5 Ways To Boost Your Skills And Increase Your Career Opportunities

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Professionals who want to reach the top of the career ladder face a challenging climb. The combination of a competitive labor market and the ever-increasing automation of workplace activities mean it’s going to be tough to stand out from the crowd.

Also: 6 ways to ace a job interview, according to these business leaders

One great way to give yourself an edge is to develop your experiences and capabilities. So, what’s the best way to hone your skills? Five business leaders give us their top tips.1. Take a risk on something new

Lalo Luna, global head of strategy and insights at Heineken, says experimentation is the best way to hone your skills. “We always say that taking on new things and new roles will give you more capabilities and professional experiences than just taking a training course,” he says.

As a large global business, Heineken also has a range of formal mechanisms to help workers develop their capabilities.

“Of course, we provide training in many ways, where you can get access to different kinds of sources to continue your learning,” he says. “We have coaching programs that are very helpful for different personas at different stages of their careers,” he says. 

Also: 5 ways to step outside your comfort zone at work, according to business leaders

Yet even with all these opportunities in place, Luna suggests there’s nothing quite like getting outside your comfort zone and trying something new.

“I truly think that the most important part of development is to take a risk,” Luna says. “Really jump and learn from your experience.”2. Take time to learn for yourself

While internal courses play a key role in training and development, Mayank Goswami, assistant vice president at Travelex, says the onus for personal improvement often rests with the individual.

“I think it’s about self-learning,” he says. “Nobody will come and teach you. Nobody will do the work for you. You must learn for yourself and know how to do things on your own.”

Goswami says the requirement to take charge of your own professional development is particularly acute in IT.

“Technology is changing so fast that you can train people and two years afterwards, things change, and new technology comes, and people start adopting it,” Goswami says. 

Also: Generative AI Is changing your technology career path. What to know

He says continual advances in IT — such as the introduction of artificial intelligence (AI) and automation — mean professionals must stay ahead of the curve.

“During my career, I’ve seen some major changes. Now, with the introduction of AI, a lot of vendors are adding tools to automate tasks that used to be completed manually. The key message is that things are changing — and everything’s changing fast. You will have to adopt; you must learn and then you will be successful,” Goswami says. 3. Spend time with external experts

Alex Hibbitt, engineering director at albelli-Photobox Group, says professionals should look beyond the enterprise firewall for training and development opportunities.

“I think there are lots of organizations out there that can help,” he says. “I personally believe talking to those who have a wide range of experiences is one of the best ways you can do it, and you should look for organizations who provide networking opportunities.”

He says professionals at his company are lucky to work in labor markets — the company has offices in London and Amsterdam — that have strong, supportive ecosystems.

Also: 5 ways to find the best place to start your career

“Both locations boast huge meetup communities, with people willing to share information about what they’ve done across all sorts of areas, but also across leadership lessons in terms of the challenges they’ve overcome.”

Hibbitt says one-to-one guidance from business experts can also boost your skills base.

“I’ve been lucky in the past to have mentors, externally as well, and they’ve been instrumental in helping me understand how I can grow and where I should be focusing my learning,” he says. “I think there’s a certain element of education on the job as well. If you can get into an organization that’s going through change, there are always opportunities to learn.”4. Stay open to new opportunities

Adam Warne, CIO at retailer River Island, says every professional — no matter how far up the career ladder they climb — should always feel like a work in progress.

“I’d like to think that I’m still up-and-coming and learning,” he says.

For people who are looking to hone their skills, Warne says the sources of inspiration — such as online-training courses — are now much wider and deeper than in the past.

“I think the market for free material is better than it’s ever been. If you want to learn a new skill, there’s lots of stuff out there to help you go and develop,” he says. “There are lots of different methods now, which are probably non-traditional if you looked at where we were 20 years ago.”

Also: How to flawlessly answer the ‘Tell me about yourself‘ interview question

What’s more, not all those methods are online. Warne advises professionals to look for innovative ways to train and develop, especially if they’re looking to boost their digital smarts.

