Marketing your startup


When you’re starting a new business, you’re focused on spending all of your hard-earned money on starting the business. On the actual products or services which you’re going to be selling. So you likely don’t have a budget for marketing your new business. This means you’re going to have to get creative.

It is very likely you don’t have the budget to take out radio or tv adverts. You certainly don’t have the cash to host a big party for everyone you know and has helped along the way. That’s why it is important that you make use of the tools which are available to you at little or no cost.

 Sharing is caring. Especially on social media. This is the time where you need to get all of your Facebook friends and Twitter followers to follow your every post and like every photo. Make a decision about who your target market is – are they teens or retirees? All of your public content should be geared toward the people who will buy your product or make use of your services.

Get online. If your business isn’t online, it doesn’t exist. That may sound harsh but it is true. The first point of contact most of potential customers will use to get in touch with you will be online. That means you need a website. If you can’t afford to hire someone to create one for you, make one yourself. There are plenty of blogging sites which allow you to quickly create new, professional looking websites quickly and for free.

Make some news. Find a way to make your company relevant to an ongoing news story and pitch the angle to local journalists. They are always keen to find people who have something newsworthy to say. If you are able to provide interesting, informative quotes for them to use, they’ll keep coming back to you for more.

Make your circle bigger. Networking is something which you’ll soon be sick of hearing about. But it is important to have the right group of people around you. Going to industry events is endlessly useful. Also consider going to fringe events; if you’re a developer, consider going to writing meetups – you may leave with the task of creating a dozen portfolio websites. Studying further is also a great way to meet people with similar interests. Consider business or events management courses as these will not only improve your knowledge and assist with the running of your business, you’ll meet like-minded people.

Marketing your business doesn’t have to cost the earth. It is simply up to you to put the word out there and drum up some interest.

How to be more effective at HR

As the world becomes smaller, more and more people from greater walks of life are starting to enter fields previously unattainable. Thanks to widespread and increasing equality, pools are no longer dominated by one kind of group but are, increasingly, finding themselves diverse in who enters: various races, genders, cultures are all meeting and competing to try get the latest, hottest jobs and make a name for themselves to find stability in this face-paced world. To handle such a situation requires engagement with people, management of affairs that understand what various people need.

This is where human resources comes in. As notes:

“[Human resource management] is the organizational function [in a business] that deals with issues related to people such as compensation, hiring, performance management, organization development, safety, wellness, benefits, employee motivation, communication, administration, and training.”

It’s clear than what the importance of this role is to a business. But many might scoff at yet. Yet, business people themselves – looking at it from a purely business perspective – are preaching the importance of it. As IOL recently reports:

“Employers should do a lot more to ensure the physical and financial well-being of their employees and ultimately to ensure they retire comfortably, key people in the financial services industry say.”

This was the findings of a recent report. Addressing employees, the article notes experts conclude “Your company has a moral obligation to help you, as an employee, achieve financial stability, and in doing so it will ensure that you remain a productive employee.”

Many key figures note that as the world becomes increasingly competitive, “HR should be doing everything possible to retain every employee possible.”

But HR itself is therefore a viable employment opportunity, so it is advised that you consider human resource management courses. Considering the demand for it right now – and also the demand for good human resources management as it benefits businesses – it might be prime time for everyone to consider this often neglected part of business. But even then, there is work to be done.

As Bloomberg notes:

“Human resource managers should learn some foreign phrases, use public transit and take in local landmarks when they travel for work, efforts that help to bridge cultural differences as companies increase their international presence, said Howard Wallack, global markets executive at the Society for Human Resource Management.”

Again: we can’t ignore that the world is diversifying and expanding – often into areas it has never gone before. This means both business and those who work there will be encountering situations they might not have years ago. This requires a deft engagement with negotiating different people to help retain them and get them to want to work in the first place.

This isn’t just good for people, it’s good for business.

Event organiser: Checklist for emergency cases

Any event planner will tell you that the process of planning an event is simple, but when it comes to the execution, things could get a little hectic. While you’re in a hurry to get in contact with your suppliers, you realise that you haven’t organised security to be at the event. Now you’re in a panic and wondering if you can’t ask a few of your friends to pitch in as security. This is every planner’s nightmare; forgetting that one thing that can make a huge difference in the success of an event. In order to host the best event, you will need the best check list.

Planning for the just in case moments

Consider everything that could possibly go wrong at any given time; from unexpected weather changes to infrastructure collapsing. Also include contingency replacements in the event of a sudden cancellation at short notice or the unavailability of key staff in your team. It is your duty to foresee unforeseen circumstances. This may seem unfair and impossible, but you need to realise beforehand that as the event organiser, if something goes wrong, you could be held liable. So it’s best to cover your basics, just in case.

