Marketing Basics for the Novice Entrepreneur

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For the budding entrepreneur, marketing a finished product can be a nightmare. The manpower and capital required to successfully market a product can be impossible for a tiny startup. How can a novice entrepreneur gather the resources necessary to successfully market a product?

Initial Steps

The three initial goals of marketing should be clear to the entrepreneur.

  • Establishing and increasing the customer base
  • Increasing product sales per customer
  • Increasing the sales of more expensive, higher-margin products per customer

Develop a Marketing Plan

Large companies usually tackle the first hurdle through an expensive advertising campaign. But let’s assume you don’t have the millions necessary to launch large scale television, print, and online media campaigns. We have to start small, with a basic marketing plan. A good marketing campaign should consist of the following:

  • Target demographics
  • Seasonal demand
  • Advantages over competitors
  • Product pricing and margins
  • A simple message delivered via an effective advertising strategy

If you have trouble drafting a coherent marketing plan, you can conduct public surveys to gauge the public reaction to your products or services. Make sure your survey is given to a diverse group – in ethnicity, gender, age, income, and education level – to get the best sample. These are separated into two kinds – quantitative and qualitative. Do you want quality over quantity or vice versa? Both have distinct advantages.

  • Quantitative surveys are fixed questionnaires which can be conducted face-to-face, through e-mail, or over the phone. Try to collect a large number of surveys to gauge the customer response as a kind of vote. Quantitative surveys are good for graphs and estimates.
  • Qualitative surveys focus on a smaller number of people, without fixed questions. They are usually conducted as face-to-face interviews, conversations or focus groups, where the participants engage in free-form discussion about a topic. Qualitative surveys can help you get a better, more detailed response regarding your product, but can also be extremely time-consuming.

Most successful businesses use a combination of both for the best results. However, if you are pressed for time (and patience), a quantitative survey can be faster and offer similar results with far less manpower and time.

Determine Advertising Mediums and Budget

Now that you have drafted a marketing plan, calculate your advertising budget. If you’re a small business, that total is likely to be unimpressive. Here are some ways to clear that hurdle:

  • Call local television and radio news stations to attempt to gain free publicity. This can be effective if you are offering a new, innovative product that hasn’t been produced before.
  • Spread the word through social tools with Twitter, Facebook, and Youtube ad campaigns. If you make an interesting video to advertise your product, uploading it online and allowing it to spread like wildfire can be extremely effective. Best of all, this method is mostly free.
  • Contact vendors and associates to participate in co-op advertising, in which the advertising fee is shared.
  • Advertise via Google AdSense or a similar ad program – these are cheaper than other forms of advertisements and are selected intelligently based on the computer user’s search preferences – which will give you a highly targeted audience.
  • Award customer referrals with cash, discounts or prizes, in order to publicize your products.

These are just some ideas to help you, as a novice entrepreneur, get started in the complex world of marketing concepts. As your business expands, you can hire dedicated PR, sales and marketing teams to help you create more complex plans.

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Top 10 challenges of doing business in South Africa

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South Africa is driving economic growth in one of the most exciting continents in the world, but navigating the complex environment can be a burdensome endeavor without the right help on board.

Economic growth in sub-Saharan Africa should significantly outpace the global average over the next three years, according to the World Bank, with an increase in investment likely to boost the continent’s growth to more than 5%. South Africa is the powerhouse of Africa and very much the driving force behind this expansion, with the most advanced, broad-based economy in Africa with infrastructure to match any first-world country.

The country’s multifaceted culture and history present many challenges for growing businesses, although recent figures suggest that a period of consolidation has created a modern market. South Africa’s black middle class has more than doubled over the last eight years, growing from 1.7-million South Africans in 2010 to an estimated 4.2 million in 2018, according to new research by the UCT Unilever Institute of Strategic Marketing.

The World Bank and International Finance Corporation (IFC) rank South Africa in 39th place in the world for ease of doing business, although there are several elements of expanding into the country that requires specialist attention. What’s more, the culture and economic backdrop of South Africa can make business growth a tricky endeavor, and having a good appreciation of the country with local help is a must.

