How to give your business an X-factor

 

The business world is like the reality TV show Survivor where only the fittest make it. But what makes a business the fittest? If you ask your average joe on the street they’ll most likely tell you about determination, persistence and hard work. Of course, these attributes count but the problem is many other businesses carry them too.

According to Fortune magazine, only a third of the companies succeed. The question is, how do they make it and what separates them from the rest? The key could lie in how well your business stands out. Does your business have an X-factor? Does your brand leave a long lasting impression on the customer long after they’ve left your store?

Here are a few ways to set your business apart.

What’s in a name?

The inspiration for business names can come from all walks of life. For example, 7-Eleven was named for its extension of working hours from 7 pm till 11 pm. Harpo is Oprah’s name written backwards. And Apple was named after Steve Jobs’ favourite fruit.

The name you pick could have an impact on how well your business does. It is the first thing customers see. So, it should be memorable and catchy. And stick with the customer. The name you choose should reflect not only your brand but your target market. According to studies, certain sound inspires specific emotions. An unforgettable sound will stay embedded in the customer’s mind and they are likely to remember your name.

Make your customers feel valued

Treat your customers like they are royalty. Your customers are key to making your business a success. If your customers aren’t satisfied with the service provided, they will likely move on to the next competitor. You need to make sure you cater to their needs and provide exceptional service. You should go the extra mile and do what your competitors aren’t doing. This will set you apart from the crowd.

Win your customers over with an apology

If can take just one negative experience for a customer to write off your brand. When you make mistakes you need to admit your error and apologise. You can also take things a step further and compensate the customer with a reward or a freebie.

Be innovative

We live in an ever changing world and your business needs to also evolve. If you don’t innovate your business it won’t survive. For example, Nokia and Kodak failed to innovate themselves and they ended up losing customers. You need to keep up with the competition and the times. Your business may need to invest in new technology which helps provide the best service. You may need working capital to purchase high-tech resources and you could acquire funding through asset finance companies in South Africa.

Improve business efficiency

Make sure you supply a better and faster service than your competition. You need to do regular assessments on how you can improve your business. You can also get feedback from customers. Find out about their needs and what would improve their customer experience.

Expert in your industry

Be known as the expert in your industry and it’ll give you the x-factor. You could do this by providing books, posts, videos and training. This will set you apart from other businesses providing the same service.

Deliver on your promises

Do what you say you’ll do. Keep your promises to the customer. Don’t say you’ll do something and then end up not delivering. Customers need to know they can trust you and rely on you and that you’ll follow through on your word. Return phone calls, respond to emails and respond to them on social media.  

Word of mouth marketing

You need to get the word out about your business. Word of mouth marketing is an important tool for your business. According to Jay Baer who is an American marketing consultant, 92% of consumers trust recommendations they receive directly from family and friends. So, if you apply excellent service to your customers, they’re more likely to go and tell other people.

Walt Disney once said,“Do what you do so well that they will want to see it again and bring their friends.” And he was right, if you provide exceptional service your customers are likely to remember you and tell their friends about you.

Thank your customer

Your customers need to feel valued and appreciated. Showing gratitude to your clients could separate you from your competition. And it could also improve customer satisfaction and increase customer loyalty..

Use testimonials

It’s a good idea to have personal recommendations and testimonials on your website. When clients see that other people were happy with the service you provided, they’ll be more likely to be persuaded. Celebrity endorsements are also a great idea. People will feel that your service or product is excellent if a certain celebrity was willing to use it and endorse it.

An X-factor is the thing that separates you from the rest. And a business needs to have this in order to make it in the long run. If your business just blends in with the rest of the others in the marketplace, people aren’t likely to remember it.

 

How to be an effective salesperson

 

There are people who can sell ice to an Eskimo. When they approach you they are cool, calm and collected. And their words are smoother than butter. These people can convince you to buy just about anything. While giving a sales pitch may come easily to some, for others it takes a lot of practise and effort and courage. If being a salesperson doesn’t come naturally to you then below is a list of how to become a better salesperson.

