Testing Your Business Idea

Testing Your Business Idea

Before you go ahead to actually start your business, there are ways to test your idea to see if it is capable of really making you money or not. Somewhere between scribbling your idea on a piece of paper and starting a business, there is a process you need to carry out that mainly determines either your success or failure in business.

A lot of times, would-be entrepreneurs get carried away by their “epiphanies” the moments they imagine they have found the perfect idea and forget to test the idea to find out if it is actually viable or not.

And mostly if there is a need for your business idea in the market. We call it “evidence based market research“.

There are some steps required to test your business idea; these steps are necessary so as to keep from wasting valuable time and money on unfocused or untargeted activities. Of course, there are times that an idea turns out to be a great business idea anyways, in spite of a lack of market research. Unfortunately, a lot of other occasions, an untested idea always crashes and burns.

If your idea for a business seems too tiresome and clunky, it is great to create a model for it. It’s not only when the idea feels clunky that a model is needed, creating a model is very easy to do and updating it is a breeze. With a model, you get to enjoy a clear overview of the building blocks of your business idea: the customer segments, channels to reach out to clients, value propositions, revenue streams, key resources, customer relationship, principal partners, activities that create value, and cost structure.

Execute a market survey After a model has been created, the next step in testing your business idea is to execute a market survey. A Market Survey is an organized effort to gather information about your target audience or customers.  Absolutely no business should be launched without the execution of a market survey. A Market Survey provides important information to identify and analyze the market need, market size and your competition. There are sites where this can be done, you just create an online questionnaire and share the link to the survey with your target audience, this transcends geographic boundaries and helps you gain a broader perspective and is often more preferred to the traditional method of printing out and handing questionnaires yourself, although a combination of both is the best approach.

Another way of carrying out a market survey is to conduct a Focused Group Session both before and after the completion of your Minimum Viable Product . Here, you invite people from your chosen target demographic to participate in a group discussion on the products or services. They would be advice to speak freely about what they want done; that is before the product is ready and what they want to be changed, when it is done. A focus group is a very good idea and would help achieve the following: It helps you find out your customers first impression of the product. It helps gather real -time customer’s feedback on the virtues and vices of the products.

When your idea  looks a Flop, you discover a lot of holes in it, it doesn’t mean you need to totally scrap the whole business start-up plan and resign yourself to life as an employee. Sometimes, the “terrible” idea is just in need of some reworking. It can be disheartening when an idea is revealed to be a flop, considering the amount of time and money you have already invested in it, first during the idea stage, and then the market research stage to test it, however, giving up is never and has never been the right option. Rather, it is recommended that you take time out and focus your energy on determining exactly why your idea would not work and where it needs improvements to ensure future success.

Although no entrepreneur wants to hear that his “idea” is flawed, only by listening and reacting to feedback from others can he give his idea a chance for success. Ask yourself, is the weakness one that can be overcome, if the answer is yes, work on overcoming it. However, if your answer is no and the weakness discovered in your plan cannot be overcome and the idea made to create true value for your customer and your business, it is time to leave that idea and pursue another one.

Now for the other option after testing, wthen Your Idea is great and Ready to Go.

factor to consider is , you want to set a price that is competitive and still capable of influencing people’s Pricing decision to buy from you, this is especially necessary if there is much competition. now, do not immediately dismiss this advice, think about it. When you start always pricing high, when high the pricing structure isn’t working, you can go a tad lower, your customers would be happy that your product is now “cheaper” and they’ll purchase more from you. If however you start low, you can never go up without losing a lot of customers who will feel your services are too “costly.” It is best to test different pricing offers, each month, set a new price for your services, and remember to keep going a little bit lower until you reach the minimum percentage of profit you have decided to make on each product.

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Ways to Get More Referrals for Your Startup Business

Ways to Get More Referrals for Your Startup Business

A study by market research firm, Nielsen, showed that 92% of customers trust recommendations that came from friends and family. Word-of-mouth is a powerful marketing force that is based on trust that you can nurture and have consistently in your business. Best of all, it is cost-effective compared to other marketing strategies.

A wonderful analogy for a business is a web of connections. The truth is that every person that your startup interacts with has his or her network of people your business can give value to.

