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Why Register???

So I’m often asked by small business owners whether they have to register with the state before they do business. The short answer is – it depends on your state’s requirements- but every business owner should. Technically all you have to do to go into business is provide a service or a product. However, a registered business holds tremendous advantages over a non-registered business.  Three benefits of business registration include:

1. You can hire full time employees- A state identification number will allow you to deduct state taxes on behalf of your employees and pay them according to state laws.

2. You look “legit”- A business that is registered with the state provides some assurance to present and potential customers that your business is legitimate and they are safe doing business with you.

3. You can get loans, credit cards, and establish bank accounts- Financial institutions require proof of business registration when you apply for loans, lines of credit, or bank accounts. Lenders will want proof that you really are a business.

Business registration is simple, once you decide how to organize or incorporate (Inc? LLC? Sole Proprietorship?)… That decision, however, requires a seasoned business consultant like those on our team at Innovative Venture Solutions. Visit us at http://www.i-vsolutions.com/FREE-CONSULTATION-.html and request a free 30 minute consultation so we may discuss how we can help!

Being a Not-For-Profit Is Not A License To Be Unprofitable

Great article featured in Black Enterprise…

Being a Not-For-Profit Is Not A License To Be Unprofitable.

If you are interested in how Innovative Venture Solutions can help you plan for financial sustainability,  just complete the Consultation Request Form at:  http://www.i-vsolutions.com/FREE-CONSULTATION-.html for a free, 30 minute consultation with one of our Grants Specialists!

JobRaising: NEW Funding Opp for Nonprofits!

Check out this new funding opportunity for nonprofits that create jobs…

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/arianna-huffington/jobraising-huffington-post_b_1927597.html?utm_source=DailyBrief&utm_campaign=100112&utm_medium=email&utm_content=FeatureTitle&utm_term=Daily%20Brief

If you are interested in pursuing this or other funding opportunities, Innovative Venture Solutions can help you .  Just complete the Consultation Request Form at:  http://www.i-vsolutions.com/FREE-CONSULTATION-.html for a free, 30 minute consultation with one of our Grants Specialists!

 

 

Ready For Contracting?

So many of you have asked about finding government contracting opportunities, that we have decided that today’s blog will be dedicated to helping you do just that.

The best way to conduct significant business with the federal government is to obtain a GSA Schedule Contract. GSA stands for General Services Administration.   Among other functions, the GSA assists with procurement work for other government agencies. The purpose of the GSA Schedule is to streamline the procurement process by providing a collection of pre-negotiated contracts. The GSA Schedule application process is lengthy and complex- but well worth it as some government agencies will only place orders where there is a GSA Schedule Contract in place.

Once your GSA Schedule application is approved, you will need to actively begin to look for contracting opportunities. Here is where you begin:

  1. Visit the GSA Vendor Support Center (https://vsc.gsa.gov/RA/). This website is full of materials and information to help new contractors learn more about the Schedule Contract process and requirements and help make sure they have the best chance of success.
  2. Register on eBuy (https://www.ebuy.gsa.gov/advantage/ebuy/start_page.do).  This allows agencies to find your company in an online database, and send you requests for quotes (RFQs) or company pricing information.
  3. Browse FedBizOpps (https://www.fbo.gov/).  Here, you can search tens of thousands of available federal government contracts and see what contracts have been awarded and to which companies.

With the wealth of information readily available for businesses desiring to contract with the federal government- the process of actually becoming a government contractor is simple- but not easy. The GSA Schedule Application is lengthy and cumbersome, responding to RFQs is a learned skill, and even searching efficiently for contracts in the vast government database requires expertise in deciding which contracts your company will be most competitive for.

From applying for you GSA Schedule Contract Number to responding to your first RFQ- we at Innovative Venture Solutions can help… Visit our website at www.i-vsolutions.com and request your FREE 30 minute consultation today!

SO YOU WANT TO START A CHARTER SCHOOL….“Five Mistakes That Can Place Your Charter In The DO NOT APPROVE Zone”

So….You have your vision, you’ve done some research, recruited your founding board,  you are sure of your theme, and you think now you know all you need to submit that charter school application???

Since the first U.S. charter schools opened their doors, thousands of charter schools have closed less than 5 years after opening and hundreds have been dissolved and absorbed back into the school district. Many more are never granted a charter to begin with. We understand what charter authorizers are looking for in your charter school application. We know what a successful charter looks like on paper, and work to help you put those principles into practice.

