Category Archives: Business

5 things to know before approaching investors

Starting a business is fun until you need to finance your idea. While it might seem scary to search for financial assistance, but if you’re able to put your idea in front of the right people who believe in your idea, they will assist you in providing the funds you need to build your dream. Before you approach potential investors, you need to understand the role of an investor and exactly what they expect from you and your business idea. Here are a few important tips to take into consideration:

Do a background check on them  

When you approach a specific investor or lender, you need to have a clear understanding of their background. For example, who they’ve worked with before and what type of experience they have in funding businesses. It’s important to know that they are a successful, thriving business and are able to assist you. If you are approaching someone specific in a company, it’s even more important to go the extra mile and learn more about the individual. This will help you to understand the type of person they are, and it will also make the sales pitch easier when you know who you’re speaking to. At the end of the day, you are selling your idea to someone who will hopefully “buy it”. Personalise your approach according to the person on the receiving end, as that will help you to appeal to the investor’s interests. If there are any concerns or issues that might arise during your pitch, having some knowledge on their background will help you to communicate with them on a more personal level about your business.

Look at previous investments of theirs

During your research process, you will learn about the businesses your potential investor has invested in before. This will give you an understanding of the type of business they’re interested in and want to contribute to. For example, you cannot approach someone who invests in security software with your quirky product that can assist with travel automation and queries. You need to align your needs with someone who wants to help businesses like yours grow. Pitching your idea to the wrong person is not going to solve your problem, so make sure that you’re approaching the right investor for your business.

Make sure you’re ready for an investment opportunity

When you learn about your potential investor, you will need to secure a meeting when you are at the right stage in your business. Every private investor or investment business has their own requirements that they favour, and this usually refers to your business’ growth. For example, does your potential investor want to invest in businesses during the seed stage or the early stage development of a business? Many investors want to be able to see an established business whereas others want to invest in the startup idea and help your business grow in the beginning stages. It is not recommended that you approach a company if your business does not fall into their investment interests so be sure to do your research.

Choose according to the investment amount

The next step in your process is finding how much your potential investor or lending company is willing to offer you. This all depends on what you are seeking finance for in your business. For example, if you need to buy equipment and machinery with your funds, you will need to see how much you would qualify for beforehand. Use an online asset finance calculator available to South African businesses to see how much you would qualify for at your preferred lender.

Believe in yourself and your business

The amount you see on the asset finance calculator is not always guaranteed. So, don’t give up on yourself or on your business idea for that matter because of what you see or think you might only be able to qualify for. Do your homework and make sure that you put yourself in front of the right person or company. If you are a first-time finance seeker, this is going to be an overwhelming experience, but practice makes perfect.

Effective cash flow tips for startup owners

Most people struggle to get to grips with their own finances, let alone steer a business and manage that workflow correctly. While starting a business is a challenging task, you are taking a financial risk. It’s your responsibility to ensure that you handle your business’ workflow with its best interests at heart.

Often times, the money you save or lend from a broker is usually not enough to make it through the beginning stages of your startup. However, if you work according to a strict budget, you should be able to restrict yourself from unnecessary expenses that may have a negative impact on your company’s future.

Many people think that budgeting and setting goals aren’t important, but, usually, those are the businesses which end up having to close their doors because they cannot seem to work with their money properly. So, if you want to look after your company’s financial health and guarantee a fruitful future for years to come, here are a few important cash flow tips you need to consider with your small business.

Request payment upfront

When you’re a small business owner, you constantly want to please people and offer support with the hope of a trade exchange in return. This is certainly the wrong approach to have, as people and companies which take advantage of you from the beginning will continue to do so. While networking is an integral part of growing your business, you cannot assist everyone who needs help. This is only going to set you back in hard times. The same goes for your payments structure. Of course, your payment structure will differ from business to business, but you need to request payment on delivery when possible. Do not allow delayed payments and always encourage upfront payments on jobs. This will help you to predict your month’s turnover in advance without relying on people to pay you when they “can”.

