innovateher cover photo

Today at The Washington Post in Washington, D.C., there was a gathering of 14 entrepreneurs pitching their ideas to an esteemed panel of four judges. The event, InnovateHer, was the final Small Business Week event put on by the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA).

The purpose was to identify ways to help women and their families by providing a product, service, or technology.

As I first entered the venue, I could tell that the energy was high. The finalists were buzzing with last minute preparations, and onlookers were anxious to hear their presentations.

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Crowdfunding Vector

Congratulations, you’ve decided to dive into the world of crowdfunding!

Before you take the plunge, consider creating a companion website to enhance your Kickstarter, Indiegogo, or other crowdfunding campaign. The following must-haves will ensure your project gets off to a great start with a home for telling your story to potential backers, journalists, and other interested parties.

1.  Domain Name
If you don’t have a domain name, that’s the first place to start. The best option is to match your domain name to your company, product, or project. Create a memorable domain name by making sure it’s short, easy to spell, and complementary to your brand. A custom domain name will give your website a professional address that’s easier for customers and backers to remember. Plus, it will provide extra real estate for your project in search engines.

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should-you-start-your-own-business_cover

Deciding to break out on your own and start a small business is a bold move. So bold, in fact, that some people think all you need in order to do it is the appropriate amount of gumption. In our current culture, there is a certain amount of glamour assigned to the entrepreneur – from eccentric celebs to startup success stories, there’s no shortage of encouragement out there. But when it comes down to brass tacks, the business of self-employment should not be taken lightly.

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Incubators Cover Photo

It’s been awhile since we discussed one of our favorite topics – startups!

As I’m sure many of you small business owners and entrepreneurs know, to grow a startup involves lot of patience, waiting for the right elements to come together. Finding the right people, getting the right location, and coming up with the right product for the right audience.

And what better way to find the perfect combination than joining an incubator?

If you don’t remember what an incubator is (in this sense, anyway), try refreshing your memory with this in-depth article about Incubators and Accelerators.

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Beer steins image

When you first decide to strike out on your own and start a small business, one of the biggest initial challenges you will face is funding your new venture. There are lots of ways to finance a small business – including venture capital, angel investors, and business loans. Each of these come with their own pros and cons, of course, and you have to decide which one best aligns with your business goals.

If you decide that it’s important to your vision of your own business to maintain full creative control and not feel beholden to a few majority investors, it might be time to get creative. Your options will be different depending on the type of business you plan to start, but today we’ll look at a how a Minneapolis brewpub solved the funding riddle.

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HelloWallet Logo

As a business in the Washington D.C. area that began as a startup, we are always happy here at Webs to hear about the growth and success of startups in our neck of the woods. It’s always an exciting time when a large, successful company recognizes the potential of a startup to have a great impact within their own business. Such is the case with yesterday’s announced acquisition of HelloWallet by on of its investors, Morningstar Inc.

In case you aren’t familiar, HelloWallet offers software that enables companies to provide their employees with advice for making better financial decisions. Bill Flook of the Washington Business Journal called HelloWallet “a sort of Mint.com for the enterprise.” The company was founded in 2009 by Dr. Matt Fellowes, with the mission of democratizing access to independent financial guidance.

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For the final installment in our series on building a community around your small business, we are going to about a strategy that lets you kill two birds with one stone: Crowdfunding!

We’ve discussed crowdfunding as a financing option before, but today we’re going to focus on its powers of community building. Which means we are going to take a closer look at CROWDFUNDx by the well-known company Crowdfunder.

For the uninitiated, Crowdfunder is an online platform that helps match investors with entrepreneurs. In their words, they want to “democratize access to capital for small business owners who don’t have access to wealthy investors.” Through their ever-expanding network, small businesses and startups are able to get in touch with people who can give their idea a chance to make it in the market.

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Last week we took a look at recent trends in the three major sources of small business financing. With that in mind, today’s post will focus on where those funds are being spent by the businesses that acquire them.

A recent study by Visa Small Business, released in November, identified key areas in which small businesses are increasing their spending levels. Today we’ll talk about 3 of those areas.

1. Capital Investments
According to this study, there’s been an increase in the number of businesses that plan to invest in things like inventory, machinery, and facilities — capital investments that will grown their businesses. This is a great sign in terms of what it means for the place of small businesses in the economy. The fact that so many business owners are investing in the future of their businesses means that they feel optimistic about their business having a future. Several years ago, that level of confidence in the economy was uncommon.

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Whether your small business is just starting out, or you’re looking for the funds to take it to the next level, it’s important to be aware of the alternative sources of funding available to you beyond the traditional small business loan options.

The world of funding for startups and entrepreneurs has changed pretty dramatically in the last few years. As has been the trend in the world at large, things have moved away from the one-on-one transactions and toward a more social model that leverages the viral potential of the Web.

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