Shield Referral Program
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How To Fund Your Start-Up Business Idea
You’ve got the idea, the drive, the know-how: how about the capital? Funding is an essential part of any business, as without the seed money you’ll be unable to fire the starting gun on your, er, start-up.
Entrepreneurs are an incredibly clever and industrious bunch, but many are in the dark about how best to fund their start-up business, preferring instead to focus their energies on a core offering. One supposes that reviewing funding options can seem like a dull, laborious task when you are devoting time and attention to your genius idea. In any case, great ideas can only fulfill their potential if they are backed by stable investment.
Read on to find out the best ways of obtaining financial backing for your start-up business idea.
1. Pursue a grant
The less monied cousin of a bank loan is a grant. While you shouldn’t expect to be cut a massive check, there are dozens of grants available, offered by national and state governments (as well as private enterprises) in the interests of stimulating the economy and growing the jobs market so it’s worth checking out your options for funding your startup.
These financial injections can help you save money on-premises and fixed rates, purchase cheaper IT or manufacturing equipment, and fund staff training. The main drawback, of course, is the fierce competitiveness of such grants, as well as the box-ticking involved: it can be a frustratingly drawn-out process, but that’s the tradeoff for retaining equity. In the US, start-up grants are offered by organizations such as Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR), the National Association for the Self-Employed (NASE), and Idea Cafe.
Crowdfunding is a favorite of the digital economy, and probably the quickest way of obtaining finance for a new business. You don’t even have to be massively tech-savvy to launch a crowdfunding campaign, but what you do need is a compelling pitch, one which strongly references your start-up’s potential for growth, as well as a knack for interacting with your cash-rich community. If all goes to plan, you’ll have capital you don’t need to pay back, without ceding any operational control. As a side benefit, crowdfunding is a nifty form of advertising, a way of stimulating public interest in your company before it’s even made its debut. The difficulty, needless to say, is in getting your voice heard in the vast crowdfunding landscape.
3. Family and friends
The idea of hitting friends and family for cash doesn’t sit well with some entrepreneurs, but many of the world’s top magnates readily admit to borrowing from their social network early in their careers. As such, you should have no compunction about doing the same. Soliciting short- or long-term loans from friends and family might lead to some domestic squabbles down the road, but you won’t usually have to pay them back with interest added. Indeed, you might not have to pay loans back at all, depending on the generosity of your creditor. On the other hand, it’s not easy to put together a hefty bankroll relying solely on family and friends; and you have to ask yourself whether you really want to risk straining meaningful relationships.
4. Get an angel investor on board
Don’t pray to the angels; seek angel investors. Targeting high net-worth individuals who have a track record of supporting start-ups isn’t difficult to do, but the challenge lies in convincing them you’re worthy of their investment. There are many online angel investment networks, as well as local investor groups you can pitch to in person, so do your research and start submitting your pitches. Find the right angel investor and not only will you benefit from their financial support but also their wisdom: oftentimes, they offer mentorship as a side dish alongside their capital. On the other hand, they generally offer less financial backing than banks and venture capital funds.
5. Raise money yourself
How to Qualify for a Small Business Loan and Fund Your Big Idea
These small business loans vary from $500 to $5.5 million, which provide a range of financial support to entrepreneurs.
By Katelyn Chef March 18, 2021
If the past year has proven anything, it’s that small businesses are resilient to fluctuating markets. In the past, you’ve applied for student loans, car loans, and other smart financial responsibilities as ways to make your way through life. However, as an entrepreneur, have you considered applying for a small business loan to sustain your business in this difficult time?
If not, now may be the time to do so. Small business loans (SBA) aim to provide capital to small businesses just starting. These types of loans are supported by the government, deeming them less of a gamble, and Colleen McCreary, chief people officer of Credit Karma, advocates that these are a good option. “SBA loans offer competitive terms, lower down payment requirements, and resources that can help you run your small business,” she explains.ADVERTISING
Here’s what you need to know about small business loans and how to apply for one, according to McCreary.
