Determining Your Business Structure: LLC, Sole Proprietorship or Inc?
15 April

Determining Your Business Structure: LLC, Sole Proprietorship or Inc?

One of the most critical decisions to make when starting a new business, is choosing the right business structure. There’s a lot of jargon out there that can be quite confusing when it comes to choosing a business structure.

“The business structure you choose influences everything from day-to-day operations, to taxes, to how much of your personal assets are at risk. You should choose a business structure that gives you the right balance of legal protections and benefits.” – sba.gov

With so much riding on which structure you choose, it’s easy to understand the importance of making the right choice. To ensure you make the best decision for your business, there are a few things to keep in mind:

Understand the Differences

First and foremost, you will need to understand the differences between each business structure. You can’t very well decide one or the other is better if you don’t know what each offers or requires.

Should you file as a Limited Liability Company (LLC)? A Non-Profit? A Corporation? What about C-Corp, S-Corp, or B-Corp? How do you know which structure is right?

Start by educating yourself on the details of the most widely-used legal business structures. Sites such as the U.S. Small Business Administration (sba.gov) or the IRS (irs.gov) can offer helpful definitions of each structure.

Identify Your Options

Once you have a basic understanding of the typical structures available to you, you can begin comparing them. Some of the choices will automatically be eliminated (for example – if you’re not forming a business with a partner, you can obviously rule out filing as a Partnership), but others will need a closer look.

Create a small list of the structures which are not ruled out by basic criteria. Even if you may not initially consider one, if your business qualifies, add it to the list for now.

Create a Short List

From here, you can begin to compare and eliminate options. Do this by adding criteria, pros and cons, regulations, and whatever else you discover in your research under each structure on your list. By short-listing the highlights, you will be able to do a side-by-side comparison later on which will help you make the best possible decision for your business.

Be sure to include details in your comparison list such as tax liabilities, company control levels, legal liabilities, and any other form of protection you may need down the road. This will help you to weigh the risk-factors of each structure in terms of protecting your business (and your personal assets) in any future unforeseen issues.

Speak with Established Owners

Another thing to consider when deciding the right structure for your company is the invaluable insight from others who have already gone through it. Speaking with other local business owners, colleagues from a coworking space, or friends and family who have entrepreneurial experience can give you an inside look at things you may not think of by simply doing online searches.

In short, such an important decision is best made with all of the facts and details in mind. The only way to do that is to be thorough in your research and seek the advice of others who have been through the process.

Business Plan Basics: 5 Steps to Your Best Business Plan
1 April

Business Plan Basics: 5 Steps to Your Best Business Plan

When starting your own business, there’s one detail all successful business owners can attest to: create a solid business plan. While this may not be groundbreaking news, your business plan is a crucial step and needs to be taken seriously.

A solid business plan will help you with more than investment pitches (though that is a critical point for most). It will also help you outline everything you’ll need to be successful and will illuminate any potential problem areas.

Creating the detailed plan can be a tedious task but avoid being tempted to rush through it. This piece will be the backbone of all your future business’s endeavors; approach it with commitment.

With your future success riding on a solid business plan, prep work is imperative. To help make this happen, here are 5 steps to your best business plan:

1 – Create a Space

You might be ready to dive into writing, but the very first step should be to create a space. Before you begin your plan, you must make sure you’re prepared to work!

Whether it be a home office, a co-working office space, or an on-site building, you need to have a location that is specifically for working on your future business. Why? Not only does an office space give you a chance to work undistracted, it reaffirms your commitment to future endeavors. By designating a work space for yourself, you’ll be able to cut down on distractions, focus on your commitment to your future success, and get down to business.

2 – Do Your Research

Once you’ve created your working space, it’s time to begin researching. Since a bulk of your business plan will revolve around outlining your intentions, you need to be able to back up your words with action. Research similar businesses, speak with local business owners for tips, and use your research to formulate your intended actions.

3 – Do More Research

When it comes to a business plan, knowledge is key. The more you research, the higher your chances of success. It’s not enough to simply have a dream – you need to be able to make it a reality. You do this by fleshing out an outline of your path. You’ll need to know your market, competitive pricing, thoroughly define what you’re offering and how you’ll stand out from competition.

