The Easiest Way to Sack your Boss!

Monday, April 1, 2019 9:24

Ideas to have your own businessVenturing out on your own can be a daunting task. Your nine to five brings with it a certain security net, however, the only way to achieve your dream is to take the leap and become your own boss!

In order to make sure that you are successful in this endeavour, though, it is important that you find the option that is right for you. Because, despite what you may think, there is more than one way to become a successful entrepreneur.

Below, we take a look at some of the simplest ways and give you tips on how to make sure that your journey to entrepreneurship is a positive one.

1.    Start a business from scratch

This is what most people will think of when they think about becoming an entrepreneur. There are a lot of risks involved in starting a business from a scratch, however, if you have an idea that you have confidence in and you are willing to put in the work, this is probably the best option for you.

The most difficult choice to make will be when to hand in your notice and throw yourself fully behind your idea. Many entrepreneurs try to keep their day job as long as possible in the beginning stages of their business so that they have a salary while they get their business off the ground.

You need to be realistic about your financial situation. How much will you need to start your own business and how long before you are realistically able to pay yourself a salary?

2.    Buy a business

Buying a business is another way to go about setting out on your own and being your own boss. The advantage of this is that you can see if the business has a proven track record.

This is very handy when you go to the bank to ask them for a loan. Proven financials will give far more of a chance of getting the money that you need to purchase the business.

For example, if you are looking to buy a pub, buying an existing one will come with an already established customer base and supplier relationships. You will just need to choose the right one to buy.

3.    Find a partner

Going into business can be made a lot easier if you’re able to find the right person to partner up with. Having a partner can double your resources in terms of skills and capital!

It is, however, vital that you find the right person to partner up with. The wrong partnership can turn sour so spend time making sure that you have the same goals and ideals.

4.    Find investors

The financial pressure of starting a business can be the single biggest reason to stop you sacking your boss. There are, however, a lot of financing options that are not necessarily the traditional routes of looking to banks for loans.

Why not look to angel investors to help you get your business going? If you have the right idea and you are willing to put in the time, there may be the right investor out there who will believe in your vision.

If you are able to carefully chose the right path to becoming your boss, there is every possibility that you can enjoy the process. Every future boss must find the option that is right for them and their circumstances. If you are able to do this, you’ll be on your way to success!

 

By Matthew Hernon: Account Manager at Dynamis looking after Business Transfer Agents and Franchises across BusinessesForSale.com and FranchiseSales.com

 

 

Have an investment strategy when investing in opportunities

Thursday, March 7, 2019 12:42
Posted in category Uncategorized

Business Angel InvestorsWe all know that there is no such thing as a risk free but highly profitable investment. Although I do get emails telling me they exist, I just dump them immediately.

However with the right preparation you can identify and enjoy successful investments, that whilst not risk free are at least “risk understood” and ensure that they are balanced with a commensurate profitability.

The key to this is establishing your personal investment strategy.  That will be your guiding principle when considering any investment and makes investment decisions much easier. Your strategy should include:

1. How much risk you are comfortable with? This will vary depending on your own attitude to risk, but also the amount of “spare” funds you have. You should never put at risk funds needed for living.

Minimum risk may lead you towards bank cash accounts, bonds or blue-chip companies within the stock market, but of course the potential returns will be lower.

Whereas if greater risk options are acceptable, such as new start-ups, younger, faster moving companies and peer-to-peer lending, much higher rewards can be gained.

A balanced portfolio of investments, varying the number of low and higher risk opportunities according to your own preferences, together with spreading the market areas invested into, will give better protection against unforeseen events.

2. What market areas do you enjoy and which do you have some knowledge about? Not only does it make working with those investments more interesting, but knowledge of the industry allows you to understand the risk elements and determine how successful the business is likely to be.

3. How hands-on do you want to be? The stock market has a wide choice of investments, where you can be relatively hands-free apart from watching trends and swapping stocks as required. There are entire books written on investing into the stock market, so do your research and avoid “too good to be true” investment schemes that may be offered.

However if a more active involvement can be considered then investing directly into young businesses that may now be ready for growth, or even start-ups with good potential can provide both greater enjoyment and returns. Company Partners provides this type of opportunity and importantly for an investor doesn’t take a percentage of your investment from the business as many others will do.