Starting a Business
Starting a business is a lengthy procedure in sub-Saharan Africa and can cost a significant proportion of income per capita. This is partly true of South Africa, although the cost of starting a business is only 0.3% of income per capita compared to over 60% elsewhere on the continent.

Dealing with Construction Permits
The cost of dealing with construction permits is also extremely cheap in South Africa in comparison to the continent as a whole. Taking 13 procedures and 110 days, it is also a relatively seamless process, although several steps must be completed that may be quite foreign to firms new to the country.

Getting Electricity
Getting electricity is a big concern for businesses in South Africa, taking 106 days and involving a string of lengthy procedures. Eskom, an electricity public utility, can take 60 days to provide an estimate after the application has been received, and 106 days to complete external connection works.

Registering Property
It takes 14 days and five procedures to register a property, although that can fluctuate significantly depending on how quickly a rates clearance certificate can be obtained from the local authority and how long it takes the conveyancer to lodge the deed at the Deeds Registry.

Getting Credit and Protecting Investors
South Africa ranks in first place in the world for ease of getting credit, according to the World Bank and IFC, and also has good structures in place to protect investors.

Paying Taxes
Paying taxes takes 200 hours to complete per year and requires nine payments. Corporate income tax and unemployment insurance contributions (UIC) are two of the most arduous procedures, the former is also one of the most expensive.

Trading Across Borders
South Africa is a notoriously tricky place to conduct overseas trade, although big strides have been made in rectifying difficulties experienced when trading across borders. Cost is a concern, but the time required to compile documents and gain approval is the most taxing aspect of international commerce.

Enforcing Contracts
Trial and judgment can take almost 100 days on average when enforcing contracts in South Africa, and the cost of an attorney and court fees can make the procedure an expensive ordeal.

Resolving Insolvency
It takes two years on average to resolve insolvency, costing 18% of the estate with a recovery rate of 35.4%.

Culture
There are multiple cultures and a number of different languages spoken in South Africa, which means adopting a bespoke approach to different regions is crucial. The business environment is quite informal and South Africans can be rather direct in their approach. Although South Africa is a transactional culture, they are a personable people who have deeply rooted traditions and it is a good idea to try to build a rapport as well as furnish counterparts with some background information about oneself or company.

Getting Out Of a Fixed Term Business Lease Agreement As An SME

business_lease_agreement_sme_southafricaAre you locked in a fixed-term lease agreement and have no clue how to ‘get out of it’? The Good Lawyers Network provides below a simple concise explanation of the protection afforded to you by the law in such circumstances.

What is a fixed-term lease?

A fixed-term lease is a lease binding the parties (landlord and tenant) to each other for a specified period of time, such as a month or a year. The tenant is required in terms of the lease to make periodic payments to the landlord in exchange for the use of a specified property.

Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) from time to time enter into fixed-term lease agreements without necessarily scrutinizing the agreement or negotiating certain essential terms such as the right to cancel the agreement on written notice. Consequently, SMEs find themselves locked in a contract for that specific period.

Ordinarily, being ‘locked in’ means if you cancel a contract before its date of expiration, the landlord would be entitled to claim damages from you for early cancellation.

Is the Consumer Protection Act applies to such fixed-term lease agreements?

Most SMEs are not aware of the protection afforded to them by the Consumer Protection Act. The Consumer Protection Act applies to every transaction in the Republic of South Africa except where a consumer (tenant) is a juristic person whose asset value or annual turnover at the time of the transaction equals or exceeds R2 million (the threshold determined by the Minister from time to time).

In terms of the Consumer Protection Act, a tenant falling under the above-mentioned category may cancel a fixed-term lease agreement at any other time by giving the landlord 20 business days’ notice in writing.

Do I have to pay any penalties for canceling the lease before it expires?

The tenant remains liable to the landlord for any amounts owed to the landlord in terms of the fixed term lease agreement up to the date of cancellation. In other words, the tenant is still liable to the landlord for outstanding rental amounts and any other amounts owed up to the date of cancellation.