“I could decide, as a non-technical professional, to go to several organizations and say, ‘I want to get into tech’. And the opportunities that exist can range from a 12 to 18-week boot camp through to a two-year apprenticeship. So, I think there are lots of positive ways now for people to develop their skills.”5. Work for someone who develops talent

Bev White, CEO at recruiter Nash Squared, says the onus for training and development rests squarely with senior executives. “You can only keep people in your business if you’ve got a good culture, where people feel listened to and they’re developed,” White says. 

In addition, White says managers must recognize that keeping professional skills fresh is also crucial to success. “If you’ve got legacy systems, but you’re not going to have them in three to five years, start reskilling people that are working on those legacy systems, so that they can help you with the future tech as well,” White says. 

Also: ‘Find something you’re passionate about.’ Five ways to build your career path that works for you

And if you don’t feel like you’re receiving the training and development you deserve as a professional, then it makes sense to look for someone who will give you those opportunities.

White says the lesson for managers who might lose talent is simple — invest time and money in your people: “Don’t let them walk out the door because that’s crazy.”Featured Why don’t more people use desktop Linux? I have a theory you might not like You basically don’t need to charge this Garmin smartwatch 3 essential Windows tools for troubleshooting (and how to use them) Heading back to school? These are the best deals for students to save on tech

Is Starting Your Own Business The Best Way To Build Generational Wealth?

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For many Americans, being a small business owner is a major part of what they consider to be the “American dream” — a recent GoDaddy survey found that 39% of small business owners believe running their own business is achieving the American dream. Many also view entrepreneurship as an ideal way to create generational wealth, with the majority of American small business owners (78%) believing that being a successful entrepreneur is a key way to create wealth for future generations.

Learn: How To Pass Generational Wealth Tax FreeFind Out: How To Get Cash Back on Your Everyday Purchases

Here’s a closer look at how owning your own business can help you create wealth for generations to come.The Link Between Entrepreneurship and Generational Wealth

Another finding of the GoDaddy survey is that one-third (34%) of entrepreneurs aspire to leave money or assets to their children.

“Starting a small business and growing it over time is an excellent way to create generational wealth, because from a financial perspective, the barrier to entry for starting one has never been lower,” said Fara Howard, chief marketing officer at GoDaddy. “It costs entrepreneurs an average of just $3,000 to launch a venture, according to the U.S. Small Business Administration, and GoDaddy’s research indicates that some founders start their businesses for as little as $500.”

For those who don’t have access to large amounts of capital, a small business can be an accessible path to creating wealth.

“Thanks to the proliferation of online tools and sales channels, the sky is the limit in terms of how quickly a business can achieve scale and start generating wealth for its owner,” Howard said. “This means that anyone with a lot of passion and only a little tech savvy can grow a valuable business asset from a modest investment.”

‘Get Rich Slow’: Dave Ramsey Offers the Key to Lasting WealthStarting Small Can Lead to Big Gains

The survey also found that “many have modest business aspirations, wanting to either stay a ‘solo entrepreneur’ (28%) or maintain being a small business with some employees and maybe a physical location (35%). Only 12% aspire to one day become a corporate business with a large employee base and headquarters.” Fortunately, you don’t need to oversee a huge corporation to achieve high levels of financial success.

“From tools to market and sell goods and services online to being able to accept payments from customers anywhere, small businesses can grow rapidly without transforming into a much larger enterprise,” Howard said. “These digital tools, including AI-powered resources like the ones GoDaddy has been rolling out to its customers, can help keep overheads low and save them time by automating a growing number of business tasks.”

By utilizing the tools now at the disposal of many small business owners, entrepreneurs can keep their companies small while still continuing to scale up.

“Our latest research indicates that about half or more of small business owners prize living comfortably, being content and having the freedom to pursue success on their terms,” Howard said. “Their business doesn’t have to get significantly bigger in size to achieve those goals.”

Howard notes that in some cases, smaller businesses might be better suited for creating generation wealth than large enterprises.

“A successful small business is a lot easier to put in the capable hands of the next generation when they’re ready, compared to a mid- or large-sized venture,” she said. “Future generations can then build on what was started before them and keep growing it, especially as technology continues to boost small businesses’ ability to compete and thrive.”How To Create Generational Wealth as a Small Business Owner

If you want to create generational wealth as a small business owner, there are a few things to keep in mind. The first is to look for a gap in the market that you can fill.