Will you want to be an day-today part of the team, or only adding value where appropriate?

4. Be clear about the management style of the team that you will want to work with.  If investing directly in a business, certainly it must have a capable management team but also one that fits your own way of working. Both of these elements are important. It may be that you can add some personal expertise to the team or help it with finding a missing component, but if the founders are not “on your wavelength”, arrogant or most likely wouldn’t listen to advice – simply avoid.

Finally do due-diligence. Investment into a business must only be undertaken after you have ensured that the people, business and facts as stated are correct. Investors should also be prepared to give information about themselves in return, so both parties are informed and comfortable with the partnership.

See also: Identifying successful businesses

 

 

How to choose the best business partner

Tuesday, January 8, 2019 13:07

Business Partners

Having a business partner that you can bounce ideas off, share the work load and motivate each other is a great help to a young business. 

They should also bring complimentary skills and additional expertise that allows the business to be driven forward faster.

 

 

Sounds perfect doesn’t it? Yet even with all of those boxes ticked, partnerships and businesses can flounder. Here’s how to make sure that your business gets the best from the partners:

 

  1. Mutual respect & compatibility – many businesses have partners who may not want to be best friends, but they do need to get on with each other. You will spend a lot of time together and it should be enjoyable or at the least, not dreaded.
  2. Attitude and work ethics – it often the case that one partner is slightly more flamboyant / extrovert and others perhaps more reserved or technical / financial, but all should share the same attitude towards work.
  3. Company mission & vision – if the partners don’t agree on the basics of what the company is in business to do and where they eventually wish it to end up, then if not at first, certainly later there will be a fallout.
  4. Long term personal vision – coupled to the above, individuals may have differing personal goals. If one is looking for a comfortable lifestyle business and the other seeing it growing to corporate status, or perhaps one partner sees it as a short-term venture, the other as a commitment for life, it’s easy to see how harmful disagreements could happen.
  5. Defining areas of responsibility – stepping on each other’s toes is not only duplicating activity, but at worst will provoke great arguments. It’s easily avoided by defining who is responsible for what and shares the work according to preference and expertise. Best to do right at the start.

Putting together a partnership agreement (here are some agreement tips) will allow you to explore those areas and in documenting the way you will work together avoids misunderstanding.

If in doing so if you realise that there are major differences of expectation you can either work through them, or take the opportunity early to accept that the partnership is not meant to be.

 

 

Finding business opportunities from market changes

Monday, September 24, 2018 11:50

Opportunity from market changeBusinesses are often wary of change. It creates uncertainty and development projects get stalled. Instead of seeing change as an opportunity, business leaders start to plan for worse case scenarios that may result from the change.

The businesses adversely affected are normally large organisations with a vested interest in the status quo, however for smaller more flexible businesses and certainly start-ups, these market changes can be a fantastic opportunity to grow.

There is always change, in reality nothing stays still, as the bones of once giant corporations will testify. In the past many have been caught out by technological or fashion trends, but now we also have global changes such as Brexit, migration and the fall out of Mr. Trump’s policies that will add to the melee.

So how do we go about spotting those changes that are likely to produce great opportunities?

1. One way is using Brainstorming -  Here are a few guidelines that should be useful, you can amend these as you wish, but it gives the method:

  • Basic technique – Using colleagues, or friends (5 to 12 is ideal, but if you are a one man start-up finding even just a couple of friends to help will get you going), jot down thoughts on a flipchart or post-it pad, no idea is initially too crazy and no one should be dominant.
  • However give it structure (see below), address a specific question and having a team leader will facilitate the process.
  • Firstly ask what changes are going on in the world / your market place
  • Have your brainstorming session on that question and then collate the results into groups that comprise similar changes
  • Looking at those groups of changes, rank the groups in order of possible interest, taking into account your market, business and ability/expertise to address
  • Now starting with the first change have a brainstorming session on the question “what will be the consequence or impact of that change to people, or the market”
  • Again collate and rank the results
  • Then ask the question “What opportunities will there be to these consequences of the change”

You will see that we are identifying changes and then delving deeper into the impact of change to discover opportunities that we can address.

