ATX Co-op Taxi In the News

ATX Co-op Taxi splits the difference between traditional taxis and ridesharing. ATX Co-op Taxi ride-hail app is up on the iTunes store: “ATX Taxi”. The app is modeled much like your standard TNC template. Should it ever fail, as happened with Fasten and RideAus­tin during SXSW, the co-op can fall back on its full-time dispatch system – staffed with call-takers at an office just like any taxi franchise.

We are proud of our clients, ATX Co-op Taxi. Read more in the Austin Chronicle here.

The Importance of Managing Your Expenses Carefully for Small Business Owners

By Al Lopez, EGBI Executive Director

Start-ups and small growing businesses face a common problem: how to manage cash flow so that all the expenses get paid on time. By managing your expenses carefully, you can improve your opportunity to grow slowly and surely. Here are a few tips on how to do that:

Tip #1: Create a realistic budget

It’s not just enough to come up with a budget – you also have to come up with a realistic budget. And in order to do that, you need to have a good understanding of all aspects of your business. Take sales, for example. If you know when you are booking key sales, and when these customers are going to pay, you are going to have much more visibility into the overall profitability and the when that profitability will come. If you know that you can expect an amount in revenue a month, then you can start thinking in terms of affordable dollars in expenses.

At a minimum, you should have visibility into the sales for your upcoming three months. Preferably, you should be able to project out 12 months in advance. This is particularly important because every business naturally has ups and downs in sales over the year – such as during the holiday selling season – and those ups and downs need to be planned for.

Tip #2: Develop a solid business plan

Once you have a budget in place, you need to make sure you have a business that supports it or change the one you have to match your new budget expectations. Start to think about what percentage of your profits you will need to invest back into the business. Maybe you have to buy new inventory or maybe you need a new piece of equipment. Or maybe you are planning a new marketing approach to promote your product or service.

A business plan helps you to understand how these costs fit into the bigger picture and keep you from spending on things that aren’t part of your plan. Too many businesses live week to week, month-to-month, or quarter-to-quarter, and are never able to put together a solid business plan for moving forward. Expenses tend to grow with nothing to show for it. A business plan helps to keep you focused, and helps you manage your expenses more wisely.

Tip #3: Plan for unexpected expenses

The business world is full of uncertainty, and that’s why most small business consultants advise companies to have enough cash on hand to handle any unexpected emergencies. In the same way as you might create a “rainy day fund” for your family budget, you’d also want to make sure that you have enough cash to cover adverse market changes or unexpected events for your business.

There are various ways to protect against risk, of course, without simply having to save a bunch of cash. You don’t want to tie up too much cash, because you’ll need that for working capital. But you should have business insurance to protect your inventory. Or, if you operate a food truck business, you might think about ways to limit your downside if anything happens to these valuable assets.

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At some point, all of the cost savings, bootstrapping and careful financial management will really pay off. You’ll have extra funds to handle unexpected emergencies, and you’ll also have plenty of funds to re-invest in the success of your growing small business.

Client Highlight: APSCO & It’s Cleaning Time!

For the month of February, we are highlighting two of our clients APSCO (Alva Property Services Companies) and It’s Cleaning Time!

Last year, both of them were selected for the FastForward Progam, a small business growth initiative powered by the City of Austin and the University of Texas at Austin’s IC2 Institute. We are proud to share that out of the 13 businesses that were accepted and completed the program, two of them were EGBI clients.

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APSCO provides property maintenance and general contracting services to individuals and companies in the Greater Austin Area needing services fitting any of their business units:
*Pro Lawn Cut – Landscape maintenance and installation services
*Pro Maid Clean – Cleaning and janitorial services
*Pro Handy Home – Remodeling and general contracting services

Mynor Its cleaning time

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It’s Cleaning Time! LLC is a residential cleaning service company serving the Austin and surrounding areas since 2003. They also offer some commercial cleaning services: janitorial cleaning for small offices and after construction cleaning.

We look forward to continue encouraging our clients to apply for future FastFoward Program opportunities, as we believe this program provides great exposure and valuable training for our small business community.

You can find APSCO and It’s Cleaning Time! contact information along with all of our graduates who are in business by visiting our web directory.

Client Highlight: Smiley’s Junk Removal and Recycling

With the beginning of the New Year, you might be thinking about getting more organized and decluttering your home or your office. If that is the case, we have the perfect ally for you: Smiley’s Junk Removal & Recycling.

Spencer Costley is the Owner of Smiley’s Junk Removal and Recycling, who has been serving the community for over five years. They were ranked one of the Top Junk Removal Companies in Austin in 2016 by Expertise.com.

