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How to start a taxi business

It is safe to say that a job is quite the rare commodity these days. Interviews are in abundance, but appointments are few and far between.

Whether you’re just entering the job market fresh from school, or circling back from a previous employment, you need a reliable and steady income to sustain yourself. But if jobs are scarce and bills are stacking, what are you supposed to do? Here’s an idea – start your own taxi service. Who knows, your fleet might be the next piece of iconography synonymous with your area.

Starting any business can pose a few challenges, but the internet is your friend. You can learn almost anything with a quick visit to your favourite search engine. In the meantime, here are a few tips to start your own taxi business and avoid some of the most complained about pitfalls.

Who will be driving?

You need to decide whether you will be driving, or whether you’ll assign someone as a driver (either a business partner or employee). If you are the one responsible for driving, you have to make sure that you have a valid driving license and a ton of free time on your hands. The more you are available to transport people, the more income you’ll generate. If you choose to assign someone else to drive, you need to check their driving license. Make sure that it hasn’t expired and look for any conditional modifiers indicated (such as vehicle class, manual or automatic drive and the necessity of glasses). Whoever you choose needs to be clued up about their surroundings, or at least in possession of a GPS. Also consult the internet about third-party insurance, especially if you are providing the vehicle they will be driving. While you’re at it, read into the process of getting your business registered and licensed.

Choose your vehicle wisely

The vehicle is the most important element of your business, as it is the direct source of your income. The vehicle you choose need not be the latest and greatest in automotive design, but it does need to be presentable and in working condition. So, your uncle’s old pickup truck just short of being written-off probably isn’t your best option. Keep in mind that your passengers need to sit comfortably and try to make provision for multiple passengers per trip. In other words, the vehicle needs to have a back seat and doors for passengers to access it. An added bonus would be to find a vehicle with moderate to low fuel consumption. You wouldn’t want all of your revenue going towards that thirsty tank. Your vehicle will be an invaluable asset, so it’s important to do your research and make the best possible decision. Consult the internet to find opportunities for machinery asset finance and weigh up all your options.

How to be a good driver

Now that your business is registered, your driver has been chosen and your vehicle has been financed, it’s time to take people places. Here are a few tips on not sucking as a chauffeur.

Speeding

Try your utmost best to stick to the speed limit. The benefits of this are twofold – firstly, you will avoid unnecessary expenses in the form of fines and secondly, your passengers will sleep soundly knowing they didn’t narrowly evade the clutches of death. Even though your passengers might not always be the most patient, it is a fair assumption that they’d rather arrive late than not arrive at all.

Conversation

Although your job will mostly consist of customer service and human interaction, your job description is not ‘therapist’. Keep the conversation light and minimal. The only thing worse than a creepy silent driver is a blabbering one. You’ll be able to gauge the level of  conversation required from the passengers as they enter your vehicle. Be friendly and professional but whatever you do, don’t rant about your ex.

Music

We all know how awkward it is when you want to have a conversation with a friend or loved one but you feel like a stranger is listening to every word. Well, this is your life now – you’re the stranger. So to avoid those cringe-worthy moments, switch on the radio and ask your passengers if there’s a specific channel they would prefer. This will instantly make them feel more comfortable (especially if their favorite song comes on). However, take note of the fine line between background music and noise pollution.

Ambience

Last but not least, put some thought into the general feel inside your vehicle. Make sure to keep it clean (yes, bin the takeout boxes) and keep the unseemly smells at bay with an air freshener. Impression management is important for a new business and nothing ruins a first impression quite like a trashed car that smells like a dumpsite.

4 things to consider before starting an IT business

Have you always dreamed of starting your own business? Did you perhaps complete an IT or computer related qualification? Well, why not start your own IT firm? Unfortunately, not everyone knows how to get started. There is a lot of uncertainty and risk that comes along with starting your own business. If you ask any successful IT professional how they find it to work for themselves, they’re likely to tell you that the satisfaction of working for yourself can make it worthwhile.

Finding and starting your own company is all about motivation. Every successful business owner has a story about how and why they started their company. That story usually includes the tribulations, milestones, pitfalls and successes they faced along the way. Although every company has a different story, the businesses that reach success tend to have taken similar pivotal steps. So, when looking to start your business, those are the kinds of companies you should approach for advice.

As an IT consultant, you should provide expert advice in a wide range of fields. Your services might also be needed to counsel a startup computer company or simply provide technical support to your clients. Like any other business, starting your own IT firm can be overwhelming. So, here are a few things you need to consider before being your own boss.

What can you offer?

