Category Archives: Career

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.

Unwritten etiquette rules in business writing

Communicating on behalf of your business requires professionalism and a clear understanding of writing etiquette. For many reasons, you need to pay attention to detail when writing for business as writing does not always portray the tone and humour you hoped for a client to read. Keep your writing clear and to the point. After all, you want to be taken seriously with whatever you say to a client or customer.

Not everyone is capable of writing beautiful emails and lengthy business strategies in a professional manner. If that is the case for you or one of your staff members, consider looking into business writing skills courses. Skills development in the workplace is always valuable for any position, giving employees the tools they need to succeed in many different environments, and on a professional level. 

Here are a few important tips to consider when writing for your business:

  • Avoid slang and jargon in your writing

So, you might be a jolly employee or content writer who is used to writing humorous blog articles and so forth, but when you’re writing to a professional in the industry, you need to keep your approach standard and neutral. If you don’t know the person, you might not know what type of mood they’re going to receive your email in or what their personality is like, so this could lead to a very bad experience. Another tip is that you might not be contacting someone in your field of work, therefore they will not be familiar with your jargon. Stick to formal writing that is free of slang and any complex words that might make it difficult for the person reading the email to understand. After all, the wrong approach can cause a major misunderstanding which could have been prevented by keeping to the topic and being clear.

  • Keep business emails conversational

As much as you want to keep it formal and professional, try to steer away from having your business writing sound like a sales pitch. You need to speak in a conversational manner, without overstuffing the content with fluffy information that doesn’t add any value. Keep things to the point, but write according to the way that you speak. Always remember that an email is a business conversation through a different medium, so should you be meeting up with your colleague, client or customer thereafter, you will need to continue your conversation in such a way that complements your business writing on paper.

  • Consider cultural differences

When speaking on behalf of your business or the company which you work for, it’s important to consider cultural differences. You might not know the person who you will be communicating with, therefore a standard universal communication approach is best. Always avoid political encounters and respect the cultural differences the person might have. Everyone has different attitudes and beliefs on certain topics, therefore you need to think carefully about your words and try your best not to offend the reader in any way. The same goes for blog writing and general business communications, offline and online.

  • General know-how

Once you’ve considered the above, think about the time in which you send and respond to emails as this could negatively affect your relationship with the person on the other side. Speak with courtesy and address people in the right manner. If you’ve received an email from someone with other people copied into the email, be sure to think wisely about replying to “all”. Business communication is restrictive in the sense that you should only show others what they need to know. It could look petty if you copy everyone in everytime you receive an email, and it could give away confidential information to the wrong people. As minor as you might think the need for business writing skills and courses can be, always remember that the first encounter over email can leave a good or bad impression. You choose what you’d like to portray.

Proofread the copy before you press send and make sure that you spell everyone’s names properly.

Final thoughts

Staff training in Cape Town and elsewhere in South Africa is something businesses should always consider when looking to make a good impression. People who deal with clients and projects on a daily basis will have a knack for good business writing skills. However, if you’re not familiar with how to communicate with your customers, you need to learn how to speak professionally for your own good and the sake of your company.

The above-mentioned tips are four simple, yet very important rules of email and writing etiquette you should keep in mind if you want to impress the next person you communicate with. Creating new relationships with clients will depend on the type of impression you’ve made. Successful partnerships have strong communication as their foundation, so be respectful in your choice of words and always be courteous. You’ll be able to avoid several awkward encounters or miscommunications simply by following these tips.

Secrets to starting your own successful beauty salon

Starting your own beauty salon requires more than a Pinterest board of what you wish to achieve. There is plenty of planning and preparation that goes into the business aspect of your salon before you can think about the decor and detail you want to add to give your new business the sparkle it needs.

Before you can reap the “fun” benefits of owning and running a beauty salon, you need to start your business on the right foot. Be forward-thinking and approach your new venture as a business deal. While it might be unusual in the sense that you don’t work a regular 9am to 5pm job, you certainly need to have the mindset as if it were. You need to have a structured management plan in place and lean on the correct people for help. You might “think” that you can do it alone, but you simply cannot. Maximise your budget by incorporating everything you need to run your dream business and make a living.

Here are a few tips to consider when starting your first salon business:

  • Finalise your business plan

Just because you don’t perceive your business to be a corporate or similarly structured business, you still need a business plan to execute your goals and work towards your business objectives. It’s pointless diving head-first into a business concept if you haven’t planned for it. There are plenty of factors that play a role in a business environment that you will need to consider. You will need to have a proper plan in place of where you want your business to grow to. Your business plan will need to be updated and tweaked every couple of years in order to document your growth and to see how far you’ve come.