Here are solid ways to get more referrals for your Startup Business.

1. Don’t be afraid to ask

The first way is to just ask for the referral from your current network of friends, colleagues, family and an initial bunch of customers. Ask them nicely if they could refer your business to their network. You might even throw in a little cash incentive for every referral they bring to you.

2. Over-deliver with your current group of customers

The only way your current customers will refer you to their network is when you delight them and provide way more value than they expected. Marketing guru, Seth Godin, always reminds startups to be purple cows by standing out from competition through excellent products and customer service.

Let the uniqueness of your brand stand out and unleash happiness on your customers. That is the only way your current customers will proclaim on their social media platforms that everyone should try your products and services.

You can over-deliver by managing expectations and not making them expect too much. You can also be exceptional in after-sales service.

Tip: give them a bonus after you have successfully provided the product or service to them.

3. Make sure your contact information is accessible and easy to share for people to share.

This means that your contact information (email, website) is in all your business materials, including your invoices, email signatures, marketing materials and of course, social media. This allows your contact information to be accessible and easy to share by those who interact with you.

Business cards are not dead provided you make them unique and related to your business. Give them away freely even if the person may just be an acquaintance. There’s still the chance they might refer you to their friends especially if they respect and think highly of you.

Finally, make sure that your contact details in your customer’s mobile phone so that they can easily share your details with the right people.

Make it easy for them by providing your brochures, latest newsletter or any of your marketing materials that they can easily distribute that will describe what you offer to the market.

4. Optimize your website for conversion

Optimize your website so that there are plenty of calls to action there that will influence your website visitors to share or refer the site or content to others.

If you have an online store, make a request for referral at the end of the successful transaction. They just had a positive experience with you, and they will be more receptive to a request to refer your product or service to their network.

4. Be helpful

If you want to get referrals, you should also be willing to make referrals especially the services or products your current clients promote. Of course, only do it if you truly believe in what they are offering. By creating a win-win scenario, you boost trust and gratitude from your existing clients and the law of reciprocity will now take over and they will also gladly promote your business to their network.

5. Stay in touch with current and previous clients and associates

At the end of the day, referrals work because of relationships. So strengthen your existing relationships and warm up those previous relationships in your network. Catch up with them through email, chat or a quick cup of coffee. This helps you to know their current situation so that you can help give suggestions or give help personally or through recommendations.

Optimize your email marketing so that you can create customized lists of customers and associates who might like a specific type of content. Then regularly send relevant material to them so that their information needs can be met. Plus, they will be thankful that they’re always on your mind.

By nurturing your relationships, you’ll always be on the top of their minds when it comes to the industry you are operating in.

6. Treat those that referred you to new clients very well

To those that referred you already to new customers, you should treat them like VIPs. Give them a call or write them a personalized note to thank them for referring others to your business. Find time to treat them to coffee or a quick meal. Alternatively, if you have an existing referral payment system, promptly pay them along with a personalized call or note.

If possible, host a party once in a while with those that played a big role in growing your business through their referrals.

This strategy will nurture your relationships with them further, and they will gladly continue to be your biggest ambassadors to their network

Final Thoughts

Getting referrals is probably the best way to grow your business especially if it is a localized business and if you do not have a big marketing budget. Always remember that the heart of the business is all about relationships. Don’t see business as just transactions. Behind the transaction are real people with which you can nurture win-win relationships for the long-term.

 

Start-up costs for an accommodation business

Start-up costs for an accommodation business

After much soul-searching, you’ve decided that you want to open your own guest house, boutique hotel or B&B. There are many factors to consider, such as where your business will be and who your target market is, but much of these decisions will be based on your budget, so that may be a good place to start.

