Staying in Business

10 uncommon tips for starting a business

There is no shortage of advice on how to successfully start a business and begin your journey as an entrepreneur. While this advice is helpful, it can give the false impression that there is a "perfect" formula for starting a business, which doesn't exist. Every entrepreneur will experience different entrepreneurial journeys. There is no "one size fits all". Here are 10 uncommon tips for starting a business that you may not have heard before.

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5 building blocks of a business strategy

Everyone who has been in business for some time has a “recipe” for the formulation of a business strategy.In this article I share the primary building blocks of the business strategy framework I use when I assist small to medium-sized businesses with planning. The primary building blocks are: identifying your target market, knowing your competition, having a team of experts, analysing certain business elements, and making in-flight adjustments when necessary.

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5 lessons for wealth and happiness

The lessons in this article are based on the work of Anthony Robbins who has written many books on personal achievement. He believes that you will get from life what you ask of it. So if your requests are small and limited so will your successes and rewards be. Find out how to reach personal and professional success using five key lessons.

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5 New Year's resolutions for SMEs

Every New Year brings with it new challenges and opportunities for business owners, all of which need to be incorporated into a business’s plans going forward. Business owners should make use of the first few weeks of the New Year to reflect on what worked well in the previous year, and what needs to be improved or changed for the year ahead. Proactive planning, with clear timelines, will positively benefit the long-term development of a business. Here are 5 resolutions for you to consider in the New Year.

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50 ways to make your business grow

There are so many things you can do to improve your business – not just incrementally, but monumentally – and often the specifics are rather simple. Here are 50 things that you can start doing today to make your business work, grow, and keep on growing. If all you did was pick a new item from this list-each week – and put it into play, can you imagine how much progress you would make?

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Advantages of outsourcing your business services

Every business owner wants their business to succeed but often they don’t know how they can do that. However, with the rise of outsourcing, many companies have managed to grow their business and reach their business goals. There are many advantages that come with outsourcing your business. If you’re interested in knowing more about outsourcing and how it can help your business, then read our advantages in this article.

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Assessing your company's financial position

You may think that because you have good bookkeeping and accounting processes in place and your cash flow is under control, you can sit back and relax. Unfortunately, you'd be wrong. This is the perfect time to do an in-depth analysis of where your business stands financially. If you're not so clued up about the accounting and financial side of your business, you may not realise how an in-depth financial analysis can benefit your company. Learn how to get the most out of your financial information.

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Becoming a mentor

If you are a veteran in the SME sector, are running a very successful business or just feel you have something to offer a budding entrepreneur, you may consider becoming a mentor. Let's look at the characteristics of a good business mentor. Mentorship is all about giving back and contributing to the growth of someone who may be where you were as a would-be business mogul. Use your experience and expertise to help other small business owners

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Bridgement: Providing innovative invoice finance to SMEs

Although the number of funders and funding options in South Africa is steadily increasing, SMEs still struggle to access the finance they need. Daniel Goldberg, CEO and co-founder of Bridgement explores why he started the innovative FinTech company, and how Bridgement is helping SMEs unlock access to invoice finance within a matter hours. In doing so, he also addresses what differentiates Bridgement from other lenders, and how SMEs can grow their businesses digitally.

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Building your brand successfully

If one were to ask 10 marketing directors what the criteria for a successful brand are, you would get 10 completely different answers. Whichever way you look at it, brands today are the most demonstrably powerful and sustainable wealth creators in the world. However, to become a successful brand one has to take it seriously. So, before you embark on a brand-centric exercise here are some questions you should ask yourself.

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Business blues – consider your risks

Successful businesses depend on proper business planning and management. But things do go wrong and such unfortunate events, beyond anybody's control, will cripple a business. There must be contingency plans in place to decrease the risk areas. Controls to manage risks are essential to ensure your business can keep going should the unexpected happen. Unfortunately, many small business owners see the costs involved as a grudge payment and often let it slip – with disastrous consequences. Where are you most vulnerable?

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Business evaluation can lead to business optimisation

There is something to be said for making the time to investigate, evaluate and think about some critical elements impacting on the success of our businesses. These elements include service experience, business premises, staff, and the business image, which are discussed in this article.

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Business Fitness Analysis

The Business Fitness Analysis (BFA) culminating in the Business Fitness Report (BFR), assists the SME owner identify their own high level business needs. The BFA is a questionnaire (created and provided by Sanlam) that requires mainly YES/NO answers and takes approximately 20 to 30 minutes to complete. It does not seek any private or business financial information, and covers financing/finances, business continuity, business management, wealth creation, employee benefits.

