Tag Archives: small business

Tips for taking your small business to the next level

Before you started your small business, before you quit your day job, you spent any free moment you had researching the best way forward. You wanted to know what the experts thought about how you could turn your idea into a successful business. You read many thousands of articles, listened to podcasts any chance you could, asked for advice from friends who’d done the same and searched for books on the subject.

Says Entrepreneur: “In today’s tumultuous economy, many business owners are in need of a jolt — something that helps their companies grow, whether it’s finding new ways to sell their products or to broaden their customer base. Of course, there are many potential avenues for achieving growth, and each business needs to assess at its own business model and determine its own path.”

Time has similar advice: “These days, doing what you’ve always done won’t cut it anymore. Just look at former movie rental giant Blockbuster. All the brand familiarity and market dominance in the world couldn’t save the company when it lagged behind competitors more responsive to critical changes in the market.”

If your small business is beginning to do well, you’re probably wondering how you can take it to the next level. What’s the next step, you’re wondering. Here are some tips to take your business from a zero to a hero.

Consider your timing. As is often the case, in business you need to be in the right place, at the right time. For example, there’s little point releasing a photo editing and sharing app right now. There’s already a major winner in this market. Unless your app can make people look like supermodels and Hollywood actors, you’re probably not going to have much luck. You need to spot a need that your customers have. To do this, you’ll need to keep your finger on the pulse of what’s happening in your area of interest. You need to keep yourself updated with new activities and projects  in your industry.

Build your brand. Every single thing related to your brand is a part of your business. If your car is branded with your company’s name, you’d better drive carefully. If someone is paid to answer the phone for your business, they better know how to handle callers. You are going to need to connect with your brand on a personal level so that clients think of it as an industry leader, influencer and expert. When journalists think of your industry, they know they need to contact you for a quote. You’ll need to make sure you know who your target market is and that you’re connected to them when they want to have conversations. You should also be certain your brand is known for its excellent service. When all of these factors come into play, that’s when you can begin to grow your business to the next level. That’s when you know it’s time to contact asset finance companies in South Africa about securing your next big line of credit.

Pivot your business offering. You’re not going to want to do this too soon. But there will come a time when you need to diversify your business’s offerings. Be sure to stick to related products or services, otherwise your business may begin to feel disjointed. This might confuse your customers and push them toward your competitors where they’ll be sure of what they’ll be getting.

Get yourself online. As the world becomes increasingly digital, it’s become essential for every business to have an online presence. When your customers want to check on procuring your services, the first place they’ll search for you is Google. No one uses a phone book anymore. There’s only one place to go for suggestions and solutions. It’s important that your website can be found by anyone who looks for it by making use of SEO strategies. You should also make an effort to use social media to your advantage. This has become increasingly difficult as social media has begun to use algorithms which prefer the companies which are spending money on ads. So, it might be very likely that you’ll have to put some money behind your efforts.

Make sure you take your time to launch and grow your business slowly. That’s the best way to make sure it’s a sustainable success. But, importantly, don’t wait too long to grow your business or you’ll never get anywhere.

What you need to know before starting a small business

Starting a new business can be scary. There’s so much you don’t know a single thing about. But the good news is that behind every successful business is an entrepreneur who was once right where you are now. These are the people who know exactly what you are going through. They’ve been there. They have been uncertain about where to turn and who to ask for help. It’s very likely that they hesitated before taking the next step. Theirs is the advice you should be looking out for.

 

Take advice from the pros. Apple boss Steve Jobs used to say that it’s important to be selective about the challenges you choose to tackle as an entrepreneur.

“People think focus means saying yes to the thing you’ve got to focus on. But that’s not what it means at all. It means saying no to the hundred other good ideas that there are. You have to pick carefully. I’m actually as proud of the things we haven’t done as the things I have done. Innovation is saying no to 1 000 things.”