The landlord may impose a reasonable cancellation penalty and must credit the tenant with any amount that is the property of the tenant as at the date of cancellation (for example rental deposit paid at the inception of the fixed term lease agreement). A reasonable penalty will include services already rendered and among other things actual costs associated with cancellation.

The business environment can be very volatile and as such SMEs are required from time to time to review their strategic direction and adapt. This sometimes includes having to change your business location, operate from home or move your business to another address. It is therefore important that contracts that are entered into by SMEs should consist of clauses that enable them to do so. The Consumer Protection Act offers SMEs falling under the category specified above exactly that.

*The above article is intended for information purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. Readers are encouraged to seek legal advice for their specific situation. Visit The Good Lawyers Network platform (www.thegoodlawyersnetwork.com) for more insights from our members.

10 Key Points – Business Transformation for Competitive Advantage

What does it take for an organization to culminate its journey from strategy to execution during a transformation, thus leading to a competitive advantage? Although, this is a broad and deep question, here are 10 points based on our experience on transformations.

  1. Competitive advantage is about providing unique and sustainable value to the customer. It is often described in many ways, be it through price, service, quality or a combination of various factors. At the end of the day, it will get reflected into an organization’s financial and operational performance. Customer is king and customer loyalty is the real currency for an organization, which is the real test of measuring competitive advantage.
  2. Competitive strategy should drive profitability of the organization. Market share or penetration without profitability will not help the organization to be sustainable. Also, price wars will not help in long-run and the value proposition needs be much broader to compete and increase the scale and size of benefits to an organization. To deliver a unique value proposition that is of strategic importance and truly a differentiator, may need a tailored value chain.
  3. A core competency is not enough, although it’s the foundation of a good strategy. A good strategy considers multiple options, trade-offs and is typically customer centric instead of internally focused. Working from “outside-in” is key to understand the specifics – the why, how and what matters to the end customer. Being able to answer “what’s the right thing to do” using a rigorous fact-based and data driven approach is an essential part of the process but it is equally important to capture the intangibles and garner stakeholder buy-in considering cultural context of the organization.
  4. Learning to say “NO” to certain things is equally important while defining the strategy, otherwise it may soon get chaotic and you may be working in “two parallel systems.” The clarity and positioning of strategy to create a “burning platform” will go a long way, especially when it comes from the senior most executives within the organizations. Employees want to know what, how and why the organization is changing the course of action. So a short, clear and consistent message delivered with conviction through various forums will drive engagement at all levels. You need to align and make it absolutely clear to organization as to what it “will” and “will not” do going forward. These trade-offs need to be clear to drive sustainable competitive advantage.
  5. You cannot make every customer happy when making conscious strategic choices.This selectivity is a natural outcome of strategy and trying to make everyone happy may result in commoditization or dilution of the strategy. Selecting the growth opportunities and battles in a competitive market is important considering limited number of resources. A strategy that’s aimed at pleasing everybody may be weak in substance and focus.
  6. Sometimes organizations find it comfortable and safe to play in that “grey” areawhere you can blend uncertainty with flexibility. It may sound as if the organization is agile and responsive to the changing needs but really it’s not standing up for anything specific that gives the edge or competitive advantage. Commitment to the strategy from all levels within the organization starting with senior leaders will drive the required momentum and “speed to value”.
  7. Perfection is the enemy of good. Aiming to achieve “best-in-class” status within a short amount of time may add unnecessary pressure and can be self-destructive for an organization. It doesn’t have to be perfect when you begin the journey; sometimes the value is in just getting started and making gradual tangible progress. Waiting for the perfect solution and time to execute may result in waste of time. After all, “time is money.”
  8. “Culture eats strategy for lunch”, many including myself would have witnessed this quote in action while working on major transformations. Execution is where the rubber hits the road and this is where ideas come to reality and then drive tangible results. A great strategy on paper if executed poorly cannot produce decent results, forget about sustainable competitive advantage.
  9. Strategy is overrated compared to the actual execution. Disciplined execution is critical to making changes stick and driving sustainable financial and operational benefits. Breaking the barriers of cultural biases that maintain “status quo”, driving change management and getting your early adopters is much of an art than science. Changes within the organization need to be digestible and gradual; either too much or too little won’t deliver the expected benefits.
  10. Listen and be open to suggestions from diverse group of stakeholders to develop a robust strategy and ensure its effective execution. It’s easy to get blind-sided with your own biases and past experiences, thus underestimating the risk and challenges within the context of an organization. Diversity of team members and ideas will keep you alert at all times. It is important to objectively assess and scrutinize your strategy and execution plan to mitigate any risks.
INNOVATE – DEVELOP – DIGITAL TRANSFORMERS!!!!!!!