Here are just some of the costs associated with setting up a new accommodation business:

  • The cost of building or buying a new premises
  • The size of the entire property and its location (rural or urban) will influence the building costs. For example, the cost of transporting equipment, furniture, etc. will be higher if one is further away from an urban area
  • The level of refurbishment, renovation or upgrades needed; including landscaping the garden and building/maintaining the pool
  • Room: Beds, TV, linen, furniture, towels, curtains, bathroom mats, lamps, coffee sets, décor
  • Dining Room: tables, chairs, table-cloths, cutlery, crockery and glassware, décor.
  • Kitchen: Appliances (perhaps industrial sized) like fridges, stoves and coffee machines, cooking utensils, bains maries, hot-plates, etc.
  • Public areas: Furniture, mirrors, décor and other fixtures
  • Consumable stock for the kitchens and bedrooms
  • Office: Computers, printers, copiers, booking systems, furniture, office supplies (guest register, purchase orders, letterheads, etc.), switchboard
  • Licenses and levies: there are various documents you will have to apply for, such as a zoning certificate, trading license and perhaps a liquor license. These cost money, so it must be included in the budget
  • Marketing: A professional website, ads, business cards and brochures will be needed
  • Other modern conveniences, such as Internet access/wifi, DSTV, air-conditioning
  • Hiring employees is a significant start-up and on-going cost. In the beginning, employees will have to be trained and provided with uniforms

The extent of these costs will depend on the type of establishment and its target market – perhaps the star grading you hope to get – as this will dictate the quality or luxury of the materials that need to be purchased.

Financing your start-up

Any financial institution you approach to finance your business will expect you to have an own cash contribution and an asset you can use as security. This means that you will need a smaller loan, which will help when it comes to having enough monthly cash flow to service the debt. In order to cover any finance repayments and to keep your business viable, you should not have more than 50% of the value of your business being debt.

Create Your Marketing Plan

Create Your Marketing Plan

Your marketing plan should be a clear, concise, and well thought out document that guides you through your marketing program. Using a marketing plan template will help you focus on the objective of your marketing and how you intend to accomplish that objective. Whether your company provides products or services, your marketing plan is essential to your success.

The six major elements to creating a successful marketing plan are listed below. Creating a marketing plan template from these points can help you stay on track. You may only need only a sentence or two per section… or you might want to break each down into a few succinct bullet points.

  1. The Purpose
  2. Your Target Customer
  3. The Benefits of Your Product or Service
  4. Your Positioning
  5. Your Marketing Tactics
  6. Your Marketing Budget

As you go through each section, keep the following tips and hints in mind:

Keep your marketing plan simple.

Many small business owners get so involved in details that they lose sight of their goals. By keeping your plan simple, you will create a clear roadmap that focuses on what you need to accomplish.

Write your marketing plan down (as opposed to thinking about it and keeping it in your head).

It is important to have a document that will remind you what you are trying to accomplish. A marketing plan template is an excellent place to start.

Be direct and be clear.

If you’re not sure, ask a friend, relative, colleague or employee to read your plan. They should immediately grasp your goals.

Don’t build in too much flexibility.

You may be tempted to plan for various market contingencies. If your market changes that quickly, then you should incorporate that into your plan. But create a strategy you can keep to – that’s the purpose of having a plan in the first place.

Review your marketing plan often – quarterly or even monthly.

That doesn’t mean you have to revise it every month. But take some time to evaluate it and make sure you’re on track.

Finally….never stop marketing!

Once you have your plan in place, you need to take action. Commit yourself to your marketing program. Don’t let yourself stagnate. Keep at it, and you’ll be giving your business the opportunity to flourish.

KIMBERLEY First Facts

Colonial Commissioners arrived in New Rush on 17 November 1871 to exercise authority over the territory on behalf of the Cape Governor and by Proclamation dated 5 July 1873, New Rush/ Vooruitzigt  was named Kimberley after then Secretary of State for the ColoniesLord Kimberley.

Kimberley was the initial hub of industrialisation in South Africa in the late nineteenth century, which transformed the country’s agrarian economy into one more dependent on its mineral wealth. A key feature of the new economic arrangement was migrant labour, with the demand for African labour in the mines of Kimberley (and later on the gold fields) drawing workers in growing numbers from throughout the subcontinent. The labour compound system developed in Kimberley from the 1880s was later replicated on the gold mines and elsewhere.

The city housed South Africa’s first stock exchange, the Kimberley Royal Stock Exchange, which opened on 2 February 1881.

On 2 September 1882, Kimberley became the first town in the Southern Hemisphere to install electric street lighting.

 The rising importance of Kimberley led to one of the earliest South African and International Exhibitions to be staged in Kimberley in 1892, It presented exhibits of art, an exhibition of paintings from the royal collection of Queen Victoria and mining machinery and implements amongst other items.

