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How to ensure your startup is a success

Every day there are hundreds of thousands of startups which open their doors and hope to succeed. But with a sea of competitive ideas, there’s a differentiating factor between those which fail and those which succeed. It’s always tricky taking a leap of faith, but to succeed, you need to have that “X” factor.

Not every thriving startup is supported by investors. Success is about the habits you develop in your startup to (hopefully) achieve greatness. But either way, whether you’re supported by venture capitalists or not, a successful business takes dedication to keep your business relevant and competitive. It also requires an effort to attend innovation and tech conferences in Africa to see what trends are out there.

Here are a few tips to consider when looking to increase the odds of your startup’s success.

Start with a clear purpose

You constantly need to focus on your goals to ensure that you’re working towards them. Have one core idea, without feeling the need to focus on several areas of your business. This is the quickest way to lose focus of your purpose and forget the reason behind your startup dream. You need to stay committed to one idea and constantly work at bettering it to meet the needs of your customers. If you have a clear understanding of where you’re headed, you will always be able to measure your performance.

Take advantage of different challenges

When most startups open their doors, they tend to have a niche market they want to explore. Usually, you specialise in certain areas that you’re confident in. And you try to keep within those boundaries. While this is the safe way to do business, startup owners need to take advantage of difficult challenges. These are the projects that are going to differentiate you against your competitors. Try not to limit yourself to what you do, without trying to succeed in other areas. If you don’t take the opportunity to develop your skills and grow your business offerings, you’re going to be overtaken by other companies which are willing to test their limits. You need to be open to innovation. After all, you are a startup. People will understand a mistake on something you’re not a professional at far more than if you were a massive corporate company.

Include innovation in your business plan

You need to embrace the latest digital technologies to help improve your business. And you can find out more about this by speaking to influential leaders in the industry or by attending tech startup conferences near you. It’s important to note that successful business owners have a clear understanding of who their customers are and what they want. It’s about being able to identify their pain points and structure your approach to solve those pain points. If you’re able to provide a product or service that really adds value to your customers’ lives, you will constantly be able to build around that foundation. There are so many entrepreneurs in the world with brilliant ideas and expertise. The ones who succeed are the ones who are willing to go out of their comfort zone to try new things and educate themselves about the market.

Build a diverse team

As a startup owner, you need to hire people to assist you. It’s impossible to wear several hats for a long period of time as you will not be able to touch on everything. This may even lead to burnout. So, the beauty with hiring talent in the startup space is the ability to offer people opportunities based on their skills, not necessarily their experience. You are able to mould someone into the ideal employee you want. It’s also important to hire employees out of absolute necessity as you don’t want to over capitalise on your overhead expenses. You also need to focus your energy on hiring diverse employees.

Seek funding where needed

The reality of any startup is that you need capital. You need money to build your business and to keep it afloat. Often times, businesses think that they can keep themselves going as long as possible before they seek funding. But that is usually too late. You need to realise that success doesn’t happen overnight. Most startup companies give themselves two to three years before they see a difference. And, unfortunately, not every company is able to wait that long to see the return on investment (ROI) on their bottom line.

Be patient. Always.

On the back of the previous point, you need to be patient and you need to be motivated by the right things. By this, it means that you need to have a clear understanding of what you want. Of course, every business owner is motivated by money. But think about other motivating factors during this time. For example, your reputation, your idea (and how it’s impacted your customers’ lives) and your growth potential. Focus on the positive, and encourage your team to learn new skills to help make your business more resilient. Visit technology conferences and digital marketing talks where you will learn from other startups. The vision you have for your business is going to take dedication and plenty of hard work.

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.

Perfect your startup pitch with these helpful tips

Depending on the type of entrepreneur that you are, starting and running a business without sufficient capital is a daunting task. If this is the case for you, some or other time, you’re going to need to find an alternative way to fund your idea which may result in a pitch in front of a group of investors. Whether you choose to seek financial help through crowdfunding platforms or by approaching investors, you will need to carefully plan your pitch. The point is to convince people that your idea is worth their time and money.

The idea of a perfect investor pitch is being able to discuss your idea in a limited amount of time. You will need to refine your pitch to ensure that you cut out all of the unnecessary information and focus on what really matters to the audience. Here are a few ideas to consider when preparing your investor pitch:

  • Learn to master your one-liner

To own a business, you need to be passionate about your idea. You need to be able to explain your entire business model and concept in one line that concludes your business’s mission. It might not come easy at first, but having some sort of idea will make your pitching experience easier and more valuable. You need to hook someone from the very beginning, so be sure to sit down and think about how to make the most of your brand and advertise it in one powerful line. In this process, try to avoid using too many buzzwords.

  • Understand your audience

Whether you are speaking to one individual or a group of people, you will need to be able to adjust your pitch to suit the audience. If you are pitching to a group of investors, research each individual to give yourself a clear idea of who they are and what they’re looking to gain from this experience.

Most people will be impressed by your knowledge if you do so. And having some background knowledge of each individual will also help you put together a few questions that might prove necessary after your pitch. If you are speaking to a crowdfunding audience, you will need to simplify your pitch to make your idea understandable to the average Joe who might not (completely) understand your industry’s jargon.

  • Practice makes perfect

One of the most important tasks to do when preparing for your pitch is to practice regularly. Practice alone, in front of your team, to a mentor or to a friend. Once you’ve created your pitch, consider how long it will take you to get your point across. If it takes 10 PowerPoint slides and a six-minute speech, you’ve lost your audience. Avoid using big words, and opt for phrases and words that you use on a daily basis.

Once you’ve perfected your pitch alone, make sure you speak to an audience. The reason for this is that your loved ones, friends or team members will be able to be honest with you about your pitch and give you the friendly criticism you need to improve it. When you’re finished, ask them questions about it. For example, whether it made sense, if it’s easy to understand or unique, and if it’s missing anything.

  • Use figures and pictures

If you spend the majority of your pitching time talking, you could bore your audience. Take the time to structure your presentation to include both talking and imagery to backup your facts. On-screen visuals and numbers will help to maintain the audience’s attention, as well as keep them interested. Try to tell a story if you can, by keeping things interesting and conversational. You need to show that you are truly confident in your idea when trying to persuade influential people to invest in your startup.

Final words

Startup funding takes plenty of time and effort to attain. With so many incredible, and similar, ideas out there, you need to be able to show investment companies why your startup is so unique. While you might be one of the more introverted entrepreneurs who aren’t confident behind the mic, you will need to learn how to master your own pitching technique to successfully win over the hearts of the people you need to support you. During the early stages of your startup, before you look at crowdfunding platforms or investor opportunities, make it your mission to connect with influential leaders in the industry who can help you. Professional advice is always needed, so be sure to seek guidance and support wherever you go.

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.