Tag Archives: business

Five types of marketing to invest in for your small business

As a small business owner, you know how important it is to market your business. You need to engage potential clients and retain your current ones. But it can be difficult to know exactly what type of marketing you should use to do so, especially if you are new to the world of business ownership.

If you have applied for business finance in South Africa you will need to start creating a marketing strategy from the get go. Not sure where to start? Below are the five types of marketing to invest in for your small business.

Google AdWords

Google Adwords is one of the smartest ways to use your marketing moolah. While you should try to improve your organic reach results using SEO (search engine optimisation) tactics, AdWords can certainly give you a leg up on the competition, especially when it comes to digital marketing.

Google searches are one of the top ways in which customers find your business online. Which means that spending money on an AdWords campaign is extremely effective. Be warned that AdWords is not an “autopilot” way of advertising, you will need to monitor your campaigns and make changes when necessary. While it might be costly, it is a marketing strategy that will pay off in the end.

Facebook advertising

Did you know that almost two million small businesses pay to advertise on Facebook? It is one of the most inexpensive and effective ways to reach an audience that is interested in what you have to offer. And, almost everyone uses social media these days, so your customers are guaranteed to see your adverts.

Facebook ads excel at advanced targeting, which means that you can set up the demographics of who you want to see the ads, such as certain age groups, geographic locations, online behaviours and much more. For a small business that has just taken out business financing in South Africa, the affordability of Facebook advertising makes sense. All you need is a solid headline, some good descriptive wording, an inviting image and the right link.

Printed business cards

Many entrepreneurs feel that, because the world has become so focused on digital technology, printed marketing is no longer relevant. However, this could not be further from the truth. Business cards are affordable to print and you can create a truly unique design for yours using free software or by asking a professional designer.

Not only can you give clients and customers your business card, but you can also give them to potential business partners at networking events. You will need to ensure that your card design is relevant to your company and that your details are clear and easy to see. Be creative and think out of the box, for example, if you are a small artisanal doughnut store then design round business cards that look like the doughnuts you have on offer.

Email marketing

Email marketing is still one of the most effective ways to market to clients. And, if you are using business financing in South Africa, it is an option that will suit any budget. Email marketing is relatively simple to use and there are several software options on the market.

It is effective for small businesses especially because you will be able to reach an audience who is already interested in your products or services, those who subscribed to your emails in the first place. You will need to ensure that you send these emails at the right time of day so as not to annoy people and only send to those who have opted-in to the subscription.

Google My Business

For small businesses hoping to make a mark, Google My Business is one of the best types of marketing to invest in. It is completely free and is easy to use. All you need to do is provide your up-to-date contact details and allow the system to combine all of your information such as your Google+ profile, Google Maps profile, your Google reviews and more.

Ranking your Google My Business listing is one of the most important things you can do for your business, as this will allow it to show up in Google search results when someone searches for the product or service you offer. For example, if someone searches for “pet stores Cape Town”, they will see Google My Business listings before organic search results. Having your business in these first listings is imperative to boosting any small business.

Think smart for your business

Marketing strategies are highly important for any small business, especially if you will be using your business finance in South Africa for part of your marketing budget. With the innovations of technology, there are easy and affordable marketing methods you can use for your small business, such as Google My Business, Facebook advertising and Google AdWords.

You can also go the more traditional route and print out business cards to hand out to clients and at networking events. Be sure that whatever type of marketing you use, it is relevant to your business, easy-to-use and will not break the bank.

What qualifications to offer your staff to boost your B-BBEE scorecard

Training your staff is important, not only for your business success, but also for their own personal gain. However, many business owners offer training in order to improve their B-BBEE ratings, which can help to build a business and its reputation. You will also find that, if you are a B2B company, your relationships improve as your B-BBEE rating does.

If you are interested in offering qualifications to boost your B-BBEE scorecard, you might be finding it difficult to figure out where to even start. Below are just some of the qualifications you can offer your staff that will benefit you both.

Business administration

Administrative tasks are the bane of every business owner’s existence, so why not train your staff to undertake these tasks with accuracy and efficiency. Business administration qualifications also contribute to improving your B-BBEE scorecard, as they allow your staff to work their way towards a National Certificate in Business Administration Services: NQF Level 5.