INNOVATE – DEVELOP – DIGITAL TRANSFORMERS!!!!!!!

On the 20th & 21st, Diamond Creative Vision HUB and partners hosted the 2nd annual 053 Hackathon held in the heart of Galeshewe, a suburb in the capital city of Northern Cape at the Northern Cape Urban TVET College.

The event attracted computer programmes, data scientist, software developers and tech entrepreneurs in and around Kimberley. The main aim of the 053 Hackathon is to digitalise Kimberley and transform it into a smart competitive city.

The 053 Hackathon teams presented practical scalable digital solutions that can enhance the effectiveness of the city and solve everyday problems. The local community gathered for 24 hours to develop workable prototypes of their digital solutions for commercialisation and to grow the local digital economy.

We had 7 participating teams taking part in this year’s edition of the 053 Hackathon. Our local expert judges had their hands full with making the difficult decision of choosing our winners which will receive further support to develop their digital solutions.

The first place prize went to “Digital Crime Solvers” who won a Sensít device sponsored by Sqwidnet, Business Development voucher valued at R40 000,00 and a trip to Johannesburg to participate in the ITWEB Security Summit on the 23rd – 25th May 2018. The 2nd place prize winners went to a young emerging talent of software developers who also won a sensít device to add value to their digital solutions.

Local school learners were invited to experience tech innovation and being exposed to the knowledge and digital economy of the 4th industrial revolution. Mentors from the GKSS student society from Sol Plaatjie University were also present to support and assist the participating teams. The 053 hackathon provided a platform to design and develop prototype digital solutions that can impact the city and grow the local digital economy.

 

INNOVATE – DEVELOP – DIGITAL TRANSFORMERS!!!!!!!

How to estimate your start-up costs

How to estimate your start-up costs

When starting your own business, you don’t need millions to make millions. The Big Blue retail chain started as a flea market stall, while billion rand sport supplement business USN was launched from a kitchen.What you do need is a clear picture of the costs of doing business so you don’t experience cash flow problems later on. We help you work out your start-up budget to help keep you on track.

Arrange business expenses into lists

When you start a business, there will be once-off costs and continuous monthly expenses. The key thing is to look carefully at each individual expense, make an educated guess about the cost and separate expenses into the lists we detail below. After you’ve completed the items applicable to your business and guessed the amounts you’ll need, add up both lists, and the total of the two is the start-up costs you’ll need. Remember to prioritise what is absolutely necessary – i.e. electricity – versus nice-to-have (e.g. business cards).

List 1: Long-term assets

Business assets are the things you will need in your business over the long term, and also things that will retain some value. If you are offering a service, you might just need a desk, computer and website but if you are opening a store, you will need shelves, a table and a delivery van. If you are making things, list the ingredients or raw materials you’ll need. Phone around for quotes if you need to – e.g. ask rental agents about the typical monthly rent for business premises. Here are a few ideas of initial costs you will have:

  • Computer equipment

  • Software

  • Phone(s)

  • Security (gates, burglar bars, cameras)

  • Equipment

  • Office furniture

  • Start-up inventory (stock)

  • Shop fittings/signage

  • Vehicles

List 2: Your monthly expenses

Next, list everything you will need to spend every month, for 6 to 12 months. This could include:

  • Rent

  • Loan repayments

  • Electricity and water

  • Phone connection and monthly bill

  • Cellphone(s)

  • Internet connection

  • Salaries and wages

  • Website hosting

  • Equipment leasing/maintenance

  • Advertising and marketing

  • Insurance

  • Fuel (if you do deliveries or are on the road a lot)

  • Transport

  • Office supplies (stationery etc.) and printing

The good news is that you can deduct the cost from your taxable income as expenses – check with your tax advisor.