Visual presentation

Make sure you provide a product demonstration of how the product works. A customer will be more influenced to buy something which they can actually see a demonstration of. A visual demonstration will help your customers get excited about the product. If the customers can see, feel and (depending on the product) smell your product then their interest will be ignited and they’ll be more influenced to buy the product.

Competitive spirit

Great salespeople want to win. They have a competitive spirit and want to outdo their previous accomplishments and be the top in their team. A healthy competitive spirit can be good because it pushes you and helps you remain focused on the prize. You have to be disciplined and be in it to win it.

Listen

You need to enhance your listening skills in order to be an effective salesperson. Bestselling author of 7 Habits of HIghly effective people Stephen Covey was quoted as saying, “Most people do not listen with the intent to understand they listen with the intent to reply”. In order to be a great communicator, you need to be able to listen to what the other party has to say. You can’t sell something to someone if you don’t know what their needs are. And giving a monologue to a customer isn’t likely to persuade them to buy your product. For example, if you’re selling cell phones you need to listen out for what the customer needs in order to provide them with a cellphone which will have the features they need.

Know your limits

Be a person who’s tactful. Customers don’t like to have a product pushed down their throats. Don’t be forceful when you make your sales pitch otherwise you might lose a potential customer. A salesperson needs to have high emotional intelligence in order to discern when to pull back and when to persist, when selling to a customer.

Knowledge

You need to learn as much as you can about the product or service you’re trying to sell.  Don’t just wing it. A customer will be able to pick up how well you know a product.You need to be knowledgeable about every aspect of the product and how it works. If a salesperson is interested in the product, the customer will be more likely to buy into their sales pitch because they’ll come across as genuine.

Alter your sales pitch

Those with a talent for selling alter what they are going to say for different customers. They don’t just stick to an over-rehearsed script. In order to have a positive sales pitch, you need to be able to read people and quickly discern how best to market the product to them. People are different and have unique needs and you can’t give a one-size-fits-all sales pitch to every customer you come into contact with. You need to adapt your pitch to fit your customer’s needs.

Persistence

A great salesperson needs to be persistent because they’ll be pressured to meet sales targets. And unfortunately not everyone will be on board to buy your product. There will be people who’ll reject the product and you can’t take it personally. You have to persist and look for the next person who’ll buy into your product.

Confidence

You need to have confidence in yourself and in what you’re selling if you want to close the deal. If you’re confident you’ll be able to approach a customer without worrying about any negative feedback from them. You also need to believe in the product you’re trying to sell because if you don’t, you won’t instil confidence in others.

 

Walk in their shoes

You need to understand your customer and be able to put yourself in their shoes. Walking in your customer’s shoes will help you understand their needs and wants more effectively. Your sales will increase if your pitch caters to the needs of your customers.

 

Educate yourself

There is no end to learning. And taking a marketing course  or sales and marketing course online can help further your sales skills and will give you an understanding of customers behaviour and why they would buy your product.

To be a great salesperson you have to be highly motivated and prepared to learn more about the product and what it takes to be a great salesperson. Going the extra mile will make you a top salesperson and will separate you from the rest.

 

 

Pros and cons of a joint venture

 

Sometimes two heads are better than one. Collaborating with other businesses could make your business grow faster and expand your knowledge and resources. Joint ventures help the business owners grow in the areas where they lack expertise and skills. And both companies will be able to share financial burdens. If the two companies work together well it could be a win-win situation where both companies gain.

Here’s what you need to know about starting a joint venture.

New sets of skills and resources

A joint venture has many advantages and one of them is that your business will be able to learn and gain a new set of skills and resources by partnering with another business. And you won’t have to put down an investment to acquire these skills. Your business might be lacking on skills and by the end of the joint venture, your might gain new knowledge which helps your business to be more fruitful. For example, a wedding events company can collaborate with a highly skilled photographer. They both benefit from each other because they offer different traits to the partnership.