Become up to date with your admin needs

When you start a business, you need to dedicate time to your admin needs and always stay on top of what goes in and out of the business. If you need to send a client an invoice, make sure that you send it long in advance without having your customers wait for their invoice. This type of behaviour will lead to customers being just as casual and carefree as you are. Make sure that you also have a penalty system in place for late payments or consistent follow-up messages. When customers know how strict you are about your payment policy, they will respect your needs and adhere to your rules. If you need to outsource your admin needs, or any needs for that matter, to ensure they are done, do so.

Try and limit your free offerings

Whether you’re selling a product or a service, it’s important to offer complimentary demos if, for instance, you’ve met a potential customer or partner at an investment conference. This will spark their initial interest, and hopefully, lead to a business opportunity. However, with regular customers and trade exchanges, you cannot let people take advantage of your free offerings. Try and limit what “free” items you give out to people at your next entrepreneurship conference as these freebies need to benefit your bottom line in the near future. Starting a business is tough because you need to be restrictive in the type of interactions you have. If someone wants to try your product, very well, but make it a once off trade.

Always be accountable for your actions

If you know that you’ve gone overboard with your finances on a particular experience or business asset, you need to be prepared to suffer the consequences. This is why it’s so important to have a budget. In the first year or three, you need to accept that you won’t be able to spoil yourself or the company until you really start making an impact in the market. Always hold yourself accountable for your actions and try your best to spend your money wisely and record every purchase.

Final thoughts

Being a part of an ever-growing and changing tech innovation ecosystem requires resilience and dedication to keep moving forward. If you know that your product or service has tons of potential, work hard at making an impact in the industry. If you’re not earning money, you simply cannot be spending a lot either. Think of many different ways to market your product or seek investor assistance if you really need it. The last thing you want is to find yourself in debt, having to shut the door on your dream.

5 Ways to spend your business loan wisely

Business owners take out business loans for a variety of reasons, be it to get their business started or to invest in areas of their current business to help them expand and grow. The important part of taking out a business loan, however, is knowing exactly what you’re going to spend it on. And it’s important because this is how you will generate a profit to pay off the loan for maximum return on investment (ROI). When you know what you need it for, you’ll be able to use the business loan calculator to work out how much you’ll need and how much it will cost you every month to pay it off.

As a business owner, you need to make sure you spend your loan wisely and focus on the core areas of your company. We’re going to look at a few business expenses that could benefit from a business finance loan. You know better than anyone what your business needs are, and you should keep them in mind while reading through the options below.

Inventory

A core asset in any business is their inventory. The product you offer your clients is what leads to sales and profit – a goal for most companies. When you apply for business finance, you have an opportunity to invest in your inventory and improve or restock in order to increase sales.

This is how you provide higher quality products and meet the demands of your customers. It’s a surefire way to earn an ROI for your business loan and have happy customers.   

Equipment

For both service- and product-based companies, the business equipment that is used to manufacture products or provide services is a crucial asset. Equipment is a large expense for  businesses to buy, new or used, and there are still other costs involved in owning the equipment.

Depending on the equipment, business owners might have to pay to store the equipment somewhere safe. But for all types of equipment, there are operation, training, insurance and maintenance costs that need to be included in the business’ budget. Machinery, computers, cameras, tools and even vehicles can be considered as business equipment. Just be sure to read up on any business vehicle finance requirements when looking for vehicle-specific financial solutions.

With a business loan, you will be able to afford the costs of owning your equipment but you’ll also be able to buy more equipment and increase your production capacity. This will allow you to provide more for your customers and further increase your ROI.

Technology

Investing in your equipment and technology practically goes hand-in-hand. Upgrading your equipment and integrating the latest technologies into your business processes will open up possibilities.

Technology is becoming increasingly important in all business operations across every industry. The more up-to-date your business technology is, the better your chances of being able to offer your customers the best service.

Technology is a great way to invest in your company, and is certainly a wise way to spend a business loan. It has the ability to improve product and service quality, reduce operation costs, increase a project’s turnaround time and, overall, make work easier for each employee. If a technology seems complicated, it’s only going to prove a convenience for the company and should, therefore, be invested in.