Your employees will learn how to manage records accurately, how to communicate clearly in both written and verbal communication, how to solve problems effectively as well as gather some much-needed financial and bookkeeping knowledge. If you want help in running your business effectively, a business administration course is the best option for you.

Generic management

One of the best qualifications you can offer to boost your B-BBEE scorecard is a generic management qualification. Courses for team leaders, or for potential leaders, shows that you are serious about helping your employees develop their skills, and will help to raise your company’s B-BBee level.

In a generic management course, your employees will learn how to initiate, develop, implement and evaluate operational strategies and projects. This is highly valuable if you have several departments that need guidance on difficult projects. They will also learn how to manage projects successfully as well as how to communicate effectively. Having a manager who can deal with stress and who can understand clients’ needs is crucial to any successful business.

Contact centre support

Another course which will help to boost your B-BBEE scorecard is call centre support or contact centre support. This course will help your staff to reach a Contact Centre National Certificate at NQF Level 2, which will help them to develop the skills they need to improve their productivity and efficacy.

A contact centre support qualification will teach your staff how to deal with customers on the phone in a polite and effective manner, which can also help you to boost business. It will also teach them how to gather and enter data into reports and spreadsheets, an effective tool for your marketing team to tap into. For entry-level workers, this qualification will also improve their chances of moving up the corporate ladder.

New venture creation

Now, this might sound like a confusing qualification to give your staff but it will, in fact, improve your business as well as boost your B-BBEE scorecard. A new venture creation course will provide your staff with the ability to identify, develop and manage a new venture within your business.

The ability to think creatively and manage this new project will help your staff to understand your business better. They will be able to bring in more revenue for your business by finding new ventures and projects to invest in, and their management skills will improve too. They will also develop an understanding of basic economics within a market economy, a skill that can help them to succeed in whatever industry they choose.

Computer training

The world is becoming digital, and your employees will need to keep up with the trends. Sending your staff for computer training will not only benefit them by introducing them to new skills but will improve your B-BBEE scorecard as it is a skills development qualification.

Skills development qualifications are important to improving your rating but they also help your employees to grow and develop in your company. Computer training will teach them the basics of how to use a computer in daily life such as typing, sending and receiving emails and how to research on the internet. They will receive a qualification from the course which will help to improve their CV and which will reflect positively on you as an employer.

Skills development is key

The best way to boost your B-BBEE scorecard is to invest in skills development qualifications, such as induction training courses for team leaders and courses that improve your employees’ careers. These courses include generic management, business administration, new venture creation and even contact centre support. Whatever courses you choose to offer your staff, not only will your B-BBEE rating improve, but your business and your employees will thank you by growing tenfold and beating the competition.

 

Unwritten etiquette rules in business writing

Communicating on behalf of your business requires professionalism and a clear understanding of writing etiquette. For many reasons, you need to pay attention to detail when writing for business as writing does not always portray the tone and humour you hoped for a client to read. Keep your writing clear and to the point. After all, you want to be taken seriously with whatever you say to a client or customer.

Not everyone is capable of writing beautiful emails and lengthy business strategies in a professional manner. If that is the case for you or one of your staff members, consider looking into business writing skills courses. Skills development in the workplace is always valuable for any position, giving employees the tools they need to succeed in many different environments, and on a professional level. 

Here are a few important tips to consider when writing for your business:

  • Avoid slang and jargon in your writing

So, you might be a jolly employee or content writer who is used to writing humorous blog articles and so forth, but when you’re writing to a professional in the industry, you need to keep your approach standard and neutral. If you don’t know the person, you might not know what type of mood they’re going to receive your email in or what their personality is like, so this could lead to a very bad experience. Another tip is that you might not be contacting someone in your field of work, therefore they will not be familiar with your jargon. Stick to formal writing that is free of slang and any complex words that might make it difficult for the person reading the email to understand. After all, the wrong approach can cause a major misunderstanding which could have been prevented by keeping to the topic and being clear.

  • Keep business emails conversational

As much as you want to keep it formal and professional, try to steer away from having your business writing sound like a sales pitch. You need to speak in a conversational manner, without overstuffing the content with fluffy information that doesn’t add any value. Keep things to the point, but write according to the way that you speak. Always remember that an email is a business conversation through a different medium, so should you be meeting up with your colleague, client or customer thereafter, you will need to continue your conversation in such a way that complements your business writing on paper.