When to Apply
Aside from securing capital for your new business, one of the main benefits of an SBA loan is that you can conceivably secure funding from an SBA lender when other banks have denied your requests. According to McCreary, you can qualify rates similar to equivalent non-SBA loans, too. Of course, there are other factors to take into consideration when applying for loans like these. “SBA loans have strict qualifying requirements,” shares McCreary. “For example, if you’re a startup, you should have experience in the type of business you want to start. And for a new business, you should have cash on hand or business assets to the tune of around $1 for every $3 you want to borrow. Some SBA loans have prepayment penalties.”
That means it’s essential to have a clear financial plan for your business already in place. “The smaller your loan, the higher your interest rate might be,” she continues. “The SBA allows lenders to charge the prime rate plus 2.25 percent for loans of more than $50,000 maturing in less than seven years. However, for loans of $25,000 or less maturing in less than seven years, the cap is the prime rate plus 4.25 percent.”
Steps for Application
3 reasons why injured worker advocacy matters
INJURED WORKERS COMP TRENDS • 3 MIN READ
Experiencing a workplace injury is understandably stressful for any employee and trauma can be exacerbated when employers focus on medical costs and missing staff hours instead of the employee’s well-being. With today’s advocacy-based worker’s compensation model, however, employers are seeking to fix this inherent conflict, with many now intent on changing the relationship – from adversary to advocate.
“The way you treat an injured worker can have a material impact on the life of the claim,” says Wesley Hyatt, Senior Vice President, Workers Compensation Claims, Liberty Mutual Insurance, and Helmsman Management Services LLC. “Injured worker advocacy is a mindset that starts with the goal that ‘we’re here to help this injured person’ versus just moving claims along by checking boxes.”
Here are three reasons why injured worker advocacy is driving a paradigm shift in how forward-looking employers manage the claims process.
1. Open communication builds trust and confidence in the process
Creating consistent, clear, and open communication in a way that puts an injured worker’s needs first is a key part of the advocacy approach. Every outreach should reassure injured workers that their claims and clinical teams are working in their best interests. After all, along with recovering from the injury, an employee must also work through the complex worker’s compensation (WC) claims process – often for the very first time.
To achieve the goal of open communication, employers are changing the language used throughout the process to eliminate jargon and replace negative wording with positive terms. For example, “covered” is now substituted for “compensable,” and “claims examiner” is replaced by “claims representative.”
Another example of improving the employee experience is Liberty Mutual’s SmartVideo, a personalized, two-minute video that’s automatically sent via email to an injured worker whose claim meets certain WC criteria. Accessible via computer, tablet, or mobile device, the video outlines important claims information and available tools.
“The idea is to expand on the human connection between adjuster and worker, alleviating an employee’s stress and fears of the unknown,” Hyatt says. “It’s not just about what you say, but how you say it and deliver it.”
The takeaway: the tone used and ease of information provided from the very first contact with an injured worker sets the course for the entire claim.
“The way you treat an injured worker can have a material impact on the life of the claim.” – Wesley Hyatt, Senior Vice President, Workers Compensation Claims
2. Responsive follow-up leads to faster return-to-work
With data showing that as many as 18% of injured workers never reach the ability to return to work in the same capacity, connecting frequently with progress check-ins and additional resources can inform a proactive – and realistic – post-recovery evaluation.
Anticipating a worker’s needs in a holistic way demonstrates that their well-being is a priority, says Debbie Michel, Executive Vice President, National Insurance Risk Management, Liberty Mutual Insurance. “Think about the whole person, not just the specific injury,” she says.
“Anticipating a worker’s needs in a holistic way demonstrates that their well-being is a priority.” – Debbie Michel, Executive Vice President, National Insurance Risk Management
Nurse case managers can use motivational interviewing and therapeutic listening to help identify other factors that may affect an employee’s return to work – and coordinate additional services if needed.
