Category Archives: Career

Perfect your startup pitch with these helpful tips

Depending on the type of entrepreneur that you are, starting and running a business without sufficient capital is a daunting task. If this is the case for you, some or other time, you’re going to need to find an alternative way to fund your idea which may result in a pitch in front of a group of investors. Whether you choose to seek financial help through crowdfunding platforms or by approaching investors, you will need to carefully plan your pitch. The point is to convince people that your idea is worth their time and money.

The idea of a perfect investor pitch is being able to discuss your idea in a limited amount of time. You will need to refine your pitch to ensure that you cut out all of the unnecessary information and focus on what really matters to the audience. Here are a few ideas to consider when preparing your investor pitch:

  • Learn to master your one-liner

To own a business, you need to be passionate about your idea. You need to be able to explain your entire business model and concept in one line that concludes your business’s mission. It might not come easy at first, but having some sort of idea will make your pitching experience easier and more valuable. You need to hook someone from the very beginning, so be sure to sit down and think about how to make the most of your brand and advertise it in one powerful line. In this process, try to avoid using too many buzzwords.

  • Understand your audience

Whether you are speaking to one individual or a group of people, you will need to be able to adjust your pitch to suit the audience. If you are pitching to a group of investors, research each individual to give yourself a clear idea of who they are and what they’re looking to gain from this experience.

Most people will be impressed by your knowledge if you do so. And having some background knowledge of each individual will also help you put together a few questions that might prove necessary after your pitch. If you are speaking to a crowdfunding audience, you will need to simplify your pitch to make your idea understandable to the average Joe who might not (completely) understand your industry’s jargon.

  • Practice makes perfect

One of the most important tasks to do when preparing for your pitch is to practice regularly. Practice alone, in front of your team, to a mentor or to a friend. Once you’ve created your pitch, consider how long it will take you to get your point across. If it takes 10 PowerPoint slides and a six-minute speech, you’ve lost your audience. Avoid using big words, and opt for phrases and words that you use on a daily basis.

Once you’ve perfected your pitch alone, make sure you speak to an audience. The reason for this is that your loved ones, friends or team members will be able to be honest with you about your pitch and give you the friendly criticism you need to improve it. When you’re finished, ask them questions about it. For example, whether it made sense, if it’s easy to understand or unique, and if it’s missing anything.

  • Use figures and pictures

If you spend the majority of your pitching time talking, you could bore your audience. Take the time to structure your presentation to include both talking and imagery to backup your facts. On-screen visuals and numbers will help to maintain the audience’s attention, as well as keep them interested. Try to tell a story if you can, by keeping things interesting and conversational. You need to show that you are truly confident in your idea when trying to persuade influential people to invest in your startup.

Final words

Startup funding takes plenty of time and effort to attain. With so many incredible, and similar, ideas out there, you need to be able to show investment companies why your startup is so unique. While you might be one of the more introverted entrepreneurs who aren’t confident behind the mic, you will need to learn how to master your own pitching technique to successfully win over the hearts of the people you need to support you. During the early stages of your startup, before you look at crowdfunding platforms or investor opportunities, make it your mission to connect with influential leaders in the industry who can help you. Professional advice is always needed, so be sure to seek guidance and support wherever you go.

Stop these bad work habits to find success

It’s a wonder how we seem to think our standard effort deserves maximum success. Hard work pays off and we can’t work hard if we’re too busy giving in to our bad work habits. Those few minutes doing something other than work every 10 minutes adds up and hours of productivity are lost.

If you’re sitting at your desk right now wondering what you’re doing wrong or how you can be more successful at work, it’s time to stop these bad work habits. And don’t be surprised if you have more than one bad habit to break.

Browsing online

Okay, free internet is asking for non-work-related internet browsing. But, as it is necessary for doing business, there’s only so much companies can do to block employee access to certain websites. It’s up to you to practise self-control and refrain from browsing the internet without a work-related purpose.

Especially online stores that seem to constantly have sales and specials on limited items for a limited time. If you aren’t looking for something specific, it’s easy to spend hours on the website looking at watches, shoes and clothing and putting things in and out of your online cart before not buying anything anyway. It’s a complete waste of your time unless you really need something and go directly there to find it.