If you have any junk laying around, a garage full of stuff filling up the space, any trash or unwanted items that need to be removed, Smiley’s Junk Removal and Recycling can assist you. They serve both residential and business locations… always with a smile!

Not only that, but Spencer will try to save and recycle your items in various creative ways.

Spencer graduated from the EGBI entrepreneurial program in 2011, he continues to attend workshops, participates in our BizCoaching groups, is actively involved with EGBI and is one of our most loyal clients when we need volunteers.

“The EGBI classes give me an outlet to bounce my ideas off of and experts that will answer any questions that I have about my business, and to me that is priceless… I’ve grown quite a bit since taking the class; I have more clients that I serve now on a regular basis. I’m their go-to person when they need junk that needs to be removed, and that’s a great feeling.”

Smiley’s Junk Removal and Recycling is insured under the State of Texas. Please consider using Smiley’s if you are in the process of decluttering your home or office. Click here to visit their website and support them by following them on social media!

You can find Smiley’s contact information along with all of our graduates who are in business by visiting our web directory.

Client Highlight: Selina’s Manq’a

As we approach the holiday season, please consider Selina’s Manq’a for your catering needs. Selina’s Manq’a creates an exquisite and elegant experience, taking into consideration even the smallest detail, and always adjusting to your budget.

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Selina’s Manq’a shares the Peruvian heritage of sisters Selina and Patricia Ortiz, who with dedication, devotion and professionalism introduce the best of Peruvian and international cuisine.

With an interest in starting a business, Selina enrolled in EGBI’s Curso Empresarial in 2012. She realized that in order to be successful, she needed to take the challenge very seriously. She learned the requirements to starting her own business and went on to work on herself.

Following her dreams, she enrolled in the prestigious Le Cordon Bleu of Culinary Arts in Austin, where she graduated with honors. She began her career with Mi Peru Catering in 2012, preparing her favorite Peruvian foods.

She came back to EGBI to take some of the entrepreneurial classes again. With broader culinary experience, she decided to include international cuisine into her menu, which led to the relaunch of her business, naming it Selina’s Manq’a (meaning Selina’s Food in the the Quechua language). With a new name and logo, she recently launched her website and is working on growing her blog and social media presence.

EGBI has provided Selina with education, motivation, resources, exposure and constant support. Selina and her sister regularly attend EGBI workshops, and Selina is currently participating in EGBI’s BizCoaching program. Selina is also very involved in the community and participates in other organizations’ programs for small businesses.

EGBI is proud to say that Selina has provided her catering services for many EGBI events, and her food is always fantastic.

Please visit her site www.selinasmanqa.com and keep her in mind next time you need catering services.

You can find Selina’s contact information along with all of our graduates who are in business by visiting our web directory.

3 Maneras de mantenerse enfocado cuando comienzas un nuevo negocio

Por Al Lopez, Director Ejecutivo de EGBI
Traduccion: Veronica Trevisan, Wester

Para los propietarios de pequeñas empresas y emprendedores, una de las claves para el éxito es mantenerse enfocado. Eso puede sonar obvio, pero muy a menudo, los propietarios de pequeñas empresas tienen tantas ideas nuevas y oportunidades al comienzo del negocio que pierden su intención original u objetivo del plan de negocios. Con esto en mente, detallo aquí tres maneras de permanecer súper enfocados durante sus primeros 12 meses como nuevo dueño de negocio:

TIP #1: Empiece de manera pequeña y lentamente

Si, todo es más grande en Texas, pero eso no significa que su negocio va a convertirse en un gigante de la noche a la mañana. De hecho, no hay tal cosa como un “éxito nocturno” en los negocios. El camino hacia el éxito futuro está lleno de muchos mini-pasos a lo largo del camino.

Una de las razones principales para empezar de a poco y lento es porque el crecimiento requiere capital, y eso es algo que la mayoría de los nuevos dueños de negocios no tienen. Es por eso que usted escuchará en inglés acerca de “startups bootstrapping” que en la traducción al español sería algo así como “emprendedores con autoarranque” ya que, en su camino hacia el éxito, estos emprendedores son muy cuidadosos del dinero que están gastando antes de hacer sus primeras ventas. Si usted permanece enfocado, podrá controlar cuánto efectivo está gastando.

Una manera de “arrancar” su nueva empresa es considerar un ambiente de trabajo en equipo. En lugar de derrochar por un costoso contrato de arrendamiento de 12 meses, a menudo se puede alquilar un espacio de trabajo cotidiano sobre una base de mes a mes. Además, como bono adicional, usted puede interactuar con otros empresarios de características similares en un ambiente que tenga la particularidad de una incubadora de negocios.

TIP #2: Escriba su plan de negocios.

