Today I read that Facebook is predicted to fail. Not immediately, but it has been suggested that it will be 20% of its maximum size by December 2014. The cause of the demise is that younger users have been moving away. Read more about it here:http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-01-23/facebook-could-fade-out-like-a-disease-researchers/5214524
And there seems to be a debate about the value of Twitter. The company, not the tweets you send out. It is currently valued at 70 times its annual revenues. Refer http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-01-22/kohler-what-is-twitter-worth/5212376
So what does this mean for you and your business? There are two major points that I think every business owner needs to consider.
The first is that any business can fail. The biggest business on the planet in your industry is not safe. No business is too big to fail.
The second is the power of the customer. Your business must provide a need (or want) and take steps to make sure that the customer is happy. Existing customers have a habit of leaving. They change jobs, move house, retire … there are many valid reasons why their situation changes, but they will – sooner or later – stop buying from you. That just means you never stop looking for new customers.
Governments can get away with not always being polite because they legislate for people to use their services, they do not compete.
There are a number of attributes a successful business must have – and one of those is innovation. In this case innovation means additional products or services that add value to your customer, not additional problems for your customer.
How can you treat your customers better?
We’ve all heard the saying “As obvious as an elephant in the room”. Why not a giraffe? Surely being taller that would be more obvious? Or a rhino? More likely to charge around and cause damage that means more people are likely to notice?
The answer is contained in some ancient stories from India and other places where elephants wander.
It seems that one day five blind men happened upon an elephant and they decided that they wanted to know what one was like. (No, the stories don’t say how the men knew the elephant was there)
They decided to tell each other what they experienced. One touched a leg: “The elephant is like a pillar” he said. Another touched the trunk: “The elephant resembles a snake” was his opinion. Another who touched the tail suggests “It is like a rope” and so on.
In modern context it just means that people are aware that something is amiss, but they do not have the full facts about the matter. That’s why they know they need help to solve a problem, and that they cannot solve it alone, which led to your consulting skills being hired to help them in the first place.
Here’s what Wikipedia (TM) has to say:
“In various versions of the tale, a group of blind men (or men in the dark) touch an elephant to learn what it is like. Each one feels a different part, but only one part, such as the side or the tusk. They then compare notes and learn that they are in complete disagreement.
The stories differ primarily in how the elephant’s body parts are described, how violent the conflict becomes and how (or if) the conflict among the men and their perspectives is resolved.
In some versions, they stop talking, start listening and collaborate to “see” the full elephant. When a sighted man walks by and sees the entire elephant all at once, they also learn they are blind. While one’s subjective experience is true, it may not be the totality of truth. If the sighted man was deaf, he would not hear the elephant bellow. Denying something you cannot perceive ends up becoming an argument for your limitations.”
So next time you see a group of people completely missing the point just understand that they do not have your skills or experience and so are only aware of part of their particular elephant.
Everyone looks for improved productivity, but how many of us know what to do to achieve the productivity we want? Here are five simple things you can do to bring your productivity to the level you want.
If you didn’t have big ideas you wouldn’t be in business for yourself or growing your career in a business. That’s exactly what’s needed there – your ideas have to be big or they won’t inspire you. But that’s not how you implement ideas. When you implement the idea it works best if you break the overall project down to its component parts. Let me give you an example.
Imagine you are building a new house. It cannot all be done at once – it is obviously silly to think of raising the roof before the walls are in place and yet we often try to do exactly that in our business projects. The first sub-project might be to prepare the ground work – dig the foundations, put the water and utilities in place, build the foundations, then move on to the framework of the house, then the floors and walls, then the roof and so on. Your business projects can be broken down in the same way.
That gives you a number of easy stages versus one perhaps overwhelming lump, and that means your projects start finishing on time and on budget, just the way you imagined them.
The second productivity boost is to delegate all tasks that do not directly generate income. This just means to consider what is the best use of your time – shopping for stationery or prospecting for clients? Walking around delivering leaflets or delivering product?
Consider everything that you do – are you the only one who can do it? If not – delegate it. Let someone else do it and concentrate on the things that only you can do. Establish the same discipline with your staff. If everyone is doing what they are best at then the chances are that a better job, less supervision, and a happier workforce will result.
The third productivity boost is to manage the time you spend on emails. Stop checking your emails every ten minutes! This is another case of best managing your time – do you make more profits by signing up a new client or reading your emails? Yes, sometimes the order comes in via email, but it will still be there when you come back – and that’s why it was sent via email, there was no urgency at the client’s! If there was a hurry the client would have called.
So get away from your emails and get back to your business. Spending more time doing what you are best at must bring more to your business.