“You’re already well-positioned for success if you can marry a passion of yours with an unmet or underserved need that exists, either in your community or virtually anywhere, thanks to the internet,” Howard said.

It’s also important to focus on providing a product or service that will remain in demand over time.

“It’s not just about growing sales and profits,” Howard said. “It’s also about creating a resilient, sustainable business that future generations can take over when it’s their time.”

You should also get future generations involved with your business ASAP so that they feel prepared to take over when the time comes.

“I recently spoke with a GoDaddy customer in California who is an artist and designer of festive home décor and gifts. She put her high school-aged daughter in charge of her business’s digital presence as an entry point to learning how to run the venture,” Howard said. “They’re both benefitting and one day, perhaps not too long from now, the daughter may take over the business, giving her a big head start as a small business entrepreneur.”

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This article originally appeared on GOBankingRates.Com: Is Starting Your Own Business the Best Way To Build Generational Wealth?

How To Start A Food Truck Business

Ever wondered how to start a food truck business? It’s much like any other business when it comes to making financial projections, establishing a business plan, and acquiring the equipment you’ll need.Creating a business plan to account for the unique challenges specific to the mobile food vending industry is important as those challenges can result in higher costs than expected.Understanding where the demand is will be extremely important as day-to-day fluctuations impact the bottom line of a food truck.This article is for entrepreneurs interested in starting a food truck business.

Food lovers with an entrepreneurial itch may not always be able to afford to start a brick-and-mortar restaurant right away. Even with a lack of demand for established storefronts, the costs associated with renting and security deposits remain high in cities, and that is all before you start to brand the space for your food. Not everyone will be able to afford that, but they may be able to start a food truck business. This guide will explain how to start a food truck business and why it may be the best way to get your new restaurant idea off the ground.How to start a food truck

A food truck is a mobile vending unit with a kitchen to make and serve food. They have been popping up across urban and suburban regions in the United States and are becoming increasingly popular. Many entrepreneurs opt for a food truck because the costs to secure a restaurant location are very expensive while food trucks are much more affordable. 

Before you forge ahead, here’s what you need to know about the startup costs, funding options, how to find a food truck and more. [Related Content: 10 Things to Do Before Opening a Food Truck.]Food truck startup costs

Many factors go into determining startup costs for a food truck business. There are also one-time costs and costs that can vary by location. 

One-time startup costs consist of expenses like purchasing your food truck, a register or point-of-sale (POS) system, a truck wrap, website design, office supplies, advertising and public relations and any professional, legal or consulting fees. While this list is not comprehensive, it gives potential food truck owners an idea of some of the upfront expenses. 

“While we purchased the food truck itself for just $15,000, we didn’t realize that we’d spent more than double that to have it modified to fit the local fire and health regulations, which vary quite significantly depending on the municipality,” said Rachel Angulo, owner of La Cocinita food truck. 

Then, there are recurring costs, such as payroll, ingredient sourcing, generator power for electricity, equipment rental, credit card processing and, of course, fuel. Every new food truck business also has to obtain the proper licenses and permits, which vary depending on location. 

While the cost of starting a food truck business varies greatly depending on your specific situation, costs can range from $28,000 to $114,000 to get the business off the ground. This range is significant due to factors like the size of the truck, the number of people operating the truck, the hours of operation and other variable factors. Additional startup costs can be expected when launching, including: Insurance: $1,000 to $4,000 per yearInitial monthly product inventory: $1,000 to $2,500Payment processing: $200 to $1,000Commissary fees: $200 to $1,200Permits and licenses: $100 to $7500

While the cost of starting a food truck business varies greatly, costs can range from $28,000 to $114,000 to get the business off the ground.Food truck funding options

Acquiring funding may be the biggest challenge you’ll face when starting a food truck business. 

Your first goal should be to put together a solid business plan. You should also have good personal and business credit, as this will increase your chances of receiving a business loan. 

There are other, more creative ways, too, to get funding for your new food truck business. 

