SHOPPE BLACK

ZAAF Founder Abai Schulze on Building a Global Lifestyle Brand

1 min read

Abai Schulze is the Founder and Creative Director of the ZAAF Collection, an internationally recognized premium lifestyle brand made entirely in Africa.

Abai Schulze

ZAAF is developing long-term growth opportunities across Africa, partnering with skilled artisans to develop high-end designer products.

ZAAF’s creativity has been recognized in various ways ranging from appearing on runways at New York Fashion Week to being featured in Elle and Vogue, to receiving the UNESCO Tremplin Prize for Entrepreneurship.

ZAAF products are now being carried in boutiques in France, Nairobi, Ethiopia, and the USA.

Abai Schulze

In this interview, Abai shares:

  • The creative inspiration behind her product designs.
  • The challenges associated with operating a business on multiple continents.
  • Her strategy for building a team of 20 employees.
  • He thoughts on the increased appreciation for products made in Africa.
  • What entrepreneurial skill she would love to master in 24hrs.
  • Sourcing materials from multiple African countries.
  • Advice for new and aspiring designers.

Tony O. Lawson

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Documents to Have Ready before Applying for a Loan

4 mins read

When you’re applying for a small business loan, having your financial records in order shows the lender that you are a trustworthy and accountable borrower.

If these documents aren’t in order, or if you’ve submitted the incorrect information, it could lead to your business being denied necessary funding.

In this post, we outline the documents that are frequently requested by traditional small business lenders and how you can stay prepared for the loan application process.

A Clear Strategic Plan

To secure a loan, most financial institutions require you to submit a comprehensive business plan along with the loan application. It serves as a short introduction to who you are and what your company is all about.

The business plan should include a complete set of projected financial statements, including profit and loss, cash flow, and balance sheet. This should reflect a calculated strategy that can communicate to the lender the company’s aims, mission, and how you plan to meet all of your goals.

Business & Personal Credit Scores

When you submit a business loan application, a lender will typically review both your personal and business credit to assess the risk you pose. Having a good business credit score and business credit history makes it easier to get financing for your business.

Otherwise, you may have to rely on personal savings and personal credit cards. Moreover, a good personal credit score can increase your chances of approval and securing a lower interest rate, whereas a bad personal credit score can make the whole process more difficult.

One of the most popular business credit scoring models—Dun & Bradstreet (D&B) PAYDEX—ranges from 0 to 100. A good score ranges from 80 to 100; a bad business credit score ranges from 0 to 49. Experian is also a common scoring model with FICO scores ranging from 300-850.

Income Tax Returns

Your business’ income tax returns illustrate how your business has performed in the past. So most loan programs require applicants to submit the last two to three years of signed personal and business federal tax returns.

If your business is new, you should ask your accountant to help you create a projection of what your tax returns might look like in the upcoming year. Your personal tax returns may also be requested.

Income Statement

Income statements are especially useful for small business lenders who want to understand how a business has performed over the past year(s). Even if your expenses exceed your revenues—which is often the case for newer businesses—all lenders will want to view your income statement.

Balance Sheet

An income statement is a historical report, whereas your balance sheet is a glimpse of your current financial situation. A balance sheet will represent your business’s financial components, such as:

  • Current Assets & Liabilities
  • Sources of Equity
  • Accounts Receivable

Each of these figures is very important to commercial lenders. If your liabilities exceed your current assets, you may face challenges securing a small business loan with a low-interest rate.

Bank Statements

Small business lenders may want to review your business’s bank account statements during the application process. It’s important that your financial statements reflect the fact that your business is actively earning revenue while managing expenses in a healthy way.

 

Let Lendistry guide you through the business loan process. If you want to learn more, call 888-594-7270 or contact them online!

Sole Proprietors: Steps to Take Before Hiring Your First Employee

4 mins read

A sole proprietorship is the first step for many businesses and is the simplest of all business entities to set up. It is not a business entity per se, since no legal setup is involved.

Usually, such businesses have one owner, although in some cases, spouses may jointly own a business. In a sole proprietorship, the owner is responsible for all liabilities.

However, being a sole proprietor doesn’t mean you have to handle everything by yourself. If you find that your business is expanding, you will likely need to hire help. Before you do, here’s what you should know.

