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5 Tips to Know Before Starting a Business

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Title: 5 Tips to Know Before Starting a Business

Gabriella Haines

Photo by Tyler Franta on Unsplash

Starting a business is hard work that takes time, dedication, and focus. Longtime business owners know that planning ahead is essential to the success of their business. Growing a business takes a while, and it’s smart to outline a plan for its success. Overall, it’s important to devise a game plan in the beginning to ensure that your business won’t immediately fail. Finally, here are five tips to consider before starting a business.

1. Own Your Company Name

When you create your company name, do a trademark search on the United States Patent and Trademark Office’s website. Obtaining the trademark and Internet domain name of your company’s name is a necessary first step to take. If your business is operating under a trademark already in use, it could spell trouble for you and your business’s success. As for the Internet domain name, offering a place online for your customers to seek information about your business is essential in this day and age.

2. Create a Business Plan

Writing a formal business plan can help you establish the goals you want to achieve for your business. If you don’t have any funding yet, having a detailed business plan can interest potential investors, and show that you’re serious about your business. When writing a business plan, address what need your business will serve, and target your market. This will help you create a marketing strategy and add more essential details to your business plan. An essential portion of any business plan is your brand! Establishing your brand, including logos, colors and messaging is critical to creating a business that your customers know and trust. Read more about building a brand, here. Writing a business plan helps you figure out how you plan on achieving your goals, and addresses the specifics of your business.

3. Understand the Law

When it comes to starting a business, understanding the regulations you need to follow is imperative to its success. Identify what licenses you need for your business to operate within the law, and research what taxes you’ll need to pay for. Besides relying on your own research, consult with a lawyer and accountant to ensure that you understand what regulations, licenses, and taxes your business will need to follow and pay for. Overall, keeping your business within the law is one thing you want to be prepared for.  

4. Don’t Plan on Hiring Friends

Hiring friends is not something you want to consider as a business owner, as it can lead to difficult situations later. It can be hard to let them go if you’re the one that hired them, even if they’re detrimental to your business. Ultimately, friends can let you down, and having to discipline your friend can lead to bad blood between both parties. So, make it a rule to keep friends out of your business, unless you’re looking for eventual conflict.      

5. Evaluate Your Personal Life

Before starting your business, you’ll need to take your personal life into account. Evaluate your cost of living, and discover what you can cut out. Removing unnecessary costs means that you have more money to put into your business endeavor. However, be sure to save extra money to account for unexpected or emergency situations. Lastly, speaking with a financial advisor can also help you budget your expenses appropriately.  

Conclusion

While starting a business can be daunting, creating a well thought out plan can ease the nerves that come with it.  Securing a trademark and domain name for your business is an important first step for developing your business further. Next, establish a reliable understanding of your business by solidifying your ideas with a business plan, and studying business laws in your area. Lastly, when you reexamine your personal life and budget, you’re on track to starting your business on the right foot. By taking all of these tips into consideration, you can begin to outline your own business plan, and eventually take the first step to starting your business.

 

Sources:

https://www.americanexpress.com/en-us/business/trends-and-insights/articles/6-things-to-know-before-starting-a-business/

 

https://www.forbes.com/sites/yec/2013/06/11/five-things-you-should-know-before-starting-a-business/#2a237200210b

 

What’s Small Business Saturday?

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Small Business Saturday is a yearly event created by American Express that was started in 2010. It takes place the day after Black Friday, and the purpose of the shopping holiday is to bring awareness to small business’ in your community. Small Business Saturday is an opportunity for small business’ to kickstart the holiday shopping season, gain customers, and increase their sales. This holiday is intended to support small business’ growth, and bring awareness to the jobs they create, as well as how they help boost the local economy.

calendar sitting on wood desk
Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

Profiting From Small Business Saturday: What You Can Do

Spread the Word

Spreading awareness of your business before Small Business Saturday is key to getting curious customers to come visit your store. Post about the event on your social media sites, and on your official website. Make sure you cover all your bases online, and check your websites to make sure your information is up to date. Small Business Saturday also has hashtags you can use to make your posts easier for customers to find. Popular ones include #dinesmall or #shopsmall.

When customers come to visit your business, ensure that they know your social media handles and your company website. It might help to post a sign with your business’ online information somewhere in your store as well. Make sure your business address, phone number, and store hours are also online and visible in the store.

If you plan on extending your store hours, make sure that you mention that in your social media posts and in your physical store.  

Store Promo

An important part of enticing customers to come to your store is offering special deals or having events planned. Having something special planned for your customers can help ensure that they will come back to your business later. For example, you could offer some freebies related to your business, raffles, or special sales and promotions. If your business is service-based, you could offer drawings for discounted prices related to your service.