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Calculate the value of existing and new clients

There are basically three ways in which to grow a business, namely: by getting new clients; increasing the share of wallet; or increasing the frequency of transactions with existing clients. Determining the value of a client can therefore be very useful. For example, there is definitely a difference in the way we look at a potential client that is worth R50 vs R50 000 to our business. Here is how to calculate the value of new and existing clients.

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Everything small business owners need to know

Owning and running a small business is an impressive feat. For some, however, reaching this point can be difficult and confusing. You might not be sure of your business concept or you might still be figuring out how to manage your finances. But, if you follow these simple tricks and tips, you will become the success you have always dreamed of. Here is everything small business owners need to know.

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Financial resolutions for the small business owner

Just like individuals draw up a list of New Year’s resolutions to steer their life in a desired direction, the small business owner should jot down resolutions that’ll make for a successful financial year. But where to start? With the basics, of course. Here are four financial resolutions that you can make for your business every January or at the start of every financial year.

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Fintech and bank partnerships can grow SMEs

Major banks in South Africa are partnering with Fintech start-ups to drive productivity in the financial sector and capture new markets. With the spotlight on the role of SMEs in the local economy, collaborations between Fintech and conventional banking can develop financial services that are highly personalised and more affordable to small businesses. In this article, Daniel Goldberg – co-founder of Bridgement – provides commentary on the potential impact of collaborations between fintech start-ups and established banking institutions.

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Good business mentors are worth their weight in gold

In today’s challenging economic environment, mentors play a key role in growing businesses, supporting entrepreneurs and enabling SMEs to survive and flourish in tough trading conditions. Business Partners Limited, South Africa’s leading risk financier in South Africa, has witnessed businesses on the verge of bankruptcy recover, and be propelled to new levels of success as a result of some guidance from a mentor.

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How can fleet truck rental save your business money?

Owning a business can be stressful, especially when it comes to making decisions about assets. You will need to take numerous things into consideration, such as how often you will need to update the asset or equipment you need, how much the services or maintenance will cost, as well as what your budget for equipment is. These factors will help you to decide whether or not you should rent or buy an asset.

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How good is your credit record?

No matter what kind of business you have, there will probably come a time when you have to apply for a loan or overdraft to expand your business, buy equipment, or finance some other aspect of your operations. This is when having a good credit record becomes very important. Establishing and maintaining a good credit record takes time and can be challenging when times get tough (financially). Here's how to build and maintain a good credit record to obtain business funding.

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How SMEs can survive a cash flow crunch

Cash flow is the number one killer of SMEs in South Africa. The announcement that South Africa’s economy has shrunk by 3.2% in the first quarter of 2019 has put further pressure on small business owners who need to manage their cash flow effectively. Daniel Goldberg, co-founder and CEO of Bridgement provides SME owners with advice on how to keep their companies afloat during tough times.

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How to capitalise on business trends

In business we are mainly concerned with the “here and now”. The future is a dream, but the present a reality. The reality is that the world is changing daily. New discoveries, political decisions that affect the macro-economy (e.g. interest rates, exchange rates), as well as socio-economic consequences have an impact on people, economies and businesses. Would it not be good to have a kind of crystal ball to make the future more “tangible”? This is the area of trend analysis.

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How to conduct an effective midyear review

By the midyear mark, businesses have six months of information to dictate where they need to reallocate resources and take corrective measures that will mitigate the impact of inefficiencies or ineffectiveness in the business during the second half of the year. Here are seven steps to an effective midyear review that will help you build on your strengths while eliminating any weaknesses.

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How to improve the value of your business

The current economic crisis is a good time to take stock of your business with the view of establishing what you want to do with it, where you would like the business to be in 3-4 years time and how you plan to get there. Like most major investments, there will come a time when you need to sell and that largely entails making the investment attractive to a buyer – a business is no different. Here are some important considerations to help you improve your business.

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How to improve your small business

Running a successful business whether it is a small or big business requires you to put a lot of work and time into growing it. More so when your business is still starting out there are times when it will seem as if your business is not moving forward which might leave you feeling discouraged. However, you aren’t alone many small-scale businesses have a few problems which make it seem as if your business is stuck in the same place and not making any progress. Here are some tips on how you can improve your business.

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How to increase your profit margin

A profit margin is an indicator of a company's pricing strategies and how well it controls costs. Differences in competitive strategy and product mix cause the profit margin to vary among different companies. The easiest way to remember it, is that the margin is the difference (financially) between what everything costs and what you charge. If your margins are too low, you will never make a profit and on the other hand if you set your margins too high, you run the risk of never making a sale. This article looks at how best to increase your profit margin.

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How to make sure that you reach the strategic goals of your business

It often happens that goals which management has bought into are set, but thereafter nothing much is done to ensure that these goals are reached. Here are a few tips that may help you create a greater sense of security in respect of reaching your business’ strategic goals: assign responsibility; document the expected output; allocate resources; provide regular feedback; plan iteratively; and reward your employees.