Another way to reinforce employer support is by empowering the employee with a range of choices, Michel says. Options can include a gradual part-time to full-time transition, providing temporary limited duty or alternate work tasks, and temporarily working remotely.
The takeaway: returning to work full time after an injury doesn’t always have to be an all-or-nothing proposition. Keeping an injured worker engaged and empowered through the recovery process can strengthen the employer-employee relationship and better prepare for a successful return to work plan.
3. Compassionate strategies improve overall claims outcomes
Shield Insurance Agency & Foremost Insurance Company present Insurance Terms
Every industry has its own unique language – and insurance is no exception. Here are some key insurance definitions and terms you might come across as you consider insuring yourself or your stuff.
Stress Awareness Month – April 2021
Stress can be debilitating, and it can cause and/or aggravate health problems. And since stress is a normal part of human existence — nobody is immune to it — it’s important to arm ourselves with knowledge so that we recognize when stress rears its ugly head. (Amazingly, we don’t always notice it’s happening to us.) Stress Awareness Month happens each April. It’s important to learn some strategies for coping with this particular silent scourge. You’ve come to the right place for that. Let’s get started!
STRESS AWARENESS MONTH TIMELINE
HOW TO OBSERVE STRESS AWARENESS MONTH
1. Practice meditation
One of the most effective ways to deal with stress is to learn how to silence the mind. Meditation is one of the most popular methods of achieving this quiet.
Another way to battle the debilitating effects of stress is to exercise. Whether you’re a jogger, bicyclist our just like to take long walks, be sure to get some fresh air and exercise into your daily routine.
3. Visit your doctor
They’re really in the best position to get your started on the path to a stress-free lifestyle. Make an appointment today.
4 STRESSFUL FACTS YOU NEED TO KNOW
- Stress can help — sometimes
- According to the National Institute of Mental Health, “stress can motivate people to prepare or perform and might even be life-saving in some situations.”
- It’s sickening — literally
- People under stress – especially those prone to chronic stress — are more susceptible to a variety of ailments, from headaches and insomnia to high blood pressure and heart disease.
- Stressed? Here’s why
- A survey by the American Psychological Association found that the five factors most often cited as a source of stress were money, work, family, economic outlook, and relationships.
- America’s highest and lowest stress states
- A report on WalletHub found that the most stressed-out states in America are Louisiana, New Mexico, and West Virginia. The least? Minnesota, North Dakota, and Utah.
WHY STRESS AWARENESS MONTH IS IMPORTANT
Check out other blog posts from Shield Insurance Agency
Understanding employee risks in a virtual workplace
EMERGING RISK TRENDS • 2 MIN READ
With many employees working remotely over this last year due to the ongoing pandemic, the shift to a virtual workplace has presented new challenges for some businesses. As companies continue moving away from the traditional work settings, now is the best time to reassess and mitigate work-related risks to remote workers.
From confirming business objectives to adjusting your processes and resource allocation, here are the key ways to prepare for new remote risks.
Conduct a risk assessment
Have your risks changed with virtual workspaces? As you assess and prioritize work-related risks for each workgroup, consider if these new remote-work locations will be short or long-term.
A few top concerns may include:
- Ergonomics – repetitive stress injuries from desk set-up, cords, and more
- Same-level fall – slips, and trips in the employee environment
- Mental health – stress and isolation compounding from the ongoing pandemic
Revise operational processes
To better understand and address risks, revisit your existing safety programs and strategies. What gaps need to be covered in this new workplace model? If the necessary programs do not currently exist, formalize an approach to assess and reduce risks to workers. While short vs long-term strategies may look different, it is important to treat employees consistently and effectively.