Here are some ways to start your business with minimal funding: Talk with someone who already owns a food truck and negotiate a lease or rental agreement.Start with a low-cost, used cart or trailer.Start selling at a farmer’s market, fair booth or pop-up.Talk to successful restaurant owners about running a food truck for the owner’s business.If your truck idea includes providing a public service or benefit to the community, then look to obtain sponsors.You may qualify for a loan advance if you already have a payment processor.Create a food truck business plan

Every food truck owner should create and maintain a business plan. It should be the first concrete step you take when you decide you want to start a food truck business. This document is important to attract investors, gain funding and get your business up and running. 

A business plan for a food truck is structurally no different than the business plan for any other new venture. Every business plan, especially one for a food truck, should include the following elements: An executive summary: An executive summary is an introduction to your business; it should provide an overview of your business plan. The executive summary should be concise as the details will be discussed in other sections of the plan. Company description: This section should describe who you are and what defines you as a company. Describe what niche you are filling and why your customers will choose you over the competition. Market analysis: In this section, you explain who your target customers are, what their needs are, where they are located and how you will attract them to your business. Additionally, this section should explain how your business will impact the existing market and it should demonstrate your knowledge of the existing local food market. For a food business, it is more important to highlight direct and indirect competition; who are your competitors in the neighborhood that sell the same cuisine or sell to the customer base is important.Organization and management: Next, you want to detail how your business is organized as a legal business entity, such as sole proprietor, limited liability company or partnership. List the owners of the company and their percentage of ownership. You also want to list key players, such as your management team as well as their experience, salary and prior employment. Service or product line: For a food truck business, your primary product is the food you serve. In this section, describe your menu and how you plan to attract new customers. Additionally, consider how your business will evolve and address new market needs. It is also important to plan for seasonality ― if you are thinking of selling food that is popular during the winter you need to consider the demand for that product during the summer and come up with alternatives.Marketing and sales: In this section, you want to expound on your marketing strategies. Explain how you plan to spread the word about your business, identify all marketing platforms, such as social media, a website or paid advertisements, you plan to use and how you will gain an edge over your competition. This section must also include your sales strategy, such as menu prices, minimum sales requirements to stay in business and seasonal trends that may affect sales.Funding request: This section is required for food truck entrepreneurs seeking investment funds or other types of outside funding. Specify how much money you are asking for and describe, in fine detail, how every dollar will be spent to grow the business. Financial projections: While it can be difficult to detail financial projections, especially for new businesses without a financial history, calculate how much money your business will make over the next three to five years. Appendix: Not every business plan requires an appendix, but it is a good place to include additional information that you feel is important to convey to lenders or investors. This can include anything from letters of reference to produce photos.How to find food trucks for sale

Angulo found her truck on Craigslist back in 2011 and, while that is still a great place to search, there are many new resources out there, including: Local online classifieds: This is a good option; used trucks are cheaper and if they are local, you can easily inspect them. National online classifieds: This will open a lot more inventory but get as many details and pertinent information about the truck from the seller as possible since you most likely won’t see it in person before pickup. New custom trucks: While this is the most expensive option, it is the best way to ensure that your truck is up to code and standards and that it can be customized to your specifications. Leasing and franchising: You may be able to find a local truck to lease or from a national truck leasing company. Yet another option is to franchise a truck from an established company. However, among the drawbacks to consider are that you do not have control over the product, marketing or menu.

Here are some places to hunt for your ideal food truck:Mobile POS options

Most food truck customers are used to paying with cash but credit cards and mobile payments are popular. [Related story: Best POS Systems]

“We’ve always used Square and have been very happy with both their credit card processing and their POS service,” said Angulo. 

