Category : Uncategorized
Category : Uncategorized
Mentors are important in business, but they’re difficult to find. This guide will help point you in the direction of some helpful resources.
Your existing network
Friends and Family are one possible resource, but if there is anyone in your social circle that can help be aware that there are potential personal hazards; most people are different when your in ‘work mode’, and that difference can be quite jarring.
Former colleagues, particularity former employers, are a more likely resource for finding mentors within your own network. Finally, networking events on sites like Meetup can be great ways to conect and form relationships with other business owners.
Mentor matching agencies are like dating agencies for Entrepreneurs. They generally charge a flat fee to find you a mentor and then act to support that relationship. One plus to this is that they can find new mentors as you grow – you’ll need different advice when you’re a 50 person company than you will when it’s just you and the dog.
Local councils and development agencies
Many regions have a specific local business development fund set up, and part of the use of this fund is to provide advice and mentorship to new businesses in the region. Contact your local council office and see what programmes they have available to support new local businesses.
There are a a verity of options for the business owner looking for an exit – From simply closing the firm to floating the business to a trade sale to simply giving the keys to someone else. There are different tax considerations, as well as time constrictions, and some options require specific skills to complete. This guide is focused on;
Closing the business
This can involve selling to a third party, or to the current employees and/or management.
Any good buyer will want to see the growth potential of the business, through cashflow, sales figures and a solid customer base. Intellection property is another attractive asset for buyers, and many business purchases particularity in the tech sector have been made to aquire a new IP. There are websites, marketplaces and publications that specialize in trading businesses.
Prepare documents that prove the strength of a company
Do your full due diligence into potential buyers!
Succession often means a family member, such as a son or daughter, taking over the ‘family business’, but it can often also mean a senior manager or board member stepping into your shoes. Succession means lots of preplanning – your successor needs to be ready to take on the role obviously, but clients also need to be prepared to deal with a new company head. There may also be tax considerations to discuss with your accountants.
Float on the Market
A floatation means a lot of late nights and hard work, and doesn’t necessarily mean you exit – to your potential stock holders, your continued involvement may be part of the process. Think of it as less of an ‘exit’ and more of a ‘change in definition’ of your role. A strong team is required for a business to float, and your staff need to be prepared for a sizeable change in the way business is done in the long term. Your not the big boss anymore!
Close the business
There’s no rule that says a business has to run forever. If it’s a business set to fulfill a personal passion, one that’s made you a nice living but has limited growth potential, it might be that no-one else wants it. Get advice from your accountant on how to exit and any tax considerations.
At its core, PR is about making people aware of your business, so when they have the need for your product they turn to you.
However, PR agencies are expensive, and with no experience of PR, how can you compete? Here are our top 5 tips for doing your own PR.
Target and Personalize
If your syndicating one press release to every journalist in the world, congratulations – You’ve just added to the noise that floods every journalists inbox. Know your subject – what do they write about? What are their passions? What will they be excited to write about, and can you tie that back into your product?
Be social and follow
Journalism is changing – Social media is becoming a big part of their dialogue with their audience. Take time to grow and audience of your own – Journalists deal with an army of PRs every day, but a recommendation from Joe Public will stand out.
Make fun videos
People share because something’s entertaining, informative, or both. Put out some videos, and when one takes off, you know you’ve got a winner. That’s the one you want to push out to journalists
Silence is not a rejection
Every good PR has either a thick skin or a drinking problem. Journalists are busy people and a lot of people are trying to get their attention. Don’t try, fail and give up. Try, refine, try again. A Journalist gets hundreds of emails a day, if you fail to capture their attention they won’t even remember you come tomorrow.
There are many opportunities afforded to SME’s from the rise of social media. However, social doesn’t just afford businesses the opportunity to rapidly communicate with customers and suppliers – it can also quickly pass on threats. Spammers, hackers and distributers of malware will be eager to parasite onto your social channels, leveraging the trust you have built with your audience to encourage them to download viruses or to part with credit card numbers and other sensitive information.