South Africa’s first school of mines was opened here in 1896 and later relocated to Johannesburg, becoming the core of the University of the Witwatersrand. A Pretoria campus later became the University of Pretoria. In fact the first two years were attended at colleges elsewhere, in Cape Town, Grahamstown or Stellenbosch, the third year in Kimberley and the fourth year in Johannesburg. Buildings were constructed against a total cost of 9,000 pounds with De Beers contributing on a pound for pound basis.

South Africa’s first school of aviation, to train pilots for the proposed South African Aviation Corps (SAAC), was established in Kimberley in 1913. Known as Paterson’s Aviation Syndicate School of Flying, it is commemorated in the Pioneers of Aviation Museum (and replica of the first Compton Patterson Biplane preserved there), situated near to Kimberley airport. In the 1930s Kimberley boasted the best night-landing facilities on the continent of Africa. A major air rally was hosted there in 1934. In the war years Kimberley Airport was commandeered by the Union Defence Force and run by the 21 Flying School for the training of fighter pilots.

Work on connecting Kimberley by rail to the cities along the Cape Colony‘s coastline began in 1872 .The railway line from Cape Town to Kimberley was completed in 1885, accelerating the transport of both passengers and goods.The railway connected Kimberley with cheaper sources of grain and other products, as well as supplies of coal, so that one of its local impacts was to undercut (mainly African) trade in fresh produce and firewood. The railway reticulation eventually would link Kimberley with Port Elizabeth, Johannesburg, Durban and Bloemfontein in later years. The railway reticulation eventually would link Kimberley with Port Elizabeth, Johannesburg, Durban and Bloemfontein. The major junction at De Aar in the Karoo linked early twentieth century lines to Upington (later to Namibia) and to Calvinia. From the 1990s there was a decline in the use of the railways.

Robert Sobukwe started the first black-owned law practice firm in No.2 (Ghetto) a township in the suburb of Galeshewe in 1975 after serving a 9 year jail term for incitement, he was banished to Kimberley under a law called “Sobukwe Clause”which kept him exile here in Kimberley.

robert sobukwe

the-real

Britain’s New African Empire

Companies listed on the London Stock Exchange control over $1trillion worth of Africa’s resources in just five commodities – oil, gold, diamonds, coal and platinum. My research for the NGO, War on Want, which has just been published, reveals that 101 companies, most of them British, control $305billion worth of platinum, $276billion worth of oil and $216billion worth of coal at current market prices. The ‘Scramble for Africa’ is proceeding apace, with the result that African governments have largely handed over their treasure.

Tanzania’s gold, Zambia’s copper, South Africa’s platinum and coal and Botswana’s diamonds are all dominated by London-listed companies. They have mines or mineral licences in 37 African countries and control vast swathes of Africa’s land: their concessions cover a staggering 1.03million square kilometres on the continent. This is over four times the size of the UK and nearly one twentieth of sub-Saharan Africa’s total land area. China’s resources grabs have been widely vilified but the major foreign takeover of Africa’s natural riches springs from a lot closer to home.

Many African governments depend on mineral resources for revenues, yet the extent of foreign ownership means that most wealth is being extracted along with the minerals. In only a minority of mining operations do African governments have a shareholding. Company tax payments are minimal due to low tax rates while governments often provide companies with generous incentives such as corporation tax holidays.

Companies are also able to avoid paying taxes by their use of tax havens. Of the 101 London-listed companies, 25 are actually incorporated in tax havens, principally the British Virgin Islands. It is estimated that Africa loses around $35billion a year in illicit financial flows out of the continent and a further $46billion a year in multinational company profits taken from operations in Africa.

UK companies’ increasingly dominant role in Africa, which is akin to a new colonialism, is being facilitated by British governments, Conservative and Labour alike. Four policies stand out. First, Whitehall has long been a fierce advocate of liberalized trade and investment regimes in Africa that provide access to markets for foreign companies. It is largely opposed to African countries putting up regulatory or protectionist barriers to such investment, the sorts of policies where have often been used by successful developers in East Asia. Second, Britain has been a world leader in advocating low corporate taxes in Africa, including in the extractives sector.