Beware of these hidden costs

Once you’ve established your start-up costs, it’s also a good idea to keep some funds aside for any surprise expenses such as:

  • Additional equipment and furniture

  • Maintenance

  • Machinery breakdown

  • Customers paying late

  • Interest charges on overdrafts

Why Become an Entrepreneur?

Why Become an Entrepreneur?

A recent survey found that more than 70% of people want to be some sort of entrepreneur. Becoming an entrepreneur is a sought after job for many reasons, including pride, purpose and possibly money. Starting and running your own business on a day to day basis is no easy task, but it is one that is truly worth the effort.

So why should you consider becoming an entrepreneur?

There are many reasons why you should consider taking that giant step and creating your own business. Here are just a few of them:

 

  1. Autonomy– running your own business allows you to be in charge of your own destiny. It also helps you to avoid getting stuck in the “daily grind” or the “rat race”. For many people running their own business lets them have a career that is self-sustaining.
  2. Opportunity– Being an entrepreneur opens up a whole new world of opportunity for you. You will have the opportunity to do anything that you want in life. This means you can choose to spend your life changing the world for the better, or you can live the type of life you want. Few other career choices can offer this kind of opportunity.
  3. Impact- Many people who work for other companies truly want to work hard and help that company to succeed, but few are actually able to have such an impact. When you run your own business everything you do will directly impact the company, which can be very rewarding.
  4. Freedom– this is the answer most people will give if you ask them why they want to become an entrepreneur. For many people the idea of doing what they want and how they want to do is the most compelling reason to take the risk and run their own business. It is true- having freedom in life and career does make a huge difference!
  5. Responsibility– when you run your own business you have the ability to be responsible to society and operate your business the way that you feel it should be run. This is especially true if you have the desire to help others or the world in general. If you work for someone else you may not be able to improve the world the way you want to, but if you are the boss you can.
  6. Being your Own Boss– this is another common answer for why many people want to become entrepreneurs. If you are your own boss you can do things your way. You can make your own decisions, take your own risks and decide your own fate.
  7. Time and Family– depending on your specific goals in life, becoming an entrepreneur could give you the freedom of time and allow you to spend more of it with your family.
  8. Creating a Legacy- if the idea of forging a lasting legacy is important to you then few other careers give you the opportunity to do so like operating your own business.
  9. Accomplishment– if you have specific goals that you would like to accomplish in your life running your own business could help you to do so.
  10. Control– for a lot of business owners the sense of security that comes with the ability to control your own work is a major reason to become an entrepreneur.

 

What does it take to become an entrepreneur?

There are plenty of benefits of being an entrepreneur, but it is certainly no easy task to start your own business. Successful entrepreneurs, that is to say those who are able to accomplish their goals, earn a successful living through their business and enjoy the many benefits of entrepreneurship, all have specific traits. If you are considering taking the leap and following your entrepreneurship dreams then you will want to understand what these traits are so that you can instill the same traits in yourself. This will help ensure that you are able to achieve your dreams.

THE DIGITAL DIVIDE

THE DIGITAL DIVIDE

The Digital Divide refers to the inequalities between people who have access to and the resources to use modern information and communication technology (ICT), such as desktop computers and the Internet, and people who do not. This includes those who have, and those who do not have, the necessary skills, knowledge and abilities to use ICT to advance their knowledge and achieve their desired objectives.

The divide exists between economic classes, between those living in urban and those living in rural areas, and between those who are educated and those who are not; and on a global scale, between industrial and so-called ‘developing’ countries.