Business rules haven’t changed much since the first trader opened their doors (or tent flap?) for business. What has changed is how we do things. It all used to be face to face, then mail and telegraph allowed us to do business at a distance, then the telephone, fax and internet accelerated that trend. Now much of what we do on the internet can be automated.
Every day there are more and more technology shortcuts that allow us to generate more income and profit from the same amount of time. Think of a repetitive task and almost certainly there is a computer, tablet or smartphone application that does it. The truth is that there is probably an application for all platforms and if there really isn’t then check back tomorrow! If you think you need it then someone has figured out that you are their market.
Productivity tip number six is to share this with your staff. Let them know that they will be given tasks that suit their skills, responsibility and authority where appropriate and clear instructions with a time limit where it isn’t. Let them know that you will train them in the latest developments in their industry, and that they will be given the opportunity to put that training into practice.
Now here is an extra tip, one that will add value to all of the first six – put them into practice. Change the way you do business. You may not agree with some of what is written here, and that’s OK – the real question is: what are you going to do with the stuff you do agree with? Every tip will add value to your business, given the chance. And that’s your next job – to give them a chance.
Good luck, and let us know how they help.
Having a great new idea is not all you need to be Investor Ready. You need a lot more than that, and you need them in the right times and quantities. Let’s explore what it means to be Investor Ready.
It does start off with a good idea, but you also need Proof Of Concept. That just means that you need some kind of proof that lots of other people (Customers or at least potential customers) agree with you. The way you convince an Investor that you have a great idea is to point to real sales or to comprehensive Market Research that establishes that there is a market for what you’re talking about.
We’ve covered Market Research in this blog already, so we won’t spend a lot of time on it now. It doesn’t have to be expensive to be comprehensive, all it needs is some knowledge and a little effort.
The next thing you need is a Marketing Plan. How are you going to sell your product or service? The investor needs to know this because this is where they get the return for lending you the money to get started. If you can’t sell your idea then they can’t get a return either!
You also might need a Production Plan if you are offering a product. How can you make sure you have enough to sell? If you offer a service – how can you guarantee that you will be able to deliver when and where required?
You will need to demonstrate that you can or at least will control your finances. What income will the business have over what time frame, and what expenses will it incur? Does the income arrive in time to cover the expenses?
Do you need any assistance? Can you demonstrate that you have or that you can build the right team? Having the right people in place is vital to building a long term, solid, successful business.
You can download a Business Plan that will provide sections that will allow you to document all this and more. How you will handle competitors, your strengths, your weaknesses and how you will address them. What no Business Plan Template gives you is the next two items.
The first thing you need to make sure you have enough of is the excitement you feel about your idea. If you can’t make the potential investor excited about your idea then they never feel that they want to give you the requested funding.
The second thing you need is to demonstrate certainty. What you want is that they believe, with certainty, that your business is a sure-fired way to make money. That gives them the confidence to follow up the excitement with the actual money!
That doesn’t mean that your business plan should be a sales pitch from go to whoa, and in fact if it is too much of an overt sales pitch it can turn people off as much as anything. It just needs to convey the real feelings that you have, the real confidence that you have, to introduce them to the people you know, and for them to understand the idea as well as you do.
Until someone invents a real Vulcan Mind Meld from Star Trek the best we have for conveying your idea is a good Business Plan! Put one of those together and you’re on the way to being Investor Ready.
Do you have experience finding funding for a start up business and would you like to share your knowledge? Send us some comments by using the login tag at the top left of this window.
Most people think that business finances are the same as personal finances. There are similarities, of course, though the differences will bite you unless you know about them.
Let’s get the similarities out of the way first. You do need to balance your account – you can’t spend more than you have. You can have a mix of facilities – transaction accounts, debit and credit cards, online services, and a host of different places to use each one.
You do still need to look for good value for your spending, but maybe the definition of what’s good value can change. Let’s explore that.
The first major difference is that most of the time you are on opposite sides of the transaction when you spend your own money. What I mean is – when you buy something for your personal consumption you will never see that money again. You want the lowest possible price. The seller want’s the highest possible price, because that’s where there profit is.
When you buy something that you intend to sell for a profit the person you buy from is now on your side. They are instrumental in you making money. In fact, without their supply you can’t be in business. It is in their best interest to make sure that your business thrives, and continues to buy from them for a long time to come. You now recoup the purchase price when you sell the item. That’s very different from buying something for your own use.
You still need the best that your money can buy. That doesn’t change, unless the supplier that provides that product has problems delivering on time, or maybe only supplies larger quantities than you want to order. The best value for your business – the product that allows you the highest return – might be 95% of the quality, 80% of the price and 100% better delivery conditions.
See how your mindset has to change when you run a business?
Do you have a question, or a comment on what other differences there are? This isn’t supposed to be a complete list, just a place to start the conversation. Let us know what you think by using the login tag on the left side of the screen.