Una manera de mantenerse enfocado es poniendo su plan de negocios por escrito. La mayoría de los planes de negocios incluyen discusión de temas como: oportunidad de mercado, finanzas y operaciones y estrategia de marketing. Al pensar cuidadosamente qué nicho de mercado va a buscar, cómo va a financiar sus operaciones en curso y cómo va a llegar a su consumidor específico, estará en una posición mucho mejor para evaluar nuevas ofertas y oportunidades a medida que surgen.

Por ejemplo, digamos que usted es una empresaria latina que le gustaría abrir un negocio de salón de uñas en el centro de Austin. Su plan de negocios incluiría detalles sobre qué parte del mercado de salón de uñas está tratando de alcanzar, información sobre los precios y algunos detalles como puede ser llegar a las mujeres dentro de ciertos barrios de Austin (por ejemplo, a través de medios sociales, anuncios impresos, campañas publicitarias). Entonces, cuando alguien le propone una nueva idea, usted será capaz de ver cómo se ajusta a su propia visión para el negocio.

TIP #3: Escriba una declaración de la misión d la empresa

Muy a menudo, los dueños de pequeñas empresas arriban con un gran concepto del negocio, pero no tienen la manera de comunicar qué hace que ese negocio sea especial para otras personas. Una forma de hacerlo es elaborando una declaración de la misión empresarial para poder compartirla con otros integrantes de la misma como son los empleados, socios, vendedores e inversores. Las declaraciones de misión más eficaces y emocionantes son aquellas que explican cómo usted planea cambiar el mundo con su nuevo negocio.

Tal vez usted está pensando en abrir una tienda de ropa para las mujeres. Su declaración de misión podría incluir una descripción de algún mercado que esta insuficientemente atendido y al que usted está llegando (por ejemplo, “madres solteras que quieren ropa de moda para el lugar de trabajo, pero a bajo costo “) o alguna descripción de lo que hace que su producto sea diferente de los otros productos, por ejemplo “100% ropa local 100% y con materiales naturales”). Entonces, cuando reciba una nueva oferta u oportunidad, podrá ver qué tan bien encaja esa oportunidad con su visión u objetivo único para su empresa.

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Ser propietario de una pequeña empresa es un reto ya lo suficientemente grande como para ser atrapado además en un montón de nuevas ideas rápidamente. Empiece pequeño, trace su plan de negocios y prepare una declaración de misión. Al hacerlo, usted preparará su nuevo negocio para el éxito futuro.

 

3 Ways to Stay Focused When Starting a New Business

By Al Lopez, EGBI Executive Director

For small business owners and entrepreneurs, one of the keys to success is staying focused. That may sound obvious, but too often, small business owners get so many new ideas and opportunities early in the life of their business that they lose their original intent or business plan target. With that in mind, here are three ways to stay super-focused during your first 12 months as a new business owner:

TIP #1: Start small and start slow

Yes, everything’s bigger in Texas, but that doesn’t mean your business is going to become a giant overnight. In fact, there is no such thing as an “overnight success” in business. The path to future success is filled with many mini-steps along the way.

One big reason why you want to start small and start slow is because growth requires capital, and that’s something most new business owners don’t have. That’s why you’ll hear about startups “bootstrapping” their way to success, by being very careful about how much cash they are spending before they make their first sales. When you stay focused, you’ll be able to control how much cash you’re spending.

One way to bootstrap your new venture is to consider a co-working environment. Instead of splurging for an expensive 12-month lease, you can often rent a co-working space on a month-to-month basis. Plus, as an added bonus, you get to network with similar types of entrepreneurs in an incubator-like environment.

TIP #2: Put your business plan in writing

One way to stay focused is by putting down your business plan in writing. Most business plans include discussion of topics like: market opportunity, finance and operations and marketing strategy. By carefully thinking about what market niche you are going after, how you are going to fund your ongoing operations and how you plan to reach your target consumer, you will be in a much better position to evaluate new offers and opportunities as they arise.

For example, say you are a Latina entrepreneur who would like to open a nail salon business in downtown Austin. Your business plan would include details about what part of the nail salon market you are trying to reach, some information about pricing, and some details about how you plan to reach women within certain neighborhoods within Austin (e.g. via social media, print ads, billboards). Then, when someone proposes a new idea to you, you will be able to see how it matches up with your own vision for the business.

TIP #3: Create a mission statement

Too often, small business owners come up with a great business concept but don’t have a way of communicating what makes the business special to other people. One way to do that is by crafting a mission statement that you can share with other stakeholders in your business – employees, partners, vendors and investors. The most effective and exciting mission statements are those that explain how you plan to change the world with your new business.

