5 Ways to Maximize the Use of Rental Equipment

Engineers working at a construction site

As the owner of a company that uses heavy equipment, you are aware of the idea that time is money. This is because when you use equipment for hire, the bill gets higher every day. That is why you should remember the following tips to get the most of your use of rental equipment.
Know What You’re Renting

One of the best ways to ensure that you are getting your money’s worth is to rent only the equipment that you really need. Many people think that they should rent a particular piece of equipment because they need it or they rent too many units. If you do this, you’ll just end up throwing away money. Have a solid grasp of what exactly you need and rent only those pieces of equipment.

Check For Hidden Fees

Watch out for a few hidden fees that pop up when you’re renting heavy equipment. Sometimes, you just can’t help but encounter them. However, being aware of them allows you to skip out on some of them. This is especially important since these “surprising” fees can pile up.

When you’re still in the planning phase, be sure to check out the company’s website for potential fees. Even if they’re not upfront about it, always assume that they’re there. They can be anything, such as fuel fees, transport fees, and the like. Just ask about any charge so that you have a clear idea of what to expect.

Time Your Rental

One of the essential tricks that you need to remember when it comes to rentals is proper timing. Keep in mind that you pay for the time that you rent it. If you rent it too early, something may happen that when the equipment arrives, you’re not using it just yet but you’re already paying for it.

You also don’t want a rush rental, as it means asking for the equipment the day before the job. This usually requires an additional fee just to get the equipment to you on short notice.

Check the Weather

Engineers at a construction site

When you work with heavy equipment, the weather is going to be very important. Heavy rains and inclement weather are going to make using rented equipment difficult and dangerous. You don’t want accidents to happen when rental equipment is involved because you’ll end up paying for the equipment and potential damages. If you see bad weather coming, especially if it is going to last several days, cancel the rental or don’t rent at all.

Train Your Workers Properly

To avoid accidents and other problems, train your workers to use the equipment properly. Better yet, hire trained operators who know how to use the equipment. This is a good way to keep your workplace safe, as well as maximize the use of the equipment.

Renting heavy equipment helps reduce the costs associated with operating your business. However, the expenses stack up if you don’t use the machines properly. Ensure that you’re getting the best value for your money by following the tips above.

How Much Does It Cost to Own a Popular Snack or Fast-food Franchise?

Food business owners

A snack or fast-food franchise remains a profitable option for aspiring business owners this year, yet with the related benefits come at a hefty price tag.

Those who have been thinking about joining a well-known brand should be prepared to invest at least $116,600. This initial investment will allow you to have your own Subway store. Take note that having capital is only the first step. You should be ready to pay 8% of gross sales, which would serve as royalty fees on top of a $15,000 franchising fee. It makes sense to consider other low-cost alternatives, such as cookie or pretzel franchise opportunities.

Established yet Expensive

If you think that a Subway franchise is already costly, then buying a McDonald’s franchise might make some people question the viability of being a franchisee. It would cost you at least $955,000 in unencumbered assets to own a store. Most people buy an existing store either from an existing franchisee or from McDonald’s since this only entails a 25% down payment instead of 40% if they buy a new store.

Some brands even require prospective franchisees to meet a specific requirement on liquidity and net worth. For instance, hopeful Pinkberry franchisees must first have a net value of $400,000 and $200,000 of cash liquidity.

Low-cost Alternatives

Given the steep price of owning a well-known franchise, first-time business owners should just focus on smaller and affordable brands. Some of these include buying a pretzel store, and running one can be a good choice due to stable demand.

Sales of pretzels in the U.S. reach more than $550 million every year. Most of these are sold in Pennsylvania where the person eats an average of around 12 pounds of pretzels per year, compared to just two pounds for the average American elsewhere. It’s safe to say that the state is the pretzel capital in the country. Whether or not you decide to run a pretzel store, negotiating a franchise agreement will be important.

Negotiating a Deal

Business people discussing

Otherwise known as an adhesion contract, a franchising deal between franchisors and their members allows the former to enter into a binding agreement without making changes. Franchisors often have the upper hand in these contracts, but there are times when they can make some amendments.

