How to turn your business idea into a reality

Modern business conceptYou have a great idea for a business offering a new service or product. But how do you turn this into a reality with all the necessary legalities in place?

 

Write it down

First things first. Write that idea down and begin to flesh it out. How much time and money will it take to get off the ground? Consider what your goals are for your new venture. Is this going to become your full-time job or simply a side project?

Also think about what else is already out there that is similar. How are you different and what can you do to make sure potential customers choose you over competitors.

Start researching who your target market will be. Remember, when you target everyone, you target no one.

Plan to start small. Some businesses grow too fast and can quickly become overwhelmed. Rather grow slowly while perfecting your business.

 

Name your business

Think up an exciting name that describes you and your business. Check with the Companies and Intellectual Property Commission (CIPC) whether the name is available, and if it is register it as a trademark. By registering the name, you will protect it against usage by anyone else for 10 years. You’ll need to complete a Notice of Incorporation and Memorandum of Incorporation.

 

Patents

These are to protect your intellectual property rights. You’ll need to also register this with the CIPC to prevent someone else from using your invention. Your invention won’t be able to be made or sold without your permission for 20 years.

 

Register your company with SARS

You’ll need to register with the South African Revenue Service (SARS) to start paying tax, VAT, PAYE, UIF and SDL. The good news is complying with tax legislation as a small business owner has been made increasingly simpler in recent years.

 

Business banking

Open a bank account for your business. in this way you’ll be sure to keep your business and personal finances separate. You’ll need to decide how you want to be paid for your service or product and set this up. Also decide what you will do when you need to make purchases

 

Tell everyone

Make sure everyone you falls within the target market knows about your new business. Get yourself social media accounts and set up your website so that customers can find you and your products or services.

The final step is possibly the most difficult part. Carry on providing the service or manufacturing your product, and ensure it ends up in the hands of people who are willing to pay for it.

Image: Wikimedia Commons

How to start an import/export business

shutterstock_31876828The import/export business can be very lucrative and many people are trying to get in the game. You can too. This will help get you on your way.

Find your niche

You need to find yourself a niche and know what you can import or export for  good profit. This will take some researching. You need to understand your local market, as well as the market of the location you are importing to or exporting from.

It all depends on how importing/exporting a certain product will make you money.

The types of products you can import fall into three main categories:

1. Availability

Some products are readily available in one country or region, but not in another. It could be a type of fruit that grows easily in a certain climate, or the proximity to fish-bearing lakes. Find something that your region has plenty of and export it somewhere where there is a demand. Or find something that your region would like to have, and import it from somewhere where it is cheaply available.

2. Prestige

Sometimes it’s just a status thing. Certain products simply carry more weight when they are imported from a specific country. For instance, think of champagne from France, beer from Germany or cotton from Egypt.

Alternatively, what is your region known for that you can export to a place that will pay highly for it?

3. Price

Even if it doesn’t have to do with availability, some products are cheaper to bring in from out of the country than to produce it. There are generally two factors that make a product cheaper to produce in one region than in another: resources and technology.

For instance, you will often come across products that are “made in China”, because they can generally be imported for less than it would be to produce locally.

Are you the right type of person for import/export?

Not everyone is cut out for this business. You need to be a sales person. If approaching people to pitch your wares does not sound like something you would want to do on a regular basis, think twice about going into this line of work. It does mean that the situation is hopeless, for instance you could find a partner or employ a salesperson. So long as you accept that sales work is going to be a big part of your business.

Additionally, you need keen organisational skills. You will need to follow through and stay up-to-date with all the minute details, from truck finance in South Africa to the socio-politics of the region or country you are importing to or exporting from. So if you’re the type of person who likes to let go and let things run their course themselves, or if you’re more interested in the big ideas than in the details of their realisation, again, think twice about going in this direction.

If you can find your niche to import/export, and if you have the right type of disposition for the job, then congratulation, you might be on your way to a lucrative career in export and import.

Control room design and ergonomics

index_img_5A well-designed control room will balance efficiency with ergonomics. While efficiency is something many can understand and appreciate, the importance of ergonomics is still being grasped.

Ergonomics is particularly important in control rooms, where operators need to be attentive for long stretches of time.

The importance of ergonomics in control room design

A control room is run by people. When people fail, the control room system fails.

Ergonomics is more than just a feel-good principle. Ergonomics also has important consequences for productivity. So in a sense, we can think of ergonomics and efficiency not as two separate goals, but related to each other.

Control rooms are usually manned 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and individuals spend long periods of time monitoring data. Therefore, the application of detailed ergonomics data to the design is important. You need to look at the sightlines and legibility of information displayed on screens, the functional reach and interaction with interfaces, and the ergonomics of workstations and furniture to ensure that associated risks are managed appropriately. Then you also have to consider noise, lighting levels and ambient temperature.

As Algonquin College says, we can define ergonomics “as the science of matching work or tasks to the body.” Or, similarly, the relationship between body posture and characteristics of work, such as repetition (frequency) and force. The more your body or a part of your body is kept in an unnatural position, the greater the effect of repetition and force can have. These effects or injuries can be minor or very serious, and they can occur suddenly or be brought on over a prolonged period.