 Here are five mistakes that can put a charter application into the “Do Not Approve” zone:

  1.  Faulty board composition – The make-up of the initial founding board in many instances consist of personal associates and close personal friends of the primary founder who are not clear about the level of commitment needed to start and preserve a charter school, and many lack the needed skills and ties to the community that can thrust a charter forward.  With the IVS “Board Basic Training” Package,  you will acquire the skills you need to identify and put together a savvy group of board members with expertise in a variety of areas who will work to understand the charters mission and work hard to meet its goals and objectives.
  2. Not having a clear plan to conduct the leadership of an academic program –  The charter school leadership teams needs to be equipped to develop an academic plan with a concise, reliable method to measure and evaluate academic performance. At the end of the day, the charter school must be able to show the outcomes and the impact of the work that has been accomplished.  The IVS “New Charter Boot Camp” can prepare board members, the school’s faculty, staff, and community partners with the knowledge and expertise needed to start and maintain a successful charter.
  3. The lack of previous governance experience  This can become an obstacle for a newly developed charter school.  Many initial founding boards run into problems because no one has the governing and management experience needed to move the school forward. It is very important to have someone with governing skills on the board, and to have school leadership ready to devote the time and ambition to learn the skills needed to govern. IVS can provide the resources you need through our Charter Training series.
  4. Misjudging the amount of fundraising that needs to happen and the board’s role in it– Almost all charter schools need to raise a substantial amount of private monies to supplement public and state funds that are allocated for each student the school serves.  Board members need to understand that raising funds is an ongoing obligation. Fundraising is required to support each initiative of the school’s mission, including: the charter’s facility, transportation, sports, field trips, tutoring, after school programs and summer camps.  Didn’t anticipate the costs?  Well that can be a fatal error. The costs can seem astronomical if you aren’t prepared for them, and these extra-curricular initiatives and educational extras need to have financial support from somewhere.  We’ll make sure you don’t forget a line item with our “Charter Biz Plan in a Box”.
  5. The absence of perseverance – Not working relentlessly the first few years to sustain your charter could have a “closed for business” sign on your school’s doors. You only have one chance to show sustainability and that you charter is an institution that promotes academic success. But if you find the charter is struggling, IVS is there to support you with our “Troubled Charter 911” package. The skills gained to revive your charter are what you need if it looks like you are on the path to becoming one of the thousands of failed charters.

We look forward to hearing from those of you who are pondering starting a charter school.  For more information on the Charter School Training series and a variety of other business packages, visit our website at www.i-vsolutions.com

No I Will NOT Write a Grant for You (YET)….And Here’s Why!

Asking for money is like asking for a raise. The request shouldn’t be a shot in the dark. You should already know what the answer will be- or at least what it should be. You should be confident that you have been bringing your “A” game. You should understand how much you’re worth. You should have no doubt that they are willing to pay for what you are selling.

More often than not, during my initial, free consultation with new clients, I am asked to find them money. I mean this is no surprise, as identifying funding sources and asking for money is a big part of what I do. But sometimes my answer is “No”.  Well…not really “no” as much as “not now”. The reality is that sometimes businesses are just not ready to ask for money. They are on their way. Innovative Venture Solutions can absolutely help to get them there. But they aren’t there yet. Here are some reasons why:

1)       You aren’t registered as an IRS 501(c)(3) tax-exempt charity. This is very important to most individual donors. This is fundamental for most foundations. If your charitable organization does not have this designation-  you will NOT be ready to ask for most foundation grants.

2)      You are looking for venture capital, and you don’t have a pitch deck. Your pitch deck is the standard response to a venture capital firm’s request for more information. It is your elevator pitch in a bottle, or rather, in slide presentation. It sets out your business plan succinctly, in 10- 20 slides, from the problem your idea solves to your exit strategy. And when a potential investor wants to know more, this should be your initial offering.

3)      You haven’t proven yourself. Asking for money as a newbie is a lot like asking for a raise on your first day of work. The proof is in the pudding. Most funders these days don’t pay for ideas. They want you to do it, prove it works (or can work with extra capital), and then make the ask.

4)      You can’t show them the money. I know this defies all understanding. I mean, you don’t have any money…and that’s why you’re asking right??? Well no. Many funders are groupies. They want to jump on board the party bus. So how do you get your “party” started?  Well, your first investors should be those closest to you- you, your friends, your family, your Board. Funders want to understand that someone else out there is willing to invest in your vision. They also want to know that your work can continue once their money is no longer part of your financial picture.

5)      You have a reputation for failure. If at first you don’t succeed, indeed try again…just don’t keep asking people to fund your failures if your projects have failed because of lack of planning, inadequate infrastructure, or poor leadership. You can absolutely recover from a couple of false starts. But you absolutely want learn from your mistakes before going back for more money.

Whether you are ready to ask for money or ready to GET READY to ask for money- we can help you. Visit i-vsolutions.com or email me at spresha@i-vsolutions.com for more information.