These adjustments could stem from legal counsel from either their own or the franchisee. Hence, hiring a competent lawyer is essential to franchisees. Some of the changes that can be enforced in an adhesion deal include the provision of more resources from the franchisor, better marketing, and advertising support, and financial assistance for your business launch. It could also be specific changes to franchising fees or royalty expenses.

When choosing a franchise, keep in mind that paying a huge upfront fee doesn’t always guarantee success. Banking on a brand’s strong market presence would not be enough to sustain your business. You should also be aware that most new companies fail to exist beyond their first year, so choose a brand that you trust.

How Much Do You Need Maritime Insurance?

a boat near the shore

Marine insurance policies are not anything that, as a shipper, you should be having any doubts considering. What you only should be inquiring about here is whether the policy that you are getting is enough to cover your shipping concerns. Ideally, these concerns range from losses to damages. And, it does not matter whether you own the shipping facility or the cargoes, or you run the terminal. All these are candidates of obtaining marine insurance policies as insurance cover for the goods in transit.

Get the right policy

With the right policy, you get comprehensive insurance to curtail your exposure to any financial loss or damage. But, it is quite unfortunate that not every shipper values the importance of full-cover marine insurance. As a result, they suffer great losses from taking up such risks when they lose cargos, or global shipping policies change, and they have to reroute. Other charterers, as well as shipowners, keep facing unforeseen disputes in high magnitudes that could disrupt day-to-day shipping operations. In the worst case scenarios, these disputes have even rendered some shipping companies bankrupt. But, all these can benefit from freight demurrage and defence.

So, why an FDD?

To curb any risks to cargo theft

One of the most unexpected and costly losses any shipper can incur is from cargo theft. Moreover, the impact trickles down to affecting trust in manufacturer-distributor and distributor-supplier relationships. With the rise in fake identities and fictitious pickup processes, cargo thefts keep being on the increase. And, on that, every cargo is a potential target. So, buy an FDD insurance early enough before you encounter cargo theft.

To cover at-sea container losses

World Shipping Council records that shipping companies have recently been losing about 1390 containers each year at sea. Some of these cases are from catastrophic events, but a high number of the losses are from ship malfunctions. Unbalanced loading of containers has also been among the leading causes of these at-sea container losses. The council, however, notes that this is a lower figure to the number that they lost in the previous three years. But, while that is a great relief to shippers, do not wait until you suffer the financial strain of losing your cargoes at sea. With an FDD, you cover these losses to every extent.

To cover shipwrecks and pirate attacks

two boats

Shipwrecks and pirate attacks are nearly impossible to predict. The chances are even getting higher year by year with the increase in the number of pirate attacks. Climate change has also contributed a lot is the rise in sea storms and tsunamis, which have capsized cargo ships and destroyed cargo loading terminals. These have cost shipping companies unexpected multi-billion losses which most shippers have found it difficult to recover from.

Cover every possible damage

Cargo damages are a common cause of financial loss in shipping. Even with every safety measure in place, damages can happen as a result of inadequate ventilation, and faulty packaging. Add to that the aforementioned reasons to insure your cargo, containers and terminal, and you will learn that there is little that you can do to avoid these cases. And, these are to mention but a few. However, with freight, demurrage and defence insurance you get full-cover insurance for each of these instances.

The Struggle is Real: 3 Types of Fear Almost Every Starting Entrepreneur Experience

Female entrepreneur working

It’s not surprising that many people refuse to push through with a business idea or opportunity, even given the fact that it has a lot of potential. Starting an entrepreneurial endeavor is just beyond the comfort zone of most people. Simply put, it’s frightening.

If fear is keeping you from making your dream business a reality, the solution lies not in cowering to that paralyzing fear, but to make the effort to get past it. The first step in overcoming that is to know what exactly you’re afraid of.

Here are the common types of fears entrepreneurs have when starting their business:

Failure

You’ve probably heard of the harrowing statistics that 90% of start-ups fail in their first year. Or, perhaps, you personally know a friend who has dedicated all their life, savings, time, and energy to a promising business idea, only to find it crumbling down years later. The reality of failure in business is crystal clear. Indeed, this is one of the hard pills to swallow in this line of work.

