Starting a Business
Starting A Business – Part I
By Faige Herman | September 15, 2020
For many women moving to Israel, having a job is vital in being able to stay here and live your BIL. Why? Aside from the obvious answer of having some basic form of income, jobs provide an outlet for many wives to do something they enjoy and create order in her day. Many people leave right after Shana Rishona, or even in the middle because many wives feel bored and unaccomplished and cannot wait to get started with real life. That being said, not everyone is cut out to be a ganenet, or work in an office. In addition, not everyone has the schooling experience that may be required for some jobs (see how to continue your schooling here). If you are interested in trying to make the most of your time here, it is vital for you to feel productive. One very popular way of giving yourself that structure, as well as the ability to express whatever talents you have, is to start an at-home business.
But how do I get started?
The first thing to do is to pinpoint a need in your community. For example, you find yourself constantly wondering why there are no normal sheitel headbands in the area. Well don’t stop wondering, start providing!
A business does not necessarily have to be selling a product, but can also be a service. For example, a lot of people tell you how talented of painter you are, and you realize that a lot of women are interested in having female painters paint their walls. Bingo! You just found a need.
Another way of deciding what business you should run is conversing with other people and keeping your ears open. Many times you won’t know of something lacking in the community because you are not yet at that stage. For example, you only have one child at the age of one year and you don’t realize that there is a huge need for a baking chug for children around the age of four. So next time you are shmoozing with a neighbor or are in the park, or even seeing that people keep asking for gymnastic chugs on the WhatsApp group you are on – that might be your big opportunity. One of the most difficult parts of starting a business is finding a need – so once you have done that, you are halfway there.
If you are selling a product there are many logistics that have to be factored in and require serious research. For example, you want to sell women nursing tops (please do, no one does) and you see that the styles that you are interested in are from America. How will you get your stock to come overseas? You have to factor in the cost of shipping and handling as well as the cost of customs. Be aware that dealing with customs is a long and arduous journey. Not only can they detain your stock for days on end, but they can also charge you, at times, more money than the value of what is being shipped. Therefore, it is important to think of creative solutions, such as paying people to bring an extra suitcase, etc. You may also be interested in importing from China. This has the same issues as mentioned above – but generally, if the value is less than 1000 USD than customs do not hold it. Sometimes though, it’s worth seeing if you can get what you need locally.
Additionally, how will it be packaged? If you are selling food, the packaging is one of the most important parts. The packaging must attract the costumers as well as keep what is inside fresh. Will you offer delivery? If you are delivering you may think it’s a great way to get customers but you must also consider how much delivery can cost. It may not be worthwhile to deliver something all the way from one end of Jerusalem to the other. In addition, if its food – you have to ensure that the food does not get overheated when being delivered, so you may need to invest in frozen packs or other insulation delivery options. Where will you store your stock? These all need to be considered.
If you are providing a service, think about what is required from you and factor that into your cost. Let’s say you want to start support groups because you realize that there are no English speaking support groups for women. Firstly, if you yourself are not qualified to lead these groups, then you have to find women who are interested. In addition, you need a place to hold these groups – meaning paying rent. You should also provide water and coffee. It could be you are a talented photographer – but you want to not only provide outside candid shots, you want studio shots as well. It could be to rent a proper studio is too costly for the session price so consider having a pullout studio in your house and invest in some props. Although these are small things, it adds up. It is key to figure out how to give it your all but think outside the box in order to save.
Starting A Business – Part II
By Faige Herman | September 25, 2020
A business can only exist if you have a clientele. In order to gain a following, a business relies heavily on advertisements. This is a major factor in having your business succeed, but like most things in a fledging business, it can be a big expense so here is a breakdown of how to make a big name, but pay less.
Social media is a great free platform for you to get your business out there. Instagram is a major platform to showcase your product and gain a following. Although Instagram is free – be prepared that running a platform in itself, is a full-time job. People want to see updates of your product, they want new pictures and what helps is putting a face behind the business. People will relate more to your business when they see who is behind the product – that it’s more than a product, but it’s a person providing a service. In addition, everyone loves free stuff, so a very popular way to increase your following is by having giveaways. In general, a giveaway is some sort of competition that involves a person being entered to have a chance to win your product/ service by helping you increase your following. Lastly, Instagram is great for collaborating. For example, you only have a few followers, so by collaborating with other small business or other big names on Instagram, you can leverage the fact that they have more followers and therefore increase your following. There are many social media platforms and many more strategic ways to use these platforms to help increase your publicity, but this will help you get started.
Not only is it important to use social media, but while doing so, it is important to create the name you are looking to portray. As a small business, it is important to take into account every expense, but you don’t want to cheap out on your image. Therefore, it may be worth your while to have a professional to create your ad or logo. There are many cheaper options, like finding a student or beginner graphic artist who is also trying to showcase their work, and who might provide the service in exchange for you having their name on your ad, or they may do it for less. Although this is another expense – the image you make for yourself is what attracts a clientele – if you look like a serious business, then people look at the business in a professional light.
In addition, WhatsApp groups are another great way to publicize your business. Some groups are free – so you can periodically post your ad, for no cost. Some WhatsApp groups are bigger and may ask for a minimal fee to post such as the LYB group – it is up to your discretion to decide if it worth you while.