Collaborations

Collaborating with other business during Small Business Saturday could benefit both of your business’. If you cross-promote with other business’, you can reach more people than you would on your own, and help raise awareness for other small business’ in your community.

Inventory

Before your Small Business Saturday begins, you’ll need to make sure that you have restocked your inventory. Running out of products and having to turn customers away is not an ideal situation for your business. Not only does it hurt your sales, it could hurt the possibility of your customers coming back. You can prevent this by ordering your products earlier than usual, and making sure to stock up on your best-selling products.

Store Evaluation

Small Business Saturday is right after Black Friday, which marks the beginning of holiday shopping for most people. Before holiday shopping season kicks off, you may want to reevaluate the number of staff you have. This usually means hiring extra security, and more people to work the floor.  Holiday shopping season is also a good time to retrain your staff. Your staff should revise policies such as refunds, returns, disciplinary guidelines, safety guidelines, loss prevention, attendance, and time off.

Small Business Saturday is a great opportunity for your business to grow financially and gain customers. Be well prepared to ease the stress that comes with holiday shopping. Most importantly, you want to put your business’ name out there, and hopefully gain some repeat customers. Update your website, stock your shelves, and make a great impression on your community. 

 

Source:

https://www.nerdwallet.com/blog/small-business/capitalize-small-business-saturday/

 

LED vs Neon: Open Signs

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Neon has been one of the most popular and iconic sources of light for open signs since it was first used for that purpose, but LED signs have many more benefits than their neon counterparts.  LED lights have been around for a while, but have only been more recently used for store signage. While both lights have their own unique qualities and strengths, the advantages that LEDs have outweigh the novelty of neon.

LED vs Neon: A Comparison Study

The Southern California Edison company did a study comparing LED and neon open signs. They found that using LEDs offers more benefits than neon, in terms of energy savings, costs, maintenance, and more.

Oval LED signs in five different color combinationsSimilarities

The study discovered that both lighting sources have the same potential to attract attention. With similar brightness levels and eye-catching displays, they can both attract attention to a business. LED and neon signs are also available in similar styles and sizes if you’re looking for an open sign. So, if you’re looking to replace a neon open sign, you can find a similar one that uses LEDs.

Initial Cost

LED signs are cheaper to buy compared to neon signs, and they can cost $30 less than neon signs on average. LEDs are newer to the market, so the average price has fluctuated, but has been decreasing overall. LED signs usually cost less than neon signs if they’re similarly sized. 

Replacement Costs

old fashioned blue and red neon sign
Photo by Alex Holyoake on Unsplash

LED signs last a lot longer than neon signs, which means that they need to be replaced less often. The average life of a LED sign is 16 years, while most neon signs would have to be replaced four times in that same time period. The average cost of one LED sign is $192, while the average cost of a neon sign is $222. If you replaced the neon open sign four times, that would cost $888, compared to the one time cost of $192 for the LED sign. You will save time and money because you don’t have to buy the replacements required for a neon sign. 

LED Signs Energy Use

In terms of energy use, LED lights are more efficient than neon. They use less energy, which results in lower operating costs overall. LEDs can save your business 133 kilowatts a year, if you use a typical open sign for 12 hours a day for each day of the year.

Animation

LED open signs have the ability to be animated, and while neon signs do too, the features are not as extensive as LEDs. In neon signs, only whole tube sections can be animated, which is limited compared to LEDs, where individual bulbs can be turned on and off. Most LED signs have animation features that come at little or no extra cost. The animation features allow the individual LED bulbs to blink sequentially, which creates the illusion of motion.

Breakage

Compared to neon signs, LED signs are harder to break. LED signs are made of plastic. Neon signs are primarily made out of glass, so neon signs are more likely to break. 

Conclusion

While neon signs offer a nostalgic view of the past, LEDs offer a greener view of the future. LED signs are more durable, long-lasting, versatile, energy-efficient, and cost-effective than neon signs. As more businesses move towards energy efficient LEDs, the potential to attract customers attention remains, with the possibilities for LEDs in business signage being more “open” than ever.  

Sources:

https://www.mge.com/images/PDF/Brochures/business/LEDOpenSigns.pdf

https://empoweringmichigan.com/top-reasons-business-using-led-lights/#

Investing in Green Energy

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As the demand for energy rises each year, the need for green energy is rising too. The demand for non-renewable energy is coming out of the growth in worldwide energy usage. It’s expected to grow by 40% over the next 20 years. With the expected rise of the renewable energy market, it is more important than ever for investors to look into green energy as a potential investment.

Desk covered in coffee cups, newspapers, calculators, and laptop. Desk of businessman.
Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

Renewable Energy Investment

According to a survey done by the American Council for Renewable Energy, many top investors are looking into doubling their investments in the renewable energy sector by 2030. Within the next 12 years, the survey showed that 70% of private investors’ contributions would bring the renewable energy sector to over $500 billion in investments.