Here’s an encouragement: You’re not doomed because you can build safeguards to keep your business from failure. Strengthen your foundations right from the start. Create a thorough yet simple business plan, then create a Plan B, C, and D. Improve it as you go along and make mistakes.

Gather a great team of talents and never stop training them. Organize your finances. If you need to start small to keep the funds from easily draining, do it. Explore businesses that are working already in the market, like retail clothing or restaurant franchise opportunities. With tried-and-tested models, you can reduce the chances of business failure.

Inadequacy

Many starting entrepreneurs feel that they’re simply incapable of doing what they plan to do. They’re afraid that eventually, they’ll screw up and people will see what they ‘really’ are: incompetent. If this is the type of fear you’re feeling, you need to drown that little voice of self-doubt.

Most often, what it says is not true. Take concrete actions that would let you internalize your competence. For instance, attend conferences and seminars that would enrich your understanding of the industry you’re getting into. Read publications and stay updated with trends. Enroll in business classes, if necessary. This will all help improve your knowledge and skills, and thereby increase your confidence in yourself.

If you’re going to push through with buying a franchise, you’ll be able to take advantage of the brand’s training programs, which would give you the boldness you need in supervising your very own franchise.

Rejection

Entrepreneurs handshake

Some experience this when pitching to investors. Others struggle when it comes to introducing a new product to the market. It’s hard not to take rejection personally. Besides, it’s your own idea being ‘axed’.

For the most part in business, rejections are necessary. Mainly due to how it makes entrepreneurs thick-skinned, a trait crucial to businesspeople who want to stay in the business. This industry you’re entering is a cutthroat industry, and it leaves no space for the sensitive and fragile. Furthermore, you need a few no’s sometimes to finally get your idea right. The point is you have to see beyond the rejections you’ve received. Look for the value it adds to your character and the business.

Are fears keeping you from starting your business? Don’t let them. Know what you’re afraid about, and conquer them with determination, hope, and courage.

Ways to Generate New Business Ideas

Are you thinking of entering the world of business? Successful business owners are some of the most creative people, and they use this creativity to make decisions every day. The same creativity is what they use to come up with new business ideas when diversifying their ventures. Are you curious about how you can do the same for your first business?

Consult Experts

Many people overlook the value of other people’s expertise. Talking to a business broker can give you great insight as to what business is good to open, be it a franchise or a fresh business idea. Talking to experts doesn’t only give you an opportunity to get new perspectives; it can also refresh your own thinking and brainstorming methods.

You can meet experts and other people in entrepreneurship by going to networking events. Maybe check out meet-up websites and social media groups. Take advantage of in-person gatherings and events, and don’t be afraid to introduce yourself to new people. You’ll be surprised by how generous people are with their insights and advice.

Take Note of Problems

Thriving businesses all solve a problem. Commonly called “pain points” in business-speak, companies that address a prevalent issue in a new way often find success. Some of the biggest businesses like Google and Uber solve problems that seem to be simple. Google helps people find information on particular topics from different sources while Uber provides a cheaper and more convenient way for people who want a ride from point A to B. Seemingly simple problems, these have proved to be golden ideas for both companies.

A good habit to keep is to write down your pain points or those that you observe. Keep a notepad where you jot down these ideas. Set a day of the week where you’ll sit down and brainstorm on possible ways to address these issues.

Explore Your Interests

woma looking at laptop screen

Many successful business owners started companies in fields that are right in their interests. It’s a great idea to form a business around something you love. If you enjoy cooking, look into opening a business around food and entertaining. If your passion is in fitness, opening a gym or even a nutritional supplement store can be a rewarding journey for you.

Go on the Road

Outside your town is a great big world waiting to be explored, and in this world is a ton of business ideas. Going to new places isn’t only a great chance to see more; it also can give you a peek as to what services and products are not available in your area’s market. Finding a business idea while travelling is hitting the golden ticket, but even if you don’t get a business idea, travel is still a great way to hit the reset button and freshen up your brainstorming and idea-generating skills.

