Category Archives: Money

Marketing on a tight budget

Money in business is always tight. And even more so when starting a business. There are so many initial costs, renting costs, monthly expenses and business expenses. Now you want to add in a budget for marketing?

The marketing department can easily be overlooked and brushed off as not a priority cost to the company. But the truth is, if you want to bring business in and find more clients, marketing is essential to do that. And there are budget-friendly ways to efficiently market your business so, cut down on the take-away coffees if you need to, it’s time to go for marketing courses, create a budget and get your business out there.

Piggyback

So there are shortcuts for most things in life. And when it comes to marketing, there are some shortcuts here too. Piggyback marketing is when you use the success of another brand to boost your own marketing campaigns. But it obviously happens in a more professional way.

Find a company with complementary products to your own, and they’ll end up incurring most of the marketing costs on your behalf, while your product offers additional value to the complete package.

Target

You’ll save yourself a lot of time and money if you thoroughly define and research your target market and audience. Focus on the market of customers that are near to you, it’s more cost-effective and, especially if you’re just starting out, it makes the most sense. Why spend all your marketing efforts on an audience who are miles away from you and not aware enough of your brand to drive all the way just to buy your product?

Newsworthy

Get involved in innovative or community-change projects that will be worth mentioning in the media. Call in to local radio stations, make your way into the local newspaper and get people talking about you and your business. There are many simple ways to get free publicity for the company which won’t require a cash budget, just some time set aside to put in a bit of effort.

Referrals

Love the customers you already have. It can’t be over-stressed how important it is to keep current and returning customers, well, current and returning customers. As a small business with a tight budget for marketing, these people are what keep your business afloat. More than that, they have the ability to serve as marketers for your brand.

Ask your customers for referrals or testimonials that you can put up online or have them share within their own circles. Word-of-mouth marketing is a traditional marketing method, but should not be underestimated. Words have power, as do satisfied or dissatisfied customers.

Internet

The internet truly is a wonderful medium for marketing. Three channels that we’ll look into include email marketing, website and social media marketing.

There are free email marketing platforms, like MailChimp and Constant Contact, that allow you to send out mass mailers to a customer database you create. They are painless, have free templates and are a great way to communicate and share with your audience.

Another marketing method made possible by the Internet is creating a website. Again, there are free website platforms for you to make use of and having a website linked to everything you market will drive traffic to the site and, ultimately, to your store. Use your website to create tailored content that is brand specific to your business and promote your business message.

And then we have social media marketing. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Youtube and LinkedIn are top social media platforms to work with to run organic or paid marketing campaigns (paid campaigns that work according to your budget).

In the online world (and the real world for that matter), quality is king and you’ll be wasting your own time and money if you skimp on quality to save a few bucks. It’s a quick way to establish your reputation as cheap and not be taken seriously or as a professional business. You need to be aware of what you put out there and how people respond to it.

Measure

Whatever you do end up doing with your marketing department, be sure to test different methods, measure success and analyse pitfalls. There will always be room for improvement, whether it’s from marketing during a certain time of day or knowing when would be the perfect time to extend your range.

Measure the statistics, change it up, and measure it again. It’s an ongoing cycle and you will learn what works for your brand and what you should never do again. Hopefully, you’ll start seeing an increase in ROIs from your efforts and you’ll be able to implement new marketing strategies that you couldn’t previously afford.

Importance of security when selling high-value items

importance-of-security-when-selling-high-value-items

Have you ever opened up your company in the morning only to find shattered glass and a broken down door? This is proceeded by finding that most of your inventory has been stolen. If not, there’s a chance it will still happen to you. Crime is a very real factor for everyone living in South Africa, and when it comes to your company, you need to make sure everything is safe and secure.

Having your inventory stolen doesn’t just mean you need to deal with the police force and insurance companies. In extreme cases, the loss may be too much for you business to bear and could lead to it closing down. It doesn’t matter where your business is located – from a high-rise office complex to a shopping mall – any place can be broken into and robbed. If you haven’t thought about security for your company, now is the time.

Here are a few reasons why security is important and how you can protect your business.