1. Get an EIN

Prior to hiring employees, you must get an EIN or Employer Identification Number. You use this number on tax returns and other tax documents. To get an EIN, you must file the SS-4 form with the IRS.

2. Register with the State Labor Department

Once this step is complete, you can pay state unemployment compensation taxes. These payments go to your state’s unemployment compensation fund, which provides short-term relief to workers who lose their jobs. You can visit the Department of Labor’s website for a list of state unemployment insurance tax agencies.

3. Explore Insurance Options

An employee may injure himself while on the job, and you could be on the hook for their medical expenses and lost wages. Therefore, before hiring employees, it’s important to secure workers’ compensation insurance. Purchasing insurance right away can protect your business from lawsuits and encourage continued growth.

4. Set up a Payroll System for Taxes

As an employer, it’s necessary to withhold taxes from your employees’ paychecks to give to the IRS. You will also have to make Social Security and Medicare tax payments to the IRS. An automated payroll system can help you avoid costly errors and fines at tax time.

5.   Get the Paperwork Ready

Hiring employees involves a lot of paperwork, which is better done sooner rather than later. For each new hire, you must fill out Form I-9 for the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and Form W-4 for the IRS.

Have each employee fill out IRS Form W-4, which tells you how many allowances they are claiming for tax purposes so that you can withhold the correct amount of tax from their paychecks. You can find this form at https://www.irs.gov/.

You should ask employees to fill out a new W-4 form each year if they want to change their allowances.

6. Consult an Attorney to Comply with Employment Laws

Consulting a business attorney may be the most important step that you should consider. It can help you avoid many pitfalls, like failing to meet state or federal standards that can lead to massive fines, failing to comply with all relevant statutes and employment laws, etc. Such mistakes can possibly bankrupt your business. Consulting a business attorney can protect your business and create a safe work environment for your employees.

Being a sole proprietor can be challenging, but you don’t need to do it alone. You can get support and technical assistance from the experienced team at Lendistry.

Follow These 9 Tips for a Successful Home Based Business

7 mins read

In today’s connected world, it is not always necessary to have a big space or a warehouse to run a business. Thanks to the internet, all you need to run a business these days is just one small spare room.

Since more and more people are using remote strategies to pursue entrepreneurship with their headquarters at home, home based businesses are currently on the rise.

But again, just with any other business, starting a home based business comes with its own set of complications. From advertising to zoning, there is always something that will require your attention. Though this type of business allows you to run operations from your comfort zone, one of the biggest challenges faced by home-based entrepreneurs is maintaining professionalism at all times.

Here are some tips to keep you focused on your quest to make your home-based business a success and reap maximum benefits:

Determine If Your Ideas Are Appropriate for a Home Based Business

Home-based businesses are in vogue right now, but not all home-based businesses are guaranteed to work out. Starting a business out of your home requires you to consider a variety of factors, including your location, zoning, legal restrictions, licensing, work style, personality, and your family’s needs.

For example, you cannot start a manufacturing business in a residential neighborhood. And if your business involves a lot of in-person client interaction, it may not be practical to conduct your operations at your home office.

Narrow down your list of ideas to businesses that:

  • Are feasible to conduct from a home office
  • Allow most of the work to be done from home rather than on site

This will leave you with a list of business ideas that are practical and possible for you to start a business from your own home.

Examine Your Skills

Honing your skills can take time. You may be good at writing content or really good at designing or drawing. But running a successful business often requires acquiring new skills, such as marketing, cold-calling, or organizing skills. So you need to adjust the scope of your business based on your current skill levels.

Create a Proper Business Plan

For any business idea to be successful, there should always be a concrete business plan. The plan will act as a roadmap for success, laying out a plan for every aspect of the business from marketing to budgeting. A plan prevents you from going haywire and wasting unnecessary time on irrelevant things. It will help you to clearly understand your goals, prioritize the main business tasks, and ensure that your objectives are met on time.

A business plan will also be a must as your business grows, because small business lenders, investors, and potential partners will certainly ask for a business plan.

Moreover, as a business owner, a good plan will guide you to achieve specific targets as you grow. Operating a home-based business should have an appropriate short and long-term plan and specific steps to achieve along the way.

Create Business Networks

Even a home-based business owner must have a network of business relationships. How else will you be aware of current business trends and tools, and fill gaps in your personal experience?