These are just some things to try when generating business ideas. Starting a business is one of the most rewarding things, and it has to start with a great idea. Good luck on your journey!

On the Lookout: Ways to Spot Gaps in the Market for Your Business

entreprenuer on the phone

A timeless piece of business advice from seasoned entrepreneurs and mentors is this: always find gaps in your market. Such discrepancies are promising opportunities for businesses. They can either be an avenue for expanding current operations or be an entirely new money-making venture. But how exactly do you spot such potential? Here are some ways to do that:

Look for problems

In essence, gaps in the market are unmet needs. So, when scouring the industry, look for pain points. What are your customers’ frustrations? Is it the long queues in your restaurant? Perhaps a self-ordering kiosk can be of help. Is it the lack of healthy, quick bites in your locale? Perhaps opening a sandwich shop like Jon Smith Subs would solve the problem. When you’re able to pin down what exactly people are pining over, you can almost guarantee that your products and services will sell themselves. The best way to learn your market’s problems is to ask them directly. Conduct customer surveys. Or if you haven’t launched yet, do some case studies on your target audience.

thumbs down

Checking out the negative reviews of your potential competitor will also offer great insights. When you know what’s not working, you can strategise how to avoid it and make yours work. So again, the principle is to seek your market’s pain points.

Track pending legislation

Sometimes, you can tell the direction the industry is going by looking at the changes in local, state, or federal laws. It can open up a new market segment or point to a promising venture. So if you could keep an eye on reforms, or better yet, predict them, then you can better position yourself and be one step ahead in your industry. Get yourself in the loop of trade organisations’ updates.

Turn on your Google Alerts, key in keywords, and make it a habit to read two to three articles a week about your industry. Of course, nothing beats having a mentor, someone who’s been in the game for a long time. They won’t just keep you informed about trends but also train you to make a forecast of the industry. So, look for business coaches. Grab every networking opportunity. Meet your ‘heroes’ at conferences and workshops.

Get inspired by the ‘outside.’

Don’t be limited to the businesses you see in your community now. Think outside the box, or in more concrete terms, go travel. Overseas, you might just run into something unique that you can’t find it in your own country or a new way of doing things, which can highlight the gaps you might have missed looking at your industry. Research businesses are booming in other countries. Learn why they’re successful. From there, see how you can do a relatively similar business that will work in your context.

In the end, the gaps in your market are opportunities in disguise. Don’t lose sight of them. Instead, seek them out. Take note of these tips to get you into the habit of looking for promising opportunities.

What It Takes to Run a Franchise Business

Business woman in her office

When many people aspire to be business owners, there are many factors that business mentors advise them. The greatest of the factors that a business owner should consider is the passion for the business idea. Finances are also a big factor that business owners should keep in mind. Fortunately, business owners can take franchise business opportunities and run a business. Franchise businesses give franchisees the chance to run a business without having to come up with a business idea or name. All the business owner need to do is to have sufficient capital to start the business. When running a dessert franchise business, some of the things that you should do to achieve great results in a franchise business include:

Determining the investment amount

When starting a franchise business, it is normal to want to invest as much money as you can. However, it is important that you know the right amount of money that you need to invest in. The personal financial aspect of an individual is different from the business financial account. Come up with a certain amount of money that you desire to put in your start-up. That will set a good start for your financial goals and avoid causing conflicts with family finances.

Borrowing money

The common rule in borrowing money to run a franchise business is that you seek about 10% of the worth of the business. Like taking out any other loan, you will need to put a down payment and make plans for the loan repayment. Some lenders have special programs for individuals seeking financing for franchise programs. The special programs are friendly with low rates. You will, however, need to present the essential documents showing your commitment to becoming a franchisee.

Creating a budget

Business woman using calculator

When running any type of business, a budget is essential to keep you on track regarding your expenditure. A franchise business requires one-time and other regular expenses. The one-time expense includes the franchise membership fees, equipment, and insurance. The other fees that you will need to pay include marketing fees, royalty fees, and rent. A budget will keep you in check to ensure that you pay all the required fees and at the right time. The budget may keep varying as the business grows, so you may have to keep making changes. After spending money on the business, ensure that you record and analyze the expenses at the end of the month. Checking the expenses against the budget will show you where you need to make adjustments in your budget.

