Category Archives: Business

Tips on starting a small business

Starting your own business can be exciting. You have a lot of ideas and plans to make a success of whatever it is you want to do. And you like the fact that you don’t need to work for someone else anymore. You’re your own boss who is leading a team and making your own decisions. Finally, you can make your dream a reality. If you have an idea, the mindset and drive, and a well-detailed business plan, then take it away.

However, with all this enthusiasm, starting your own business can be quite stressful as well. There’ll be a lot of demands that are going to need your attention. You have to work extremely hard if you want to be successful. A dedicated and committed entrepreneur is what your business needs. Bear in mind that not everything will be perfect and you’ll make a few mistakes along the way. You have to go through that in order to learn.

Many start-ups don’t make it beyond their first two or three years because of inadequate planning, knowledge and lack of resources. Make sure your business doesn’t fall into this trap. Having perseverance in order to succeed is a must. Ask for help if needed, whether it’s for network or finance. You sometimes have to approach your acquaintances if you want to keep your business alive.

Here are a few things to take into account when starting your own business.

Register your company

As an owner of a business, every rand you spend must provide a return on your investment. One of those expenses has to be the registration of your company. It may seem like an unnecessary money waster but, unfortunately, this issomething you have to do. You can’t run a business without it being registered. Also, if you want to take out a loan for your company you need proof stating that your business is registered. Registering your business is an investment made in your company.

Identify your market

At some stage in the preparation of your business plan, you need to conduct research on your target market. You need to know how big your potential market is before starting your business. Research whether or not there’s a need for the product or service you’re offering. Do consumers really want it? Also, check out your competitors and what exactly they’re offering. How many other companies are offering the same thing as your business? Are their products or services more affordable? If you’re not sure about that, then your business won’t succeed. You need customers to buy what you’re offering in order to make money. So be sure to check that out if you don’t want your business to fail.

Organise suppliers and equipment

What is a business without its necessary equipment? It’s important to understand your objectives and what you want to achieve. Make sure you have all the necessary equipment in order to offer or produce your product. You have a small business, so look out for suppliers that offer affordable but good deals. Make sure your suppliers are legitimate. You don’t want to find out that you bought stolen equipment. As a business, you’re also a customer. So make sure to shop around for great deals and don’t be afraid to negotiate.

Company premises

Deciding on your business premises is just as important as the registration of your business. This is something that needs to be included in the planning process. Consider all the available options for the premises. Check for the cost of the buildings, where it’s located and the safety of it. On that note, it’s also recommended to install a video wall controller to ensure that your premises are secure and being watched on CCTV at all times. As a startup and small business, you might be able to share your business space with another company.

Start an online platform

We’re in the 21st century and everything these days takes place on the internet. One of the first things you can do is create a website for your business and social media profiles. Many customers love to connect with companies online as it’s easier and saves time. If customers visit your website and social media pages they’ll be aware of what you’re offering and it’ll make the selling process easier. There you can also share the background of the company. It’ll simply improve your company’s image and target a global market. Having your business online means you can basically work and market your company from anywhere in the world.

Be patient and remember that success won’t happen overnight. It’s going to take some time before you make a profit. Don’t give up and work hard to make a success of your business.

Dynamics of a family business

Not many of us can imagine working with our family and then going home with them as well. The dynamics of a family business isn’t for all but it can also be special and successful if done right. Family businesses are great examples of the passing of knowledge down through generations and are generally unique in their business offerings and have an authenticity that corporate businesses and franchises simply can’t replicate.

Multi-generational

With the technology and health advancements of today, family businesses aren’t being passed on as much as they are being expanded. Family businesses, these days, are multi-generational and it’s both a great and challenging thing.

Having the older generation still working and being an active part of the family business is a symbol of consistent business values and a following of an original and life-time client base having every reason to stay invested and supportive of this business. It proves a problem, however, when younger generations come in and expect to be handed the keys and take over with new business advancement ideas that Grandpa Joe doesn’t like or understand.