You can join business associations that organize business events and conferences in order to stay updated on emerging issues in the business world. Join your local chamber of commerce to meet and form relationships with other business owners in your area.

Treat Your Business Like a Full-Time Job

One of the biggest attractions of home-based businesses is the comfort of working from home and the ability to work flexible hours. But this has proved to be a downside for many since having your working space combined with your leisure space can interfere with productivity.

It’s crucial that you come up with a schedule that dictates your working hours, make it known to your family, and restrict any distractions or interference. Therefore, setting aside certain time slots entirely for work is a good place to start.

Maintain Separate Business Space

Set aside a specific area in your home just for business. During working hours, keep all home activities at bay and never let them interfere with your business operation. If you have even one or two employees working for you, ensure that you have adequate supplies and materials they will need to carry out day-to-day operations, as well as a website and designated space for them to work.

Wear the Right Clothes

More often than not, people who work from home are tempted to wear whatever is within reach, even if it’s a pair of old pajama shorts. You don’t need to wear formal attire, but sticking to business casual helps keep your brain on the right track and promotes a professional mindset. When entertaining clients, you should dress to impress and stay appropriate to your industry.

Don’t Hold Back on Marketing

Your home-based business will also require a significant amount of time, investment, and of course, marketing. Though marketing can sometimes be a bit of a challenge for home based businesses, it’s significant to spend a few bucks on a marketing strategy, including a website and social media, to introduce your product or services to new customers. A quality marketing campaign can never go wrong and can, in fact, bring in huge returns.

Get the Right Licenses and Registration

Just like with any other business, licensing and registration of home-owned businesses are also mandatory, and every startup should adhere to all the rules and regulations set by different states and government authorities.

Running a home-based business? Lendistry supports small businesses and provides them with the resources they need to grow. For more information, call 888-594-7270.

How to Capitalize on the Skilled Trade Shortage

6 mins read

Skilled trades have become an excellent alternative to regular degree jobs. However, the skilled trades industry is proving to be one of the hardest hit by worker scarcity. As labor markets strive to rebound from the impacts of the pandemic, a talent shortage of historical scale has catalyzed. 75% of companies have reported talent shortages and difficulty hiring – a 16-year high. The skilled trade shortage is a major concern with employers struggling to recruit, train and retain qualified workers within several industries including manufacturing and construction. A 2018 report found that skilled trade positions such as mechanics, electricians, welders,

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4 New Restaurant Revenue Streams to Boost Profits

4 mins read

It’s never a bad time to consider new revenue streams for your restaurant or bar. Sometimes, a new strategy can be provided straight from your kitchen without having to look any further.

This is particularly true for restaurants that have successfully survived the pandemic. They’re adopting contactless tech solutions, developing merchandise, looking for creative event ideas, and cooking up new ideas whenever possible to attract more guests.

So, if you’re wondering how to create extra revenue streams for your restaurant, we’ve outlined a handful of tried-and-tested strategies right here.

1. Host Parties

In the post-pandemic world, the desire for places to connect with others in person is stronger than ever. Your restaurant can become a gathering place for parties and other events.

Whether you rent out the entire restaurant for these occasions or simply set aside private rooms for rent, you have the opportunity to generate a lot of extra revenue while also providing a one-of-a-kind service experience that’s sure to increase loyalty and word-of-mouth promotion.

2. Sell Branded Products

Selling something you’re known for as a branded product is one foolproof way to generate a secondary revenue stream. If you own a pizzeria, for example, you might make your own soft pizza base that your customers love. Why not sell readymade pizza base in sealed packets to your clients so they can try making a pizza at home?

Do you run a coffee shop with home-roasted beans? Package them and sell them. If you own a microbrewery with a one-of-a-kind brew, offer it for sale in growlers or kegs. The list goes on!

3. Organize Workshops

Do you bake the most amazing & delicious pastries? Maybe you have the best pizzas in town? Are customers constantly raving about your killer cocktails? If so, it’s time to show off your skills!

Organize virtual or in-house (if space & situation permit) workshops. Sharing your expertise, helpful tips, and experience will do wonders and increase customer loyalty apart from bringing in extra cash with the workshop fees.

