Category Archives: Money

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.

Different ways to invest your company’s profits

It’s always exciting when business is a success and you see the hard-earned profits roll in. When it first comes around, you may not be expecting it and while you’re in mid-celebration of the success, you start to wonder what it is you’re going to do with the money. It’s important to have a game plan in place for what to do with the profit your business makes.

There are so many different ways to invest your company’s profits. All of which will depend on where your company is at, what it needs and where you want it to go. We’ll be looking at a few different things you could possibly do with your profits, should it be the right move for the company.

Invest in the company

Investing in the company needs to be broken down because, in that alone, there are so many ways one could invest or, rather, reinvest.

  • In the infrastructure: This may be the opportunity to expand your company and improve its infrastructure. You may want to relocate to another building or invest in making your current building better for the business and its employees.
  • In the equipment: Every company has a degree of equipment they use for their business. If it’s not large machinery and vehicles, it’s computers, desks and projectors. Even business software falls under the equipment list. There will always be a need for better or more equipment, so it’s definitely a great place to invest profits.
  • In the marketing department: No company should underestimate the power of the marketing department. Specifically digital marketing in today’s world. If there was ever a budget that needed to be increased, it would be for marketing. So, take some of the profit and start investing in marketing. It’s essentially investing in your brand reputation.
  • In the people: Then we come to the individuals who make up the company and allow it to be successful. You need to invest in your employees and make sure that they continue to love working here. Consider investing in employee training, employee benefits or even new employees. If you have the resources, it would be good to spend a little time and money on the people who helped achieve them for you.

If, in order to afford these investments, it’s necessary to look into financing options for the business, you can always use the profits as a deposit. That deposit may be what you’ve needed to make the improvements more affordable and that’s something you can work out with an asset finance calculator. It’s not a step back to still have to take out a loan in order to invest in the company, the deposit from profits can make all the difference.

Invest in the community

Most companies have a social responsibility to their community (local or at large). And, at some point, you need to step up and give back to the people who support you in ways that are more significant and sentimental than providing them with your unique product or service. Different ways in which you can invest your profits into the community are:

  • Volunteering: Giving up your time and human resources (your employees), is one way of investing in the community. Having a volunteering team of employees to help out in the community will make a difference in the lives of those in need as well as the lives of your employees. Hold soup kitchens, food drives, street stores or collections of goods where everyone can get involved.
  • Sponsoring events and charities: Another way to invest in the community would be to sponsor a charity or charitable event. And sponsoring does two things. One, it makes an important community event possible and, two, it markets your company as more than just a corporate institution.
  • Support local vendors: If you want to support and promote the local community, you can also do so by investing in what local vendors and small businesses have to offer. You will also be contributing to the local economy and boosting the quality of the community who may finally have the chance to invest profits of their own to improve their businesses and infrastructure.
  • Work pro bono: And another example of investing in the community would be by taking the profits you earn and creating a budget for pro bono projects. This way your company can provide quality products and services to those who really need it but cannot afford it.    

Invest in a savings account

The last profit investment option we will be discussing is that of investing in a savings account. Every person needs a savings account in the event of an emergency and the same goes for companies.

Accidents, lawsuits, breakdowns, theft and damage could happen at any time and without a savings account, your company risks being in debt in order to remedy the issues. It may seem like a bit of a waste to store the profits away when it could be used for other things, but that’s where your discretion comes in. You know what your company needs and you now know the different ways in which you can invest.

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.