Franchise opportunities are ideal for individuals looking to become business owners without the hassle of looking for a business idea. The franchise gives you the advantage of having an established business name and market. Once you get a dessert franchise opportunity in your town, you will have to gather enough capital to run the business. Having a financial plan with the money you need to start the business will propel you for success. You will get to know how much money you need to borrow to start the business.

Strategies for Breaking Into Foreign Markets

Business meeting

Every business has the ultimate vision to grow and expand to optimise sales and profits. Marketing executives look for markets far and wide to achieve this dream. Thus, the search for markets across borders both within regional blocks and beyond.

Such expansion needs adequate research, planning, and strategy to be effective. During the research and planning, it is crucial to evaluate the most appropriate by evaluating the risks and opportunities of each available option.

Below are the various modes you can use to launch your business in a new frontier.

Direct Exporting

This is one of the most favourite and common modes. Businesses just need to identify sales agents and distributors in a new country. The distributors then market the products and earn a commission.

Since the distributors understand the local market better, they stand a better chance of penetrating and increasing sales and profits. It is also the least risky option as the operational costs are minimal. While appointing the distributors, it is essential to consider their logistical capabilities.

If, for instance, you are dealing with heavy construction material, consider recommending too that they buy a low load trailer. They will ease the transportation of the product and expand into unserved areas.

It is also important to consider the experience and competence of the agents. Always go for those that have been in the business for a reasonable period of time and have established sales networks.

Franchising

Franchising is a business model that is fast gaining popularity around the world. In this model, a successful brand allows business owners to open own branches under its brand name. They then pay a given fee and a certain amount of their annual profits to the brand.

Franchising is a pretty simple model of penetrating into a foreign market. An established business just requires to identify interested franchisees in their target markets and begin opening the franchise.

Another advantage of the model is that the risk is shared between the established business and the franchise. This lowers the losses in the event of an unfortunate event. It is, however, important to evaluate the various factors at play in the local market to ensure that the franchise business is able to thrive.

Acquiring a Company

Business people reporting

Penetrating into some foreign markets may demand buying an established local company. This might be brought about by government regulations for foreign businesses, or the advantage of commanding a big market share. It is an easy way of gaining a new market, but it is also a risky venture.

The key advantage of buying a local company is the established market and customer base. The new entrant does no struggle to get customers as the previous brand had built a loyal base over a given period of time.

It also enables the new business to easily navigate through stringent restrictions that might have been set for new entrants. It is, however, essential to critically evaluate the business that is up for purchase.

This is because it may have a different and complicated business model. Due diligence on the market is also required to avoid failing as it would be costly.

International markets provide great opportunities for businesses. After careful consideration and planning, selecting the most suitable mode sets the business on a successful and profitable path for many years.

Safety and Sanitation: Important Factors in a Successful Restaurant

lunch in a fine restaurant

Cleanliness and sanitation are vital to any commercial establishment. In the restaurant industry, though, these aspects are especially important in mitigating the contamination of food and in preventing the spread of foodborne illnesses.

Workplace sanitation, hygiene and food safety are integral to the success of your restaurant. The common goal of each of these factors is to keep your restaurant free from foodborne diseases that may jeopardise your customers’ health and your business’ reputation. Bear the following tips in mind for a successful food business.

Workplace Sanitation

The cleanliness of your entire restaurant plays a crucial role in keeping the food you’re serving safe and free of contaminants. By maintaining a kitchen that’s not just clean but also sanitised, you reduce the chances of bacterial contamination.

It is also important to maintain sanitation not only in the kitchen but also in all facilities and parts of the establishment, from the tableware and service equipment to the kitchen tools and even the walls and floors. It is ideal to invest in heavy-duty machines that will make cleaning easier and to reduce manpower. Industrial scrubbers and vacuums are highly efficient machines that require minimal manpower, saving time and energy. This will benefit not only your customers but you, the owner, as well because your restaurant will make a good impression on your health inspector.

chefs doing quality taste test on foodPersonal Hygiene

One of the most common causes of foodborne illnesses is the cross-contamination that occurs when bacteria or other microorganisms are spread through the people who handle food. Maintaining cleanliness starts with oneself. Simple personal hygiene habits go a long way in establishing standard workplace sanitation practices. Personal hygiene routines such as frequent handwashing, wearing clean clothing and keeping one’s hair in place are basic yet critical standards to uphold in any food establishment.