Camera surveillance

One of the best ways to make sure your company is safe is by installing cameras all over the office or store. While some places use dummy cameras – those that don’t work and are empty shells – this isn’t recommended at all. A working camera system allows you to record everything that is happening. And if your place of business is broken into, you’ll have video footage of the perpetrators, what they stole, and how they got in.

Setting up a camera surveillance system requires a few different pieces. You’ll need the cameras, a DVR system to record and store all of the footage, and a screen to display all of the footage. If you’re always recording, you won’t need to hire a security guard, but they are recommended for stores with high foot traffic. Be sure to also invest in decent cameras that can give you crisp, clear images. For the best results, speak to a security firm, who will be able to advise you on hardware and where cameras should be placed for optimum levels of surveillance.

Implement a turnstile or man trap

These devices aren’t just for stadiums, train stations, or to annoy customers in shopping centres. They serve a very real purpose: to control the amount of traffic in and out of a location. Certain models will only allow people with access cards into a building. Turnstiles and mantraps are a great way to automate how people enter and exit your place of business.

When selling high-value items, such as jewellery, the need to control access to your store becomes a necessity. One way to ensure this is to implement a man-trap. They are devices that have access control doors and allow you to ‘trap’ someone inside that may look to rob your store. These individuals will then be caught and need to wait for the police to arrive. Man traps and turnstiles can be bought from a variety of security companies, such as turnstar.co.za.

Metal detectors

Most retail stores and businesses will find this unnecessary, but those with high-value items should think about implementing metal detectors. These devices are able to detect metal objects that a visitor is trying to smuggle into the business, such as a firearm. If something is detected, the device will sound an alarm that will alert you and your security.

Security personnel

While security guards may not seem as fancy or high-tech as a man trap or metal detectors, they do serve a valuable purpose. Security guards are not only available immediately if there is a crisis, but are also deterrents for those wanting to rob your business.

You don’t have to employ and train security guards yourself. Instead, look at hiring a security company, which handles all of the personnel selection, training, and routine implementation themselves. The guards will also be able to handle and facilitate all of your other security measures, which means you can concentrate on running your company without any hassles.

How to give your business an X-factor

 

The business world is like the reality TV show Survivor where only the fittest make it. But what makes a business the fittest? If you ask your average joe on the street they’ll most likely tell you about determination, persistence and hard work. Of course, these attributes count but the problem is many other businesses carry them too.

According to Fortune magazine, only a third of the companies succeed. The question is, how do they make it and what separates them from the rest? The key could lie in how well your business stands out. Does your business have an X-factor? Does your brand leave a long lasting impression on the customer long after they’ve left your store?

Here are a few ways to set your business apart.

What’s in a name?

The inspiration for business names can come from all walks of life. For example, 7-Eleven was named for its extension of working hours from 7 pm till 11 pm. Harpo is Oprah’s name written backwards. And Apple was named after Steve Jobs’ favourite fruit.

The name you pick could have an impact on how well your business does. It is the first thing customers see. So, it should be memorable and catchy. And stick with the customer. The name you choose should reflect not only your brand but your target market. According to studies, certain sound inspires specific emotions. An unforgettable sound will stay embedded in the customer’s mind and they are likely to remember your name.

Make your customers feel valued

Treat your customers like they are royalty. Your customers are key to making your business a success. If your customers aren’t satisfied with the service provided, they will likely move on to the next competitor. You need to make sure you cater to their needs and provide exceptional service. You should go the extra mile and do what your competitors aren’t doing. This will set you apart from the crowd.

Win your customers over with an apology

If can take just one negative experience for a customer to write off your brand. When you make mistakes you need to admit your error and apologise. You can also take things a step further and compensate the customer with a reward or a freebie.

Be innovative

We live in an ever changing world and your business needs to also evolve. If you don’t innovate your business it won’t survive. For example, Nokia and Kodak failed to innovate themselves and they ended up losing customers. You need to keep up with the competition and the times. Your business may need to invest in new technology which helps provide the best service. You may need working capital to purchase high-tech resources and you could acquire funding through asset finance companies in South Africa.

Improve business efficiency

Make sure you supply a better and faster service than your competition. You need to do regular assessments on how you can improve your business. You can also get feedback from customers. Find out about their needs and what would improve their customer experience.