  • Consider cultural differences

When speaking on behalf of your business or the company which you work for, it’s important to consider cultural differences. You might not know the person who you will be communicating with, therefore a standard universal communication approach is best. Always avoid political encounters and respect the cultural differences the person might have. Everyone has different attitudes and beliefs on certain topics, therefore you need to think carefully about your words and try your best not to offend the reader in any way. The same goes for blog writing and general business communications, offline and online.

  • General know-how

Once you’ve considered the above, think about the time in which you send and respond to emails as this could negatively affect your relationship with the person on the other side. Speak with courtesy and address people in the right manner. If you’ve received an email from someone with other people copied into the email, be sure to think wisely about replying to “all”. Business communication is restrictive in the sense that you should only show others what they need to know. It could look petty if you copy everyone in everytime you receive an email, and it could give away confidential information to the wrong people. As minor as you might think the need for business writing skills and courses can be, always remember that the first encounter over email can leave a good or bad impression. You choose what you’d like to portray.

Proofread the copy before you press send and make sure that you spell everyone’s names properly.

Final thoughts

Staff training in Cape Town and elsewhere in South Africa is something businesses should always consider when looking to make a good impression. People who deal with clients and projects on a daily basis will have a knack for good business writing skills. However, if you’re not familiar with how to communicate with your customers, you need to learn how to speak professionally for your own good and the sake of your company.

The above-mentioned tips are four simple, yet very important rules of email and writing etiquette you should keep in mind if you want to impress the next person you communicate with. Creating new relationships with clients will depend on the type of impression you’ve made. Successful partnerships have strong communication as their foundation, so be respectful in your choice of words and always be courteous. You’ll be able to avoid several awkward encounters or miscommunications simply by following these tips.

Secrets to starting your own successful beauty salon

Starting your own beauty salon requires more than a Pinterest board of what you wish to achieve. There is plenty of planning and preparation that goes into the business aspect of your salon before you can think about the decor and detail you want to add to give your new business the sparkle it needs.

Before you can reap the “fun” benefits of owning and running a beauty salon, you need to start your business on the right foot. Be forward-thinking and approach your new venture as a business deal. While it might be unusual in the sense that you don’t work a regular 9am to 5pm job, you certainly need to have the mindset as if it were. You need to have a structured management plan in place and lean on the correct people for help. You might “think” that you can do it alone, but you simply cannot. Maximise your budget by incorporating everything you need to run your dream business and make a living.

Here are a few tips to consider when starting your first salon business:

  • Finalise your business plan

Just because you don’t perceive your business to be a corporate or similarly structured business, you still need a business plan to execute your goals and work towards your business objectives. It’s pointless diving head-first into a business concept if you haven’t planned for it. There are plenty of factors that play a role in a business environment that you will need to consider. You will need to have a proper plan in place of where you want your business to grow to. Your business plan will need to be updated and tweaked every couple of years in order to document your growth and to see how far you’ve come.

  • Secure your finances and budget accordingly

In your business plan, you will need to draw up a costing of what it will take to start and grow your business. If you do not have access to the capital amount that you need, you will need to look at alternative financing options. From equipment to cash flow, salaries and more, you will need to have the correct finances to successfully start your own business. Take a personal loan, for example. Fill in a loan application to apply for any outstanding amount. During this process, make sure you have a clear understanding of what the terms and conditions are of your loan and how long it will take to pay back the money. You can view the amount that you might qualify for beforehand by searching for a personal loan calculator, as well as the repayment amount through a loan repayment calculator.

  • Choose the correct salon staff for your business

Anyone starting a business knows that the correct staff can make or break your name and reputation. Beauty therapists and employees need to be bubbly and engaging with your customers. Make sure that you choose staff members who will go the extra mile to create long-term relationships with your customers and keep them coming back for more. When your salon grows, you will need to hire more people, but the best advice is to start small and lower your overheads until your business really starts to take off. Once you’ve shown the public who you are and how much you pride yourself in good customer service, the easier it will be to employ more people based on your increase in profitability.

  • Invest in insurance for startups

As you know, insurance is something that cannot be compromised on. If not in your personal life, then not in your business either. Because you’re working in an industry that requires thousands of Rands worth of equipment, it’s vital to insure your equipment and assets. Not only will insurance protect your business and employees, but also your customers. Before you employ anyone, ensure you’ve done your research and consulted with a professional company which can guide you and help you with this process.