Customers and clients are also more attracted to the latest and greatest on the market. With new technologies at your disposal, you will have an edge above your competitors and the advancements that customers are looking for. And that’s how spending your business financing on technology will encourage an ROI.   

Digital marketing

Your website and online campaigns are an important aspect of marketing your business. Great marketing leads to new customers, an increase in sales and a better brand reputation. You aren’t relevant if you aren’t invested in your business’ digital marketing efforts. Spending part of your loan on your online presence will make you visible on the internet and provide a new channel of communication with your customer base. And all of that will be in your company’s favour for an ROI.

Recruitment

Another wise business loan spend would be on recruitment. People are one of the greatest assets in a business. Sometimes you would need a business loan to help attain and retain the top talent in your company. They are the ones who are able to innovate and set your business as a benchmark in the industry. They are the people who your client base interact with and who, in that regard, uphold your quality service and reputation.

Any of the above business assets would benefit from a business loan. Be sure to assess your company’s needs before you apply for business finance and be prepared to allocate the funds accordingly.

Fun ways to start company meetings that are actually productive

Meetings are never something that we look forward to with bated breath. In fact, many employees dread going into their morning meetings because they know how boring and unproductive their time will be. You can change this mindset, however, by introducing some fun and simple elements into the start of your meetings.

One example is to start with a dessert cook-off, giving everyone a dessert recipes PDF to follow from and create a delicious snack to eat during the meeting. Still not sure where to start to make your meeting fun? Read on below for some unique ways to start company meetings that are actually productive.

Start with a joke…

… and encourage others to make one. Positive emotions at work lead to more productive work days, including meetings that have good end results. Starting your meeting with an appropriate joke will allow everyone to relax, and if you allow your employees to make a joke of their own, they will feel entertained and appreciated.

You will need to remember to keep your joke appropriate and not mention anything that will offend your staff. Keep it light and entertaining (a “dad joke” will suffice) and ensure that the rest of your employees follow suit. You will find the mood of the meeting improving and becoming more conducive to productivity. Make a game out of it by asking everyone to rate the jokes for funniness.

Play a pop quiz

Ideally, the quiz should focus on the topic of the meeting. For example, if you are coming up with marketing ideas for a catering company, give everyone a dessert recipes PDF and ask them to name at least three different desserts that the caterers could make.

This is a great way to ensure productivity, as it will require your staff to read through the meeting notes beforehand and have ideas in their minds already. A pop quiz will ensure that everyone is aware of all aspects of the client, such as marketing strategies and financial status. Make the pop quiz fun and engaging rather than something that makes them feel like they’ve been put on the spot and awkward.

Do something unexpected

More often than not, your meetings follow a particular setup. You start with a briefing and then work your way down the to-do list for a client or project. And while this is effective in tight-deadline situations, it can become boring if it is your go-to routine for meetings.

You could change this by taking your team for a morning walk, have a meditation period before the meeting starts, or heading to a local coffee shop for a cuppa before the to-do list is brought out. By changing your routine, your staff will feel more productive and have a more creative mindset. Be sure to ask your employees for any dietary restrictions before heading off to a coffee shop or restaurant, as you will need to be inclusive of everybody.

Foodie fun for everyone

A dessert recipes PDF shared among your staff before the meeting will grab their attention. It will let them know that the start of the meeting will be a delicious one, especially if you have included a cooking class to go along with the recipe booklet.

You could have a hot dog creation cook-off or you could ask each employee to bring their favourite breakfast food to the meeting (with enough for everyone to try, of course) and rotate this by departments. Eating during a meeting can make it feel more relaxed and will encourage your staff to think creatively. As long as it does not become too distracting, a meeting geared towards foodie fun can be fantastic for productivity.

Invite a speaker

If your meeting is focusing on specific topic or client, you can set the mood and inspire your staff by inviting a guest speaker who is an expert on the topic or someone from your client’s company to provide unique insights.