4 – Business Plan Outline

After you’ve begun your research, create a basic outline of your business plan. You shouldn’t begin writing it entirely, but create a skeleton outline of what to expect. For some, this can come in the form of a generic business plan template. An online search will help you locate one if you’re having trouble and want a basic template for reference. This outline will help you to organize your research and understand what’s needed before beginning your polished plan.

5 – Keep Focused

Lastly, while you want to make sure you have a fantastic business plan to present to potential investors or partners, do not let your determination be swayed by perfection. In other words, no matter how many times you review your plan, know that you’ll likely always find something to tweak, but don’t let that cause you to lose sight of your goals and miss your opportunities. It doesn’t have to be perfect – it just has to be detailed and concise. Stay focused.

“Don’t wait until you think your business plan is perfectly polished and cannot possibly go any further in depth. Otherwise, chances are you will have missed your window of opportunity…” Forbes.com.

Overall, the most important rule to remember when creating a successful business plan is to do thorough research and keep plugging away at it until it’s finished. It all begins with your preparation, so get yourself prepared for success!

23 May

The Secret Sauce

This morning a good friend of mine sent me a text with this picture, reminding me that 5 years ago today I stood with my family, friends, an outgoing deputy mayor and an incoming mayor for the Indiegrove ribbon cutting.  It was a huge turning point for my life and for Jersey City.  We were starting something new in Jersey City.  It wasn’t just the idea that a coworking space was coming to Jersey City, but we were building something special for people who think differently than most and are building our future.  I look back on the last five years and I can’t believe how many chapters we have already had in our journey.  This business has created some of the most proud moments and hardest moments of my life.  I can say there are two things that have gotten us to this point: relationships and perseverance.

I decided early on that I would apply the same principals I apply to my personal life to how we treat every person who interacts with this business.  Kindness became one of our core values and giving became our culture.  The greatest benefit of this approach has been that I don’t create transactions, I create relationships with people – members, guests, partners, vendors.  This has led to the space being a place where people are happy and value one another.  It has also been my saving grace more times than I can count.  When I couldn’t figure out how to get myself out of a hole, I have been able to lean on people to help me dig myself out and I have done the same for them.  I have been amazed at the power of reciprocity and generosity.

There have been many days in this business that I have not wanted to face the day.  This is a unique business in that I sit amongst my customers all day, every day.  If something is not working, I actually have to look people in the eye and explain what is happening.  I don’t have deep pockets, trust account or funders to pull from.  The ups and downs of this business are completely absorbed by the business and my team.  I’ve learned to recognize the signs in my numbers and emotions.  The numbers part is more clear cut.  I have my key performance indicators so I am more likely to see things coming and be able to take action sooner.  I’m disciplined with my books and study the trends.  The emotions part, not so much.  It usually starts with me going through the sad and defeated motions, which I have gotten really good at turning into getting mad and determined action.  The recovery can be quick or not so quick.  Most importantly, we push through.  Perseverance is about having a smile on your face, not compromising your values and taking action.  This trait stands out in so many of the entrepreneurs who work at Indiegrove.  It is by far the most important contributor to success.

I’m excited to see what the next 5 years look like.  Indiegrove never ceases to amaze me.

To Your Success,

Zahra Amanpour, Indiegrove Founder

#IndiegroveWorks
#BeOriginal

10 May

Indiegrove Wins 2018 Coworker Members’ Choice Award!

Indiegrove wins 2018 Coworker Members’ Choice Award!

Jersey City, NJ (Thursday, May 10th 2018) — Indiegrove announced it has been recognized as the winner of the 2018 Coworker Members’ Choice Award for Jersey City. Members’ Choice award winners were determined based on the thousands of reviews, votes and opinions collected in a single year from coworking space members worldwide.

“Thank you to all of our members for voting, writing reviews and being part of our amazing community! We are truly honored and grateful. We are so proud of the diversity and vibrancy of our community.  We promise to continue to provide the services and support entrepreneurs and independent professionals need to be successful and will never stop improving and growing. We are committed to the long term success of our members, Jersey City and the larger economy,” said Zahra Amanpour, Founder of Indiegrove.