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How to manage client relationships

These days, clients expect a lot more from the companies they work with: many of them want a more consultative approach to doing business. They expect you to find out more about their business and how you can help them achieve their strategic goals. They all have two or three “buttons” or points that are close to their hearts. It's imperative that you take the time to find out what is important to a specific client and then to deliver accordingly. Here are some tips to help you out.

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How to meet the expectations of your target market

Before we can meet and exceed the expectations of our clients, we first have to determine and re-examine what their real needs are. Once we have a crystal clear and factually-based perspective on this, we can determine if our products and services are meeting the identified needs and wants of our target market. Here are some tips to help you meet the expectations of your identified target market.

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How to reach your strategic goals

As a manager, entrepreneur, or business owner, you (along with your management team, if you have one) often set strategic goals for your business. While these goals are crucial to your business's success and the vision you have for your business, they are not always achieved successfully if at all. These tips are intended to help you reach those goals more successfully.

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How to refurbish your business

For many South Africans, running a business can be challenging. The first challenge is to get your small business off the ground. Once your business starts doing well, there will be technological advances and refurbishments that you would need to undertake. It is understandable that you would want to keep up with these changes. Technology is growing and changing at an increasingly fast pace and it can be difficult to keep up, especially since these improvements requires money. Here are some tips for refurbishing your business.

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How to stay a step ahead of your competitors

With new businesses opening all the time and consumers getting more and more demanding, it's inevitable that you will have to compete with similar ventures for business. So how do you get and maintain that competitive edge? Before you start looking for ways to stand out in the crowd, analyse your competition and what they are doing. This will give you an idea of where you need to make adjustments. Here are a few strategies to help you stay on top of your game.

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Know where to cut costs

The most obvious strategy for staying in the black during tough economic times is to control costs. But how do you know where to cut down without compromising on the quality of your products and the efficiency of your business? When looking for ways to manage expenses, you first have to determine if you are incurring losses, breaking even or just barely making a profit. If you are losing money, it may make sense to trim enough costs to offset those losses.

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Lead your business away from trouble and back to success

Most small business owners facing a business crisis are caught in a classic Catch-22 situation. On the one hand, they require specialised business turnaround expertise to save their business. On the other hand, their financial crisis prohibits them from hiring the expensive turnaround specialists who offer the expertise. Typically owners have three choices: walk away, hope for help, or keep struggling. Well, no more. Sanlam's Business Turnaround Book will help you lead your business away from trouble, to success.

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Macro- and micro-economic risks local businesses need to be aware of

Challenges such as strikes, load shedding and e-tolls reinforce the statement that starting and running a business in South Africa is not for the fainthearted, or – from another point of view – not for the unprepared. The difference in opinion reveals the other side of the risk coin, namely opportunity. For the entrepreneur who is prepared for the intense risks of the local industry, South Africa is teeming with business opportunities to gain market share and fill unoccupied niches. Here are some macro- and micro-economic risks for you to be aware of.

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Moving your business to cyberspace

With the ever-growing world of online communication, at some point or another you may decide to establish a presence on the Internet. It is however, important to first make the distinction between the Internet and the World Wide Web and whether or not having a presence in cyberspace will benefit your business. Not many people realise that there is a difference between the Internet and the World Wide Web. This article explores this difference.

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National Business Initiative (NBI)

The National Business Initiative (NBI) is a voluntary coalition of South African and multinational companies, working towards sustainable growth and development in South Africa and the shaping of a sustainable future through responsible business action, thereby demonstrating business action for sustainable growth. The NBI’s strategy is addressing issues of Economic Transition and Social Transformation through Thought Leadership, Capacity Building and Collective Action programmes and projects.

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Project management in a small business

Before you dismiss the idea of project management as something that only big companies do, think again. Whether you want to standardise certain internal systems in order to function more efficiently or there is a special project that needs to be carried out, using a systematic approach can help you achieve your goals without losing precious time, costing more money than is necessary or using the wrong people to do the job.

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Protecting your biggest asset – your business

For many business owners the statement “My business is my biggest asset” would be true. It would therefore make a lot of sense to spend some time on methods a business owner can use to protect their business. For example, in most businesses there are people we call "key persons", whose absence would have an adverse effect on the profitability of the business. It therefore makes sense for the business to insure said key person’s life against death and disability. Read on to find out more about how to protect your business.

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Set goals for your business

Goal-setting is crucial to the success of any business, but is particularly important for entrepreneurs who can become distracted without focus. Goals direct actions, give you something to aim for, and can serve as a yardstick for measuring your business' success. The way you approach goal-setting will determine whether you are able to attain your goals. That said, if you tend to avoid goal-setting, these tips should help.

