requirements of the No Child Left Behind Act. Local school districts fund supplemental education services providers approved by the state on a per-student basis. To be eligible for this support, a tutoring business must provide free educational assistance to low-income families and students. School districts only provide financial support from state SES programs to tutoring businesses that assist students enrolled a local public school. Those interested in becoming a supplemental education services provider must be approved by their state department of education and apply for funding with school districts in the area where they operate.



How to Prepare a Restaurant Business Plan

How to Prepare a Restaurant Business Plan

Any start up company needs a well-organized business plan. The Small Business Association states that a comprehensive business plan is the key to funding, credit, marketing and management. The restaurant industry offers many obstacles and challenges. A thorough plan will emphasize the concepts and control procedures that make the restaurant distinctive. Providing a professional business plan for a new restaurant will take time, but ultimately open doors that may lead to a successful venture.

Get Organized

1. Make a sketch of points you want to create in your business plan in outline format. The draft section headers should list: Executive Summary-Mission Statement; Business Description and Vision; Market; Products and Services; Organization and Management; Marketing Strategy; Finances and Appendices.

2. Detail the information needed under each section heading. Use this outline to gather everything you need to complete the plan and organize your thoughts.

3. Write a cover sheet for your plan. The cover sheet serves as an introduction to the plan. Include the name of your restaurant, full address and contact information, preparation date and a title, such as "Business Plan."

Business Description & Vision

1. Write the mission statement as the first portion of this section. A mission statement details the purpose of your company. For example, "Joe's Italian Delicacies' mission is to provide a full-service restaurant geared towards affordable, high quality Italian cuisine utilizing dishes inspired by old family favorites." Add additional details such as target customers, quality control and employee management. Keep the mission statement concise; use it as a summary of goals for the business.

2. Highlight objectives and goals for your restaurant in a bulleted list.

3. Create a conclusion that details the history of the company and lists key principles. In the "Business Description & Vision" section, the reader should understand what the business stands for, the goals and background information of the company and key personnel.

Middle Sections

1. Organize a "Market" section describing the restaurants in your genre and region. This section should describe the restaurant industry's outlook and needs, target market, and what portion of the market you intend to control. For example, discuss restaurants in your town as competitors. If you specialize, such as in Italian cuisine, zero in on how many local competitors exist in that genre. Write about the target customer base, such as families or casual diners. Readers should understand basic information about the restaurant industry and how you intend to transform it.

2. Compose a section for "Products and Services" that details the menu options and specialty dishes. You might include pictures of prepared meals.

3. Write the "Organization and Management" section to detail the legal structure of your business, special licenses--liquor, for example--and provide a bio of key managers and chefs.

4. Create a "Marketing Strategy" to explain to the reader the intended market, advertising distribution channels and specific promotional projects.

5. Design an "Appendices" section. The appendices will be a list of documentation included in the plan. Possible choices might be menus, resumes of key personnel, brochures, copies of advertisement, pictures of the outside of the restaurant, the inside, table set-up, bar, kitchen and any other relevant space. Add copies of licenses, certifications, health department reports, vendor contracts and leases. Make an inventory list of all supplies and equipment.

Finances

1. Forecast the start up costs for a new restaurant. This must include a projected balance sheet, income sheet and cash flow statement for one year. Make this section a comprehensive description of the financial management plans for the business. Add any tables or pie charts that will help the reader visualize how you will fund the operation of the restaurant.

2. Provide three years worth of balance sheets, income statements and cash flow spreadsheets for any existing restaurants owned by the key principals if applicable.

3. Add personal financial information for owners, including tax returns from the prior year. Funding companies might look for collateral on loans. The credit history of the key players is a crucial step when requesting funding.

Executive Summary and Table of Contents

1. Organize all the components and create the "Executive Summary." The SBA recommends writing the summary last even though it is the first section. The Executive Summary is a snapshot of your restaurant. It should be approximately two pages and explain who you are and what you do. The summary works to promote interest in the restaurant and should flow like a story of your business and its purpose. Discuss the individuality of your design and menu. Give summaries of the other sections in the report, such as projected sales for the start-up year and experience of key employees.

2. Combine all the sections into a structured report. Put the different components of the plan together, starting with the Executive Summary and ending with the Appendices.