The emergency plan

Develop emergency procedures and get your staff and volunteers clued up on what to do in the case of a fire, structural failure, stampede etc. Make sure that you have enough fire extinguishers on your check list and to prevent a stampede from taking place, you can install steel bollards to control the crowd.

Have the emergency service available at hand on the day of the event. If you are unsure about how to set up emergency procedures, you can discuss your plans with police, fire and rescue service and ambulance service. They will give you greater insight on how to go about on responding to an emergency situation.

For small events with lower risk, still ensure that you have medical supplies at hand. Both organiser and emergency services should be clear about who will do what if there is an emergency or major incident.

The drill and testing

Set up a drill with your staff members about what may take place and what to do in the event of an emergency. There is no use going over it in theory only, and by rehearsing it practically, your staff is more likely to remember the routine. The exercise can take place anywhere, where you and your staff work through a range of scenarios and establish the effectiveness of your responses. Also test the communication systems such as the radios and public announcement equipment, before the event.

Your event will be a success if you take care of your responsibilities first. The other processes can come afterward, but if you have your basics covered the rest will follow.



Checking the credit-worthiness of your clients

If you are performing a service or selling a product to a client before getting paid, you are essentially extending them credit. A bank wouldn’t give you a loan or credit card without checking your credit-worthiness, and you should do the same with your clients.

There are a few ways to go about this and a few things to remember.

Why you should check credit-worthiness

The obvious reason to check the credit-worthiness of your clients is to minimise your risk when extending credit. When you are not paid on time it affects your cash flow – the lifeblood of your business. Trying to get the money you are due can be a painfully laborious process, even an expensive one, so it is better to prevent that nasty situation from happening in the first place.

Assess their attitude about costs upfront

One way to assess a customer is to have a frank discussion about costs right from the start, where you lay out all the facts, including realistic cost projections and the reasons behind the costs. It is understandable for a customer to try to negotiate at this point, but if they push back too hard or seem very concerned that could be a red flag. Obviously you can’t use this as your sole determining factor, but if there are already one or two warning signs then you should definitely think twice.

Bank references

You can ask your potential customer for a bank reference to get a basic idea of how risky the bank thinks your potential customer is. You don’t need to base your decision solely on this, but it can provide a good place to start.

The ‘pro-forma’ approach

You can use a pro-forma approach to build trust between you and your customers. This is a good option if you want to foster long-term relationships with your clients. Pro-forma is where you require immediate payment for the first few invoices. Once the customer has proven their ability and willingness to pay you can begin providing credit.

Credit checking agency

Using a professional credit checking agency is not the simplest and cheapest option. However, if you need to check the credit-worthiness of a potentially large client then it might be an avenue to try. An agency will give you a proper risk assessment in situations where you stand to lose a lot if your clients don’t pay.

If you do the above, you should be able to weed out most of the chancers. However, this does not mean that you won’t from time to time struggle with a client that doesn’t pay on time. To further prevent this from happening you can use debit order systems whereby a third party debit order collection service automatically collects the money owed to you from your client and deposits it into your own account. If even that fails, educate yourself on how to get money owed to you. There are measures you can take when clients aren’t paying you, but it’s best to avoid those situations by checking their credit-worthiness first.

Does your business make a good first impression?

There is a reason that the phrase “first impressions count” is such a cliché. It is because it is true. The first impression matters whether you are looking at a book’s cover or going on a blind date. Have you ever thought about what the first impression of your business might be?

What do clients and associates perceive when making contact with your business? Read this tips to make sure you make a winning first impression every time.

Have the right host

People too often underestimate the role of the receptionist or secretary in creating a good first impression for their business. Very often he or she will be the first human point of contact someone has with your business. Think about the impression it makes if your receptionist is hunched over at the desk, badly dressed, rude and loudly smacking gum? Make sure you have the right receptionist representing your business.

Show your brand

You don’t only want a good first impression. You want the right first impression. If someone walks into your office or finds your website, will they immediately get a good feel for your brand image? For instance, you do not want to give the impression that you are crazy and quirky if your brand image is strongly related to you upholding a time-honoured tradition. Not sure what your brand image is? Then your first job should be to pinpoint and define your brand.

The decal

This point is possibly the most obvious ones but bears mentioning anyway. What is the general impression of your physical retail or office space? Is it tidy and professional or does it look like no one cares? Have you made use of professional retail shopfitting in Johannesburg to make sure your space is the best it can be?

Online presence

Just about every business needs to have an online presence these days, whether that is with a website, social media or both. Even if your business does not have a significant digital component to it, remember that many people will still try to find it online. Do a Google search of your business and see what comes up? Your website should be well-designed and professional, and your social media channels should reflect your values and brand image.

With these few tips you should be well on your way to making sure that your business is giving the best first impression it can. If you haven’t been making a good first impression up till now, then it’s time to work on your second impression.