  • Secure your finances and budget accordingly

In your business plan, you will need to draw up a costing of what it will take to start and grow your business. If you do not have access to the capital amount that you need, you will need to look at alternative financing options. From equipment to cash flow, salaries and more, you will need to have the correct finances to successfully start your own business. Take a personal loan, for example. Fill in a loan application to apply for any outstanding amount. During this process, make sure you have a clear understanding of what the terms and conditions are of your loan and how long it will take to pay back the money. You can view the amount that you might qualify for beforehand by searching for a personal loan calculator, as well as the repayment amount through a loan repayment calculator.

  • Choose the correct salon staff for your business

Anyone starting a business knows that the correct staff can make or break your name and reputation. Beauty therapists and employees need to be bubbly and engaging with your customers. Make sure that you choose staff members who will go the extra mile to create long-term relationships with your customers and keep them coming back for more. When your salon grows, you will need to hire more people, but the best advice is to start small and lower your overheads until your business really starts to take off. Once you’ve shown the public who you are and how much you pride yourself in good customer service, the easier it will be to employ more people based on your increase in profitability.

  • Invest in insurance for startups

As you know, insurance is something that cannot be compromised on. If not in your personal life, then not in your business either. Because you’re working in an industry that requires thousands of Rands worth of equipment, it’s vital to insure your equipment and assets. Not only will insurance protect your business and employees, but also your customers. Before you employ anyone, ensure you’ve done your research and consulted with a professional company which can guide you and help you with this process.

  • Think about your services, pricing and products

Your prices should be directly related to your target audience. If you are based in a middle to lower LSM area, you cannot charge luxury rates because your customers are unlikely to afford it. So, you need to be extremely careful with your products and services pricing. Salon treatment products are extremely costly, so it is advised that you stick to a small menu before branching out and offering more than you can afford to maintain. Do your research and speak to other professionals in the industry to learn more about the market. At the end of the day, you need to analyse your expenses and set your prices accordingly.

  • Don’t forget to market your business

Lastly, make absolutely sure that you can set aside a budget to pay for your marketing fees. When starting out, you need to advertise your business to the public if you want to create awareness and become known in the industry. Print is expensive and cannot always guarantee the return on investment that you had hoped for, therefore you should focus on social media. Digital is the way to go. If you create engaging content and advertisements that are shareable, you’ll be able to reach your targeted audience in no time. These platforms will help you to create and boost your brand’s awareness.

How to grow your career in content marketing

In the digital age, content marketing plays a vital role in a successful communications strategy. The internet is filled with thousands of content sources, so if you want to create awareness around your brand, you need to work extra hard to have your content recognised above your competitors. The key is to create engaging content so that you can boost your traffic which leads to conversions, and grow your bottom line.

Without the right content, your campaign won’t work. And this is where content marketers become important. To be a content marketer, you need to have a specific skill set to be able to excel in the digital world. Here are a few of the most important content marketing skills needed to grow your career:

  • Build your writing knowledge

If you’re dealing with content and words on a daily basis, you need to be skilled in this department. You need to be comfortable with writing and have a deep understanding of the English language. On that note, it’s important to understand the difference between print writing and writing for a digital website.

A good place to start improving your skills is to start off as a copywriter or in a content producer position and familiarise yourself with marketing through the various digital marketing courses. This will prepare you for marketing management and wrap your head around the various writing tones, phrases and words used to deliver content on behalf of brands. Writing for companies will teach you how to market their products or services, and monitor the performance of each piece of writing. If you see that something is not generating traffic or awareness, learn from your approach. Digital writing is different to print as you need to incorporate various keywords into your writing, in order for Google to promote your content.

Content writing changes by the day, much like the digital space. You need to keep educating yourself about the internet and follow your competitors online. This will give you an indication of what works and what doesn’t. And that will teach you how to improve your writing according to a specific market.

  • Develop your technological skills

As mentioned, digital writing is a completely new ballgame. You will need to be familiar with working on a computer and the various digital marketing tools used to steer your content ideas. Most content marketers create content for different websites, therefore you need to be skilled in content management systems such as WordPress. Technical skills such as this as well as search engine optimisation (SEO) and a brief understanding of coding, will help to boost your career opportunities as many companies are looking for people who are already skilled and trained in these tools. Before you consider pursuing this career path, make sure you do your research on these applications to help better your knowledge of the online world.