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Short daily meetings to improve the efficiency of your business

Short, daily, morning meetings can improve the efficiency and profitability of businesses. These meetings are solely intended to improve management and performance levels in business. It should be implemented by managers as their daily, early, morning meetings with their staff. Here are some tips on how to introduce and maintain a routine of short, daily meetings to improve your business's efficiency.

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Small business training courses

Open Colleges (Australia) has been providing life changing education for over 100 years, earning recognition as Australia’s leader in online education. Since its inception, Open Colleges has helped over 800,000 students gain the skills to launch, change or take the next step in their careers. Among its many offerings, Open Colleges offers Small Business Training Courses. Opening and running a small business can be both challenging and rewarding. These courses will give you the right mix of skills and practical training to make sure you succeed with your next venture.

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SME Survey

SME Survey (Pty) Ltd. was founded in 2003 by Arthur Goldstuck, Debbie Whittaker, and Celeste Whitaker. Key areas of responsibility include: research, analysis, report writing, presenting and consulting; project management, sponsorships, PR, media and marketing; and event management. SME Survey's vision is to maintain its position as the original and largest annual SME research and marketing provider in South Africa.

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The 5-step plan to improve your business

Perform a simple exercise every month that will help you make the best of your business. The 5 Step Plan involves 5 easy and simple steps that you must commit yourself to execute every month, to improve your business. You don’t need a consultant or a business analyst to do this for you – nobody can do it better than yourself – nobody knows your business better than yourself! Call it your monthly strategic planning session. Here's how to get started.

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Tips for mastering the art of networking

Here is some good news for business owners who are more comfortable with machines and production processes than with people: successful networking with people is every bit as systematic as networking with computers. All that is required to network successfully with potential clients, suppliers and business associates, is a strategy, some dedication, order and maintenance. Here are some general principles on how to master networking, as well as some tips on what to do when you are at a networking event.

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Tips to deal with seasonality in your business

One of the characteristics of entrepreneurs is the ability to adapt to, or even counter, seasonal fluctuations in their businesses or industries – that means maintaining profitability during slowdowns. The inherent seasonality of many small and medium enterprises (SMEs) across many sectors is perfectly illustrated by the way accommodation establishments take turns at ‘feast’ and ‘famine’ across the globe. Here are some tips for SME owners on how to ride the roller coaster of seasonal fluctuations.

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What can we learn from the past?

Warren Buffet once said that “In the business world, the rear-view mirror is always clearer than the windshield”. One’s natural inclination is not to put enough effort into keeping an updated list of events/results and outputs in respect of one’s business. We remember negative events more easily. Make a point of regularly identifying and writing down the “learning experiences” you can derive out of the successes and disappointments you have had in your business.

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What is the link between creativity and entrepreneurship?

Business and creativity aren’t generally thought to go hand-in-hand. The idea is that you have either creative head-in-the-cloud types or practical business types. But then there’s the entrepreneur, who both creates an innovative new offering, and uses business savvy to try get the market to catch it. The entrepreneur is more than a business person, but also a creative. The intrepid entrepreneur performs a balancing act between the brain’s left and right hemispheres. So how does the link between entrepreneurship and creativity work?

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What roles do you fulfill in your business?

“It often happens that I wake at night and begin to think about a serious problem and decide I must tell the Pope about it. Then I wake up and remember that I am the Pope.” – Pope John Paul XXIII. I am sure that we can all identify with the above quotation. Business-owners are “chief cooks and bottle washers”. Like people, your business also has different roles to fulfill. It is important to know exactly what those roles are, because someone (a person or a team) in your business must take responsibility for this specific aspect, otherwise it is not seen to.

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Where can I find a business mentor?

A mentor can be a valuable guide and sounding board when you are running a small business on your own. If you feel you need the services of a mentor, it's important to find one with a good reputation, the appropriate experience in your industry or problem area, and one you can trust and get along with. So, where do you start looking?

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Why leaders fail

Have you stopped to think that your business actually reflects your own character? As a SME owner, the tone and way you operate your business is determined by who you are as a person. Let us look at some of the factors that influence your effectiveness as a leader and, in doing so, unpack some of the key reasons why certain leaders fail.

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Your business strategy is your GPS for future growth

Due to the pressures of time on business, owners not enough attention is given to the composition of the business strategy and, in particular, to detailed business planning. Ensuring the continued existence of our businesses should be enough reason to make time in our diaries to create the strategy for our business and to review this continuously. If we are too busy with other responsibilities, no-one else in the business will take up the responsibility of figuring out the strategy.

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Your values form the character of your business

Your values are an intrinsic part of your business’s mission, vision, goals, and values. Values have a major influence on a person's behaviour and attitude and serve as broad guidelines in all situations. In the context of business the mutually agreed upon values guide the behaviour of the staff, so that clients are able to judge the character of the business.

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