There also different emailing groups that provide the same type of publication. There are small local google groups, for example, where it is free to advertise. Just like WhatsApp groups, there are much larger emailing lists, like the Ramat Eshkol Nshei,(ramateshkolnshei@gmail) where you can pay for different advertisement plans that fit within your budget.
Although it may seem old fashion – printing out advertisements is another productive way to publicize, especially here in Israel. Not everyone has social media here, and people look at bus-stops and light poles for updates. You can get very good deals at printing presses – such as דפוס השושנים located on Shmuel Hanavi and Yechezkel – they will give you a card that allows you to print 100 color prints for 100 NIS, but allow you to split up the time you print. Therefore, you can print 50 of one ad, and then come back another time and print another 50 of a separate ad. They also cut your prints for a minimal cost of 5 NIS. You can email them at firstname.lastname@example.org or WhatsApp them +972-2-532-2315. Personally, after doing research from different printing presses in the area – they provided the cheapest deal. Having print outs will increase the type of clientele your business will reach. You can also join different “Pop-up shops” that usually happen around big buying times, such as erev Sukkos and erev Peseach. This also allows potential customers to see the face behind the business and creates a friendlier repertoire.
Lastly, there are different advertisement publications where you can have your ad printed in. This can be costly, but you may find that this reaches a wide range of potential customers. One of the most widely known publications is the “Pirsumit” (email@example.com). It is important to keep in mind that although your ad can be seen by many people with such publications – you need to make sure its formatted in a way that people will notice it, amongst the tens of other advertisements. The “Pirsumit” and most publications, have a graphic designer who you can pay a minimal fee to (in addition to the fee of the advertisement) to create for you an ad that you want to be displayed.
With all these options, it is therefore important to know where to invest your time and energy. The most effective way to determine this is by always asking your customers how they heard about you. Always ask and when you see a clear pattern develop – for example after asking 50 customers, 30 people tell you they saw you on the BIL group, you know to hone in on WhatsApp groups, or if they tell you that after a giveaway on Instagram they started following you – then you know that you should continue to put the effort in improving your Instagram account.
Keep in mind – advertising is costly but it is a worthwhile effort. It may take time, but when people see your name everywhere, it becomes familiar to them and therefore the next time they need a service you provide – you will be the first they turn to. Don’t get discouraged, this is how all businesses build themselves. Keep it up – and you’ll see results.
Starting A Business – Part III
By Faige Herman | October 30, 2020
Now that you have figured out most of the business, what exactly you are offering, the best places to advertise and so on, you need to establish your business.
Firstly, you need a convenient mode of payment. Obviously, you would love to make your sales in cash, but many people would prefer to keep their cash. Quick pay or Zelle are very common applications that allow for easy transactions between your clients bank and yours. If your bank is a small private bank it is very likely that they do not offer Zelle. In that case you can easily open your own Chase account. They offer a personal and business account and depending on your need you can decide what works best for you. Afterwards you can download the Quick pay app from google play store or apple store.
Another option is to open a PayPal account. Most banks, even small ones, have an option to automatically connect your account with PayPal. This is another safe alternative to QuickPay and Zelle. This can also be either a personal or business account. It is cheaper to receive money on a personal account, so bare that in mind when first opening an account. You can always change it later on.
There are also many ecommerce websites that allow for credit card payment. You have to pay for this feature, but you may find many people requesting to pay via credit and it might become worth it to invest in it. Happy clients come back and making payment convenient for them makes clients happy. Personally, I have not yet used such features, but Wix allows for it, WordPress, and many others.
In the beginning your business will probably be small and you may not want to invest so much into it. That being said, there may come a time where excel spreadsheets will start taking over and you are finding it hard to manage the books as well as figuring out other legality issues that come along with owning a business, such having a ח.פ. , which is like having a teudat zehut for your business and allows for your business to retroactively receive V.A.T. from the government. With this number you can also hand out receipts and bill people. Many people prefer to have official receipts for specific services. Not necessarily does your business require to take this step. Again, see what the clients are asking, and you will be able to decide what is worth spending time, effort and money into. It also may get confusing if you start employing others and have to start worrying about pension plans, or it may be that even you are having a hard time personally to arrange a pension plan for yourself. It is then, that you should look into getting an accountant. I personally have gone through a few people and I am very impressed with Levine Schnoor Ltd. The company number is 02-622-1140. You also might want to use someone who really knows what to do for personal pension plans. Eli Shimoni came highly recommended, he can be reached at 054-626-9229. He is Israeli but he understands English. Pension plans allow for you to have money to live off of once you retire. If you do not think you will be in Israel long term than I would not recommend opening a pension plan as the Israeli government makes it near to impossible to transfer that money to America. Alternatively, you can open a savings account in America and save up that way. Ultimately, this is something you need to decide.
Opening a new business can be daunting, exciting, exhausting, energizing all at the same time. You will have many ups and downs through out your journey. Many people say that you can’t determine the success of your business until at least a year later and most of the time a few years later. Don’t get discouraged! With enthusiasm, a positive attitude, and a lot of Siyata Dishmaya, you will see things will work out!
Hatzlacha and keep going!