  • Think about your services, pricing and products

Your prices should be directly related to your target audience. If you are based in a middle to lower LSM area, you cannot charge luxury rates because your customers are unlikely to afford it. So, you need to be extremely careful with your products and services pricing. Salon treatment products are extremely costly, so it is advised that you stick to a small menu before branching out and offering more than you can afford to maintain. Do your research and speak to other professionals in the industry to learn more about the market. At the end of the day, you need to analyse your expenses and set your prices accordingly.

  • Don’t forget to market your business

Lastly, make absolutely sure that you can set aside a budget to pay for your marketing fees. When starting out, you need to advertise your business to the public if you want to create awareness and become known in the industry. Print is expensive and cannot always guarantee the return on investment that you had hoped for, therefore you should focus on social media. Digital is the way to go. If you create engaging content and advertisements that are shareable, you’ll be able to reach your targeted audience in no time. These platforms will help you to create and boost your brand’s awareness.

Tips for creating a business idea that is fundable

Small business funding is a popular approach for entrepreneurs who do not have the finances to execute or maintain their business concept. With so many innovative ideas out there, applying for startup funding takes time, effort and determination. There are various conversations you need to consider when applying for funding. And before you can apply, you need to have a clear idea of what investors are looking for.

What do investors look for when it comes to startup funding?

In essence, there are various factors that come into play when someone is looking to invest in your business. From the expected return on investment (ROI) and turnover rate to the interest in your concept, your assets, liabilities and your market, this is a lengthy process, to say the least. Your personal credit score and finances are two elements that have the power to sway the conversation, meaning if they reflect positively to the potential investor, it will demonstrate your financial habits on a larger scale.

You will be required to pitch your funding application to a pool of investors or via a reputable financial firm, along with the supporting documentation which will summarise the numbers for the potential investor interested in learning more about your startup business. Should your concept and/or pitch be enough to showcase financial profitability and long-term success, you will become a potential candidate.

Here are a few tips and factors that will influence your ability to be funded as a startup founder:

  • Brainstorm specific problems and solutions

Investors are not looking for out-of-the-box ideas that have never been tried and tested. They’re looking for business ideas that are plug and play and serve a purpose for the public. Investors want to be able to see the profitability of an idea, and if they can see that your business idea has the potential to soar and add value, they’ll consider your application within reason. Do your research, speak to people in the industry and know your numbers. Should the investor be interested in learning more, they are going to ask you several questions, which is where your research comes into play.

  • Apply for funding only once you’re ready to scale your business

Do not consider funding if you have not started your business. Investors want to be involved in companies that are established and growing. While you might not have grown your bottom line as much as you’d hoped for by now, you need to try and test the market with your product. Try to ensure that you have a proper following and the ability to start a successful conversation. Applying for funding before any of this is a premature approach which might backfire. Funding is to be considered once you’ve established your position in the market and now want to grow and scale your business to meet your business’s needs.

  • Start with the simplest legal entity

You might have the vision of growing your business over the upcoming months, but increasing your shareholder amount will make the investment complex on your part. If you are registered as a sole proprietorship or partnership business, it will lower the liabilities and tax implications for investors. It’s best to invest as a one-man-band or a smaller entity to increase your chances of being considered.

  • Build your company and showcase your results

This does not mean that your startup business needs to be a thriving success. This certainly does not happen overnight either. It simply means that you need to have something to show. Business investors in South Africa want to be able to see the results and analyse them thus far, as this will give them the answers they need to go ahead with your concept. If the potential investor sees profitability in your work, it will generate confidence. Another tip to consider is your business’s focus. While technology is a trending topic, investors want to see how customer-centric your business is and how you’re changing the lives of your customers.

When you create an intellectual property portfolio, you’re creating a competitive advantage for your startup company and showing investors how serious and passionate you are. Investors want to see that you have patented your idea or trademarked something in your business. It’s a good barrier to entry.

Final words

As you see, success takes time and hard work. In order to gain funding, you will need to do things in the right sequence before you find out more on how to apply for a startup business loan. Once you see that you cannot carry it further without the financial support you need, consider funding. This will give investors a clear idea of your journey and what they can expect to see if there was money involved.