User-centred design

No matter how well-designed a workstation is it will fail if it doesn’t take into account the needs of its users, the operators.

A user-centred down is a top-down approach, where matters such as equipment selection, operating practices, working environments, and furniture choices take their cue from operating demands.

User-centred design takes into account the limitations of the operator, so that potential mismatches between operator capabilities and system demands are kept at a minimal.

While creating a comfortable and pleasant working environment, consideration of control room ergonomics means that operators are more alert, enjoy better situational awareness, and less prone to errors when reviewing or responding to data

The building blocks of business success

 

The office has changed a lot over the past decade or two. Today meetings are taking place over Skype and documents are shared on the cloud. Employees want flexi hours instead of medical aid.

But what hasn’t changed in business, are the building blocks that make up the foundation of success.

The first, of course, is having a passion for what you’re doing. If you don’t love what you’ve decided to invest the biggest part of your day in, then there is a good chance that your business won’t get far. You just won’t be motivated enough to go the extra mile every single day.

Aside from passion, time and experience have taught entrepreneurs that these eight factors make up the foundation of a successful business:

Keep your eye on the prize

In business, it pays to keep your attention and efforts focused. Trying to do too much or achieve too many goals all at once divide your focus and could make for a bumpy ride. That doesn’t mean you can’t have more than one goal for your business – just arrange them in order of importance and work towards achieving them one by one.

Value your employees

Look after your employees, show that you appreciate their contribution, consult them on issues that concern them and offer tangible benefits. Employees that feel valued and part of the team make for happier and more productive employees. They’re also sure to stay with the business for longer and be more willing to help you work towards the success you crave.

Manage your money well

Money is the fuel your business runs on, so you have to look after it. Always know how much is coming in and how much is going out. You can make use of online payment solutions and debit orders to ensure your payments, and those of your customers, happen on time. In addition, ensure that there is always a cash reserve available for emergencies.

Play to your strengths

Every person in this world has strengths and weaknesses. Don’t be afraid to admit your shortcomings and make the most of your strongest suits. Your weak spots can be filled by delegating tasks to a person with the necessary knowledge and experience to carry them out. Doing so will also free time to focus on other critical business functions.

Listen to your customers

Your customers are the people who bring in the money, so listen to them. If you don’t know what your customers want, how are you supposed to meet their needs? But don’t only give them what they want – offer your clientele added value at every step. Customers who get more bang for their buck are guaranteed to return as well as spread the word.

Under promise and over deliver

This is a tried and test strategy that is sure to keep customers happy. Imagine a customer’s delight when you promise to deliver in seven days, but then do so in four. It’s all about managing the expectations of your clients, without putting yourself under too much pressure.

Put everything in writing                                                

You should have contracts or agreements in place for everyone and everything involved in your business, from employees to suppliers and customers. Never leave your business open to legal disputes! When everything is in writing, there will be little room for problems to arise from.

Never stop learning

This final building block is one of the most important ones on the list – never stop learning; never stop asking questions. You always have to stay up to date and informed, and continuously sharpen your skills. This is essential if you want to stay ahead of the pack.

 

 

Let your start-up soar

When you first ventured into working for yourself, you probably did a lot of groundwork to find out how to launch a start-up. You might have enlisted the services of business advisors, or read books, magazines or blogs, or spoke to peers in your industry. It all paid off and your business is off to a flying start.

But what now? Well, now you have to work towards expanding your company. Here are four principles to help you grow your business:

Timing is everything

You need to be in the right place, at the right time. To do so, you have to be able to spot an opportunity in the market or be able to predict what consumers will want, even before they realise it. This might seem impossible, but you just have to keep your fingers on the pulse of the industry.

A service or product offering to fill that gap you’ve spotted could be a new one you’ve developed, or an adaptation of an existing service or product. The latter would most likely involve less work, enabling you to release it into the market quicker.

Build your brand

“Brand” refers to the emotional response that consumers have to your products or services. In order to connect with shoppers on an emotional level, so that your brand can act as a leader and influencer, you need to pay special attention to three things:

  • Choosing the right audience.
  • Connecting your target market.
  • Reinforcing the brand and image with good service.

When all of these come together, consumers will remember and start to favour your brand over others.

Diversify your product

You don’t want to do too much too soon, but keep an eye out from the start for opportunities to diversify your product or services. Once the time is ripe, you can apply for business finance to branch out.

Just be sure to stick to related or complementary products or services or the business runs the risk of becoming disjointed. This will confuse customers and push them to competitors where they know exactly what they get.

Strengthen your online presence

As a business in the 21st Century, your company should have a website. Make sure people can find your website through the use of SEO strategies. There is no use in a website if searchers can’t find it.

If no-one in the company has the necessary skills, contract an SEO agency to strengthen your online presence. You should definitely have a blog and investigate social media too. An online store could be a fantastic revenue generator by giving customers an extra shopping option.

It really does all come down to having the timing right. So take your time and don’t expand before the time is right. Rather take your time and grow slowly. This makes for better growth in many instances.