Category Archives: Business

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.

 

Should you lease assets for your small business?

We live in a day and age where technology is constantly evolving. And your business needs to keep up with the latest trends in order to survive and keep up with competitors. If you have limited capital but need to invest in equipment which needs to be upgraded over a certain period, then leasing could be the better option. Of course leasing also has a few  downsides. In order to make the right decision on whether to buy or lease the assets you need decide which is the better option which suits your business and finances.

 

Pros

No outdated equipment

When you lease your business equipment, you’ll always end up with the latest updated technology. Over a period of time, the equipment you use in your business can become obsolete and you may need to upgrade it to a new model. This is where leasing is an advantage to your business. For example, if you have a three-year lease on your laptop after the lease expires, you’ll be able to upgrade it to the latest version. If you buy your equipment cash, you’ll always end up with outdated equipment and have to take out cash to buy new models

 

You won’t incur any expenses upfront

If you have a small business, you may have a tight budget and therefore you need to use funds sparingly. Leasing business equipment will benefit you because instead of paying for the asset upfront, you’ll be able to pay the total costs over a period of time.

 

Compete with other businesses

If you use outdated technology in your business, then your competitors may be steps ahead of you. And your employees may not produce work as efficiently and effectively when they use outdated technology. Leasing gives your business the opportunity to stay on top of the latest advances in technology and equipment. You’ll also be able to determine how long you want your lease agreement to last. So if you use technology which needs to be replaced after a certain period, leasing is perfect.

 

Cons

Contract stipulations

When you enter into a lease contract you might have to pay for the asset for the entire lease period. This could be a waste of money if the item you purchased was for a short-term project. Because once you’re done using it, you’ll still have to pay until the end of the lease agreement. Which means money will be going out for an item which isn’t in use and this will cost your business.

 

Time-consuming

Leasing is a process and requires a lot of time to actually get the lease. You may need to produce paperwork, such as financial statements, to prove that you’ll be able to make payments in the long run. Whereas when you’re buying the assets for cash it’s a fast and easy process, you just pay for the item and leave the store.

 

Maintenance of assets

You may be liable to pay for the maintenance of the asset you leased. Some leasing agreements require you to follow certain procedures in order to maintain and look after the asset. The maintenance of equipment could be expensive and taxing on your finances. But when you buy it cash, you won’t be obligated to follow any procedures, once you’ve made the payment you’re free to do what you want with it.

 

Insurance

Some lease agreements come with the condition that you have to insure the equipment. And if you opt not to, they usually add the extra insurance fees on to your monthly payments.

 

Extra costs

The downside of leasing is eventually you’ll pay more for the item in the long run. It will be more expensive. Whereas when you buy the assets up front, it’s usually cheaper.

 

There are different types of lease contracts

 

Capital lease

This lease is similar to a loan. You’ll be able to lease the equipment and it will reflect as an asset in your balance sheet. Capital leases often last a period of 5 years.

 

Operating lease

The ownership of the equipment remains under the leasing company. Operating leases are for a shorter period than capital leases and usually last three or fewer years.

 

When you’re a small business competing with other bigger companies, you need to find ways in which to survive. And one of the best ways is to cut down on unnecessary business costs. Leasing can help your business minimise costs and still keep up to date with the latest technology in the market. Leasing could help you save whether it’s business car leasing or other assets.

7 ways to save your failing business

booksAt one point in time your business may have been doing well, you had customers flocking to buy your products and business was booming. But, lately, your company may be experiencing a few setbacks. It could be insufficient planning or lack of capital that is holding your company back. You need to find the root cause of the problem in order to solve it. Here are a few ways you could save your business.

Find the problem

You need to assess your business in order to find the root of the problem and find out why is your business is failing. It might be the arrival of a competitor who has captured your customers, poor management or flawed strategies which have slowed down the progress of your business. Once you find out why your business is failing, you can come up with methods which will bring your sales up.

Look for a suitable marketing strategy

If you’re a business owner and you don’t know how to market your business properly, then you could lose out on potential clients. As a business owner, you need to make sure that you get the word out about the products and services of your business. You may need to experiment with different marketing strategies and find out what trends will best suit your target market. If your target market is highly active on social media, then you’ll need to use the different platforms to reach them.

Question customers

If you find your customers flocking away to the competition, you could have a serious problem on your hands. You could try to find out what the underlying problem is and why they’re leaving. You could send a digital survey or an email with open ended questions to your clients. And you might get the answers you need. Then if the problem lies within your company you could rectify it in order to gain the customers back. If they don’t come back you’ll still win because they may give you valuable insight on how to prevent future problems.

Find methods to cut down on costs

If the problem is your business losing money, then you need to find ways to lower business expenditures. Cutting down on costs could sustain your business and keep it afloat. For example, if you need to buy a new vehicle you could buy used cars for your business. Just make sure when you do so, you use a car book value calculator to get an estimate of the market value of the car you want to buy.  

Update your technology

Your business could be falling behind in technology. If your employees are using outdated technology, it could be contributing to your businesses failing. If you have outdated software and improper technology, then it could cause your employees’ work to be less productive and waste time. When your employees aren’t as productive as they should be, then your company won’t make as much profit as it should,

Reinvent your business

If you live in dinosaur years, then it could be the reason why your business isn’t doing well. Kodak, which was once one of the most successful businesses, failed to reinvent themselves and they lost out on a huge market. You need to constantly find ways to keep up with the competition and find ways to revive your business. Nokia first started out selling rubber boots before selling cell phones.

Sometimes, you have to go back to the drawing board in order to revive your business. You may need to rebrand the company. You could try reaching out to a new market or adapting new styles into your business.

We live in an ever-changing technology-fuelled world and if you’re not keeping up with the trends your business may lag behind.

Encourage risk

If you’re not being innovative or taking a risk it may be why it’s not doing well. When your business is sinking it may be time to try out new concepts you’ve never tried before. Taking a risk could help reap reward. You need to encourage your employees to come up with ideas on how you can put a new spin on your products. For instance, you could introduce a new flavour to your product mix or change your package design. You need to encourage your employees to think outside the box and not be afraid to think big.

When your business is failing, you may not know how to revive it. But you need to take a look at different aspects of your business and find out what the problem could be. Is it an internal or external factor which is causing your sales to drop? When you have found the cause, you can look at different methods of improving your business.

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.