3. Create a table of contents. This will be the first page after the cover sheet. It should be a numbered list of each section and section number.



How to Find Free Small Business Grants

How to Find Free Small Business Grants

A grant is usually money given by a government agency or private business to carry out a given task. Finding free small business grants can be time consuming but with the right direction it is possible.

Tips

1. Define your reason to start a business. This is a absolute must.

2. Open your mind. Sticking to your main goal and keeping your mind open to other possibilities for all the other details could make the difference in being awarded a grant. For example: If you want to open a child care facility, you may think about opening one for under privileged children. Being able to show the need of the business will greatly increase chances of being awarded a grant. Government grants may be your best choice here. See resources below on how to get a government grant.

3. "Displaced workers" that are unable to find employment within their professional field may be eligible for grants to start a business. Contact the local unemployment office for more information. A displace worker is a individual that lost their job due to a massive lay off or a community disaster.

4. A Individual with disabilities that is unable to find suitable employment within their community may qualify for a small business grant. A individual does not have to be considered to be fully disabled to qualify. Contact your local Vocational Rehabilitation office to find out if you qualify.

5. Private companies host grants to for endless reasons. Other then buying a list of information the best way to find out about these grants is to contact large business' that might benefit from your company to ask about grants. Finding a private grant for funding a small business may be time consuming. Some business are based of finding such grants and listing them in a ebook. Legit companies should only charge a couple of dollars. You may also check your local library to see if they carry a updated grant book. Grants change every six months, so look for a recent publication. Using a outdated list will only keep you running in circles.



How to Open a Small Retail Shop

How to Open a Small Retail Shop

Opening a retail shop is both a challenging and rewarding experience. It requires hard work and dedication but, if you enjoy working with customers and working for yourself, operating a retail store is the career for you.

Retail shops can sell just about anything. Find out what interests you and use your knowledge in that field in the store. If you like fishing, sell fishing supplies line poles and lures. A gardener can sell plants and help customers with their gardening. Whichever product you choose to sell, be sure that it is something that you enjoy and are familiar with using.

Things You'll Need
  • Store location
  • Business license
  • Display equipment
  • Inventory
Tips

1. Choose your store location. Make sure it is a place that you can afford and that it has visibility from the street. Customers will not be able to find you if the store is hidden.

2. Check the village or town zoning codes. You may not be able to sell certain items in some villages if the location you have chosen is not zoned for it. For instance, some commercial areas of villages are zoned strictly for industrial use, like manufacturing, not general retail.

3. Apply for a business license. Depending on what you are selling, you may even need a license from the state. Liquor stores, for example, need a state license to sell. Contact your local government for the necessary licenses required to sell your products.

4. Set up your display equipment and stock the store with inventory. Your display should highlight your products and the inventory should have enough variety to meet the needs of your customers. If your products vary from season to season then make sure your inventory is updated. If you sell baskets, you may want to decorate them for the springtime or Christmas, for example.

5. Have a grand opening. Invite your friends, family and associates. Make it an event where customers can learn about you and your business and the products you sell. Use this as an opportunity to build customer relationships and add to your customer list.

6. Advertise your business. Place ads in the local newspaper, email coupons to your contact list and hold a sidewalk sale. Creating fliers and brochures to hand out is also an effective form of advertisement. Promoting your business is a vital step to getting the attention of your customers and giving them a reason to shop at your store.

7. Stay in contact with your customers. You will want them to remember you for their future purchases. You can keep in touch by a simple phone call promoting your current sale, sending out thank you cards or hosting open houses.



How to Get a Job for a New Graduate

How to Get a Job for a New Graduate

Finding a job opportunity has never been easier, and yet becoming employed can be difficult. Freely accessible online services like Craigslist, Monster and the like carry the postings of tens of thousands of job opportunities; yet, it is just as difficult to apply successfully through these mediums as it is easy to hear about the positions. If you can find out about the job opportunity with ease, then so can everyone else, and the ability to submit a resume electronically means that potentially hundreds of people just like you are applying for that one position. So, as a new graduate, start thinking about how you get can an edge in the job market.

Tips

1. Review your resume. As a new graduate, you probably have very little work experience outside a few internships or some basic service sector jobs, such as waiting tables at a restaurant. This isn't necessarily a bad situation for you. But you do need to think about how to present yourself on paper and the types of positions for which you qualify.