Inviting a vibrant and interesting speaker will help to boost the productivity and creativity of the meeting significantly. It will allow your staff to see things in a new way or approach a problem from a different perspective. If you cannot find a speaker who is suitable, you could ask different teams to create a presentation about their current and upcoming work.

Keep it short and sweet

While it might be necessary to have long meetings about important topics, if it is not needed in every meeting, you should try to keep them short and to the point. This way your employees will not lose concentration and they will be able to provide you with creative ideas to solutions. Start off with a fun beginning and you will soon find your employees sitting up, taking notice and thinking out of the box.

Top ways volunteering can help boost your business

Volunteering might not sound like something that could boost your business, but customers see companies who volunteer as being more honest, trustworthy and authentic than others. And customers are the backbone of any business.

So, not only does volunteering help the cause you choose, it could bring in more business too. You could donate time or money to Doctors Without Borders in Kenya, or you could choose to help an animal charity by donating food and blankets. If you are not convinced you should look into volunteering to build your business, read on below for the top ways it can help.

It helps to encourage healthier employees

Your employees might enjoy working for your company, but volunteering can make them happier and healthier in other ways. If you are doing something you enjoy and feel good about, the neurotransmitter known as dopamine is released. Dopamine is known as being able to improve your well-being, your capacity to learn and your happiness.

Happier employees means healthier employees, which is one of the major benefits of volunteering. With healthier and happier employees, your business will flourish and productivity levels will rise. Even if you only spend an hour at a charity handing out soup and bread for the homeless, you will notice a marked improvement in the mood of your employees. Be sure to ask them for ideas on which causes are meaningful to them so everyone feels included.

You will have a chance to network

Volunteering for charities such as Doctors Without Borders in Kenya allows you to network with other like-minded people and businesses. You might meet business leaders and other entrepreneurs who can help to take your business to the next level, or other businesses from your industry with whom you can form amicable partnerships.

You might find a contact who can help your business with a resource or service that you do not have the time or resources to fulfil. While you are certainly not volunteering with business or recruiting goals in mind, you might find a young, talented person who would be the perfect fit for your company. You could give them your business card to use when the time is right or you could offer to set up an interview once their volunteer period is over.

It will boost creative thinking

Volunteering for organisations, such as Doctors Without Borders in Kenya or other countries, requires you to be able to think on your feet. And this means you have to be able to think creatively. Unique and positive activities will encourage creative thinking in your employees, which will translate into their daily working lives.

As a business owner, you need to be able to think creatively and handle pressure without cracking. Volunteering is the perfect way to do this and you will be helping a worthy cause at the same time. Being a part of something good and meaningful will motivate your employees to continue operating at the best level possible, including thinking creatively about solutions for business problems.

You can generate publicity

Volunteering is all about giving back, but it can also help your business to generate more publicity. For example, if you are a boutique clothing store, you could donate half of your unsold stock to a homeless shelter or marketing companies could offer to improve the social media presence of animal shelters.

You can use these volunteering opportunities to generate publicity for your business. Post to your business’ Facebook page about a project you have been working on or send out a press release about a charity you volunteered for. It will allow clients and customers to see your business as more “human” and authentic and it will bring in more revenue too.

Improve the skills of your employees

As a business owner, you know how important it is to have employees with updated skills. But you might not have thought that volunteering can help to improve these skills. They will learn how to be more organised, how to manage their time and could even learn some unique skills, depending on the organisation or charity you choose to volunteer for.

Having employees with improved skills will boost your business by making them more productive and knowledgeable. They will be able to bring more to the table after volunteering and could even have some interesting ideas for solutions that you might never have thought of before.

Help others and help yourself

Volunteering is something that not only helps the cause but the people who are giving aid too. You will feel happier and healthier after volunteering, as will your employees. You will also have a chance to network with other business leaders and industry experts as well as the chance to generate publicity for your brand. So, why not look for a local charity or cause that needs a helping hand and offer your services to them? You will be providing assistance to those who need it the most and boosting your own business at the same time.