Tag Archives: finance

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.

 

Pros and cons of a joint venture

 

Sometimes two heads are better than one. Collaborating with other businesses could make your business grow faster and expand your knowledge and resources. Joint ventures help the business owners grow in the areas where they lack expertise and skills. And both companies will be able to share financial burdens. If the two companies work together well it could be a win-win situation where both companies gain.

Here’s what you need to know about starting a joint venture.

New sets of skills and resources

A joint venture has many advantages and one of them is that your business will be able to learn and gain a new set of skills and resources by partnering with another business. And you won’t have to put down an investment to acquire these skills. Your business might be lacking on skills and by the end of the joint venture, your might gain new knowledge which helps your business to be more fruitful. For example, a wedding events company can collaborate with a highly skilled photographer. They both benefit from each other because they offer different traits to the partnership.

Limits risk

When a business decides to take on a new project it will always be a risk. The project can either be successful or fail. When a business joins with another business for a certain project, the risk is shared between the two parties. This limits the liabilities of both parties involved in the business venture. For example, Agriculture is best suited to a joint venture because the equipment, land and the supplies are extremely expensive. And it can be difficult to get agricultural finance. If farmers collaborate with other farmers, then their expenses will be shared. Farmers could share their equipment and be able to cut down on costs.

New markets

You’ll be exposed to a new demographic When your business partners up with others, it will automatically be exposed to a whole new set of customers. The goal of a business is always to grow, evolve and gain new market share. Partnering up with other people can help your business expand because you’ll gain access to their customers whom you wouldn’t have normally been able to reach.  For example, in the 90s Nike partnered with Michael Jordan a famous basketball player and made millions. Avid fans of Michael Jordan began to buy the Iconic Jordan sneaker and Nike sales went through the roof because of the joint venture with Michael Jordan. Acquiring a partner in the business realm can help you reach higher targets and give exposure to your product. Just make sure the person you’re partnering with has a clean reputation because they will represent your company. Whatever they do will have an impact on your business. You should avoid doing business with a partner you don’t trust.

Versatility

A joint venture is flexible and versatile because you’ll be able to establish the timeframe in which you want the venture to last. It can be a short-term agreement or it can be long-term. The venture can be finished once the goal has been reached.  

Cons

Different managing styles

Your business might have a certain culture and way of managing things which clash with the other party. If your styles clash then your joint venture might not work out and could fail.

Shared risks

A partnership will always be a risk. Some partnerships soar and do well, while others bust and fail. There are many reasons why joint ventures fail and one of them may be that one party contributes more to the venture whether its skills or resources. This could cause disagreements and the joint venture to fail. There should always be an equal balance of contributions or the party contributing more might feel cheated.

Written agreements

Misunderstanding and miscommunication can break down trust and cause conflict. Make sure you don’t just end with an oral agreements but everything should be written down. Taking a person’s word and leaving it at that could cause conflict at a later stage. Make sure all the responsibilities of each party are outlined and everything is in writing. This will also solve any costly misunderstanding which might occur down the line and break down the partnership.

A business should always be looking for ways to do things which can make them be more efficient and effective. Joint ventures provide the perfect platform to gain skills, knowledge and expertise which your business may lack. If you want to start a business venture, you need to find other people who want to reach a similar goal to yours. You need to make sure they are trustworthy,reliable and they are financially secure. Importantly, you must ensure they have a good reputation and image.

 

 

Financing your startup like a pro

 

Anyone who has ever ventured into the world of startups knows that financing can be one of the biggest hurdles. Whether your plan is to bootstrap, finance yourself or take out a loan, it’s certain that you will risk major money problems if the business does not perform as expected.

 

It’s expected that all business ventures will carry some risk. But there are many ways to mitigate this risk by limiting taking on massive debt. It’s important that you carry out extensive market research, for example, to ensure you identify possible setbacks. It’s also possible to limit your expenses in the early years by renting equipment rather than buying until your business is stable. And this is when you can apply for plant and machinery finance. At some point, whether it’s sooner or later, you will have to go out on a limb.

 

Where to begin

 

At the beginning stages of launching your startup, it’s important that you have a clear-cut business plan. This should provide you with all of the insight you need to estimate how much capital you’ll need. It might be better to overestimate how much you’ll need. This’ll allow you to have enough cash on hand to cover all unexpected expenses and maintain a positive cash flow. This is especially important in the early months and can help you really get your business started on a solid footing.