Expert in your industry

Be known as the expert in your industry and it’ll give you the x-factor. You could do this by providing books, posts, videos and training. This will set you apart from other businesses providing the same service.

Deliver on your promises

Do what you say you’ll do. Keep your promises to the customer. Don’t say you’ll do something and then end up not delivering. Customers need to know they can trust you and rely on you and that you’ll follow through on your word. Return phone calls, respond to emails and respond to them on social media.  

Word of mouth marketing

You need to get the word out about your business. Word of mouth marketing is an important tool for your business. According to Jay Baer who is an American marketing consultant, 92% of consumers trust recommendations they receive directly from family and friends. So, if you apply excellent service to your customers, they’re more likely to go and tell other people.

Walt Disney once said,“Do what you do so well that they will want to see it again and bring their friends.” And he was right, if you provide exceptional service your customers are likely to remember you and tell their friends about you.

Thank your customer

Your customers need to feel valued and appreciated. Showing gratitude to your clients could separate you from your competition. And it could also improve customer satisfaction and increase customer loyalty..

Use testimonials

It’s a good idea to have personal recommendations and testimonials on your website. When clients see that other people were happy with the service you provided, they’ll be more likely to be persuaded. Celebrity endorsements are also a great idea. People will feel that your service or product is excellent if a certain celebrity was willing to use it and endorse it.

An X-factor is the thing that separates you from the rest. And a business needs to have this in order to make it in the long run. If your business just blends in with the rest of the others in the marketplace, people aren’t likely to remember it.

 

Pros and cons of a joint venture

 

Sometimes two heads are better than one. Collaborating with other businesses could make your business grow faster and expand your knowledge and resources. Joint ventures help the business owners grow in the areas where they lack expertise and skills. And both companies will be able to share financial burdens. If the two companies work together well it could be a win-win situation where both companies gain.

Here’s what you need to know about starting a joint venture.

New sets of skills and resources

A joint venture has many advantages and one of them is that your business will be able to learn and gain a new set of skills and resources by partnering with another business. And you won’t have to put down an investment to acquire these skills. Your business might be lacking on skills and by the end of the joint venture, your might gain new knowledge which helps your business to be more fruitful. For example, a wedding events company can collaborate with a highly skilled photographer. They both benefit from each other because they offer different traits to the partnership.

Limits risk

When a business decides to take on a new project it will always be a risk. The project can either be successful or fail. When a business joins with another business for a certain project, the risk is shared between the two parties. This limits the liabilities of both parties involved in the business venture. For example, Agriculture is best suited to a joint venture because the equipment, land and the supplies are extremely expensive. And it can be difficult to get agricultural finance. If farmers collaborate with other farmers, then their expenses will be shared. Farmers could share their equipment and be able to cut down on costs.

New markets

You’ll be exposed to a new demographic When your business partners up with others, it will automatically be exposed to a whole new set of customers. The goal of a business is always to grow, evolve and gain new market share. Partnering up with other people can help your business expand because you’ll gain access to their customers whom you wouldn’t have normally been able to reach.  For example, in the 90s Nike partnered with Michael Jordan a famous basketball player and made millions. Avid fans of Michael Jordan began to buy the Iconic Jordan sneaker and Nike sales went through the roof because of the joint venture with Michael Jordan. Acquiring a partner in the business realm can help you reach higher targets and give exposure to your product. Just make sure the person you’re partnering with has a clean reputation because they will represent your company. Whatever they do will have an impact on your business. You should avoid doing business with a partner you don’t trust.

Versatility

A joint venture is flexible and versatile because you’ll be able to establish the timeframe in which you want the venture to last. It can be a short-term agreement or it can be long-term. The venture can be finished once the goal has been reached.  

Cons

Different managing styles

Your business might have a certain culture and way of managing things which clash with the other party. If your styles clash then your joint venture might not work out and could fail.

Shared risks

A partnership will always be a risk. Some partnerships soar and do well, while others bust and fail. There are many reasons why joint ventures fail and one of them may be that one party contributes more to the venture whether its skills or resources. This could cause disagreements and the joint venture to fail. There should always be an equal balance of contributions or the party contributing more might feel cheated.