Before creating your business cards, you need to think about the services you’ll offer prospective clients. Don’t think you need to be an expert in all things IT to start your business. The good thing about this industry is that you can learn as time goes on. In fact, the more work you do or practice you get, the more successful you could be. There are likely to be other IT consultants in your area. So, check what they’re offering their clients and do something they don’t offer. You should basically find a niche you do better than others and focus on that expertise. Perhaps there was a section in your information technology course you were good at, so why not specialise in that? Specialising in this kind of industry is where the money is at.

Before getting too hung up on the money, think again. Ask yourself whether you’re in it for the money or the love of the work. If you’re starting this business for the money, well, you won’t get very far. Most businesses are succeeding because they are doing it for the love of the work. So, take a look at the things you excel in and offer that to prospective clients.

Create your business plan

Unfortunately, no business will succeed without a detailed business plan. Before you think too far ahead about how you’ll be as an entrepreneur and how you’ll make money, you should put together a business plan. Be clear with the services your IT company will offer. Also, state how you plan to find new clients and what you’ll charge for your services. Just make sure you don’t undersell yourself. Many consultants make the mistake of setting their prices too low. Remember that your business has to make a profit. You’ll also have fees that you’ll have to cover, such as rent, equipment maintenance and employment taxes. If you’re not sure how to create a detailed business plan, approach other successful businesses. There are also many online tools you can use.

Prepare yourself for long hours

You’ll be working for yourself now. So, that means you aren’t likely to work office hours only. You might have to work overtime. Are you willing to put in the extra hours? Many IT professionals who’ve made the switch from employee to self-employed did it in stages. Some people usually stay at their full-time job while getting their business off the ground. And starting your own business might not happen within a few days, it might take months or even years. So, before going the entrepreneurial route, ask yourself whether you’re willing and able to log some long hours. You should spend way more than 40 hours per week running your business. You’ll soon realise starting your own firm isn’t a regular job. And yes, it offers increased flexibility but also more responsibility.

Think about the nitty-gritty details

When you’ve mapped out what you’ll be offering and written your business plan, it’s time to think about the day-to-day logistics of running your IT business. Do you have office space or will you work from home? It’s important to make sure you have all the necessary equipment. You should know what you need and that you have those items included in your budget. You should be able to multitask. You maybe won’t have any employees yet, so you should be able to do a little bit of everything. Think about all these things and create a to-do or check list. That way you’ll have everything organised.

There are a lot more steps and things you should do in order to run a successful IT business. Take these four tips into consideration as they’ll give you a solid base to start working for yourself.

Do you have what it takes to succeed in sales?

 

To be or not to be that is the question. You may be considering a career in sales but you’re not sure if you’re the right fit. Your hesitation could come from all the negative stories you’ve heard about the profession. And now you’re just not sure you’ll make the cut. You should do an introspection and ask yourself if you have what it takes. Are you fanatical about making a sale? Do you not take no for an answer? Do you have an outgoing personality? If you answered yes to these questions then sales could be for you.

Here are a few things you should know before pursuing a sales career path

Pressure

There are people who thrive under pressure while some just crumble under it. When you’re a salesperson you’ll deal with intense pressure because you’ll have to meet daily targets and deadlines. In order to perform well you need to know how to manage stress.

Communication skills

A good salesperson needs to have good communication skills. They need to master the art of conversation. For instance, you shouldn’t dominate a conversation, you should give room for the other person to have their say.

These are the 4 barriers to effective communication:

Using technical language – if you use acronyms and technical jargon which is only relevant to your profession then your customers might not understand you. You should be clear and concise when you make your sales pitch.

Lack of concern – if you show a lack of empathy towards the customer you won’t persuade them to purchase what you’re selling.

Judging the other person – a major block to communication is criticising or belittling another person. If you want to influence your customers and grow sales, then you should avoid judging them when you’re talking to them.

Lack of attention – You need to make the customer the centre of your universe. And the best way to do that is to pay attention to what the customer is saying and listen to them.

Great Listener

A salesperson needs to have good listening skills. You need to give your undivided attention to your client. Scrolling through your phone or interrupting a customer while they’re talking isn’t likely to score you brownie points. Focus on what they’re trying to convey in order to cater to their needs. If you don’t listen to the customer then you’re not likely to win them over and understand what they want.

Outgoing personality

Extroverted personalities are often talkative and thrive in social settings and make amazing salespeople. A salesperson has to be a people’s person and be able to form relationships quickly.

Be positive

Personality sells. People are attracted to warm, positive people. A salesperson should be energetic and have a radiant personality. The friendlier you are the more people will be drawn to you and be able to open up.