Third, British policy has done nothing to challenge multinational companies using tax havens; indeed the global infrastructure of tax havens is largely a British creation. Fourth, British governments have constantly espoused only voluntary mechanisms for companies to monitor their human rights impacts; they are opposed to enhancing international legally binding mechanisms to curb abuses.

The result is that Africa, the world’s poorest continent, is being further impoverished. Recent research calculated, for the first time, all the financial inflows and outflows to and from sub-Saharan Africa to gauge whether Africa is being helped or exploited by the rest of the world. It found that $134billion flows into the continent each year, mainly in the form of loans, foreign investment and aid. However, $192billion is taken out, mainly in profits made by foreign companies and tax dodging. The result is that Africa suffers a net loss of $58billion a year. British mining companies and their government backers are contributing to this drainage of wealth.

We need to radically rethink the notion that Britain is helping Africa to develop. The UK’s large aid programme is, among other things, being used to promote African policies from which British corporations will further profit. British policy in Africa, and indeed that of African elites, needs to be challenged and substantially changed if we are serious about promoting long term economic development on the continent.

Principles of Entrepreneurship

Principles of Entrepreneurship

Who can become an entrepreneur? There is no one definitive profile. Successful entrepreneurs come in various ages, income levels, gender, and race. They differ in education and experience. But research indicates that most successful entrepreneurs share certain personal attributes, including: creativity, dedication, determination, flexibility, leadership, passion, self-confidence, and “smarts.”
Creativity is the spark that drives the development • of new products or services or ways to do business. It is the push for innovation and improvement. It is continuous learning, questioning, and thinking outside of prescribed formulas.
Dedication is what motivates the entrepreneur to • work hard, 12 hours a day or more, even seven days a week, especially in the beginning, to get the endeavor off the ground. Planning and ideas must be joined by hard work to succeed. Dedication makes it happen.
Determination is the extremely strong desire to • achieve success. It includes persistence and the ability to bounce back after rough times. It persuades the entrepreneur to make the 10th phone call, after nine have yielded nothing. For the true entrepreneur, money is not the motivation. Success is the motivator; money is the reward.
Flexibility is the ability to move quickly in response • to changing market needs. It is being true to a dream while also being mindful of market realities. A story is told about an entrepreneur who started a fancy shop selling only French pastries. But customers wanted to buy muffins as well. Rather than risking the loss of these customers, the entrepreneur modified her vision to accommodate these needs.
Leadership is the ability to create rules and to set • goals. It is the capacity to follow through to see that rules are followed and goals are accomplished.
Passion is what gets entrepreneurs started and • keeps them there. It gives entrepreneurs the ability to convince others to believe in their vision. It can’t substitute for planning, but it will help them to stay focused and to get others to look at their plans.
Self-confidence comes from thorough planning, • which reduces uncertainty and the level of risk. It also comes from expertise. Self-confidence gives the entrepreneur the ability to listen without being easily swayed or intimidated.
“Smarts” consists of common sense joined with • knowledge or experience in a related business or endeavor. The former gives a person good instincts, the latter, expertise. Many people have smarts they don’t recognize. A person who successfully keeps a household on a budget has organizational and financial skills. Employment, education, and life experiences all contribute to smarts.
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Every entrepreneur has these qualities in different degrees. But what if a person lacks one or more? Many skills can be learned. Or, someone can be hired who has strengths that the entrepreneur lacks. The most important strategy is to be aware of strengths and to build on them.

