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.

Why office morale is so important

Office morale is something that is sometimes overlooked by managers and CEOs. While they do have important tasks to focus on, employee morale should be an important aspect of any manager’s concern. Having happy workers means that your workplace is more productive and that your company culture is positive and inclusive.

 

You can send your employees on a variety of courses, such as information technology courses, communication courses or management courses to boost morale and to show them that you value their ambition and want to build them up to new heights. If you are wondering why you need to concentrate on keeping your employees happy, outlined below are the reason why office morale is so important.

Productivity levels increase

When employees feel positive and enjoy their working environment, their production levels will naturally increase. This is because they will not have a lot of stress holding them back and they will feel comfortable in the office and among their colleagues.

 

High productivity levels are not only great for managers who are looking to achieve departmental and organizational objectives, but they are also good for improving employees’ overall happiness during the working day. It can also benefit your employees by increasing their compensation (for salespeople) and their chances of being promoted.

Absences will decrease

When your employees enjoy coming into work, you will notice that the number of absences among your staff will decrease significantly. This is because motivated employees have fewer reasons to miss work.

 

If an employee is taking part in a course, such as a diploma in information technology part time then this will not count as an absence, in fact, it is part of a motivated employee. Absenteeism in the office costs the company thousands of rands in production expenses, which is why boosting employee morale is so important. You will save yourself from incurring these costs and will be creating a stress-free working environment at the same time.

There is more attention to detail

When someone enjoys what they do, they will pay attention to the details of their day. This is beneficial to your company as it means that the work which is being produced is of the highest quality and that your clients will feel that your company is truly listening to their needs.

 

When morale is low, people generally become distracted easier and will make more mistakes than usual. This will not only affect their work but also the productivity levels and the client-company relationship. Encourage your employees by praising their work and offering them rewards for hitting targets (doughnut day, anyone?) and be sure to note anyone who is falling behind so you can ask them what they need to help them work better.

More opportunity for employee collaboration

Employees who are happy and feel supported by management are more likely to enjoy working together. This means that there is more opportunity for collaboration between teams, which can lead to fantastic project ideas for clients and tight deadlines being met.

 

High morale usually collates with greater feelings of teamwork and a shared vision. This creates positive working relationships, which leads to a more collaborative workspace. You will find that your employees are more willing and happy to work together, leading to targets being met ahead of time and client projects being finished by the deadline and with extra creativity added. This helps to boost profits as well as productivity and will show clients that your staff take their work seriously and are willing to go the extra mile.

Attract and retain talent

Having high morale in your office will help you to attract and retain young and up-and-coming talent. This is because young workers are looking for a company culture that suits their needs and provides them with a stimulating and collaborative environment.

 

Talented people will not stay long if the morale of their workplace is low. You will need to provide them with opportunities, such as sending them on information technology courses in South Africa to build their skills or by allowing them to take managerial courses to train them for future roles. Having high company morale will attract new talent and continuing this morale will retain them as loyal employees.

Put your employees first

Company morale is a vital aspect of any successful business. This is because it helps to boost productivity, decrease absenteeism, encourage attention to detail and allow for more collaboration opportunities among colleagues. As a manager or CEO, you will need to ensure that your employees are happy in their roles and satisfied with their responsibilities. You will be able to retain any new employees you get because of your positive office culture and high levels of morale. Ensure that you put your employees’ needs before your own, as this will show them that you value their input and that you have their best interests at heart.

How to integrate technology into your retail store

Technology is an amazing thing. As much as it pushes us to reach new heights, it’s leaving some of us behind. Not every country or franchise has the resources and funding to integrate the latest and greatest in technology right this second, only to have something new released in the next few seconds.

Okay, so seconds might be an over exaggeration, but the point stays the same: technology is constantly developing and by the time some people “catch up” with flashy video wall systems, the next best thing (video wall controllers for augmented reality) is about to go on sale.

And an industry where technology has both helped, harmed and now helping is brick-and-mortar retail. Technology in retail was first used to make payment easier and advertising in-store more interesting. Then technology went and created the online shopping malls on the internet, driving traffic away from physical stores. And, now, people have decided that it’s still important to have physical stores so, technology is finding new ways to integrate and make the entire shopping experience an enjoyable one.

Technology is important in brick-and-mortar stores because it’s all about creating effective, smooth, time-saving and customer satisfactory experiences. We’re going to be looking at achievable ways the majority of retail stores can integrate technology in-store and be relevant again in the technological timeline of change.    

Visuals to attract attention

We used the example of video wall controllers in the rapid change of technology. The goal remains to attract customers’ attention. You just need to update your video wall controller screen technology to display more than just your latest products and deals. People want to interact, get useful information and have their attention stolen.

Screens and moving visuals are an easy attention-grabbing win. But moving visuals that respond to an individual consumers’ needs is even more attractive. For example, many retail stores are setting up screens in their windows for passersby. An example would be a blacked out screen that has a hidden background image (of your products, clothing or even in-store layout) that is revealed in the outline of whoever walks past or stands in front of the window-screen. This kind of technology works with visuals, sensors and interactive mirrors and is one way you could boost your store’s technology.  

How amazing would it be to have a video of a model in your clothing line (on the screens) that walks alongside (from screen to screen) a potential customer who’s walking past the store? That “was that just a coincidence or did the model really appear and walk alongside me” moment is sure to stop customers in their tracks and bring them in-store. And, in-store, you could have virtual mannequins where an image of a model wearing the item of clothing customers have just picked up off the rails, appears on the nearest screen for them to see.   

Augmented reality for consumers to decide

Another way you can interact video wall screens and technology into your store is through Augmented Reality (AR). One way AR is used in retail clothing stores is as a means of not having to physically get undressed and try on the items you’re interested in buying. It’s a projected image of yourself and the clothing item that you’re trying to figure out if it suits you or not.

This will require touch-screen and real-time view technology, as well as a detailed digital inventory of all your items. This “digital dressing room” removes the time and energy consuming act of changing rooms that tend to send consumers out the door.

And for home and furniture stores, mobile and AR technology allow for customers to “see” what an item in-store would like in their home-space without having to buy it in order to try it out. It also helps for those who shop online for furniture and don’t want to be disappointed when it arrives.

Efficient point of sales systems (POS)

Another effective integration of technology is through efficient POS. Amazon Go is the example everyone turns to because it’s new, it works and it’s rather incredible. This is the goal, an entirely checkout-free shopping experience. Where grocery shopping is as simple as walking in, grabbing what you need and walking out. No lines, no cashier issues or card machine malfunctions.

Other innovative POS include mobile POS, loyalty management systems and digital wallets. Now, digital wallets allow customers to pay in-store with their mobile devices. Digital wallets store a consumer’s banking information that is easily ‘tapped into” when activated by their personal mobile when purchasing items in-store. This makes the sales process quick and effortless which will make it a go-to store for customers who are looking for an efficient shopping experience.

Unfortunately, not everyone can afford these types of technology and cashier jobs are necessary for certain countries’ economies and employment rate. You need to integrate technology in a way that makes sense for your brand and your business. As long as you’re striving for customer satisfaction, you can’t really go wrong.

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.

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.