But, having the “original” owners (or those closest to the original start-up business) makes it easy to stay true to the history of the business and see that the original visions and principles are carried through. After all, the history is part of what makes family businesses different.

Outside insight

A good investment for family businesses is to bring in outside insight to objectively monitor and be honestly critical about the operations of the business. It’s already extremely difficult to not have bias against your own business but even more so as a family business owner. Even though nothing should be taken personally (it’s just business, after all), you don’t want to be the creator of tension in the workplace that will just be transferred to your personal and home life.

The dynamics of a family business is to “keep it in the family” but don’t be blind to failures and find someone who can provide constructive criticism and bring the business back to reality when family politics go a little too far.

Boundaries

There must be a fine line between bringing home with you to work and taking work back home with you at the end of the day in a family business. From the word go, boundaries need to be set on what is acceptable in the workplace and what is inappropriate “work talk” for home.

In the family business, it’s necessary to understand your role and to treat your employment as you would in any other business. Finding a balance is difficult but not impossible.  

Experience required

Just like the success of any business relies on the ability of their workforce, so too does a family-run business. Hiring on experience, qualification and capability won’t compromise the business structure or success. If family members joining the business all need to complete a performance managing skills course from Kwelanga Training – then everyone must complete it. No exceptions.

When you start compromising for your family employees just because of bloodline and feelings of family obligation, you can expect business to start suffering. Let the younger generation go out and find work experience outside of the family business. This will ready them for the position that awaits them or will help them figure out if getting into the family business is something they actually want to do or not. Forcing family into the business does not set up a generation of successors or success.

Family fun

Families mean love and support and bringing those concepts into the family business allows for new memories and fun times together. The business itself may not be unique to the market but the family dynamic, which is unique to each family, is something special. Stay authentic in who you are as a family and translate that into your work life. This doesn’t mean shouting across the room as you would across the house, but keeping it comfortable and playful like it would be at home.

Customers are looking for a distinctive consumer experience and walking into a family owned and run store, where generations of traditions are alive, makes them feel at home and part of the family. How’s that for a distinctive experience?

Tips on revamping your office

It’s the start of a new year, the perfect time to give your office a new look. Do you work in an office that desperately needs an injection of vibrancy and colour? Making your office look attractive and appealing doesn’t have to cost a fortune. All you want is for employees to come to work in an inviting and engaging environment. Giving your offices an upgrade will make your employees happy and more productive.

Staying motivated and keeping productivity high aren’t always easy, especially if you’re sitting at a desk with an old computer and no one to talk to. You’ll often find that people who are unmotivated and always tired don’t have things set up around their office that allow them to stay focused. If that’s what’s happening in your office, then it’s time to bring about some change.

Try to create a more modern office space that’ll make employees excited to be there. Gone are the days when you used a silver key to open the main entrance. No more small offices inside one big space. Everyone’s sitting together in groups these days. Note that technology plays a big role in a modern office. It’s time to adapt and think of changing your office to a more updated style.

Here are a few things that you can do to give your office an upgrade.

Bring light into the office

Natural light in an office is the way to go. If you have the available funds to install more windows or a sliding door in your office, go for it. Employees that are exposed to light tend to be more productive. If natural light isn’t an option, then you should opt for bright lighting. Try to change the light bulbs of your office as often as possible. Brighter lighting can make a room look more cheerful and spacious.

Update security

If your business has a problem with security, you need to check this out. As mentioned earlier, people aren’t making use of the old silver key to access office buildings anymore. Technology has progressed in such a way that people now make use of tags and cards to enter their offices. Check out how turnstiles work and perhaps you can install this instead of a normal timber door with a silver key. This will cost you some money but it’s a good investment to make for your company. That way you can secure your office premises from any crime.

Create storage space

If you want to go for the more modern look and feel, then you need to declutter all unnecessary things. It doesn’t look great when you see an employee’s books and notes from last year’s presentation lying on their desks. Create storage space by adding two or three drawers to their desks. A modern office is all about space. Creating storage space will make your office look neat and professional.

