Category Archives: Business

Getting a Business off the Ground on a Shoestring Budget

During the start-up phase, it’s vital for a business owner to keep a close eye on the books. Running into financial trouble can crash a business long before it’s taken off. To help keep your business out of the red, keep these tips in mind:

Work from home or a shared office space

The benefit of working from home is obvious – you don’t have to rent a premises and pay the overheads that come with it in addition to your home. It’s not everyone that can work from home though, so those who want to avoid distractions at home or who prefer to have people around, can look into shared office spaces. These business hubs are popping up everywhere and provide, at the very least, a desk and chair to rent. You’ll share the space with other entrepreneurs or freelancers, which will also give you the opportunity to network.

Barter with other businesses

Business owners are often told to negotiate discounts, but bartering works just as well, if not better. During a barter you’ll offer your service in exchange for someone else’s service or product. Say, for instance, you’re a web developer who would like signage done on your car. You can then approach a signage company and offer to develop their website in exchange for a vehicle wrap. It’s a deal both businesses will benefit from.

Employ with care

Only employ people once it’s really necessary and when you can afford it. You’ll most likely find that you’ll be able to take care of admin and other menial tasks yourself in the first few months. Assess the business’s needs after four to six months to see whether an employee is needed to fill a gap. Thereafter, take it month by month, but never employ more people than is necessary.

Be a budget-conscious marketer

There are many ways to create awareness of your business without spending half of the monthly budget. You can use networking as an advertising tool and have business cards on you at all times. Invest in email marketing, run a competition or start a referral program with existing customers. Even if you have only one customer, that one customer can lead to one more.

Pay and get paid quickly

Cash flow is what keeps a business afloat, so take care of yours. Part of it is paying creditors on time, so that interest is not accrued on outstanding debts. The other part is getting paid, which is often a headache. Help debtors pay on time by issuing invoices quickly or by setting up electronic payments for them. Don’t try and sell this to them by telling why it’s good for your business – do it by telling them how it will benefit their business.

These cover all the business basics, but should make a huge difference to the bank balance at the end of the month. Continue doing business frugally until you’re out of the woods, but keep the lessons you learn as reminders for times when the cash is not flowing as freely as it should.

This advice was brought to you by Digicash in the interest of the financial health of your business.

Should I Translate my Business’s Website?

The question posed in the headline is one that should be considered carefully. The answer is not a simple yes or no, as there are many factors that should be taken into account.

Presumably, you’re asking yourself the question because you are expanding your business into foreign markets. This means, first and foremost, you have to carefully examine the online habits of your future target market. If you are looking to tap into the European market, a 2011 Eurobarometer report done by the European Commission might provide some initial insight.

Responses from European citizens to the questions put forward by the European Commission showed that 9 in 10 internet users in the EU always visited a website in their own language, provided they had a choice of languages. A slim majority of respondents (53%) would accept using an English version of a website if it was not available in their own language. More than 4 in 10 (44%) respondents agreed that they missed interesting information because websites were not available in a language they understood.

These finding were reported in the fourth section of the report, titled “Opinions about the availability of websites in several languages”, and is a clear indication of the fact European internet users, at least, would prefer to use a website in their own language.

Should you decide, following this and your own investigations, that you do in fact want to translate your website, you’d next want to consider whether it is financially feasible. Translating an entire website could be costly, and there is a chance that your business cannot afford it right now.

Don’t even consider doing the translation yourself or by using an online translation tool. That is unless you have an exceptional knowledge of the language you intend to use. Online translation tools are incredibly dangerous, because these tools have not been equipped with grammar rules, exceptions to those rules, nuances or accepted slang terms. It is highly likely that you will get an unintelligible mess back when you type a sentence into an online translation tool.

The best choice for your business and its reputation would be to use a professional translation agency. This type of agency would hand your website over to someone with expert knowledge of the language you want to translate your website to. This person will be aware of any vocabulary updates, slang or idioms, so the text you’ve used will contain its original meaning. The other advantage to this is that the text on your website would be in a language that’s up-to-date and readers will thus be able to relate to it. Use outdated forms of speech and people will be able to recognise that you are not familiar with them in an instant. This will tarnish your reputation.

Of course South Africa presents its own unique situation, because of our 11 official languages. So perhaps you don’t want to expand internationally, but do you want to target a wider audience base within the borders of the country. For instance, you could do a Sotho translation if you want to target the Free State, or a Zulu translation to take advantage of the KwaZulu-Natal market. The process would stay the same – familiarise yourself with how these target audiences browse the web and then look at whether you can afford to translate your entire website.

Whether the issue of expansion relates to international or local markets, it could be worth your while to investigate only translating parts of your online marketing strategy to start off with. Perhaps you can begin with your PPC ads or a monthly newsletter. It’s better to have something than nothing available in someone’s mother tongue if your research shows that is the language they prefer to be addressed in.

Seven Tips for Growing a Successful Business

To succeed in business today, you need to be flexible in your planning and organisational skills. The majority of people think that as soon as they open their doors to the public, they will start making a profit, only to find that making money is not easy. In order to avoid this in your business venture, you need to take your time planning out the necessary steps you need to achieve success. Here is how:

Get organised: The very first thing you need to do is get organised. Being organised will help you complete tasks and allow you to stay on top of things. A good way to do this is by creating a daily to-do list. This will ensure that you never forget a task, no matter how small and meaningless it might seem.