There are six simple steps you can take to help you secure your channels – and your reputation
1. Train your employees to recognize scams
No amount of security will protect against a door that’s left open, and the same goes online. Ensure staff are kept up-to-date with common scams on the internet – many of them seem obvious to avoid, but it only takes one mistake. http://www.prosecure.netgear.com/resources/threat-monitor.php is a good resource
2. Update your software
That little dialogue box advising that Windows needs to reset to install updates always seems to appear at the worst possible times – however, it’s important that updates are installed. This is especially important for some older third party technologies such as Java and Flash – these updates can be easily ignored for years, leaving the machine wide open to entry using common, well known security holes. Anyone who can use Google can quickly discover how to exploit those holes.
SME’s tend to be terrible at this – The time and financial cost of keeping an Antivirus suite up to date pales in comparison to the time and cost of cleaning up a mess when (and it will happen) someone encounters a virus.
5. That means Macs too.
On the whole, the Apple ecosystem is less susceptible to malware than Windows – the lower market share, particularly in business, means that Apple hardware is a much less attractive target. That said, Apple rather stupidly ran an ad campaign a few years ago proclaiming that Macs don’t get viruses, and it hasn’t passed many would-be hackers attention that there are many open systems out there as a result. Don’t get caught out.
6. Block dangerous sites
Ensure your network blocks access to known ‘problem’ areas of the internet. Piracy sites are common sources of malware – you may be ok with your staff having the sport on while they work, but that illegal streaming site they’re trying to use will be leaving your site wide open to problems.
The key to Sales is Communication, and NLP (or ‘Neuro-Linguistic Programming’) is a toolset you can continually refine and improve to achieve greater communication with your perspective customers. Here’s a few tricks to help you use NLP more effectively.
Everyone has a preferred way of communicating.
‘listen your your customer’ is common advice, but it’s meaningless without knowing what to listen for. Generally, people fall into three ways of communicating;
Match their choice of words
A visual person might look at a tree in autumn and gain pleasure from the display of color, while a Kinesthetic person will want to touch the leaves and feel the texture. Their ‘experience’ of the same tree is completely different, and that can lead to a completely different understanding of just about everything in life. People tend to gravitate towards people like themselves, and if you don’t have a natural affinity with a potential customer, listening to how they speak and consciously altering your own language is key to bridging that gap.
Match your sales strategy to the prospects buying strategy.
If you have a visual buyer, a graph will mean more than a table of numbers. A Kinesthetic buyer will want to get their hands on your product. Someone auditory will be put off by any odd sounds your product makes when it’s turned on.
The towards and away from model
Your customers will usually tell you one of two things – What they want, and what they don’t want. How they do this is important – ‘I want to see’, ‘I’m less bothered about the texture than it’s functionality’, etc.
It feels unnatural to think of people with these rules, but really great sales people have trained themselves to do it almost unconsciously.
Business plans help set and hold you to goal, Getting the forumla right is vital. Here are my top tips.
Honesty is the best policy.
Your business plan will be seen by investors and potential business partners and as such, it’s tempting to, erm, ‘embellish’ certain parts of it. The old adage about writing checks your ass can’t cash remains true – the grilling you’ll get during the investment stage is nothing compared to what you’ll get when your numbers don’t work out.
Rejection isn’t a bad thing – it’s an opportunity to improve.
Show off everyone in your company.
Ultimately, a company is people, and investors want to know that you’ve got all the skills you needed to make a company work. That doesn’t just mean the hotshot programmer, the amazing chef or the grizzled experienced senior management you’re hiring – that means accountants, lawyers, mentors, customer service et all. Recruitment plans are also important – Skill weaknesses are fine so long as you show that you know they’re there and you have a plan to combat them.
Have a strong executive summary
This is the entire business plan, summed up. It’s got to get the investor excited – without it, they won’t bother reading the rest. And it’s got to speak to the investor – convince them that, yes, there is money to be made here.
Know your market
It’s essential that you know your marketplace and who your competitors are. No consumers mean no product, and you need to know exactly who you want to be buying from you, and who they’re buying off at the moment.
How are you going to market
They’ve got to know you exist before they can buy from you. How are you going to do that? TV? Magazines? Search Marketing? Banner Ads? Industry conventions? Research – what are the numbers like?
Everyone is now familiar with ‘wifi‘ – most have used it to get online in a cafe or hotel and the majority of home internet connections come with it as well. Its unsurprising, then, that the technology has found it’s way into the office as well, but the results are less than ideal.
The usual problems are trouble connecting to Wifi, and poor performance once that connections been established – Slow browsing, trouble accessing large files on the network and failed emails are common experiences. The common causes – Coverage and congestion.
