Tag Archives: business

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.

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 a video wall can help you achieve your business goals

Video walls are used to support company goals because they are put out to attract the consumer, which in turn grows your customer’s engagement and interaction with your brand. But, beyond the display, there needs to be a purpose. Before you set up a huge brand-focused video wall, you need to determine the reason behind it, and how it will be used to help you to increase revenue and customer experience.

Here are the three main reasons why video walls are a great investment:

  • Better promote brand awareness

 

Ideally, customers prefer to digest information visually over reading. In order to achieve this, you can interact with your customers through an interactive wall display which is both interesting and appealing. When you have something that allows for touch, customer experience is immediately boosted because customers can physically get involved and communicate with your brand.

No matter the industry you’re in, you will always have customers who you need to attract. Be it retail, construction, advertising or hospitality, providing them with branded content that speaks of your brand will help them to better understand who you are and what you do. It’s all about taking the opportunity to educate and engage with people, without doing it a boring way that deters them away from you.

  • Help employees gain organisational insights

 

Video walls are not necessarily for external customers to view but sometimes when you use them internally it can increase productivity and help operations run smoothly. When you have everyone on the same page, it is extremely easy to function properly. These walls also allow you to make real-time decisions which involve different departments. It’s a structured approach to organisation and it is actually a lot more affordable than you think. Take the health industry, for example, you can use a video wall as an internal reminder or schedule for operations. Everyone in the hospital who is involved in a specific procedure will be able to see what rooms the staff are in, what time they need to be there and what they need to bring along for preparation. Another great example is for companies which are in the transportation business. You will be able to see all the information for dispatch, keeping everyone informed and up to date. In essence, these walls will keep everyone moving to one key goal.

  • Improve teamwork and communication

 

In corporate environments, one of the biggest advantages of having a video wall is the ability to use it as a device to improve teamwork and participation. Everyone will always be involved with what is going on, and everyone will be kept in the loop of what the different departments are doing. For example, you will be able to showcase project information with videos and imagery or showcase recent achievements if need be. This type of interaction will encourage the departments to better communicate with one another. From brainstorming meetings to new product designs, insights and motivational videos, these walls are ideal.

Other, more specific benefits of video walls include:

Attention-grabbing: Depending on the industry you’re in, you need to remember that customers are flooded with very similar information every day. In order to be different, you need to do something that is very different to what they are used to. So, create something that is attention-grabbing and interesting. Technology allows you to give your customers an incredible experience, so why not take your brand to the next level by engaging with your customers through something like this, which adds value to their lives.

Manageable: The great thing about video walls is that the software on which they operate is usually easy-to-use, therefore it does not require a specialist to operate. These walls allow businesses to showcase a variety of different content and businesses can change things up as often as they wish to. This is also a major perk because businesses can change their visuals, in real-time, according to what works best and engages their customers in that moment.

Cost-effective: The general perception around a video wall controller is that it can only be used for bigger companies which attract hundreds and thousands of customers. This isn’t the case. Although pricey, the return on investment is well worth it. Not to mention, any company which wants to get ahead of their competitors should consider installing a video wall as an alternative to other marketing collateral. These innovative and interactive points of sale may do your company more justice than any printed advert could.

Time-saving: As mentioned, these walls can be used to communicate a variety of different messages, internally and externally. And quickly. You are able to broadcast messages to people faster than any marketing material can be delivered. This will also attract more customers because of the quick, consistent communication they’re experiencing with your brand.

Equipment finance with bad credit: it’s not impossible

A bad credit record can be a stumbling block to anyone who is applying for a loan. This can make the process difficult and can affect the outcome of your loan, such as higher interest rate and the need to provide collateral before the bank will approve your application.

 

If you need to purchase equipment for your business, but do not have a good credit score, applying for finance can be a seemingly impossible task. But, if you know what to do, you will likely be approved for equipment finance.

Check your credit record for accuracy

Contact Experian or TransUnion to acquire your credit report and read through it carefully, looking for any inconsistencies. If you see anything that raises a red flag, phone the credit bureaus to immediately remove all negative data, especially if you know you have repaid the debt in question in full. You will then need to ensure that this is changed on your credit history to show the debt is repaid.

Explain your debts

Your chosen bank or financial institution will want to know the exact reasons why you have a bad credit rating, so it is important to have the pertinent facts readily available. They will want to know whether the debt was entirely your fault or not, and what you are planning to do to rectify it. Lenders are already wary of lending money to those with a bad credit record and if you are unprepared to explain your debt or how you will rectify it, your finance application is likely to be rejected.

Offer additional collateral

If you already own equipment or have a property, then you should consider offering this to the bank as collateral. The bank will look favourably on this, as it will lower your risk in their books. They will be able to sell this collateral should you be unable to repay your loan, making granting your loan easier. It is an effective way to gain confidence if you have a bad credit rating, and will work towards securing your loan.

Try an alternative lender

Rather than going to a bank, you could look into going to an alternative lender. These lenders often look at the positive aspects of your business rather than at anything negative. They will see it as an investment rather than scrutinising your credit score, but be sure to research every aspect of your chosen alternative lender. Make sure the terms of the loan are all in order – it may look fantastic on paper, but this does not immediately make it the best choice.