If you must, set a 10-minute timer for browsing. When the time is up, close the tab and continue working. And do yourself a favour and stop subscribing to sale-alert email notifications. If you don’t know about it in the first place, you can’t be distracted by it.

Multitasking is not a real thing

The term multitasking, doing two (or more) things at once, is not a real thing or an ideal you should strive towards. You might be able to have three projects on the go at one time that you change between, but it’s physically impossible to be working on all three at exactly the same time.

By trying to multitask, you’re setting yourself up for failure and you’re more likely fall behind than if you start with one project and finish it before moving on to the next one. Set up a to-do list (organised in order of priority) at the start of every day or week, whichever works best for the type of work you do, and work through the list.

A related bad habit to multitasking (which is generally the reason for attempting to multitask) is saying yes to everything. And that needs to stop. You are only capable of so much and saying no to taking on more than that doesn’t make you incompetent, it makes you smart. It prevents you from stressing out more than is normal in a work environment and it allows you to focus on producing a high standard of quality in the work you do say yes to. You can’t do everything at one time and expect it to still be done extremely well.  

Not having a goal to work towards

Going to work every day of the week and getting through your tasks for the month is not a career goal. It’s your job. You need to find another reason, other than the bills you have to pay, to motivate you to wake up for work and do your best all the time.

Set yourself a goal for the year that has sub-goals throughout every month and even throughout every day. At the end of your to-do list, check off whether you’ve done something that puts you one step closer to your end goal.

Having a goal to work towards helps to keep you focussed and challenges you to be better. Besides reaching your goal, your productivity and performance will improve and you’ll be the better employee for it.

Complaining instead of recommending

Too often we’re ready to complain and never up to recommend. Complaining about the office’s internal communications system is an example. You could spend all your time complaining and have nothing change, or be the one to go through problem solving steps and recommend a solution at the end of the day.

There are a variety of steps in decision making that will require you to identify a problem, analyse the situation, gather information, come up with solutions, present these recommendations and take action. If it’s something that has been bothering you for more than a month, then it’s time that you were the one to do something about it.

Now you know what decision making is and how to solve problems so take the initiative. Your managers will definitely recognise and appreciate your ambition to make the office and company better. And you’ll also be spending less time complaining and more time focussing on being a success. Break the habits and find the success you’re working for.

Skills you need to start and run a business from home

Starting your own business and choosing to do it from home is both a brave and popular business venture at the moment. The flexible hours, controllable workload and doing what you love are all attractive perks to starting your own business from home.

But it takes the right kind of person with the right kind of attributes and skills to pull off a successful home business. And if you’re considering taking this type of business journey for yourself, you need to know what it’s going to take to make it work and make sure you get those skills down before you try it out.

The best thing to do for any job is to make sure you’re qualified and capable. And that’s what you’re about to find out.

Discipline and determination

 

If you were a student who studied via correspondence from your desk at home, then working from home, sticking to deadlines and making sure you actually work, shouldn’t be a problem. But, if you had to go to a university or college and attend lectures to force yourself to focus, then you might struggle to work from home.

There’s a certain type of self-discipline that is required when working from home. You have all the distractions in the world at your disposal and no one else to keep a watchful eye or be on your case to make sure your work gets done.

You need to create your own determination and find the discipline to get work done on a daily basis. You need to work in a productive environment within the house and not from the cosiness of your bed or comfort of your pyjamas. Your success is based on the amount of effort you put in and if you can’t find enough focus to work at home, then your business will never get the attention it needs to grow.

Organisational and project management skills

We spoke about needing to work in a productive environment. Hand in hand with that is the

need to have organisational skills to help you stay on top of things. You can’t mix work and home life together because then you’ll have kids toys in the office, lost documents and all the “home” things calling you away from your desk.

While starting your business from home is a way to balance your work and home life, it still doesn’t mean that your home life distracts for work life. Which is also why you’ll need project management skills. Being organised and tracking the progress of all your projects will help you stay focused on work during work hours and realise the urgency of your tasks. It’s easier to focus and work hard when there’s a plan, a deadline and nothing extra lying around to steal your attention.