Limits risk

When a business decides to take on a new project it will always be a risk. The project can either be successful or fail. When a business joins with another business for a certain project, the risk is shared between the two parties. This limits the liabilities of both parties involved in the business venture. For example, Agriculture is best suited to a joint venture because the equipment, land and the supplies are extremely expensive. And it can be difficult to get agricultural finance. If farmers collaborate with other farmers, then their expenses will be shared. Farmers could share their equipment and be able to cut down on costs.

New markets

You’ll be exposed to a new demographic When your business partners up with others, it will automatically be exposed to a whole new set of customers. The goal of a business is always to grow, evolve and gain new market share. Partnering up with other people can help your business expand because you’ll gain access to their customers whom you wouldn’t have normally been able to reach.  For example, in the 90s Nike partnered with Michael Jordan a famous basketball player and made millions. Avid fans of Michael Jordan began to buy the Iconic Jordan sneaker and Nike sales went through the roof because of the joint venture with Michael Jordan. Acquiring a partner in the business realm can help you reach higher targets and give exposure to your product. Just make sure the person you’re partnering with has a clean reputation because they will represent your company. Whatever they do will have an impact on your business. You should avoid doing business with a partner you don’t trust.

Versatility

A joint venture is flexible and versatile because you’ll be able to establish the timeframe in which you want the venture to last. It can be a short-term agreement or it can be long-term. The venture can be finished once the goal has been reached.  

Cons

Different managing styles

Your business might have a certain culture and way of managing things which clash with the other party. If your styles clash then your joint venture might not work out and could fail.

Shared risks

A partnership will always be a risk. Some partnerships soar and do well, while others bust and fail. There are many reasons why joint ventures fail and one of them may be that one party contributes more to the venture whether its skills or resources. This could cause disagreements and the joint venture to fail. There should always be an equal balance of contributions or the party contributing more might feel cheated.

Written agreements

Misunderstanding and miscommunication can break down trust and cause conflict. Make sure you don’t just end with an oral agreements but everything should be written down. Taking a person’s word and leaving it at that could cause conflict at a later stage. Make sure all the responsibilities of each party are outlined and everything is in writing. This will also solve any costly misunderstanding which might occur down the line and break down the partnership.

A business should always be looking for ways to do things which can make them be more efficient and effective. Joint ventures provide the perfect platform to gain skills, knowledge and expertise which your business may lack. If you want to start a business venture, you need to find other people who want to reach a similar goal to yours. You need to make sure they are trustworthy,reliable and they are financially secure. Importantly, you must ensure they have a good reputation and image.

 

 

Sometimes, it’s best to fire clients

That’s right. Sometimes, not all business is good business. There will be moments while running your business when you’ll need to lose a client or two. The truth is that more work doesn’t always mean more profit. And your business could be far better off by freeing up resources.

 

So, when are the moments when you know that it’s time for a client to pack their metaphorical bags?

 

The times when your infrastructure can’t handle the work

 

As far as business problems go, this is possibly one of the best you can have. It’s far better for you to have too much work than too little. But you could be negatively impacting your business if you take on more work than your current infrastructure allows for. Yes, it’s positive that you might want to expand and there is the demand to allow that. But you need to ensure you make the necessary changes. After all, you may have enough work coming in right now to allow for more equipment and staff members.  You need to be sure that you have sufficient equipment, stock, employees and skills for the task. But what happens when that project ends? You may just have hired staff members who you can’t afford to keep around. And you may have applied for machinery asset finance to pay for new equipment, only to find you no longer need it.

 

The times when you aren’t quite sure what you’re doing

 

Sometimes, it can be a good thing to take on a new and unfamiliar challenge. This can expand your skills and increase the services you offer. However, you need to be cautious about taking on too much. You need to be sure that you’re able to provide the services that your clients are calling for. It might very well be true that you’d waste too many resources by taking on work your team doesn’t quite know how to do. It really doesn’t make business sense to over-exert yourself in areas which you aren’t familiar with and aren’t able to do profitably.