Give it some colour

Going for one colour can work but it’s not always fun. You can paint the office walls white, have white desks and chairs and even have white computers. How boring is that? Be creative and add a pop of colour to your walls or desks. Try to create a statement wall that’ll catch people’s attention at the entrance of your office. Also, a plant or two and even potted plants on desks won’t do any harm. Choose a specific wall to display all your company’s photos or certificates. That’ll make the office look more homely and comfortable.

Update computers

Not giving your computers an update won’t literally blow them up but one day they’ll just become obsolete. The older hardware gets, the more likely a failure and loss of productivity will occur. Check with your IT specialist whether or not it’s the right time to upgrade your computers. The software can maybe be updated on an annual basis, while the computer itself can last you for about five or more years.  However, if you still have the old big computers, then you know it’s time for an upgrade. In today’s life, those computers aren’t being used anymore. Also, if you’re working in the digital industry you need to have the new ones as they’re faster and more effective.

Many people spend most of their time at the office. It’s almost like their second home. For a space that you confine yourself to for most of the time, it’s important to make it as practical and comfortable as possible. In order to do your best and make a success of what you’re doing, you need a workplace that’s tidy, up to date and has a professional atmosphere. It all comes down to motivation, so make sure to upgrade your office in a way that’ll keep you happy and motivated.

10 Ways to save your sinking business

Businesses go through many phases over their lifespan. During certain seasons the sales can go through the roof and during other periods, the sales may dip. But what happens if your business is experiencing slow sales for a long period? When the customers aren’t flocking to your business in large numbers like they used to? Your business might be sinking rapidly and you need to find ways to save it.

Find out where the problem lies

Is it poor management? Failure to implement marketing strategies? Lack of experience? Or maybe you won’t take risks? When you find out the why your business is failing you’ll be able to find solutions to help revive it back to life. You can’t implement strategies effectively if you only cure the symptoms and not the real problem.

Figure ways you can save your company:

Rebrand

In order to save your business, you may need to rebrand your company. Rebranding is great when you want to grow your business and reach a new market. The market you may want to target could be based in a specific demographic, you could want to reach more woman or a younger audience. Rebranding involves more than just changing your company slogan and logo. It also involves changing the vision and mission of the company but when you do this you need to keep your target market in mind. Will your new brand appeal to them? Will the risk pay off? Make sure your brand distinguishes you and is in line with what your company stands for.

But before you rebrand your business, make sure you first find the root cause of the problem. There’s no point spending money changing your company’s branding strategies only to find that the reason your company is performing poorly is that you offer poor service. Make sure you find the real cause of the problem first.

When should you rebrand?

If the name of the company no longer serves its purpose then it may be time to change it to something else. Or maybe the name doesn’t fit with the market you are wanting to acquire.

If your brand doesn’t stand out

The marketplace is competitive and for a business to be sustainable, it needs to be the fittest in order to survive. And a key way to help it succeed is to set it apart from the competition. Consumers need to be able to differentiate your business from the rest of the businesses in the marketplace. You can take a gamble and rebrand your company. The more you stand out, the more you’ll be memorable to your target audience.

Ask customers

Your customers are the ones taking money from their pockets in order to make use of your service or buy your product, so it would make sense to ask them for feedback. Ask them to rate your service. The feedback could help you solve problems. Do your customers feel well connected to you? Does the advertising you use to appeal to them?

Offer what your customers need

Does the product solve the customer’s problems?  You may be providing a service which customers don’t want. If the product doesn’t appeal to your clients, go back to the drawing board and find something which will cater to their needs. Because if your customers aren’t satisfied, your business won’t survive. Align your marketing strategies and product model to suit the needs of your customers.

Outdated technology and skills

We live in a world of ever evolving technology and it may be your business is using outdated software or skills. When you’re falling behind in technology, you won’t be able to keep up with the competition. If your customers are using certain social media platforms to access the competition and you don’t use those platforms, you’re in trouble and you may lose out on a huge market. Make sure you keep up to date with the latest technology so you can keep up with your customers.

Check your finances

If money is the main reason your business isn’t doing well, you may want to look at your spending habits. You may need to cut down on unnecessary spending which could be costing your company each month. You may need to bring in outside help in order to help you figure how to solve your financial problems.