Finance and accounting skills

An important part of any business is finances. If you don’t consider yourself the ideal candidate to run a finance manager training programme, you may want to look into finance for non-finance managers courses. As they say, “it takes money to make money” and you’re going to need to manage finances as soon as you proceed with the idea of starting your own business.

And if you look at the two-day finance for non-finance managers course outline, you’ll see that you cover all the basic necessities of business finance that you’ll need to know to manage your business’ money and keep it afloat. They even have a module that covers making financial decisions, which will definitely come in handy during your time as a self-employed, business owner and manager.

Of course, there is always the option of bringing an outside finance expert in, but even then  it would be beneficial for you to have a good idea of what they’re talking about and suggesting. So, just take the course. It will be better for business.

Clear communication skills

And, lastly, you’ll need clear communication skills to be able to start and run your business from home. You will need to contact the necessary institutions to register, finance and market your business and you need to be able to clearly communicate what you want, need and are looking for.

More than that, you will need to build a network of contacts who can help you, endorse your products and collaborate with you. And you’ll need to be able to communicate with clients on a firm and professional level.

Communication is how you’ll market your business and build your brand. You need to know what it is you want to communicate to your clients and target market, and execute it properly the first time. All of these skills will serve you well in your at-home business. Make sure you know what you’re getting yourself into and stick to the game plan for as long as it’s relevant.

How to start a business without any money

You may be sitting at your work desk right now in an office full of people who can never seem to get your name right and doing a job that makes you wish every hour between eight and five away. You may have big dreams of starting your own business but have no money to back the idea up.

Well, what if you were told that it is possible to start up a business without any money? You’d want to jump on that train right now, wouldn’t you? Well, technically, there are ways to go about starting a business without having the initial capital to get it off the ground. You just need to be smart about it and do it the right way.

Choose the right business

If all you know is that you want to start your own business, then pay close attention to the following business ideas that cost next to nothing to start up.

  • Creative business: If you’re creative and can write, draw, paint, sculpt or craft items that appeal to a market, then you’ve got yourself a business that will only cost you the materials you use. Then it’s as easy as finding an online platform or local market to sell it all.
  • Home-services: Pay the price to fill your petrol tank and offer your services as a house sitter, pet sitter, babysitter, or dog-walker. You could also spend the extra cash to buy your own supplies and register yourself as a mobile nail technician, repairman, pet groomer or garden service. People like it when they don’t have to leave their house for things or when they can trust their house to be under the care of other people for a while.
  • Reselling: Find a brand or set of products that you can personally endorse and buy it from a wholesaler or drop shipper to resell to your own market of customers. This is a popular side business for most people and the more successful you are at it, the more you can rely on it as a stable income.
  • Use what you’ve got: Have a car? Or a spare bedroom? Uber and Airbnb are “micropreneurship opportunities” where you can basically run your own business through the template of a head organisation.

But if you have bigger business plans in mind, just keep reading. The above business suggestions can also be seen as extra ways to start making and saving some money for the big leagues.

Don’t quit your day job… for now

Once the “I want to start my own business” seed has been planted, it’s very tempting to quit your day job and start spending all your energy on this new venture. That’s not going to be the best move. If you don’t have money to start a business, you probably won’t be able to survive very long without any income. And new businesses generally cost money before they start making you money.

So, don’t quit just yet. Use any extra time you have to do your research on the business you want to start, the industry it’s in, the market you want to target and coming up with a sound business plan – right down to the asset finance solutions. You’ll know when it’s the right time to focus solely on your own business.

And by sticking to your current job, you’ll be in an environment where you can learn new things, build experience and grow your network. After all, it’s all about who you know when it comes to business matters. Networking within your current company and the companies affiliated with it will make it easier for you to find investors for your business when you branch out and do your own thing.

Design a crowdfund-worthy product

Your business idea may be exactly what the public has been waiting for. To see if you’ve created a crowdfund-worthy product, set up an account and campaign on a crowdfunding website. This way you can gauge the amount of interest (or lack thereof) there is in what you want to do as well as earn the money you need to get started.

