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Fun ways to start company meetings that are actually productive

Meetings are never something that we look forward to with bated breath. In fact, many employees dread going into their morning meetings because they know how boring and unproductive their time will be. You can change this mindset, however, by introducing some fun and simple elements into the start of your meetings.

One example is to start with a dessert cook-off, giving everyone a dessert recipes PDF to follow from and create a delicious snack to eat during the meeting. Still not sure where to start to make your meeting fun? Read on below for some unique ways to start company meetings that are actually productive.

Start with a joke…

… and encourage others to make one. Positive emotions at work lead to more productive work days, including meetings that have good end results. Starting your meeting with an appropriate joke will allow everyone to relax, and if you allow your employees to make a joke of their own, they will feel entertained and appreciated.

You will need to remember to keep your joke appropriate and not mention anything that will offend your staff. Keep it light and entertaining (a “dad joke” will suffice) and ensure that the rest of your employees follow suit. You will find the mood of the meeting improving and becoming more conducive to productivity. Make a game out of it by asking everyone to rate the jokes for funniness.

Play a pop quiz

Ideally, the quiz should focus on the topic of the meeting. For example, if you are coming up with marketing ideas for a catering company, give everyone a dessert recipes PDF and ask them to name at least three different desserts that the caterers could make.

This is a great way to ensure productivity, as it will require your staff to read through the meeting notes beforehand and have ideas in their minds already. A pop quiz will ensure that everyone is aware of all aspects of the client, such as marketing strategies and financial status. Make the pop quiz fun and engaging rather than something that makes them feel like they’ve been put on the spot and awkward.

Do something unexpected

More often than not, your meetings follow a particular setup. You start with a briefing and then work your way down the to-do list for a client or project. And while this is effective in tight-deadline situations, it can become boring if it is your go-to routine for meetings.

You could change this by taking your team for a morning walk, have a meditation period before the meeting starts, or heading to a local coffee shop for a cuppa before the to-do list is brought out. By changing your routine, your staff will feel more productive and have a more creative mindset. Be sure to ask your employees for any dietary restrictions before heading off to a coffee shop or restaurant, as you will need to be inclusive of everybody.

Foodie fun for everyone

A dessert recipes PDF shared among your staff before the meeting will grab their attention. It will let them know that the start of the meeting will be a delicious one, especially if you have included a cooking class to go along with the recipe booklet.

You could have a hot dog creation cook-off or you could ask each employee to bring their favourite breakfast food to the meeting (with enough for everyone to try, of course) and rotate this by departments. Eating during a meeting can make it feel more relaxed and will encourage your staff to think creatively. As long as it does not become too distracting, a meeting geared towards foodie fun can be fantastic for productivity.

Invite a speaker

If your meeting is focusing on specific topic or client, you can set the mood and inspire your staff by inviting a guest speaker who is an expert on the topic or someone from your client’s company to provide unique insights.

Inviting a vibrant and interesting speaker will help to boost the productivity and creativity of the meeting significantly. It will allow your staff to see things in a new way or approach a problem from a different perspective. If you cannot find a speaker who is suitable, you could ask different teams to create a presentation about their current and upcoming work.

Keep it short and sweet

While it might be necessary to have long meetings about important topics, if it is not needed in every meeting, you should try to keep them short and to the point. This way your employees will not lose concentration and they will be able to provide you with creative ideas to solutions. Start off with a fun beginning and you will soon find your employees sitting up, taking notice and thinking out of the box.

The benefits of customer service training programs

As a business owner, dealing with the complaints, queries and even compliments of your customers can be daunting. Your staff might not have the necessary skills they need to properly handle these issues, which can cause customers to become dissatisfied and even cause loss of business.

With customer service training, you can avoid these problems and deliver the perfect customer experience. If you are still unsure of how these programs can help your business succeed, read on below for just some of the benefits of customer service training.

Higher employee motivation and engagement

Providing proper training for your staff will help them to realise the impact that their role has on the organisation. This will improve their motivation and will help them to properly engage with the customers who phone in with issues.

As customer service agents are exposed to the emerging trends of the industry, they can apply these methodologies to their customer interactions and help to give your business an edge on the competition. By sending your staff on courses, you are showing them that you care about their development which will improve their motivation and their morale.

Customer service skills will improve

As with any customer service training programs, your staff will find their skills improving. This is highly beneficial to both your staff and your company because not only will your staff have better skills, but your customers will have better experiences too.

Customer service training focuses on skills such as communication, listening, problem-solving and organisational skills as well as the ability to handle working under stress. Having these skills will not only enable them to handle customer issues easily but will also help them to build up their careers from strength to strength. Having staff with strong customer service skills will boost your business too, which is a major advantage to these training programs.

Increased customer satisfaction

Any business owner knows that customer satisfaction is one of the most important aspects of running a business. If your customers are unhappy, they will look elsewhere for products and services. Providing excellent customer service is a sure-fire way to increase their satisfaction and loyalty to your brand.

If your customers know that their issues will be met with speedy and helpful replies, they will be less likely to look elsewhere for products and services. You will need to ensure that your staff adheres to what they were taught on the customer service training courses in order to reap the most benefits. You could provide each person with a manual so that they can refer back to what they were taught in case of a difficult customer complaint or query.

Improved customer loyalty

Customers have a plethora of options at their fingertips. And one of the many deciding factors when it comes to choosing a supplier or vendor is the customer service that the company delivers. You might have the most fabulous products on the market, but if your customer service is lacking, you won’t sell a lot of products.

If you rely solely on discounts and special offers, you will not have as many customers as you hoped. But if you focus on customer service, your business will grow tenfold. This is why sending your employees on a professional training program is so helpful. They will learn the basics of customer service as well as more advanced techniques of handling customers. This will help to improve customer loyalty and ultimately boost your profits.

Your brand’s image will improve

Organisations that have effective customer service have a much better brand image than those who do not. Customers want to do business with brands who take customer service seriously, and employees want to work for these brands.

Retaining talent is vital to keeping your business afloat and your consumers happy. Training your staff is a direct reflection of how important they are to you, which will impress consumers as well as make your employees happy. Having a positive brand image will also give you an edge over the competition, as you will be showing consumers that they are important to you and that making money comes secondary.

Increased profit

As a business owner, you know that increasing your profit will allow you to continue operating at the level you need to succeed. Good customer service will bring in new customers and will retain your current ones. This will lead to a marked increase in your profits.

An increase in profit will also enable you to send any new staff for customer service training so they are up to speed with all the business processes. Profit is often something that comes from unexpected places, one of which is customer service. If you provide your customers with outstanding service, your business will improve tenfold and will soon beat out the competition.

 

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.