“Coworker is excited to announce the winners of the 2018 Members’ Choice Awards and celebrate the coworking spaces around the world that are making an impact in their community”, said Leanne Beesley, CEO of Coworker. “By putting a spotlight on coworking spaces that are providing a great environment and creating a community for their members, Coworker gives coworking spaces both large and small the ability to shine and attract new members.”

About Indiegrove

Entrepreneurs and independent professionals do not conform to one way of thinking, nor should the space they work in. Our workspace, meeting rooms and events are designed to provide you the environment you need to work harder and happier.

Indiegrove is committed to being a hub for entrepreneurship by advocating for entrepreneurs, supporting their businesses and connecting them with other like-minded people.  We provide the space and community they need to be successful.

11 April

New Season, New Mindset

Happy Spring!

It might not feel like spring yet, but it is definitely here and everyone is focused on the good weather and fun times ahead. Make sure you take advantage of this change in mindset and present something to your customers that is in line with the new season and their specific needs. Capturing these moments can make a huge difference in your customers feeling like you really understand them and showing your value.

We have also officially entered the second quarter. Your new strategies and initiatives for the year are probably in full swing. Have you taken the time to measure where you are in terms of your goals for the year? Don’t lose focus on what all of the hard work you are doing is suppose to be accomplishing. It should be feeding into your bottom line or building the foundation for something bigger in the future. Either way, you should be able to measure your progress and results.

To Your Continued Success,

-Zahra

#BeOriginal
#IndiegroveWorks

8 March

Being Part of a Global Movement – International Women’s Day!

Happy International Women’s Day!

One of my goals when opening Indiegrove was to make it a space comfortable for both women and men. Coworking spaces are generally dominated by male teams and the fraternity culture. I have spent much of my career building and implementing programs focused specifically on women’s economic empowerment. I remember my tours of spaces before Indiegrove opened being very uncomfortable as a woman. When I opened Indiegrove I found the same thing happening here in Jersey City. The vast majority of people signing up were men. I decided we would have to take deliberate actions to change it and we did.

Today, I am proud to say 35% of our members are women. Our culture is inclusive and balanced and our community is vibrant. The majority of businesses we serve through education and collaboration are women owned businesses. The Indiegrove Women’s Group has been meeting for five years and addresses the many realities women face in business every day. We are proud to be part of the global movement towards more women business ownership and higher growth. Thank you to all the women and men who have part of our growth.

To Your Continued Success,

-Zahra

13 February

I Work To Make Every Day Count

One of my fellow boot campers was talking to me about balancing life and work this morning and how she never has enough time.  This is a bootcamp filled with working women, many of them with families, who are up before the sun rises to get an hour of time to themselves before anyone else even knows where they are. When I told her that I could relate she said “But you have your own business, so you don’t have to work the 8 hour thing, right?”  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard some version of that statement from people.  It use to bother me.  Now, my standard response is “Yeah, it doesn’t really work that way.  The work has to get done.” and then I leave it alone.  I’ve come to realize that most people don’t understand what it really means to be an entrepreneur and start a successful business.  Yes, we have the option to choose when we work, but the commitment is a 24/7 commitment and a successful business requires much more than 8 hours of time per day.  It requires full dedication and responsibility.  When I get up in the morning I am not not worried about how I will get through the day or complete the hours. I am focused on how will I fulfill my purpose and build something extraordinary.  That’s what a lot of people don’t get.  We choose this life.  Nothing about it is an obligation.  It’s a completely different mentality.  I am accountable to my family, customers, employees, vendors, partners and everyone who touches my life.  All of them, together, decide the fate of my business.  No, I do not work 8 hours a day.  I work to make every day count.

#BeOriginal
#IndiegroveWorks

7 February

Building with Purpose

I’ve had a lot of conversations with people in the space recently about goals and have noticed a shift in the types of conversations. More and more, people are seeking purpose, meaning and community. This makes perfect sense if you think about it. The days when work and life could be separated and values were relative and secondary are over. People want to know that what they do, consume and give every day matters and is contributing to society. This shift gives us all something to look forward to. If building a successful business is dependent on an entrepreneur’s ability to understand and influence meaning and purpose, the possibilities are endless and we are truly changing the world. I for one will do everything I can to keep that momentum going.

#BeOriginal
#IndiegroveWorks