Keep detailed reports: All successful businesses keep a record of everything. By keeping all your records, you will be able to know exactly how much money you have received through sales and what your expenses (debit orders, start-up costs and fixed and variable costs) are. By being aware of your financial constraints, you will be prepared for any hiccups or hurdles that might occur down the line.

Analyse your competition: You need to understand your competition. What services do they offer, how do they sell their products and what advantage do they hold over you, etc.? Understanding your competition allows you to implement your own business strategies to improve your competitive edge and grow your business.

Be creative: You need to always be on the lookout for unique ways to improve your business and stand out from your competition. Once you recognise that you do not know everything about the industry or the sales approach, you are able to open up to new approaches in your business processes.

Prepare to make sacrifices: The lead-up to starting a business is hard work, but after opening your doors, the true work has just begun. You will need to put in more time than you would if you were working for someone else. In turn, you will need to make sacrifices, such as spending less time with your family and friends in order to be successful.

Understand the risks and rewards: The key to being successful is taking calculated risks to help grow your business. A good question to ask in every situation is “What is the downside?” If you are able to answer that question, then you know the worst-case scenario is. This type of knowledge will allow you to make calculated risks that can generate incredible rewards for your business.

Be consistent: Consistency is one of the key components to making money in business. You have to be consistent in your daily services and work practices. This will create long-term positive habits that will help you build relationships and make money in the long run.

A successful business is built on consistency, creativity and continuity. Ensure that you follow these steps to help you grow your business.

Should I Translate my Business’s Website?

The question posed in the headline is one that should be considered carefully. The answer is not a simple yes or no, as there are many factors that should be taken into account.

Presumably, you’re asking yourself the question because you are expanding your business into foreign markets. This means, first and foremost, you have to carefully examine the online habits of your future target market. If you are looking to tap into the European market, a 2011 Eurobarometer report done by the European Commission might provide some initial insight.

Responses from European citizens to the questions put forward by the European Commission showed that 9 in 10 internet users in the EU always visited a website in their own language, provided they had a choice of languages. A slim majority of respondents (53%) would accept using an English version of a website if it was not available in their own language. More than 4 in 10 (44%) respondents agreed that they missed interesting information because websites were not available in a language they understood.

These finding were reported in the fourth section of the report, titled “Opinions about the availability of websites in several languages”, and is a clear indication of the fact European internet users, at least, would prefer to use a website in their own language.

Should you decide, following this and your own investigations, that you do in fact want to translate your website, you’d next want to consider whether it is financially feasible. Translating an entire website could be costly, and there is a chance that your business cannot afford it right now.

Don’t even consider doing the translation yourself or by using an online translation tool. That is unless you have an exceptional knowledge of the language you intend to use. Online translation tools are incredibly dangerous, because these tools have not been equipped with grammar rules, exceptions to those rules, nuances or accepted slang terms. It is highly likely that you will get an unintelligible mess back when you type a sentence into an online translation tool.

The best choice for your business and its reputation would be to use a professional translation agency. This type of agency would hand your website over to someone with expert knowledge of the language you want to translate your website to. This person will be aware of any vocabulary updates, slang or idioms, so the text you’ve used will contain its original meaning. The other advantage to this is that the text on your website would be in a language that’s up-to-date and readers will thus be able to relate to it. Use outdated forms of speech and people will be able to recognise that you are not familiar with them in an instant. This will tarnish your reputation.

Of course South Africa presents its own unique situation, because of our 11 official languages. So perhaps you don’t want to expand internationally, but do you want to target a wider audience base within the borders of the country. For instance, you could do a Sotho translation if you want to target the Free State, or a Zulu translation to take advantage of the KwaZulu-Natal market. The process would stay the same – familiarise yourself with how these target audiences browse the web and then look at whether you can afford to translate your entire website.

Whether the issue of expansion relates to international or local markets, it could be worth your while to investigate only translating parts of your online marketing strategy to start off with. Perhaps you can begin with your PPC ads or a monthly newsletter. It’s better to have something than nothing available in someone’s mother tongue if your research shows that is the language they prefer to be addressed in.

 

 

Practising Patient Safety

Mistakes do have consequences, some more so than others. The consequence of making a mistake in business could mean that you fail to make a profit and the business ends up going into liquidation. A big deal to be sure but not life threatening.

Mistakes in the medical profession have far greater implications because people’s lives are in the equation. Errors in the medical field affects one in every ten patients and fifty percent of these errors are considered preventable.

Yes, doctors are human like the rest of us and mistakes do happen, but the fact that fifty percent of these errors are considered preventable is a cause for concern.

Patient safety and healthcare accreditation is a fairly new practice. The first patient safety resolution was passed by the world health assembly in May 2002. The resolution highlighted the responsibilities of the WHO in providing guidance to countries on developing reporting systems, creating awareness and research on patient safety.

In recent years a number of accreditation associations have appeared in the hopes of continued improvement in quality of healthcare in public and private hospitals.

The goals of accreditation agencies are as follows:

1. To ensure that an acceptable level of quality is maintained across the board in terms of medical equipment, facilities and service delivery.

2. To minimize human error and the occurrence of accidents by ensuring that healthcare providers follow certain precautions.

To give you an idea of the magnitude of the patient safety issues consider this: In 1999, in the United States alone, a brief by Dr. Lucian Leape confirmed that over one million people were injured by errors in treatment every year. Out of those one million, 120 000 were fatal. That’s a pretty big number when you think about it.  In fact, less people were dying in car accidents than from complications arising due to medical error.

Initially these numbers were alarming but they are improving and will continue to do so thanks to the accreditation organizations who continue to monitor and improve systems and processes at hospitals and clinics around the world.