His Virgin counterpart, Richard Branson, said business owners should focus their companies on the thing they need and the changes they’d like to see.

“Think about changes you’d like to see as a customer – even if you’ve just noticed little details that need tweaking. Those little changes may add up to a big idea that leads to a new and truly disruptive product or service. This is essentially how we, at Virgin, launched our first successful businesses.

“We were very sensible when we started out, setting up connected enterprises like most other companies do. We went from running a small record shop to starting up a record label with recording studios and then added our large music megastores to our portfolio.”

 

Planning your next move. When you’re just getting started, it’s important that you know what your next move is and where you plan to be in the next five to 20 years. Only then can you really begin to plan your next move and way forward. You’ll need to draw up a business plan to guide you onward. It’s essential that you’re constantly measuring your success, taking note of the factors which help you and which hinder you along the way.

 

There are many factors which could potentially impact you, as a small business owner. In South Africa especially we have to protect ourselves from the twin issues of crimes and cost increases. Making sure you have the necessary security in place and planning your finances carefully should assist in putting your mind at ease.

 

Next up, you’ll need to start thinking about making your startup a success. It’s likely you’ve read thousands of articles, listened to many podcasts, spoken to friends who’ve done the same thing and scoured the stores for books on your subject.

 

And your startup is beginning to show the signs of your hard work. So, how do you take your business to the next level? If you’re looking to grow, here are some tips for moving your business to the next level.

 

Think about your timing. Just like everything in life, you need to be at the right place, at the right time. You need to be able to spot a gap in the market and get in there quickly. You need to realise what consumers want or need, before they even do. In order to do this, you need to always have your finger on the pulse of what’s happening, what they want and where there’s a need. You’ll need to always keep updated about everything that’s happening in your particular industry.

 

Spend time building your brand. Your brand is everything. It’s what will come to mind every time a consumer thinks of your product or service. You’ll need to connect on an emotional level with your consumers and ensure your brand is thought of as a leader and influencer. For this, you’ll need to pay attention to a number of different factors:

 

  • Choosing the target market that’s right for your product or service
  • Connecting in the right ways and in the right places with your target market
  • Making sure you and your brand are always known for providing excellent customer service

 

When all of these factors begin to come together, consumers will choose your brand over others. That’s when you’ll know you’ve made it.

 

Pivot your brand. This is when you move away from what’s not working and find a solution that does work for your small business. You definitely don’t want to do this too soon. But eventually, you’ll want to diversify and become known for something else. When the time is right, you’ll need to apply for the asset finance solutions to help you grow your business. Be sure to stick to related products or services as you grow because otherwise you’ll begin to feel disjointed. This could be confusing for your customers and push them to your competitors.

Your brand needs to be online. Seriously, get online now. What are you waiting for? The world is becoming increasingly digital and every company needs to be online. Make sure your website can be found easily by using use of some simple SEO strategies. You should also be using social media in the correct ways and to your advantage.

 

Take your time to grow slowly. But don’t wait for too long because someone else will have the same idea as you. They’ll move faster and you’ll never get anywhere.

 

Being a business owner is tough. That’s especially true when you’re starting out. But if you believe in your project and know the risks, you should go for it. That’s when you’ll not only survive, but thrive.

How to market your small business effectively

When budgets are tight, marketing might be the first expense you look to cut. While traditional advertising methods are costly and hard to measure, small businesses have never had greater access to cost-effective, trackable marketing tools. Well, email and social media marketing are just the start. Here are six marketing strategies that can help you market your small business on a shoestring budget.

Craft an elevator pitch

You should be marketing all the time – wherever you are. Therefore, you need a compelling elevator pitch. Research shows the average attention span of an adult is about six to eight seconds. That’s all the time you have to grab someone’s attention. If you successfully engage them, then you only have a little over a minute to really sell them on your product or service. You can learn more about this by doing a short sales and marketing course. Invest the time to craft a killer elevator pitch. The return on your investment will pay huge dividends in terms of creating business opportunities.