Written agreements

Misunderstanding and miscommunication can break down trust and cause conflict. Make sure you don’t just end with an oral agreements but everything should be written down. Taking a person’s word and leaving it at that could cause conflict at a later stage. Make sure all the responsibilities of each party are outlined and everything is in writing. This will also solve any costly misunderstanding which might occur down the line and break down the partnership.

A business should always be looking for ways to do things which can make them be more efficient and effective. Joint ventures provide the perfect platform to gain skills, knowledge and expertise which your business may lack. If you want to start a business venture, you need to find other people who want to reach a similar goal to yours. You need to make sure they are trustworthy,reliable and they are financially secure. Importantly, you must ensure they have a good reputation and image.

 

 

Should you really be an entrepreneur

Many people jump on the entrepreneurship bandwagon because they think they’ll be instant millionaires and get cushy working hours. But if you become an entrepreneur for the wrong reasons, you’re bound to fail. Starting your own business is hard work and requires guts and making sacrifices. If you’re not willing to understand the markets, have the courage to execute ideas and take risks, you could lose a lot of money as well as your business.

Here are a few ways to help you decide if entrepreneurship is for you.

Talk is cheap

Actions speak louder than words. If you’re a person who’s always focused on “someday” and can’t take initiative, entrepreneurship might not be for you. Entrepreneurs are go-getters who are always doing. They are determined to see their dreams come true.

When the going gets tough

Muhammed Ali, the champion boxer, was quoted as saying, “I hated every minute of training, but I said don’t quit. Suffer now and live the rest of your life as a champion.” And that’s how entrepreneurs should approach every difficulty they come across. If you quit easily, then you’ll fail as an entrepreneur. Because in business it’s not a matter of if the obstacles will come but when they come. Will you be able to take the heat?

Fearless

Starting a business requires a person who can take initiative and is courageous. You’re going to face a lot of situations which require you to take a leap of faith. And if you’re not brave enough, you’ll miss out on many business opportunities.

Overnight success

Many people think they’ll start raking in the millions in the first year. But the climb to success isn’t easy and will require a lot of work. As an entrepreneur, you may not see the fruits of your labour until a later stage. Entrepreneurs have to know, in order to get a breakthrough in their business, they need to be persistent and motivated.

Lonely at the top

When you’re the CEO of a business, you’re the one in charge You’re the one who has the final say and the one who is the most invested in your business. So you may find it lonely because no one in the company truly understands the pressures you face. There are few people to share in your failures and to motivate you to get up when you’re down. Being your own boss and working for someone else is very different, as an entrepreneur your business is constantly on your mind.

Focus

You might think your idea is unique, mind-blowing and everyone will be queueing to get their hands on it. But not everyone will buy into it. However, you shouldn’t let this deter you. Colonel Sanders who started Kentucky Fried Chicken was rejected 1009 times before he found someone who believed in his recipe.  In the beginning, some people may not be on board to help you fulfill your vision. And that’s why you should be determined and focused.

Preparation

Luck is when opportunity meets preparation. You have to be ready at all times and have your ducks in a row, otherwise, you could lose out on great business deals. If you aren’t prepared to spend hours studying your industry and looking for other ways to serve your customers, then being an entrepreneur might not be for you.

Capital

Whether you need funds to finance your mining equipment or invest in new property for your business, you need to find clever ways to raise money. You might have to get a business partner or explore crowd-funding. Whatever route you choose to take, it’ll take a lot of hustling to get your capital. And the question is: are you up for it?

Time

Many people have a preconception that they’ll spend their days clocking off at noon to play golf because they have flexible working hours. But the truth is, being an entrepreneur means you’ll have to work harder than anyone in your office. In fact, you’ll find yourself wearing many hats in order to keep your business thriving. You’ll have to eat and sleep your business and often spend the weekend catching up on work. You may also have to sacrifice time with your friends and family during the initial stages of building your empire.

Listen

If you can’t listen to what others have to say, your business could fail. As a business owner, you’ll come across many unsatisfied customers. And if you want your business to prosper, you’ll have to listen to what they have to say in order to satisfy their needs successfully.

Being an entrepreneur is about more than becoming your own “boss”, it’s about loving what you do and providing a product or service which will benefit your customers.