What leads a person to strike out on his own and start a business? Perhaps a person has been laid off once or more. Sometimes a person is frustrated with his or her current job and doesn’t see any better career prospects on the horizon. Sometimes a person realizes that his or her job is in jeopardy. A firm may be contemplating cutbacks that could end a job or limit career or salary prospects. Perhaps a person already has been passed over for promotion. Perhaps a person sees no opportunities in existing businesses for someone with his or her interests and skills.
Some people are actually repulsed by the idea of working for someone else. They object to a system where reward is often based on seniority rather than accomplishment, or where they have to conform to a corporate culture.
Other people decide to become entrepreneurs because they are disillusioned by the bureaucracy or politics involved in getting ahead in an established business or profession. Some are tired of trying to promote a product, service, or way of doing business that is outside the mainstream operations of a large company.
In contrast, some people are attracted to entrepreneurship by the advantages of starting a business. These include:
Entrepreneurs are their own bosses. They make • the decisions. They choose whom to do business with and what work they will do. They decide what hours to work, as well as what to pay and whether to take vacations.
Entrepreneurship offers a greater possibility of • achieving significant financial rewards than working for someone else.
It provides the ability to be involved in the total • operation of the business, from concept to design and creation, from sales to business operations and customer response.
It offers the prestige of being the person in • charge.
It gives an individual the opportunity to build eq• uity, which can be kept, sold, or passed on to the next generation.
Entrepreneurship creates an opportunity for a • person to make a contribution. Most new entrepreneurs help the local economy. A few—through their innovations—contribute to society as a whole. One example is entrepreneur Steve Jobs, who co-founded Apple in 1976, and the subsequent revolution in desktop computers.
Some people evaluate the possibilities for jobs and careers where they live and make a conscious decision to pursue entrepreneurship.
No one reason is more valid than another; none guarantee success. However, a strong desire to start a business, combined with a good idea, careful planning, and hard work, can lead to a very engaging and profitable endeavor.

Economy Growth

Economy Growth

Economic growth is central to economic development. When national income grows, real people benefit. While there is no known formula for stimulating economic growth, data can help policy-makers better understand their countries’ economic situations and guide any work toward improvement. Data here covers measures of economic growth, such as gross domestic product (GDP) and gross national income (GNI). It also includes indicators representing factors known to be relevant to economic growth, such as capital stock, employment, investment, savings, consumption, government spending, imports, and exports.

What is ‘Economic Growth’

Economic growth is an increase in the capacity of an economy to produce goods and services, compared from one period of time to another. It can be measured in nominal or real terms, the latter of which is adjusted for inflation. Traditionally, aggregate economic growth is measured in terms of gross national product (GNP) or gross domestic product (GDP), although alternative metrics are sometimes used.

BREAKING DOWN ‘Economic Growth’

In simplest terms, economic growth refers to an increase in aggregate productivity. Often, but not necessarily, aggregate gains in productivity correlate with increased average marginal productivity. This means the average laborer in a given economy becomes, on average, more productive. It is also possible to achieve aggregate economic growth without an increased average marginal productivity through extra immigration or higher birth rates.

Read more: Economic Growth Definition | Investopedia http://www.investopedia.com/terms/e/economicgrowth.asp#ixzz4RSX62ioK
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BREAKING DOWN ‘Economic Growth’

In simplest terms, economic growth refers to an increase in aggregate productivity. Often, but not necessarily, aggregate gains in productivity correlate with increased average marginal productivity. This means the average laborer in a given economy becomes, on average, more productive. It is also possible to achieve aggregate economic growth without an increased average marginal productivity through extra immigration or higher birth rates.

Read more: Economic Growth Definition | Investopedia http://www.investopedia.com/terms/e/economicgrowth.asp#ixzz4RSX62ioK
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Read more: Economic Growth Definition | Investopedia http://www.investopedia.com/terms/e/economicgrowth.asp#ixzz4RSWxnJuT
Follow us: Investopedia on Facebook

OPEN DATA

OPEN DATA

Open Data is data that can be freely used, shared and built-on by anyone, anywhere, for any NON harmful use for a greater social impact.

Section 32(1) of the Constitution confers on “everyone” a right of access to “(a) any information held by the state; and (b) any information that is held by another person and that is required for the exercise or protection of any rights.”

The full Open Definition gives precise details as to what this means. To summarize the most important open data focuses on:

  • Availability and Access: the data must be available as a whole and at no more than a reasonable reproduction cost, preferably by downloading over the internet. The data must also be available in a convenient and modifiable form.
  • Re-use and Redistribution: the data must be provided under terms that permit re-use and redistribution including the intermixing with other datasets.
  • Universal Participation: everyone must be able to use, re-use and redistribute – there should be no discrimination against fields of endeavour or against persons or groups. For example, ‘non-commercial’ restrictions that would prevent ‘commercial’ use, or restrictions of use for certain purposes (e.g. only in education), are not allowed.