“WE HAVE ENTERED THE KNOWLEDGE SOCIETY AND EVERYONE MUST HAVE ACCESS TO PARTICIPATE. THE INTERNET IS THE MOST POWERFUL POTENTIAL SOURCE OF ENLIGHTENMENT EVER CREATED. GOVERNMENTS MUST REGARD IT AS BASIC INFRASTRUCTURE, JUST LIKE ROADS, WASTE AND W A T E R . ”

There are many possible explanations for the divide, for example gender, age, education, income, race, and location, as well as to political, religious or cultural factors (including politicians and technocrats fear of the public having unfettered access to the Internet). These days people can connect to the Internet via a desktop computer, laptop, cell phone, iPod or other MP3 player, Xbox or Play Station, electronic book reader, or tablet such as iPad. Once an individual has access, and can decipher, understand and use                           the information that is available ,that individual is capable of becoming a ‘digital citizen’.

GROWING KNOWLEDGE DIVIDE

With internet cafes popping up in ever more remote towns and villages, and barriers due to gender, age, etc. reducing in many countries, the digital divide appears to be shifting from a gap in access/connectivity to a ‘knowledge divide’. In the Rich World there is the gap between those who have the skills and understanding to interact with the technology and those who are effectively passive consumers of it.

Technologies like Facebook, Youtube, Twitter and Blogs enable users to create content online without having to understand much about the technology.

Many users do little more than post photos and status updates on their Facebook page and do not interact to any degree with the technology. And in the Poor World, the gap is with those who lack the education or perhaps the language skills to use ICT.

Why Closing the Digital Divide is Important

Economic equality: access to the Internet is a basic component of civil life that some developed countries aim to guarantee for their citizens (see below). Vital information relevant to people’s careers, lifestyles, safety, etc. are increasingly provided via the Internet. Even social welfare services are sometimes administered and offered electronically.

Social mobility: computers and computer networks are playing an increasingly important role in people’s learning, professional work and career development. Education should therefore cover computing and use of the Internet. Democracy: the use of the Internet can lead to a healthier democracy, increased public participation in elections and decision making processes.

Economic growth: the development and active use of information infrastructure offers a shortcut to economic growth for less developed nations. Information technologies tend to be associated with productivity improvements and may give industries a competitive advantage.

INTERNET ACCESS IN SOUTH AFRICA

The South African Internet user population passed the 20-million mark for the first time last year, reaching 21-million, and is expected to grow to at least 22.5-million in 2018.

This is the main finding of the Internet Access in South Africa 2017 study, conducted by World Wide Worx with the support of Dark Fibre Africa (DFA),

the country’s leading provider of wholesale fibre connectivity.
Based on Stats SA’s estimate that the South African population reached 55.9- million people in June 2016, this means that the country will reach the 40 per cent Internet penetration mark in 2017 year.

Finally reaching the point where we can say every second adult South
African is connected to the Internet is a major landmark, because Internet
access is becoming synonymous with economic access, For this reason, it is critical that the country prioritise the roll-out of infrastructure in underserved areas, especially outside the major metropolitan areas.

The report reveals that the single most common use of the Internet among South African adults is Communication, reported by almost a third (31 percent) of respondents, followed by Social Networking (24.9 per cent) and Information (23.7 per cent), both reported by almost a quarter of respondents.
Only then comes Entertainment, at 22.1 per cent.

A nation that is well equipped to address the digital challenges of the 21st century will be in a position to use technology to their advantage.

How Much Cash Will You Need To Launch A Startup?

How Much Cash Will You Need To Launch A Startup?

As you consider starting your first business, you should be looking at the costs of running a company. There are some obvious things most people will consider: the cost of rent in their area, the cost of inventory, the manufacturing costs of their products. But there are a number of factors that many first time entrepreneurs forget to factor in.

For example, if you haven’t launched a startup or a new business before, you might forget to calculate benefits costs for employees, for example, or utilities in your office or retail location. These might seem like small costs, and each one individually might not be overwhelming. If more than one or two things get missed, however, companies might find themselves without enough available cash to get off the ground in the first place.