As you begin your strategic planning:
- Create an assessment or feedback process for your organization
- Develop a process to make decisions about resources
- Identify measures of success, e.g. number of touches to online help resources; the number of equipment/peripheral purchases
Adjust resources against risk
What can you do to limit risks for your workers? If you have accumulated real estate savings as a result of virtual work, consider reallocating that budget to employee safety. Provide easy access to resources for employees to get help during this unprecedented time, to eliminate cumbersome barriers to the process:
- Check and reallocate resources to support your remote-work strategy
- Develop a purchase/delivery process for equipment, furniture, and supporting tools, keeping ease of order process in mind
- Define methods to provide training and knowledge sources for workers
Consider the ergonomic and environmental risks associated with your employee’s virtual workplace as well. Environmental risks can include walking surfaces, stairs, and overuse of power strips and outlets in the home. Check our library of resources to help manage your team’s safety as you adjust to the new normal:
Telematics and managing commercial auto risks: 3 steps to success
AUTO FLEET MANAGEMENT • 2 MIN READ
More cars on the roads, rising medical costs, distracted drivers, and higher repair costs are just a few of the factors driving the increase in commercial auto losses. In an effort to help minimize risks and better control costs, more businesses are exploring telematics technology. According to the most recent Fleet Management Technology Report, 44 percent of fleets now use some form of telematics.
However, to get the most return on investment from telematics, businesses need to consider a variety of factors. Here are three steps that can help companies successfully adopt and implement telematics in their operations:
Select a vendor that can help solve your business challenge.
Certain vendors are better at certain things, so it’s important to know in advance the problem your company is trying to solve to help ensure your vendor’s capabilities will meet your needs. For example, a company with a fleet of service vehicles that charges by the hour may want to track exactly when a commercial vehicle arrives at and departs from a specific location to help avoid billing discrepancies. A delivery operation may want to optimize routes to improve productivity and manage fuel costs. A business that is experiencing an uptick in vehicle accidents may prefer to review driver performance by individual, location and vehicle type to identify potential issues.
Translate data into useful information.
The high volume of data, notifications and detailed reports generated from a telematics system can be overwhelming. A business wishing to develop a successful program must know how to transform the data into information that can be applied strategically. For a company that uses telematics to track driver performance, getting an alert for every “aggressive” driving event (speeding, hard braking, etc.) may not provide much value. However, being able to review event rates (number of events per 100 miles driven) for individual drivers could be a better way to compare performance and identify outliers. Establishing suitable reporting parameters to create driver rankings or “scorecards” can help a fleet manager understand “average” performance, set realistic goals that support company objectives, and develop action plans for drivers in need of improvement.
Michigan Spring Lawn Care Tips and Tricks for a Healthy Lawn
When spring hits in Michigan, there’s a short period before summer comes where you have the time to care for your lawn and make it presentable!
This kind of spring lawn care usually includes ensuring your sprinklers are working properly to keep your lawn hydrated during the warmer months, taking care of your grass and soil with fertilizer, factoring in weed prevention, and of course, getting ready to do something about those pests and mosquitoes.
Everyone wants a bright, inviting lawn and garden, but sometimes it’s hard to know where to start. Take a look through these tips and tricks to be sure you have the best lawn on the block.
Tips and Tricks
Ditch Your Weeds
To keep your lawn looking clean and not overgrown, it’s always a good idea to start by taking care of your weeds. Weeds start to show up right when spring does. Michigan’s most common and most stubborn weeds can include Dame’s Rocket, Maple Seedlings, and Dandelion.
While not harmful to humans, besides the occasional allergy symptoms, weeds are essentially a death wish for your lawn. You’ll want to spray some weed killer or dig each one up from the root before it spreads. They can take over the lawn quicker than you think.
Use Fertilizer On Your Lawn
Fertilizing your lawn in the spring gives it the nutrients it needs to grow back after the harsh Michigan winters. After the snow melts and the spring rain comes, the nutrients your lawn needs have long been washed away.
A properly fertilized lawn can thrive, just like the one you’ve always dreamed of. It can recreate the whole look of your home, without really changing anything at all.
For a bright green lawn, a fertilizer containing Nitrogen helps; and you’ll want something to ensure your roots are healthy as well, so one containing Phosphorus is a good idea as well.