Find a cosigner

Finding and using a cosigner is often one of the best ways to secure a loan. The bank or financial institution you are applying to for finance will see this as a positive endorsement of your willingness to alleviate yourself from debt, but be warned that your cosigner will be taking on part of the debt too. And that can put a strain on relationships if the chosen person is a friend or business partner.

Offer a larger down payment

One way to secure finance with bad credit is to offer the bank or financial institution a larger down payment. If you are having difficulty finding a cosigner, making a larger down payment may help to assure the bank that you are not a high risk applicant. You will, however, have to pay at least 20% upwards, which can be a difficult task for those who are battling with finances already.

Expect a higher interest rate

You will need to take into account the fact that a bad credit rating will incur higher interest rates. You will need to prepare financially for this and cut back on as many expenses as possible in order to make the monthly payments in a timeous manner. Until your credit rating improves, you will be seen as a high risk client and so the bank or lender views lending to you as a liability.

Settle the payment terms of your loan

Read the loan terms carefully and ask the bank to explain anything you may not understand. Usually, a bank will be very straightforward with their terminology, but some lenders may use terms that are confusing or ambiguous. Be sure that it is understood you can only pay back a certain amount and understand the interest rate and fee structure fully before signing anything.

Conclusion

Equipment finance with bad credit can be a hurdle for a business owner who already has tight finances. But, if you are willing to put in the work with the bank, you will likely be approved. Provide all information you need and be prepared to explain your situation, but do not feel judged or ashamed, your bank will be understanding to your situation and you will be able to move your business forward.

Lawyers: think marketing isn’t necessary? Think again

As a lawyer, your services are always in demand. You may be a divorce lawyer helping couples come to amicable conclusions or a labour law professional dealing with the CCMA or labour disputes on a daily basis – whatever your speciality, legal services are usually in high demand.

However, many lawyers overlook the power of and the need for marketing in their industry. If you do not market yourself or if your firm is not marketing itself, you may be losing out on high-paying clients. Taking marketing courses will help you to understand just how useful marketing can be.

Why do I need marketing?

You may have studied for years to become a lawyer and can understand complex topics, but marketing is most likely a new and confusing concept to you. There are some pertinent facts as to why you need to market your services, including the following.

Competition is intensifying

Arguably the most important reason why lawyers need to market their practices or firms is the fact that competition in the legal world is fierce. And unless you can come up with a catch-phrase as memorable as Saul Goodman’s, you will need to be creative to beat the competition.

The increase in law students also means that there is more competition in the job market, so you will need to learn how to market yourself to potential employers and clients.

Beating bad press

It is well known that lawyers and legal professionals often receive bad press from the media. Marketing and PR strategies can help you to beat this press or to allay the repercussions. Not having your own publicist is no excuse to ignore your public image, this is what potential clients see before considering you as their legal aid. Use social media platforms such as LinkedIn and Facebook to market your firm or yourself, but remember to create a professional Facebook profile and avoid using your personal profile for anything business related. If you show yourself to be a professional at all times, bad press will not be an issue for clients and can easily be avoided.

Technology is evolving

Articles and speaking engagements are a great way to become noticed in the legal world, but your clients are most likely more active on social media platforms. You should be more active on these platforms. Using techniques such as podcasting allows you to introduce yourself and the work you have done and are able to do.

It is not advisable to continue using outdated marketing techniques while the current ones are changing on a near weekly basis. Lawyers can make use of content marketing, video marketing and even post entertaining social media pieces to get their name out there to clients and potential employers.

What can I do to market myself?

Aside from hiring a marketing firm or taking marketing courses, there are simple tactics you can use in your marketing strategy.

  • Understand how clients find you: People will only use lawyers they know they can trust, which is why word of mouth is such a powerful tool. However, in today’s modern world, many people do their own further research rather than relying solely on the words of others, which is why it is important to have an online presence.

 

Maintain the relationship with current clients to strengthen the word of mouth referrals, but set up a LinkedIn, Facebook and Google+ profile for those who want to be entirely certain that you are trustworthy.

  • Use content to build awareness about your services and/or firm: Other than word of mouth and social media reviews, having professionally written, relevant content on your website or profiles can work wonders toward garnering new clients.

 

If you are unable to write content in layman’s terms or in a manner that is appealing to your audience, you need to hire or reach out to a professional content or copywriter. These marketing experts will craft copy that is on point and that will tell clients that you are the best choice for their needs.

  • Build your social media presence: As mentioned previously, social media is an ever-growing platform that people use on a daily basis. For any company looking to build their customer base, having a social media profile is a highly effective way to do so.

 

If your posts focus on customer service and on articles written by employees or by yourself, you will not be breaking the confidentiality clause between lawyer and client.

Final thoughts

Any law firm or private practice needs to include a marketing or PR strategy in their budget. Using traditional methods of marketing is successful to a point, but if you want to grow your client base and flourish in today’s world of technology and modernity, you will have to implement a marketing strategy that includes digital tactics.