 

But if doing this work can bring about meaningful change and investment to your business over the long-term, it might be a good idea to take it on. Sometimes, it’s just a case of investing in some new equipment or staff. You could even consider renting equipment for the short term or using a contractor to complete a task.

 

The times when all your resources are busy with small tasks and clients

 

This is especially true for small businesses. Eager to work on all paying jobs, businesses can sometimes take on too much work at a lower cost than they should have. You might need the work at the time but when this continues for months or even years, this could really negatively impact your business. Sometimes it’s important that you hold out for better-paying clients.

 

The times when you really do need to fire that client

 

It might seem impossible to think about letting go of a paying client. But sometimes they are really just not worth the trouble. You only have so many resources in terms of time, staff and equipment and you need to make sure they’re optimally used. The more efficiently you use those resources, the better and the bigger your profit margins. If a client isn’t willing to pay what you’re worth, or gives too many hassles and causes too many problems, it might be time to let them go. In life, we often move away from relationships which are more trouble than they’re worth. Clients are no different.

 

Finally, be discerning about the type of work you take on. You really don’t need to accept all business and every client that comes your way. Sometimes it isn’t a good fit and that’s okay.

 

 

 

Financing your startup like a pro

 

Anyone who has ever ventured into the world of startups knows that financing can be one of the biggest hurdles. Whether your plan is to bootstrap, finance yourself or take out a loan, it’s certain that you will risk major money problems if the business does not perform as expected.

 

It’s expected that all business ventures will carry some risk. But there are many ways to mitigate this risk by limiting taking on massive debt. It’s important that you carry out extensive market research, for example, to ensure you identify possible setbacks. It’s also possible to limit your expenses in the early years by renting equipment rather than buying until your business is stable. And this is when you can apply for plant and machinery finance. At some point, whether it’s sooner or later, you will have to go out on a limb.

 

Where to begin

 

At the beginning stages of launching your startup, it’s important that you have a clear-cut business plan. This should provide you with all of the insight you need to estimate how much capital you’ll need. It might be better to overestimate how much you’ll need. This’ll allow you to have enough cash on hand to cover all unexpected expenses and maintain a positive cash flow. This is especially important in the early months and can help you really get your business started on a solid footing.

 

Once you have estimated and calculated that initial figure, your options will soon become more clear. Do you think it’s possible to attract some investors by networking and attending conferences in your field? Are you comfortable reporting to them about growth and profits every month, quarter and year? Investors will be entitled to have a say in the business of your business. Sometimes, this is when clashes occur.

 

If this sounds like something you’re uncomfortable with, more traditional forms of financing might be your best option. The good news is that, as long you have good credit and your business plan is sound, a bank or registered credit provider will be able to offer financial assistance. Securing finance in this way means you’ll have more freedom when making decisions. On the other hand, you’ll have full responsibility for your debts and ensuring they’re paid back.

 

The basics of starting a business using loans

 

It’s important when thinking about your business financing to ensure all debts are incurred in the name of your business. It may be tempting to use your personal credit card every once in awhile, but it’s essential that you don’t stray down this dangerous road.

Even so, using any form of credit card, whether it’s yours or the business’s, means the lines are blurred between the money you actually have available for your use. You might not think it’s important to differentiate but your credit card limit may be more than the amount of money you need. And this means it could be very easy to abandon your carefully-planned budget and business plan. To ensure you stick to your plan, it’s important that you stick to only spending your initial capital and wait until you begin to turn a profit before spending on extras.

 

It might happen that your initial capital in insufficient

 

The first step is to cut down on your expenses. That means no more client lunches or staff drinks. Once you’ve cut down on your spending, you might find it’s time to speak to your bank.

 

Once you’re back on track, it might very well be time to purchase that equipment you’ve been renting. Whatever form of financing you’ve opted for to start your business, your success will be largely determined by your ability to plan, adapt to obstacles and remain on track during challenging times.