Merger

You can merge with another company. When you merge with another company you can lower costs through economies of scale and also have access to their customers. A merger will require financing and you can acquire funding through corporate finance.  

When your business is experiencing failure you need to go back to the drawing board for a fresh approach. Find the reason why your business by collecting data, asking customers and looking at your expenditure. Once you’ve found the root cause you’ll be able to find the best solution to help your business.

How to start a taxi business

It is safe to say that a job is quite the rare commodity these days. Interviews are in abundance, but appointments are few and far between.

Whether you’re just entering the job market fresh from school, or circling back from a previous employment, you need a reliable and steady income to sustain yourself. But if jobs are scarce and bills are stacking, what are you supposed to do? Here’s an idea – start your own taxi service. Who knows, your fleet might be the next piece of iconography synonymous with your area.

Starting any business can pose a few challenges, but the internet is your friend. You can learn almost anything with a quick visit to your favourite search engine. In the meantime, here are a few tips to start your own taxi business and avoid some of the most complained about pitfalls.

Who will be driving?

You need to decide whether you will be driving, or whether you’ll assign someone as a driver (either a business partner or employee). If you are the one responsible for driving, you have to make sure that you have a valid driving license and a ton of free time on your hands. The more you are available to transport people, the more income you’ll generate. If you choose to assign someone else to drive, you need to check their driving license. Make sure that it hasn’t expired and look for any conditional modifiers indicated (such as vehicle class, manual or automatic drive and the necessity of glasses). Whoever you choose needs to be clued up about their surroundings, or at least in possession of a GPS. Also consult the internet about third-party insurance, especially if you are providing the vehicle they will be driving. While you’re at it, read into the process of getting your business registered and licensed.

Choose your vehicle wisely

The vehicle is the most important element of your business, as it is the direct source of your income. The vehicle you choose need not be the latest and greatest in automotive design, but it does need to be presentable and in working condition. So, your uncle’s old pickup truck just short of being written-off probably isn’t your best option. Keep in mind that your passengers need to sit comfortably and try to make provision for multiple passengers per trip. In other words, the vehicle needs to have a back seat and doors for passengers to access it. An added bonus would be to find a vehicle with moderate to low fuel consumption. You wouldn’t want all of your revenue going towards that thirsty tank. Your vehicle will be an invaluable asset, so it’s important to do your research and make the best possible decision. Consult the internet to find opportunities for machinery asset finance and weigh up all your options.

How to be a good driver

Now that your business is registered, your driver has been chosen and your vehicle has been financed, it’s time to take people places. Here are a few tips on not sucking as a chauffeur.

Speeding

Try your utmost best to stick to the speed limit. The benefits of this are twofold – firstly, you will avoid unnecessary expenses in the form of fines and secondly, your passengers will sleep soundly knowing they didn’t narrowly evade the clutches of death. Even though your passengers might not always be the most patient, it is a fair assumption that they’d rather arrive late than not arrive at all.

Conversation

Although your job will mostly consist of customer service and human interaction, your job description is not ‘therapist’. Keep the conversation light and minimal. The only thing worse than a creepy silent driver is a blabbering one. You’ll be able to gauge the level of  conversation required from the passengers as they enter your vehicle. Be friendly and professional but whatever you do, don’t rant about your ex.

Music

We all know how awkward it is when you want to have a conversation with a friend or loved one but you feel like a stranger is listening to every word. Well, this is your life now – you’re the stranger. So to avoid those cringe-worthy moments, switch on the radio and ask your passengers if there’s a specific channel they would prefer. This will instantly make them feel more comfortable (especially if their favorite song comes on). However, take note of the fine line between background music and noise pollution.

Ambience

Last but not least, put some thought into the general feel inside your vehicle. Make sure to keep it clean (yes, bin the takeout boxes) and keep the unseemly smells at bay with an air freshener. Impression management is important for a new business and nothing ruins a first impression quite like a trashed car that smells like a dumpsite.