Confidence in your product

If you want to have the customer eating out the palm of your hands, you need to be confident about the item you’re selling. You need to believe in the product and its value in order to successfully persuade your customers. And if you’re not confident, you’ll instil doubt in the mind of the customer you’re trying to persuade.

Willingness to improve

You should be willing to improve on your craft. No matter how good a person is at something, there’s always room for improvement. And a good salesperson knows that. You could buy books, read articles and attend seminars. Acquiring more knowledge will help enhance your skills. The more you learn about sales, the more you’ll be able to influence others.

Persistence

A great salesperson knows that even when the going gets tough, they shouldn’t give up. They know they should persevere even when faced with challenges and obstacles. You need to be able to bounce back even though you had bleak sales in the previous month. When you’re a salesperson you’ll deal with ups and downs and you need to know how to keep yourself motivated through those times.

Achievement orientated

A salesperson needs to be fixated on reaching their goals each day. Always keep your eye on the prize and be achievement orientated. Your aim should be doing better than your previous records and others in the team.

Whether you’re studying a marketing course or just want to pursue a career in sales, you need to determine if you’re the right fit. Otherwise you’ll be frustrated and lack motivation. As a salesperson you’ll need to be confident, persistent and have a strong desire to win.  

 

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.

 

Should you lease assets for your small business?

We live in a day and age where technology is constantly evolving. And your business needs to keep up with the latest trends in order to survive and keep up with competitors. If you have limited capital but need to invest in equipment which needs to be upgraded over a certain period, then leasing could be the better option. Of course leasing also has a few  downsides. In order to make the right decision on whether to buy or lease the assets you need decide which is the better option which suits your business and finances.

 

Pros

No outdated equipment

When you lease your business equipment, you’ll always end up with the latest updated technology. Over a period of time, the equipment you use in your business can become obsolete and you may need to upgrade it to a new model. This is where leasing is an advantage to your business. For example, if you have a three-year lease on your laptop after the lease expires, you’ll be able to upgrade it to the latest version. If you buy your equipment cash, you’ll always end up with outdated equipment and have to take out cash to buy new models

 

You won’t incur any expenses upfront

If you have a small business, you may have a tight budget and therefore you need to use funds sparingly. Leasing business equipment will benefit you because instead of paying for the asset upfront, you’ll be able to pay the total costs over a period of time.

 

Compete with other businesses

If you use outdated technology in your business, then your competitors may be steps ahead of you. And your employees may not produce work as efficiently and effectively when they use outdated technology. Leasing gives your business the opportunity to stay on top of the latest advances in technology and equipment. You’ll also be able to determine how long you want your lease agreement to last. So if you use technology which needs to be replaced after a certain period, leasing is perfect.

 

Cons

Contract stipulations

When you enter into a lease contract you might have to pay for the asset for the entire lease period. This could be a waste of money if the item you purchased was for a short-term project. Because once you’re done using it, you’ll still have to pay until the end of the lease agreement. Which means money will be going out for an item which isn’t in use and this will cost your business.

 

Time-consuming

Leasing is a process and requires a lot of time to actually get the lease. You may need to produce paperwork, such as financial statements, to prove that you’ll be able to make payments in the long run. Whereas when you’re buying the assets for cash it’s a fast and easy process, you just pay for the item and leave the store.

 

Maintenance of assets

You may be liable to pay for the maintenance of the asset you leased. Some leasing agreements require you to follow certain procedures in order to maintain and look after the asset. The maintenance of equipment could be expensive and taxing on your finances. But when you buy it cash, you won’t be obligated to follow any procedures, once you’ve made the payment you’re free to do what you want with it.

 

Insurance

Some lease agreements come with the condition that you have to insure the equipment. And if you opt not to, they usually add the extra insurance fees on to your monthly payments.

 

Extra costs

The downside of leasing is eventually you’ll pay more for the item in the long run. It will be more expensive. Whereas when you buy the assets up front, it’s usually cheaper.

 

There are different types of lease contracts

 

Capital lease

This lease is similar to a loan. You’ll be able to lease the equipment and it will reflect as an asset in your balance sheet. Capital leases often last a period of 5 years.

 

Operating lease

The ownership of the equipment remains under the leasing company. Operating leases are for a shorter period than capital leases and usually last three or fewer years.

 

When you’re a small business competing with other bigger companies, you need to find ways in which to survive. And one of the best ways is to cut down on unnecessary business costs. Leasing can help your business minimise costs and still keep up to date with the latest technology in the market. Leasing could help you save whether it’s business car leasing or other assets.