In addition to this, over a quarter of investors’ responses showed a collective investment of $1 trillion in renewable energy. The American Council for Renewable Energy set a goal of $1 trillion in U.S. private sector investment in renewable energy. They also hope to use the $1 trillion investment to enable new grid technologies in the U.S. by 2030.

Investors also plan to add to their portfolios by adding technology investments associated with grid advancement, energy storage, and energy transmission. By improving the integration of renewables into the energy sector and supporting market growth, ACORE noted that the investors surveyed saw their investments as a way to add to their funds.

The companies surveyed estimated that the investments in renewable energy would be between $500 billion to $1 trillion. Sixty-seven percent of these companies have plans to increase renewable energy investments in 2018 by over 5%. These companies confirmed that they didn’t intend to reduce their investment in the future. 

Market Drivers

As it continues to generate interest, the renewable energy market is expected to gain more in investments. There are a few main drivers behind the presumed market increase in renewable energy throughout the coming years. The increased support for electric vehicles and renewable energy are expected to be a factor in the market increase.

Additionally, new business models and improved economics will scale up the energy storage market. Financial innovation is another factor contributing to increased investments in green energy. For example, capital stacks (the total amount invested in a company) are expected to replace tax equity as the main source of project financing in the future.

Power Generation: Share Fluctuation

Renewable energy sources will experience a rise in market shares over the next 12 years and will account for over 60% of the 5,579 gigawatts of new generation energy capacity. They will also account for 65% of the $7.7 trillion currently in power investment by 2030. The total share of power generation for fossil fuels and other non-renewable energy sources will drop to 46% by 2030.

Hydropower, solar, and wind energy will rise in power generation shares, with hydropower taking the bigger share of new energy capacity among green energy sources. The Bloomberg report, a news agency specializing in financial news, determined that solar and wind will increase their share of global generation capacity to 16% by 2030, up from their combined share of 3%.

Bloomberg also predicts that emission reductions will play an important role in the power grid’s integration of renewable energy.

Line of green energy solar panels in grass field
Photo by Zbynek Burival on Unsplash

Conclusion: Investing in Green Energy

The renewable energy market is expanding, and investing in green energy could turn into a worthy investment down the road. Top investors are planning to increase their investments in renewable energy and it may be time to follow their lead. 

As fossil fuels are a finite resource, we will have to take up renewable energy at some point. Besides that, there is the issue of climate change, which the use of fossil fuels has only worsened.  If we want to benefit from our investment while working towards a brighter future, then renewable energy is an important investment opportunity.

Sources:

https://www.investopedia.com/articles/markets/070814/why-you-should-invest-green-energy-right-now.asp

https://www.agri-pulse.com/articles/11135-renewable-energy-investments-may-double-by-2030-reaching-1-trillion-survey-finds

https://www.greentechmedia.com/articles/read/what-financiers-need-to-unlock-1-trillion-in-renewable-energy-investment#gs.oUBnsiQ

LEDs vs CFLs: A Comparison

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Compact fluorescent lighting and LED lighting are both popular lighting sources, but which one is a better investment? In this article, we will investigate the pros and cons of each. LED lighting has been coming up in the world of lighting as more people are realizing the long-term benefits of switching to LEDs. CFL’s have been around awhile, and have remained a solid lighting choice as the once widely used incandescent lights are being phased out of the lighting world. However, as technology is progressing and as more customers look for green solutions, LEDs are best. 

Whether you’re buying for your home, your business, or otherwise, your lighting choice should be efficient, cost-effective, and beautiful. Green Light Innovations wants to fill your life with light that works for you and your budget.

CFL – Compact Fluorescent Lighting

Compact fluorescent lights are one of the most commonly used types of lights. They work by driving an electric current through a tube that contains mercury vapor and argon. The electric current process creates ultraviolet light that transitions into visible light, unlike incandescent lights. Incandescent lighting was a popular option before it began to be phased out of production and banned in some places due to negative environmental impacts. Incandescent lights put off more of a warm glow, while CFL’s transition quickly into clearly visible light. Besides the quick transition time, compact fluorescent lights have a few other advantages over incandescent lights. Compact fluorescent lights use 70% less energy than incandescent lights, and they last years longer while only costing a dollar more than incandescent lights.

A drawback of using compact fluorescent lights is their lighting capacity. They take a longer time to warm and reach full brightness, so they’re not very useful in places where you want lots of light immediately. CFLs also contain mercury, which means that you have to dispose of them carefully because they harm your health and the environment if they break.