 

Once you have estimated and calculated that initial figure, your options will soon become more clear. Do you think it’s possible to attract some investors by networking and attending conferences in your field? Are you comfortable reporting to them about growth and profits every month, quarter and year? Investors will be entitled to have a say in the business of your business. Sometimes, this is when clashes occur.

 

If this sounds like something you’re uncomfortable with, more traditional forms of financing might be your best option. The good news is that, as long you have good credit and your business plan is sound, a bank or registered credit provider will be able to offer financial assistance. Securing finance in this way means you’ll have more freedom when making decisions. On the other hand, you’ll have full responsibility for your debts and ensuring they’re paid back.

 

The basics of starting a business using loans

 

It’s important when thinking about your business financing to ensure all debts are incurred in the name of your business. It may be tempting to use your personal credit card every once in awhile, but it’s essential that you don’t stray down this dangerous road.

Even so, using any form of credit card, whether it’s yours or the business’s, means the lines are blurred between the money you actually have available for your use. You might not think it’s important to differentiate but your credit card limit may be more than the amount of money you need. And this means it could be very easy to abandon your carefully-planned budget and business plan. To ensure you stick to your plan, it’s important that you stick to only spending your initial capital and wait until you begin to turn a profit before spending on extras.

 

It might happen that your initial capital in insufficient

 

The first step is to cut down on your expenses. That means no more client lunches or staff drinks. Once you’ve cut down on your spending, you might find it’s time to speak to your bank.

 

Once you’re back on track, it might very well be time to purchase that equipment you’ve been renting. Whatever form of financing you’ve opted for to start your business, your success will be largely determined by your ability to plan, adapt to obstacles and remain on track during challenging times.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Should you really be an entrepreneur

Many people jump on the entrepreneurship bandwagon because they think they’ll be instant millionaires and get cushy working hours. But if you become an entrepreneur for the wrong reasons, you’re bound to fail. Starting your own business is hard work and requires guts and making sacrifices. If you’re not willing to understand the markets, have the courage to execute ideas and take risks, you could lose a lot of money as well as your business.

Here are a few ways to help you decide if entrepreneurship is for you.

Talk is cheap

Actions speak louder than words. If you’re a person who’s always focused on “someday” and can’t take initiative, entrepreneurship might not be for you. Entrepreneurs are go-getters who are always doing. They are determined to see their dreams come true.

When the going gets tough

Muhammed Ali, the champion boxer, was quoted as saying, “I hated every minute of training, but I said don’t quit. Suffer now and live the rest of your life as a champion.” And that’s how entrepreneurs should approach every difficulty they come across. If you quit easily, then you’ll fail as an entrepreneur. Because in business it’s not a matter of if the obstacles will come but when they come. Will you be able to take the heat?

Fearless

Starting a business requires a person who can take initiative and is courageous. You’re going to face a lot of situations which require you to take a leap of faith. And if you’re not brave enough, you’ll miss out on many business opportunities.

Overnight success

Many people think they’ll start raking in the millions in the first year. But the climb to success isn’t easy and will require a lot of work. As an entrepreneur, you may not see the fruits of your labour until a later stage. Entrepreneurs have to know, in order to get a breakthrough in their business, they need to be persistent and motivated.

Lonely at the top

When you’re the CEO of a business, you’re the one in charge You’re the one who has the final say and the one who is the most invested in your business. So you may find it lonely because no one in the company truly understands the pressures you face. There are few people to share in your failures and to motivate you to get up when you’re down. Being your own boss and working for someone else is very different, as an entrepreneur your business is constantly on your mind.

Focus

You might think your idea is unique, mind-blowing and everyone will be queueing to get their hands on it. But not everyone will buy into it. However, you shouldn’t let this deter you. Colonel Sanders who started Kentucky Fried Chicken was rejected 1009 times before he found someone who believed in his recipe.  In the beginning, some people may not be on board to help you fulfill your vision. And that’s why you should be determined and focused.

Preparation

Luck is when opportunity meets preparation. You have to be ready at all times and have your ducks in a row, otherwise, you could lose out on great business deals. If you aren’t prepared to spend hours studying your industry and looking for other ways to serve your customers, then being an entrepreneur might not be for you.