Below are a few options for processing sales, listed from the lowest-priced option to the most advanced.Cash box and cash-only salesAdvantages: Low-priced; you can purchase a lockable box for under $20Disadvantages: Doesn’t track sales or food inventory; you cannot process card paymentsOngoing costs: NoneCash box + mobile card processorAdvantages: Low-priced; mobile processors can simply charge swipe fees, but you’ll need Wi-Fi access and/or a good data plan to connect to the processing serviceDisadvantages: Most mobile processors include a simple inventory system and limited additional featuresOngoing costs: Credit and debit card processing fees and mobile data feesCash box + POS system + mobile processingAdvantages: Mobile credit and debit card processing, plus sales and inventory trackingDisadvantages: An additional monthly service fee and hardware costsOngoing costs: Monthly POS service fee, card processing, mobile data service and possible hardware fees

Related Content: Guide on How to Accept Credit CardsThe advantages of a food truck businessBusiness ownership: Numerous tax advantages come with business ownership and, while it is difficult to own and run a business, at least there is a little bit of relief on the tax front. Freedom: Choosing menu items, the vendors you want to purchase from, your employees and the events at which you want to vend are just some of the freedoms you enjoy as a food truck business owner. You also have full control of your social media, marketing and schedule. Mobility: Being able to bring your business to different locations based on demand during different periods of the day, days of the week, and so on, is a huge advantage, said Angulo.Virtual kitchen: With established brick-and-mortar businesses not always able to bring in supplemental revenue through virtual kitchens due to a lack of proximity to a large customer base, a food truck can house multiple brands if an owner is not brand attached.The challenges of a food truck businessTime: Long hours are the norm with a food truck business. With issues like shopping, prep, marketing, event booking, cleaning, truck maintenance, accounting and tax obligations, running such a business is more than a full-time job. Competition and market: Carefully research your market to increase the chance of success ― you will most certainly have competition with other food trucks. Ordinances and zoning: Every area is different in terms of where you can park your food truck and how long you can park there. Make sure you know the rules in each location where you plan on operating to prevent tickets and fines.Foot traffic: As a food truck is reliant on potential customers walking by, it can be difficult to plan for sudden changes in demand due to weather or with the hybrid schedule of office workers for example. Food truck permits and regulations

It is important to research the different areas you are considering for your business location and consider the necessary permits and regulations there.

Here are a few main things to look out for: Food safety: You’ll need to comply with local food safety requirements, just like any other restaurant in the area. Contact the local health department to find out more information, such as if you need to prepare all your food in a professional kitchen or if you can use your own facilities. [Related Article: Small Business Guide to POS: Point-of-Sale Systems and Software]Seller’s permit: Some states require food truck owners to apply for a seller’s permit, which allows you to purchase food and equipment at wholesale prices without incurring sales tax.Zoning and parking: There may be restrictions on where you can park your truck; make sure you research that before setting up shop. There could be commercial versus noncommercial zoning restrictions, parking time limits or distance restrictions from other establishments. Your city and local motor vehicle department can help you.Vehicle license: Because your business operates from a vehicle, every driver must be properly licensed and trained to operate the vehicle. Depending on your state and the size of your vehicle, you may have to obtain a commercial driver’s license to legally operate the food truck.Fire certificates: If you’re using equipment on the truck to cook food, you will likely need to undergo a fire department inspection. The requirements for a fire certificate vary by state.Employee identification number (EIN): If you plan on hiring employees, you will need to apply for an EIN, which is a federal tax ID issued by the IRS to identify a business entity. An EIN also enables you to open a business bank account and start establishing a business credit history.Business permits and licenses: As with any business, you’ll need certain licenses to operate your food truck, including a doing-business-as (DBA) and a state sales tax permit, which is low-priced and easy to obtain. To form your business, check your home state’s requirements. For an easy option, try an online service like LegalZoom. To help you decide which legal structure is best for your business, read our guide on How to Choose the Best Legal Structure for Your Business.Bring the restaurant to your customers with a food truck

Ultimately, whether you decide to visit different locations and communicate with your social media following or only operate on Tuesdays on one corner street, your food truck is a reference point for other people to follow. Leveraging your customer base by providing a high-level quality of food will be the only way to grow your customer base quickly to account for a variation in demand and sudden expenses. Catering orders are a great way to also bring in additional revenue after a certain period of time when you know that a specific weekend will see a significant drop in foot traffic.

Whether you are trying out your lifelong dream of selling sweet pierogies or want to see if pizza slices to go from trucks are scalable, your objective remains the same with an added twist ― every day you’ll be traveling your kitchen to your customers. That can be exciting but also physically draining and you’ll have to account for that every day you operate.

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