Food Safety and Storage

In food handling, there are a lot of factors that contribute to and influence food safety. One of the most pressing concerns is cross-contamination. This happens when viruses, pathogens or allergens transfer from a contaminated source to the food that is being prepared or handled. Cross-contamination can happen from kitchen implements such as chopping boards and knives to the very ingredients that go into the dish or the product being prepared. Contamination may also occur as a result of improper food storage, either due to poor facilities, poor storage temperature, low-quality containers and such. Additionally, when raw food comes in direct contact with ready-to-serve food, it may result in cross-contamination as uncooked meats may harbour bacteria. Eliminate some of these contamination threats by thoroughly washing and drying kitchen supplies before use. In addition, thoroughly wash raw vegetables such as potatoes and root vegetables as these may also carry bacteria that may affect ready to eat food.

The safety and sanitation of the meals and beverages that you serve combined with the overall hygiene in your restaurant greatly influence your business’s reputation. Guard your reputation – after all, it is among the major factors that affect your clientele’s loyalty to your brand.

No Ifs, No Buts: 3 Ways to Conquer Self-Doubt When Starting a Business

a young entrepreneur

The most difficult part of business life is starting. Not just because it would consume your time, force you to make sacrifices, drain your energy (and probably your bank account) — but also because it’s usually when the voice of self-doubt speaks louder.

For sure, you’ve already heard enough versions of “You can’t make it” or “This business idea is stupid,” to keep you from taking the plunge. But here’s the thing — everybody has had these moments. Even the most successful entrepreneurs.

The difference between you and them is the fact that they took the risk nonetheless. Close that gap and conquer your self-doubt with these tips:

1. Establish short-term goals.

The biggest source of self-doubt is the fact that going into business is such a huge task. When you turn to your dream of putting up a restaurant, there’s so much to do before actually making it a reality.

Now it’s good to look far ahead, but it’s also wise to think of the little steps you can take now, so you can be a step closer to that dream. The key is to set goals easily achievable for a period of time.

When you’re able to tick these goals off your list, you’ll have a sense of reassurance that you’re doing something even if it’s just small steps. Moreover, you get to refer to these accomplished goals as your mini victories, which would be your reminders when the voice of self-doubts grows louder.

So for instance, when you do have that long-term goal of establishing a restaurant, a short-term, achievable goal now might be to explore fast food franchises and scrutinize their proven business models.

2. Change your perspective about failure.

Another reason starting entrepreneurs doubt themselves is they tend to be fixated on failure. If you internalize that you’re not going to succeed, you’d really have no confidence whatsoever in what you’ll do. But look at it this way, even if you lose in failure, it won’t be a total loss.

Sure, you would have lost resources and precious time, but you would also gain that one important thing in business: the experience of hitting rock bottom and knowing a lot of things now than before.

Failure can strengthen your character and make you wiser if you choose it to be. So, have a total shift in perspective when it comes to failure. When you have nothing to lose and everything to gain, you would have the confidence of a seasoned entrepreneur.

3. Keep family, friends, and mentors close.

You need moral and emotional support now more than ever. So try to avoid those who constantly offer negative feedback on you and your endeavors. They’ll just feed your self-doubts all the more. Instead, find your ‘passion community’, the people who believe in you no matter what.

a business meeting

As much as you can, don’t skip family events. Strengthen your relationships with peers. But aside from your spouse, kids, and friends, improve your connections with the experts in your industry.

Attend conferences and seminars to meet them. Join business organizations. You want to be close to like-minded individuals who know exactly what it’s like to drown in lack of confidence but bounce back up anyway.

Having self-doubt as you start your business is normal. What’s not normal is being paralyzed by it and not pursuing a good, rewarding endeavor. Silence that voice of doubt and make your dream business a reality.