  • Connect with your creative side

Creativity is a skill that you need to learn. Of course, there are some people who are certainly more creative than others, but you need to cultivate your own creativity. This can be achieved through creative activities such as reading, painting, drawing, poetry and more. If you have an eye for design, it’s a bonus. Having these creative abilities will ensure that you write better and deliver impressive results.

  • Learn how to research properly and efficiently

As mentioned, the digital space allows you access to thousands of content sources. In order to keep up with the industry and the latest trends, you need to educate yourself and keep informed about the latest news. Google allows you to research absolutely anything about the industry, and learn from it.

When you are writing fresh, new content, you need to stick to the latest sources and ensure your content is up to date. Poor researching skills and information can give you a bad reputation as a writer. The internet is particularly useful when researching about customer behaviour and trends. You will learn more about the type of content they like or dislike, and based on their actions, you will be able to adjust your approach to suit their needs. The same goes for a brand’s competitors. You will be able to leverage the internet to create unique and creative campaigns for your client, based on research and current trends.

  • Focus on developing your own personal brand

Lastly, the most important way to showcase your skills and jumpstart your career is by utilising social media platforms and creating your own online portfolio to generate awareness for you and your talents. You need to learn how to sell yourself to others, and this can be learned through sales and marketing courses. Find your position in the market and make sure that you keep your personal brand fresh.

These platforms are ideal when looking for a job in content marketing or even freelance work as people will be able to learn more about you. Take advantage of the digital world and connect with influential leaders in the field or network with professionals who can guide you in your career.

Tips for creating a business idea that is fundable

Small business funding is a popular approach for entrepreneurs who do not have the finances to execute or maintain their business concept. With so many innovative ideas out there, applying for startup funding takes time, effort and determination. There are various conversations you need to consider when applying for funding. And before you can apply, you need to have a clear idea of what investors are looking for.

What do investors look for when it comes to startup funding?

In essence, there are various factors that come into play when someone is looking to invest in your business. From the expected return on investment (ROI) and turnover rate to the interest in your concept, your assets, liabilities and your market, this is a lengthy process, to say the least. Your personal credit score and finances are two elements that have the power to sway the conversation, meaning if they reflect positively to the potential investor, it will demonstrate your financial habits on a larger scale.

You will be required to pitch your funding application to a pool of investors or via a reputable financial firm, along with the supporting documentation which will summarise the numbers for the potential investor interested in learning more about your startup business. Should your concept and/or pitch be enough to showcase financial profitability and long-term success, you will become a potential candidate.

Here are a few tips and factors that will influence your ability to be funded as a startup founder:

  • Brainstorm specific problems and solutions

Investors are not looking for out-of-the-box ideas that have never been tried and tested. They’re looking for business ideas that are plug and play and serve a purpose for the public. Investors want to be able to see the profitability of an idea, and if they can see that your business idea has the potential to soar and add value, they’ll consider your application within reason. Do your research, speak to people in the industry and know your numbers. Should the investor be interested in learning more, they are going to ask you several questions, which is where your research comes into play.

  • Apply for funding only once you’re ready to scale your business

Do not consider funding if you have not started your business. Investors want to be involved in companies that are established and growing. While you might not have grown your bottom line as much as you’d hoped for by now, you need to try and test the market with your product. Try to ensure that you have a proper following and the ability to start a successful conversation. Applying for funding before any of this is a premature approach which might backfire. Funding is to be considered once you’ve established your position in the market and now want to grow and scale your business to meet your business’s needs.

  • Start with the simplest legal entity

You might have the vision of growing your business over the upcoming months, but increasing your shareholder amount will make the investment complex on your part. If you are registered as a sole proprietorship or partnership business, it will lower the liabilities and tax implications for investors. It’s best to invest as a one-man-band or a smaller entity to increase your chances of being considered.

  • Build your company and showcase your results

This does not mean that your startup business needs to be a thriving success. This certainly does not happen overnight either. It simply means that you need to have something to show. Business investors in South Africa want to be able to see the results and analyse them thus far, as this will give them the answers they need to go ahead with your concept. If the potential investor sees profitability in your work, it will generate confidence. Another tip to consider is your business’s focus. While technology is a trending topic, investors want to see how customer-centric your business is and how you’re changing the lives of your customers.

When you create an intellectual property portfolio, you’re creating a competitive advantage for your startup company and showing investors how serious and passionate you are. Investors want to see that you have patented your idea or trademarked something in your business. It’s a good barrier to entry.

Final words

As you see, success takes time and hard work. In order to gain funding, you will need to do things in the right sequence before you find out more on how to apply for a startup business loan. Once you see that you cannot carry it further without the financial support you need, consider funding. This will give investors a clear idea of your journey and what they can expect to see if there was money involved.