Be prepared for the chance of there being zero interest or not enough to confirm your business idea. In that case, you can either think of something else or find the money somewhere else and sell your product to a different market.

Secure a business loan and start with the basics

 

The next step, once you’ve done your research and have a solid business plan in place, is to apply for corporate financing and secure a business loan. Depending on the type of business you’re starting, you’re going to need equipment to help you do it.

Apply for machinery asset finance within the industry you’re going to work in. Financing your equipment allows you to start your business while in the process of making the money you need to make it better. You’ll find that once you start, things get a bit easier. And with finance loans, you’ll be able to afford that start.

Things to consider before buying a new laptop

When it comes to laptops, there is such a vast range to choose from.

A few of the most common and influential factors when purchasing electronics are size, space and brand.  Of course, the type of product you buy is determined by its use, but ultimately, it just needs to suit your needs. The first thing you should consider before splurging on a new laptop is your budget.

These items can range from R5000 to R50 000, so if you’re not sure on what your needs are, and the different features you require, it can quickly become an expensive affair. For example, do you plan on using your new laptop for work in a PowerPoint presentation or on the weekends for gaming? These (amongst others) are the types of questions you’re going to need to ask yourself.

Luckily, the latest technological advancements have ensured that each and every laptop produced is equally good-looking, so even if you can only afford something cheaper, it will still look sleek and modern. Here are a few tips to help you wrap your head around your laptop needs:

Size: When you think of a laptop’s size, you usually refer to its actual shell. If the ‘size’ of your laptop is the main concern, you should consider a notebook that is either light in weight or has a small screen. There are various sizes to choose from, and smaller or thinner laptops don’t always mean that it’s slow and offers little space. For future, the thinnest and lightest systems are 11- to 12-inch screens which weigh an average of 1.5 kilograms. The bigger the screen, the more the machine will weigh.

Screen quality: When you decide to purchase a new laptop, you also need to consider your health. You cannot simply buy something cheap because you can’t afford more. This will affect your eyes. Most people who use a laptop will be in front of it for many hours in a day, so you need to make sure that the screen’s resolution is good to look at and comfortable on your eyes. A glossy screen will lead to a reflection, so refrain from buying a laptop which has a touchscreen incorporated into it. Newer technology offers different viewing angles, so experience a collection before you make your pick.

Keyboard quality: Having a notebook is ideal for quick typing sessions, for example, sending off an email here and there. If your job or hobby requires you to spend hours typing away, you will need to have a high-quality keyboard which can withstand all the typing you’re going to be doing. Your keyboard should also be responsive in touch when you type and let the keys go, and the entire board should offer backlighting to help you see the keys better in poorly lighted areas.

Processor and graphics: Now, a little more technical. The processing unit and the graphics card your computer possesses will contribute to its efficiency. Again, if you’re going to be using your laptop to play games or watch movies, you’re going to need to purchase a laptop which is more powerful. (Many laptops come with already built-in graphics cards.) While these two elements are important for visual usage, RAM and storage are more important for the average laptop user who simply wants to store large files and not have to deal with a laptop that freezes every now and then.

RAM and storage: If you’re using your laptop for work purposes to store plenty of files, you might need to consider more storage space in the years to come. However, if you store most of your information on online platforms such as Google Drive or the Cloud, you won’t need to create new storage space. With RAM, on the other hand, the faster your laptop is, the better. These upgrades will come with time.

Battery life: Having a laptop with a reliable battery life is essential. It’s important to know that you can rely on your laptop when you’re travelling around, without having to send it in for repairs after a few months because it’s been overworked. When you research the laptop you are interested in, be sure to find out about the battery life and how much a spare battery would cost down the line.

Conclusion:

As you can see, gone are the days where you simply buy any kind of electronics straight off the bat. Make a checklist of all the features you need, and keep looking out for any laptop deals which could meet your requirements. Try and find something brand new before you delve into second-hand goods, as new laptops for sale will offer the warranty you need.