Category Archives: Life

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.

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.

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.

Helpful money management tips for first-time business owners

Living paycheck to paycheck is a common cycle for many South Africans. People want to save but they also love to splurge. If you speak to any financial advisor, you will see that saving a portion of your salary every month is critical for a comfortable future. However, if you have started your own business or want to launch a unique concept, you need to break away from this cycle. To invest in the future of your career and your personal wellbeing, you will need to live according to a strict budget.

Here are a few tips that will help you to set good behaviours in motion and meet your goals:

  • Understand the importance of being organised

When it comes to being an entrepreneur, you are in charge of your finances. You will need to prioritise planning and organisation skills in order to stick to a goal. Start categorising your savings according to your needs. For example, future and immediate goals. Once you have a plan set in stone, you will need to effectively manage and follow your progress to ensure that you achieve what you set out to achieve.

  • Check your credit record

No matter where you are in the world, having a poor credit score will affect your next move. While saving and budgeting might be the long-term solution, you might want to consider taking out a personal loan to help you achieve your dream faster. Or at least lift it off of the ground. The reason why you will need to settle for personal loans, if anything, for your startup is that banks and financial brokers are wary of granting loans to small businesses. So, the minute you start working steadily towards your financial goals to kickstart your business, you will need to think about requesting a credit report. The outcome will determine your ability to apply for a personal loan, as well as how to improve your credit score.

  • Save where you can

If your business concept or idea is something that you’re passionate about, you will need to make a lifestyle change and do your best to cut back where possible. There are several ways to reduce your spending when it comes to daily habits and spending trends, so you will need to make a conscious decision to help yourself. If you are already running your own business, you need to postpone personal rewards and think realistically about your cash flow. It certainly is exciting when you start to notice an interest in your product or service, but you cannot reap the benefits just yet. Do not burden yourself with salaries, employee benefits or any other traps when your success has not yet been achieved. You will also need to cut your salary and live as cost-effectively as possible to set an example for anyone who is working with or for you. Reduced cash flow is key in the first couple of years.

  • Set long and short-term goals

Setting goals is effective when working towards something. Having a goal in mind will motivate you every day to wake up and do your best to be better and succeed in life. But the problem with goal setting is that people are puzzled by them. Short-term and long-term goals both take time, effort and dedication. You cannot think you’ll achieve your goals in the shortest period of time. Look at the SMART goal setting technique as this will help you achieve the feedback you need to keep moving forward.

Another tip for first-time entrepreneurs is to try to diversify your business by investing in alternative sources. Many business owners try to put all their eggs in one basket, without having a plan B. If you are going to look at personal loans, be sure to have a plan on where you’re going to distribute that money. You can look at a loan calculator or instalment calculator to see how much you’ll qualify for, and based on that, you will be able to put together a failure plan as well as alternative investment plans.

  • Think about finding a mentor

Whether you’re struggling to manage your personal finances or you need some inspiration to go ahead with your business, try to consider finding a mentor during this process. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed when it comes to your finances, and something like this can dent your ego and cause you to feel inadequate. If you want to be an entrepreneur, you will need to consult with someone who can help and guide you. Much like everything in life, managing your finances take practice and time.

Final thoughts

Managing your money for the first couple of years will be a draining process, but once you start seeing the benefits, you will also start seeing the benefits. Starting a business is not easy. There will be times when you want to hit a wall from frustration as well as give up, but you are not alone. Keep pushing through and take advantage of your support system and mentor to help keep you motivated. If you stay focused and determined, you will easily be able to reach for the stars and achieve your dream.

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.