4. Connect With Customers, Wherever They May Be

With the festival season comes food trucks! While many brick-and-mortar restaurants may lament the existence of food trucks, the reality is that customers love them. The convenience of walking up, ordering tasty treats, and enjoying those treats on an outdoor stroll makes many food trucks so successful.

While running a food truck in addition to a full-time restaurant may not be your goal, consider capitalizing on the outdoor eats experience by bringing pop-up food booths to fairs and festivals in your area.

Meeting people where they already are is a sure-fire way to bring in new traffic and convert casual tasters into loyal repeat customers, not to mention the boost to your bottom line!

 

Ready to break out into new revenue streams for your restaurant business? If you’re thinking of expanding your food business and need a loan, get in touch with Lendistry today. They offer a wide range of comprehensive and affordable financial services to help you grow responsibly.

Zanshuri, a Black Owned Eco-Friendly Laptop Manufacturer in the $74 Billion Green Tech Market

6 mins read

According to a recent report, the global green technology and sustainability market size was valued at $10.32 billion in 2020, and is projected to reach $74.64 billion by 2030, growing at a CAGR of 21.9% from 2021 to 2030.

Consumers, investors, and others who prioritize sustainability are looking for products, equipment, and systems that conserve natural resources and reduce the negative impact on the environment.

UK-based Zanshuri specializes in the design and manufacture of eco-friendly laptops desktops and more. Zanshuri products are currently being used in a variety of fields including emergency response, finance, commerce, and healthcare.

We caught up with founder and CEO, Chib Nwokonkor to find ou more about his business.

eco-friendly laptop

What inspired you to start your Zanshuri?

As a child, the word “Zanshuri”, was often on my mind. I remember asking my parents if it was the name of a distant family relative, a country from our past, or some type of food. My mother assured me it was none of those.

The name stuck with me over the years, and when I finally got to university to study Computer Science and Environment, I used part of my student loan to register the domain name.

Living and working all over the world allowed me to gain an understanding of cultural differences, as well as the similar challenges which we all face. This coupled with my interest in sustainability, gave me an idea of what I would do with Zanshuri.

eco-friendly laptop

How does a Zanshuri laptop or desktop compare to those made by larger tech companies?

The core products at Zanshuri are our range of laptop, desktop and server computers. The difference between us and other manufacturers is all our computers are designed to use as little electricity to complete a task as possible.

This means they more aggressively reduce their power use when on standby or doing basic tasks. They also make the best use of ambient cooling, such that unless it is absolutely necessary for cooling fans to operate, they will remain static. Instead, natural convection is used to cool the system internals, until a threshold is reached, and then the fans will start up.

Although we use industry-standard components from the likes of Intel, AMD, Crucial and Samsung, we modify the cooling array with our bespoke carbon solutions, thus ensuring they run much cooler than they normally would. 

This combination of these factors leads to our computers using up to 90% less energy than other manufacturer’s systems.

eco-friendly laptop

Does being eco-friendly mean you have to sacrifice performance?

We are able to ramp the energy consumption of our systems up or down, automatically, depending on the needs of the user at that precise moment. As a result, our computers tend to outperform the competition, whilst still being able to undercut them in terms of running costs in the long term also.

What patents do you currently have pending?

We currently have patents pending on our developments, including one for non-dynamic cooling within a closed system, which in basic terms means reducing temperatures within a container without relying on fans or liquid systems.

What do you need to help take your business to the next level?

Right now the business needs significant investment to help us raise our profile, continue to refine our Intellectual Property and grow our headcount.

Being a small business in the UK has its challenges, some of which include Brexit, rising costs, and a restricted local market.

We believe the right investment can help us to become more visible to the global marketplace, establish a presence outside of the UK and achieve exponential growth through the wider rollout of our products and services.

Where do you see the business in 5 years?

Five years from now I would like to see us achieve all of the above. We should be a global entity and have premises on each major continent at the very least. Our products have been proven to work effectively as we have an established and growing client base.

Zanshuri has the potential to implement widespread change in an industry which has given lip service to power reduction for so many years. It is already common knowledge that some data centers use more energy than some towns and cities in the world.

This cannot be allowed to continue unaddressed. We are able to do something about it now, with products that actually work and are not just theory. It is an exciting time for all. My team and I are eager to make their mark on the world. This is the way we will do it.