In general, your education, including your GPA and class rank, belong near the top of your resume, with related awards and achievements in the same area. Include only the internship and community participation experience (e.g., being class president, managing a campus branch of Amnesty International) that relates most closely to the job opportunities you plan on seeking. Use only active verbs to describe your tasks and experiences, double-check for any grammar errors and ask your campus career-center to review your resume.

2. Seek job openings. Though many new graduates will be flocking to the major job listservs online, such as Monster, Craigslist, Indeed and CareerBuilder, you will probably fare better if you utilize those listservs only after following leads attained by referral.

Brainstorm on a piece of paper the people you know who have some relationship to a career path in which you are interested (e.g., their parents work in the industry). Ask those people you feel comfortable with to help you set up an informational interview so that you can learn more about the career, entry-level jobs and the job-hunting process in that industry more generally. Utilize your college's alumni network and any relevant familiar connections you might have in similar fashion. This process will put you on the inside track for being considered for job openings as they arise.

3. Submit your resume for job openings and prepare for interviews. Generally speaking, prepare a set of answers to a core set of general and hypothetical questions that are typically asked on an interview. Some interview queries to always be prepared for include: "Describe your major strengths and weaknesses?" "What experiences in your background best prepare you for this position?" "What interests you about working here?" "Give an example of a conflict you've had in a situation that required teamwork and explain how you resolved it?"

4. Choose a job. Be ready when an employer contacts you and offers you an entry-level position with their organization. Select the employer that makes the best offer.



Top 10 Stay-at-Home Jobs

Top 10 Stay-at-Home Jobs

For some, working from home is a choice. For others, children, health and pets keep people at home. But with the rapidly changing face of technology and the rise of entrepreneurship, it has become entirely possible to make a living without leaving your house.

Accounting
Doing bookkeeping for small businesses and/or handling people's finances is a popular job for parents who stay at home with kids or for accountants looking for flexible consulting jobs.

Day Care
If you're a stay-at-home parent, opening a small-operation day care allows you to spend time with your kids, give them kids to play with and watch other people's children while making money.

Custom Gift Baskets
From fruit baskets to variety packs, arranging and selling gift baskets is a lucrative home business, especially once you establish a reputation. People can just swing by after work and pick up their baskets.

Crafts and Scrapbooking
Making craft jewelry, knitting and crocheting can be a lucrative way to spend your days, especially if you have other forms of income coming into the home and you're taking care of the kids. Learn how to make baby clothes and target your business toward new parents. Also, scrapbooking--some call it creative memories--is a popular and high-demand job that can be done at home, usually as a consultant through a bigger company. Scrapbooking was named one of the top start-ups for moms in the United States by StartupNation in 2009.

Graphic Design
With the advancement of technology, more and more people are learning how to make websites and create logos. Full-time graphic designers make between $36,000 and $50,000 per year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and the job can be done from anywhere with computer and Internet access. Many graphic designers attend a four-year college and receive a bachelor's in graphic design or art, and sometimes a master's degree in a specialized form of graphic design. However, if you have a creative eye, you can teach yourself the design basics without a degree.

Catering
A large catering operation isn't likely from the comfort of your home, but you can at least cater for smaller events, like business meetings, small weddings and birthdays if you like to cook.

Writing
If you have a background in writing but can't take on a full-time office job, you can start a freelance writing career. Some popular realms of the field are writing e-books, ghostwriting, sales and marketing, resumes and cover letters. You can charge between $30 and $100 per hour depending on your experience.

iPhone App Developer
Developing iPhone applications is a profitable and inexpensive home business idea. If you know basic design and the tricks of the iPhone trade--from creation to marketing--you could be selling apps in no time.

Music Lessons
If you have music talent but need to stay home with the kids, teaching music lessons is a great way to earn some extra money here and there. You can take on as many or as few students as you want. Put an ad for a music teacher in the classifieds, on online classified sites and on bulletin boards across the town.

After-School Tutor
Tutoring elementary, junior high and high school students in subjects like math, science, English and Spanish is another way to earn some extra spending money on the side. Depending on your location, you can often charge up to $50 or $60. When it comes to education, parents don't mess around and do want the best tutors for their money. Market yourself the same way for tutoring as you would for teaching music lessons.