Coverage is the easy one to fix – Move closer to the router. Additional access points can be installed, and ethernet over power adaptors are another common option for improving Wifi.
Congestion is the bigger challenge. Inner city workers will be in range of numerous wifi points, and many of them use the same frequencies. Think interference on a pre-digital TV; sometimes the data gets through, other times your WIFI adaptors receiving a signal off a competing network.
Returning to physical network cabling is the best solution in these situation. Ethernet over power convertors are a common option, and many offices are still have much of their wiring dating back to the days before Wifi. Be aware of the limits of wifi – if your going to be away from your desks, large files before you go and don’t rely on a solid signal.
Some of the worlds most inspiring and successful entrepreneurs managed to grow their empires and fortunes without ever gaining a degree. Here are a few success stories of enterprenuers who shunned education and trail blazed their own path.
Scottish Jam Maker did have one stroke of luck – he inherited his Grandmothers’ top secret recipe. At 14, he went through experiment after experiment to improve the formula and ultimately created Superjam. Rather than pumping the fruit full of sugar, Superjam is sweetened using grape juice, creating a healthy sugar free recipe. Award after award followed, and Doherty was recently named in the Top 10 ‘Times Young Power List’.
Tom didn’t believe higher education was the only path to success – and he created a website to prove it. notgoingtouni.co.uk became the UK’s biggest non-graduate careers website, helping people without a degree to find opportunities and creating a frenzy in the careers industry along with it.
Deborah’s career didn’t get off to the best of starts – she ended up walking away from her glass and ceramics company when things didn’t go to plan. Perseverance is often a key part of success, however, and when she moved to Weststar Holidays she transformed the company. A 2005 sale brought £33m, but showing her keen instincts she retained a stake in the company. 2 years later, the company ballooned to £83m, bringing Deborah a small fortune along with it.
Sir Richard Branson
A legent and a true inspiration to university shunners everywhere, Branson was a school dropout who decided to start a youth culture magazine. That lead to the creation of a record label named ‘Virgin’, who secured the Rolling Stones and Genesis. Reinvestment lead to the now massive Virgin Group, including over 200 companies spread across 30 countries.
If there’s one thing a business can’t survive without, it’s cold, hard cash, and to many financial analysis’s cash-flow is the biggest indicator of a business’ health and viability. Unfortunately, many startups don’t manage their cash-flow properly, and as a result 44% of new business’ find themselves close to closure by year 3.
The first lesson; if your business is hemorrhaging cash, chucking more cash at it isn’t going to fix the situation – it’s just going to make a bigger mess. The trick is to figure out where in your supply chain the wound is and to close it.
Follow your goods
The faster you get your product or service to your consumer, the quicker your consumer will put cash in your hands. You need to look at the entire process, from the second you get the sale through to the moment the invoice is sent out.
It’s important that a SME owner knows how much is being sold at any given minute. And yesterday. And how much is going to go out today, and this week. Every item that’s on the shelf is money sitting there unused, and turning that product into sales is what will get your business growing. The more accurate your sales predictions, the better you can minimise waste resource.
Once your predictive modeling is sorted and your resource pipeline is as close to accurate as possible, your next focus is meeting the sales demand. What happens when a customer makes an order? If it is a long, manual process that delays customer receipt, how can you streamline? Technology? Training? Or, most often a combination of the two?
This also includes the delivery. For physical goods, the cheapest form of transport is the slowest, in many instances meaning the cost of the delay is greater than the pennies saved. Remember, there’s more to a successful business than the pure profit margin.
Every week, it is estimated that as many as 9000 businesses are started in the UK, and there are any number of reasons why someone would want to take on the stresses and chase the rewards of being an entrepreneur.
The poor economy means many simply need a more reliable way to earn money than relying on a third party. Others have that great idea that will keep them awake at night unless they’ve made sure the world hears it. And some just don’t deal well with being told what to do.
Why start a business? This infographic from Smarta Looks at the biggest reasons.
Interestingly, while money is a strong motivator, the desire for independence from the boss is a greater one. Lesson there for managers everywhere.
Lack of funding is the biggest hurdle for many enterprenuers.
Only 50% of people jump into business with both feet – 26% keep a full time job and 24% keep a part time job.
Finding leads and customers is the biggest worry of most enterprenuers – no surprise there, since a failure there will sink any business.