LEDs- Light Emitting Diodelit stairway illuminated by LED lighting

LED lighting has been on the market for years now, and have benefits that easily outweigh traditional light sources. LED lights emit light by bringing together currents of positive and negative charge to create energy.The energy the currents created is what emits light. LED lighting has an advantage over CFLs because the light emitted is bright and instantaneous, it doesn’t take time to heat up. Another big advantage that LED’s have over both CFLs and incandescent lighting is how long they can last. They have a lifespan of 25,000 to 50,000 hours, up to five times longer than any comparable bulb currently on the market. Unfortunately, they are pricier than the more common CFLs.

LEDs are available in a variety of sizes, brightnesses, and colors. You can buy an LED light that fits your needs at Green Light or at any major retailer in the US. Today, the variety of LED solutions is endless, and companies like GLI even provide custom lighting solutions if your needs are specialized.

The Conclusions: LED Lighting V. CFLs

However, in the long run, using LED lighting saves you money even though they cost more up front. If you were to use LEDs and CFLs for 25,000 hours, the LEDs would be a better investment. One 10 watt LED light would last 25,000 hours, while you would have to replace a 14 watt CFL bulb 3 times for it to last the same amount of time. However, you’d only pay $6 for 3 CFL’s, compared to $8 for one LED bulb. One 10 watt LED is equal to 14 watts of CFLs. The total cost of electricity used over the 25,000 hour period would be $30 for LEDs, $42 for CFLs, if the electricity cost is $0.12/kWh (kilowatt hour). Overall, the total operational cost of the CFLs would be $48 ($42 for electricity, $6 for bulb replacement), and $38 for the LEDs ($30 for electricity, $8 for bulb replacement). Even with the high cost of the bulb, it lasts longer than the CFLs. In the long run, using LED lighting would stay lower in cost compared to CFLs.

LED’s are best if you’re looking for an efficient lighting investment. They last longer and are brighter than CFLs. Although LED lighting can be an investment on the front end, they will save you money in the long term. If you decide to make the switch to LED lighting, it’s worth looking into your local and state laws to see if you can get additional tax breaks to save you even more money. LED lighting is a safe bet because it doesn’t have the added risk of mercury. 

The Breakdown

LED Lighting

Pros: Cons:
Doesn’t take time to heat up Costs more than CFLs
Lights up immediately Directional light may not spread as evenly
Can last up to 5 times longer than CFLs
Doesn’t contain mercury

 

CFL’s

Pros: Cons:
Costs less than LEDs  Contains mercury
Produces light that spreads evenly Takes awhile to heat up
Uses less light than incandescent bulbs Doesn’t reach full brightness immediately

 

https://www.thesimpledollar.com/the-light-bulb-showdown-leds-vs-cfls-vs-incandescent-bulbs-whats-the-best-deal-now-and-in-the-future/

Service Disabled Veteran Owned Small Business

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Red and blue service disabled veteran owned small business logoHave you seen this logo on Green Light Innovations website, packaging or social media sites? Have you wondered what it really means to be a Service Disabled Veteran Owned Small Business? We want you to know what it means to be a SDVOSB in general and what it means specifically to Green Light to be owned by and employee veterans.

The History of Service Disabled Veteran Owned Small Businesses

In 1999 the federal government passed the Veterans Entrepreneurship and Small Business Development Act. This law established an annual goal for the government to have at least 3% of the total value of all prime contract and subcontracts to be won by small businesses owned and controlled by service-disabled veterans. After the passing of the 1999 law, several other laws were passed to standardized the meaning of a Service Disabled Veteran Owned Small Business. These laws ensure that the federal government helps support disabled veteran owned businesses. Moreover, it provides these veteran owned business with opportunities to win government contracts.

In order to be considered a Service Disabled Veteran Owned Small Business, a business must meet several criteria. These criteria include that the Service Disabled Veteran (SDV) must have a service-connected disability as determined by the Department of Veterans Affairs or the Department of Defense. The business must be considered “small” via the North American Industry Classification System. The Service Disabled Veteran must own at least 51% of the business. Finally, the Service Disabled Veteran must control the management of the business, and hold the highest officer position.

What does it mean to Green Light to work with veterans everyday?

Green Light Innovations meets all of these criteria set by the federal government. However,  being a Service Disabled Veteran Owned Small Business means so much more to us than just meeting a list of requirements. As a SDVOSB, we’ve incorporated the principles of military service: Excellence in all we do and Service before Self, into the DNA of our organization and it sows in the products we make and our commitment to customers and all stake holders. Green Light knows the capacity and the potential of our veterans and takes pride in hiring veterans whenever possible. Additionally, we ensure that we connect our veteran employees to resources that help them navigate life after the military. Finally, we pride ourselves on partnering with other veteran owned small businesses.

Above all, Green Light Innovations recognizes and honors the veterans that have served our country.