Tony O. Lawson

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Top 5 AI Robotics Trends in 2022

3 mins read

We live in a time where technology is moving faster than we could have imagined. One such popular breakthrough has been artificial intelligence. The AI Robotics market is expected to grow from USD 6.9 billion in 2021 to USD 35.3 billion by 2026. As technology has advanced, more and more technological developments have been implemented in this field. A lot of efforts are being put into making artificial intelligence robots safe, friendly, and efficient, from increasing functionalities to improving security. Keep reading to learn more about the trends in AI Robotics in 2022. 1. AI-Powered Robotics and RPA RPA improves

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Attorney Talk: Things to Know Before Starting a Web3 Business or an Investment Fund

1 min read

The Coleman Law Firm is a Black owned law firm owned by Bernard Coleman. Bernard has closed more than $1 billion dollars in transactions for clients in a variety of industries, including technology, entertainment, personal care, hospitality, healthcare, manufacturing, venture capital, and government contracting.

His firm specializes in representing diverse founders, small businesses, and early-stage growth companies through the stages of formation, organization, capitalization, expansion, and acquisition.

In this interview, Bernard discusses:

  • Why he left the world of Big Law to start his own firm.
  • Helping underrepresented founders raise capital via equity crowdfunding.
  • The legal ramifications of not differentiating between independent contractors and employees.
  • Best practices for trademark protection.
  • Determining when a cryptocurrency should be classified as either a utility token or a security.
  • Intellectual property issues in the Metaverse.
  • The benefits of acquiring businesses via the franchise model.

Tony O. Lawson

Disclaimer: The information provided does not, and is not intended to, constitute legal advice; instead, all information provided is for general informational purposes only.

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5 Ways to Get Funding for your Web3 Startup

4 mins read

Raising funds to get your Web3 startup off the ground can be challenging and overwhelming. However, there are a few tried-and-tested methods that you can try to attract capital for your Web3 venture. This article will explain some of these methods to you.

1. Self Investing & Asking Peers

Some founders of startups choose to invest their own money into the startup. Investing in your own idea is a sign of trust and confidence that could appeal to potential external investors. It shows them that you have faith in your project and are willing to take financial risks for it.

Also, if you’re a founder of a Web3 startup, don’t overlook your personal network as potential investors. If you know friends, family, neighbors, or colleagues looking for new investment opportunities, pitch your idea to them.

However, you and your peers alone cannot fund the entire startup. Once you’ve garnered as many funds as possible from your peers and contacts, you need to look to other external sources to get your startup on its feet.

2. Grants from Traditional Entities

Grants are pretty popular among the Web3 community as they are an important source of non-repayable funds. You also don’t have to give up any equity in your company when you accept a grant.

You can take advantage of this by applying for grants offered by traditional organizations that are part of the public and the private sector. Some of these organizations are looking to grant funding to promising startups aiming for innovation in the Web3 space.

When applying for grants from traditional organizations, however, remember that they come with specific stipulations, so read the fine print.

3. Grants from within the Web3 Industry

Many renowned organizations within the Web3 industries are looking to offer grants to startups that use their particular technology. For example, big names like Ethereum, Solana, or Cardano can offer you substantial funding, but the competition can be too fierce.

You could also consider grants offered by newer blockchain players in the market. Establishing your startup on one blockchain network can help you raise funds to expand your idea to others.

4. Web3 Accelerators & Incubators

Startup accelerators and incubators are typically designed to help fresh entrepreneurs grow by providing training, education, and a sufficient workspace. While they may not always be direct sources of funding, they do prepare you for the next steps in fundraising.

If you’re still developing the skills or confidence to build your startup and pitch to potential investors, accelerators and incubators could be of great help to you. However, ensure that when choosing an accelerator or an incubator, you pick one that caters specifically to Web3 startups.

5.   Web3 Crowdfunding

While crowdfunding isn’t a new concept, it works slightly differently for a Web3 startup. Mostly because crowdfunding for new Web3 projects happens on blockchain networks. You can find various decentralized crowdfunding platforms that aim to raise funds from the wider Web3 community to help DAO projects. You can browse through your options and create a crowdfunding campaign for your startup!

Do extensive research on how each of these funding sources could benefit the startup idea you have in mind. Before approaching potential investors for funding, think of optimal ways to create and market your brand and get comfortable with pitching to investors.

Tony O. Lawson

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