Leverage your community

You don’t have to think big when it comes to your marketing efforts. Think locally. What’s going on in your community?  Print bookmarks and leave them at the local library. Get to know your ideal customer and think about how and where they spend their time. Then search for opportunities to get in front of your customer with your marketing message.

Network

There’s no better way to build a business than to get out there, shake some hands, and get to know people. Networking requires a time commitment and it doesn’t provide instant gratification, but a strong network is one of the greatest assets any business person can have.

Give a speech

A lot of people hate public speaking. However, there are many organisations looking for qualified, subject-matter experts who can present to their groups. Take a deep breath and volunteer. You don’t have to be a pro as long as the information you share is helpful to the audience. And the upside: the more you do it the easier it gets. Plus, it positions you as a credible authority in your field.

Build relationships

It’s a lot less expensive to keep a customer than it is to get a new one. That’s why establishing strong relationships with your customer base is crucial. One of the ways you can do that is by keeping in touch with people through email marketing. Ask customers for their email addresses when they visit your store or website. Then, make your communications informative, helpful and professional – something your customers will look forward to receiving.

Give it away

If someone has the opportunity to experience your product or service, chances are they’ll want to purchase more. Don’t be afraid to give someone a free trial or a sample. In today’s economy, people are more comfortable purchasing something they’ve been able to experience first.

These inexpensive marketing strategies will help you engage customers, build relationships, and ultimately keep your brand top-of-mind. It’s not always about the money you have to spend on marketing, it’s about the time and effort you put into it and above all, the relevance it has for your customers.

What is asset finance and how can it help your SME

The first concern of any business is balancing costs and expenses alongside retention and profit – in actual fact, mere survival. Obviously, the aim is to have more of the latter and less of the former: at the very least, you want them to even out in a way that allows you at least some profit. There are many ways to help achieve this, but one important way is to consider asset finance, due to every business needing assets in the first place to at all survive.

Asset finance

In order for you to even function, a business requires assets. Assets are usually considered to be those things like equipment, cars, etc., that allow you to do the business at all. However, when starting a business, obtaining the best assets – which allows you to do the best business – can be difficult, if not impossible. After all, you’ve put a lot of money down already into the business; now you need even more to merely make it function.

Asset finance is an umbrella term about financial solutions to obtain assets without incurring too much of a penalty, if done and chosen correctly. One financial assistance site notes:

“Many businesses don’t have enough available cash to consider an outright purchase, making asset finance a necessity. Even if you can afford it, you want to put your money to good use and investing cash in assets leaves you with less working capital to finance operations or explore new growth opportunities. The flexibility of asset finance allows you to align repayments to suit your cash flow and you may be able to claim tax deductions.”

Thus, there is a way to work on obtaining the desired assets while also keeping your costs lower.

Options

But, as we noted, asset finance is an umbrella term.

For example, you get the option of leasing the asset. This is, as the name suggests, paying to use the item. At no point, of course, do you own it. There is usually no deposit, but that depends; further you are tied to a certain amount of time, since this means the lender obtains a profit from their leasing service.

The obvious advantage is that you can acquire new items that help your services quickly. You can even sometimes have the option to own the product, if you have enough money – though that’s not the point of leasing itself.

There is also “hire purchase”, which means:

“Giving you a fixed or variable rate, with this option you generally pay the VAT and an initial deposit at the start – followed by a simple, structured repayment profile designed to facilitate cash flow.”

Thus, at the end you own the asset entirely, but manage your payment in a way that makes the least impact on your cashflow.

Impact on business

As a growing business, you need to be doing all you can to keep costs low. And asset finance, and its different options and perspectives, as well as the option to acquire said assets, makes for an important consideration. Of course, if you had the money in the first place, it would be best to purchase – but that can be an option for later, when your business has grown and the assets are in place to secure a financially viable future.