Let’s look at some of the costs that business forget to factor in.

1. Licenses, Dues, and Permits

Every area of the country requires businesses to have certain permits, for buildings to be coded in certain ways, and for some sectors of employees to have licenses before they can practice. All of these items have a cost. Some entrepreneurs might think that they can simply run their business out of their basement or garage, but even that can run you afoul of different homeowner’s insurance regulations.

Since each community is different, there’s no way to give an overall estimate of what the licensing and permit costs might be in a particular area, but speaking to the local Chamber of Commerce is often the best way to get more detailed information.

2. Website Costs

Some businesses are entirely formulated around buying and selling websites; this should tell the average business owner something about how complex the process of setting up a website can be. If your website is strictly informational, then you can probably get it set up quickly, on your own, and without a huge cost. Informational websites tend to be pretty static.

Pages exist about employees, perhaps, or services offered by the company. Landing pages generally direct customers to take an action, such as calling your business for a free quote. Many companies choose to pay a content writer to maintain a blog for their company to keep the page fresh in Google SERP.

But if your website involves inventory, online shopping, or other service bookings, however, creating and maintaining that website can get expensive fast. For some businesses, this is necessary; they may not have a retail storefront at all, and their website may be the public face of their business.

3. Repairs

If your company manufactures a product, the item doing the manufacturing is going to break down eventually. Offices lose computers, copiers, and networking devices to age, misuse, and attack. Companies need to be able to respond quickly to broken items to avoid disruptions in business that can cause further problems.

Making sure that a company has the adequate liquid cash to pay its bills and meet any surprise obligations is a good way to make sure the business is successful over time. Remember, the rule on emergencies isn’t if they will happen, it’s when.

4. Employee Benefits

Some companies budget for the amount that they will pay their employees, but forget about tax contributions and other amounts. For example, if a company offers a 401k plan with a matching benefit, the company needs to be prepared to pay that matching amount in when appropriate.

Some experts suggest that paying employee benefits means that companies should budget for 40 percent over their on-paper salary amount.

5. Business Insurance

Some companies try to save money by not buying business insurance; this is a terrible idea. Much like driving a car without insurance, companies are risking their entire business, and possibly even their personal assets, by being negligent in this area.

Don’t be afraid to negotiate with the chosen insurance provider and make sure coverage is right-sized; a business without employees doesn’t need to worry about worker’s compensation insurance yet, for example.

Businesses tend to thrive when they have plenty of available assets and a well thought out plan on how to spend them. But to truly understand how funds will be spent, companies need to make sure that they have an accurate budget and a good plan that allows for unexpected costs. If companies are unsure how to get started in this area, reaching out to a business mentor for advice in their industry can be a good start.

 

Modern Start-Ups

It is really an interesting time for  entrepreneurship and your business, isn’t it? Sales are rolling in, and your customers are happy. Are you willing to do what it takes to expand? Do you have what it takes–in your head and in your gut–to enter a serious growth phase?
Before you decide to enter a high-growth phase, here are five indications that you are ready to make such a move:
1. Migrating from a startup to a fast-growing company requires passion, dedication, and near total immersion. You must deal with pressure and incredible anxiety, take on enormous responsibility, and still manage to balance other aspects of your life―like family and health.
2. Of course, revenue alone doesn’t make a functioning business. Revenue and profits are two very different things. Is your business model structured in a way that you’re not just making a profit today but can continue to be profitable?
If you are already profitable or can see a rational and clear path to scalable and sustainable profitability, you may actually be on the road to growth.
3. Growth only happens when all needed “human elements” are in place. This means people who have either worked in a large and thriving business or understand the technologies needed are the right employees to fuel sustainable, scalable growth.
4. When businesses grow, cash can be consumed by any number of incremental expenses including higher rent, utilities, payroll, and inventory costs. If you are planning to grow, then you must have far more cash at your fingertips than you need to just make payroll. You need to have cash available to put back into the business.
5. You have your processes in place. But as you grow, there must be processes and systems in place to deal with volume spikes and dips.IMG_0550