Capital

Whether you need funds to finance your mining equipment or invest in new property for your business, you need to find clever ways to raise money. You might have to get a business partner or explore crowd-funding. Whatever route you choose to take, it’ll take a lot of hustling to get your capital. And the question is: are you up for it?

Time

Many people have a preconception that they’ll spend their days clocking off at noon to play golf because they have flexible working hours. But the truth is, being an entrepreneur means you’ll have to work harder than anyone in your office. In fact, you’ll find yourself wearing many hats in order to keep your business thriving. You’ll have to eat and sleep your business and often spend the weekend catching up on work. You may also have to sacrifice time with your friends and family during the initial stages of building your empire.

Listen

If you can’t listen to what others have to say, your business could fail. As a business owner, you’ll come across many unsatisfied customers. And if you want your business to prosper, you’ll have to listen to what they have to say in order to satisfy their needs successfully.

Being an entrepreneur is about more than becoming your own “boss”, it’s about loving what you do and providing a product or service which will benefit your customers.

 

4 ways to finance your business

Starting your own business is an exciting endeavour. Introducing a new product or service to the market and designing your own future are why many people enter into the startup game. But there are many mundane sides that should be addressed before starting out. One of them being the funding of your business to facilitate growth.

The first step to getting funding for your business is to have a solid business plan. There are specific categories that need to be included within a business plan to receive funding. These categories include the company’s description, market analysis, organisation and management plan, detail on the value proposition and marketing and sales plan. If you’re interested in financing your business with outside capital, a funding request and financial projection should then also be included. And once all the required information is gathered, it’s time to approach a creditor.

Whether you’re looking for startup funds or capital to expand your business, it can be challenging to find finance in any economic climate.

Here are four financing techniques and what to know when approaching them. .

What is factoring?

It’s a finance method where a company sells its receivables at a discount to get money up-front. It’s used by companies with poor credit or businesses such as apparel manufacturers. But this is an expensive way to raise funds. If your company sell its receivables, you’ll generally pay a fee that’s a percentage of the total amount. If you’re, for instance, paying a two percent fee to get funds thirty days in advance, it’s equal to an annual interest rate of about 24 percent. And because of that, the business will have a bad reputation over the years. Businesses are forced to look for alternative financing methods and many big companies are trying to make factoring more competitive. These exchanges will allow businesses to offer their receivables to many of the factoring companies at once.

Make use of a credit card

Startups are likely to use credit card financing to get their businesses off the ground. And that’s because owners of startups don’t yet have business credit. Their own personal credit is all they have. If you make use of your personal credit card to find your business, you’ll be responsible for any debt you incur. 

Making use of a personal credit card for financing your business means taking on a significant amount of risk. If you fall behind on your payment, your credit score will be exhausted. And if you pay the minimum each month, you could create a hole you’ll never get out. But if you use a credit card responsibly, it can get you out of the occasional jam and even extend your accounts payable period to shore up your cash flow.

How about an angel investor?

Angel investors are individuals with business experience who use their own money and invest in startups. They usually invest in companies who’ll turn a large profit quickly. When pitching an angel investor, you should be succinct, avoid jargon and always give an exit strategy.

If you want to win over an angel investor, you should add people with experience to your management team. Even an unpaid but experienced adviser could increase your trustworthiness. Did you start your company because you want to cash in on the latest trend or because you’re passionate about your idea? Angel investors will spot the difference and won’t give much attention to companies interested in get-rich-quick schemes.

You’ll need market assessments, competitor analysis and robust marketing plans if you want success and expect to get anywhere with an angel investor. Even though you’re a startup, it’s expected that you can demonstrate expert knowledge of the market you’re about to enter.

Approach family and friends

If you’re looking for ways to finance your startup, asking family and friends will be the easiest way. But remember when you turn loved ones into creditors, you’re risking their financial future and could jeopardise your personal relationships. A typical mistake is approaching loved ones before a formal business plan is in place. It’s important to supply formal financial projections. And with that, give an evidence-based assessment of when your loved ones will see their money again. It’ll reduce the likelihood of unpleasant surprises. Your investors will also know you’re taking their money seriously.

It’s important that you discuss the possible risks involved. Offer a strong and detailed business plan but make sure they’re realistic about the risks involved.

You should look for creditors offering a wide range of equipment finance packages for companies, regardless of whether they’re in their early stages. There are many other ways you can finance your business, whether you approach an angel investor or family and friends. If you want to build your business up for success, the key is to have a well-detailed business plan.