 

Maybe you’re thinking of opening a store selling clothes for women. Your mission statement might include a description of some under-served market that you are reaching (e.g. “single moms who want fashionable but low-cost clothing for the workplace”), or some description of what makes your product different from every other product (e.g. “all clothes made from 100 percent locally-sourced, natural materials”). Then, when you get a new offer or opportunity, you’ll be able to see how well that opportunity fits in with your unique vision or goal for your company.

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Being a small business owner is challenging enough without being caught up in lots of new ideas too fast. Start small, map out your business plan, and come up with a mission statement. By doing so, you will prepare your new business for future success.

Let’s play What If…

By: Luis Delgado, The Critical Update

Let’s play a game!

Take a minute to picture the best day at your business. Everything is going right, business is moving along, staff is productive and the planets are aligned. Ahhh, feels great doesn’t it? Just like a cool breeze.

Now, let’s throw a bit of reality into the mix. Suddenly, one of your employees says…”My computer is acting weird”. You think nothing of it and just tell the employee to restart the computer. After all, that is the most common “fix” to weird issues. Unfortunately, once this happens, the computer does not work. What do you do?

Let’s add a little more flavor to this mix. Let’s pretend the computer that just failed has your QuickBooks® file and client list, payroll is supposed to run today… Now what? The cool breeze is now a category 5 hurricane!

If you are like most business owners, you have a technical resource that you would call in a panic. Then the recovery and troubleshooting process would begin and take from one day to several days to return to normalcy. That is, assuming you did not lose data and get sticker shock.

  1. Let’s stop the game now and consider some options.

Many businesses have a reliable technical resource that keeps everything working. The problem is, most of the time, as technicians, we assume certain things. If you ask a techie what it means to “take care of everything”, you will get a different answer from what a business owner would think. Planning for the gaps in this is where a bit of communication can make the difference between expensive chaos or getting back to work with sanity.

Here is an example; I just talked to a member of a medical organization who said the IT company handles everything. When I asked him the above scenario, he said he has no idea about a continuity plan. This is not unusual. Business owners have so much to think about, that business continuity planning is usually overlooked or not even thought of.

There is a technical side with backups and replacement computers, but there is also a critical component that most IT companies do not provide. The side that affects business operations.

There are a great number of companies out there who are fantastic at providing technical support and managed services. Truth be told, Austin has a large number of them competing for clients.

The one thing that I would encourage is to make it part of your yearly business planning to create, review and update your business continuity plan. Invite your friendly IT consultant to be in those meetings and help plan for the worst.

Luis Delgado is a Certified HIPAA Professional and the President of The Critical Update inc., a technology consulting firm that works with business owners and non profit organizations in the Austin metropolitan area. Luis and his team help schools, professional service providers, financial services and legal professionals with ongoing support and consulting. Luis enjoys time with his loving family and Church community. Most days you can find him serving people and building community through business consulting and relationship building. Luis graduated from EGBI in 2009.

Tips on Small Business Videos

By Michael Mason

You might have a great product or service, but one of the mistakes people make is assuming that your customers will automatically find you, just because you are a great company. You have to remember that people in general are very visual. Wharton School of Business says that a well-produced video increases information retention by 50% and speeds up financial decisions by 72%. 90% of the communication provided by video is nonverbal, such as body language and tone of voice. In addition, there are all kinds of trust barriers that are knocked down by video, which can mean everything for your company.

What not to do when making a video:

The first mistake people make when making a video is the inclination to make something too long. Understandably, companies have a lot to say and want to say all of it. You have to remember, your videos aren’t required viewing. We find 1 minute 30 seconds is usually the sweet spot.

Another common mistake we see is people often come off as too formal in their videos. This is your chance to humanize yourself. Don’t say what you think is standard for the situation. Always speak from the heart.

What do you do with your video? 

When you have a video you have to post it in the right places. It’s great to send your video to email subscribers, people who are already familiar with you will love the personal touch of video, which will increase retention.

It’s vital to use social media, which is peerless for video sharing. Facebook alone represents a whopping 4 billion video streams a day and video sharing from one’s own network is exponentially more effective.

Posting on YouTube is an absolute must. If YouTube is considered a search engine (as it certainly should be), it is the #2 largest search engine in the world and is largely the preferred search engine for millennials.

And you need to make sure your video is prominently embedded on your website. The average time a person spends on a website with only text is 57 seconds. A website with video? 6 minutes!

Can you afford it?

Thanks to new technologies, film production is getting better and better for less and less money. The most significant cost should be the skill and creativity of the filmmaker. You need someone with a great eye for shooting and editing. With the right production team you can have something of cinematic quality for minimal cost.

Michael Mason is Owner and Executive Producer of Perfect Chaos Films in Austin, TX, a video/animation production company specialized in corporate culture videos, product explainers, commercials and feature development.