2. You can also look at recent entries to your market, are these businesses addressing new opportunities that have arisen from change that you can expand on, or that may inspire you to think of similar opportunities.

3. Another way is to think about those established companies that are going through tough times – why – what is taking their custom?

In all of the identified changes, think about the basic strengths of your own business (or yourself if an entrepreneur looking for a potential business). What is your core knowledge / expertise? How can that be applied to creating an opportunity from the changes?

In every change there are going to be people that spot the opportunities and make a lot of money, think of when financial regulation of the stock market changed in London and the fortunes that were made, or how Russian entrepreneurs embraced new market conditions after communism fell.

You can be one of the people that do very well out of the changes happening today, but only if you take the time to spot the opportunities and then most importantly – act on it.

What should you do before leaving your corporate job and starting a business?

Friday, June 1, 2018 12:47

Starting a businessLet’s face it there are a lot of attractions to having a regular salary, perhaps expenses paid and some security. So why would anyone venture out on their own?

Yet every year thousands of people do exactly that.

Having previously been in large corporations myself for over 20 years I can sympathise with those that dream of controlling their own destiny but can’t put aside the golden chains. I eventually decided the benefits outweighed the risk and only regret not doing so earlier.

Certainly it is easier to take chances when younger and with fewer responsibilities, but with planning anyone can start a business at any age.

Now I’m not advocating that you short change your existing employer by using their time, however in your own time there are things you should do before making the plunge:

  1. Firstly don’t quit too soon and for the wrong reasons. You have cash coming in and can do a lot of pre-start-up work before losing that income. You may have to put up with a bad boss, or uninteresting work while getting the business you want ready.
  2. Put your business plan in place for your new business while still working for the company. I know it may be more enticing to just go and get started, but you can make the chances of it being a success by doing this now while someone else is paying you.
  3. Check and double-check that the market and sales are going to be there for your start-up. Just because you have a great idea doesn’t mean that it is a “commercial” business that will pay its way and deliver a profit. Do your market research see… How to do a sales plan
  4. Work out true costs and likely sales, don’t fool yourself with vague and woolly imaginings of how it will all come good somehow.
  5. Start making the contacts that you will need (suppliers, manufacturers, staff, potential customers). Clearly you will need to be sensible about this; word getting back to your present employer would not be helpful.
  6. If it is a business that does not compete with your existing employer, you may well be able to test its viability, learn what works and get initial sales that you would be able to build on, while still in employment. Working in the evenings, week-ends and on your time off is not easy but will help prove the concept and give you a rolling start.
  7. Think about your cash flow. Have you got enough resources to see you through the initial build-up of business, or have you identified immediate contracts / customers that will pay in a timely manner to cover your outgoings.

Lastly, if you have done all of that, thought it through and are ready, do it!

Many dream – few do.

See…Why Businesses don’t get Started

 

The Future of Retail: Your 5-Step Ecommerce Start-Up Plan

Friday, January 5, 2018 13:07

ecommerce-240So you’ve made the decision to launch an ecommerce business? Congratulations – you’ve chosen a great path for your new business.

But like every new venture, if you want to give yourself the greatest chance of success, you’re going to need a solid plan. Everything from the style and tone of your content, to your web design and even the products you sell will need to be carefully considered and worked into an overarching business strategy.

This might sound daunting, but if you know what you want to accomplish, then the planning phase will probably be easier than you expect. Nevertheless, let’s take a look at the first five steps towards launching a successful online store, so you can be sure to get your ecommerce business off to a positive start.

Don’t forget to also read these top start-up tips to help propel you into business success in 2018.

1. Find That Niche

You may already have a product or service in mind for your ecommerce business. However, with so many online stores vying for the top spot in search results, you need to choose your niche carefully. To do this, you will need to find something that your business can excel at, and that sets it apart from the competition.

The trick to this is to find something for which there is demand, but not too much competition. A good place to start your search is Google Keyword Planner, as this will enable you to see how popular a particular search is, as well as the potential competition for that keyword or phrase.

Search isn’t the only place to look though – mine for data on forums like reddit and Quora, and scour social media for relevant posts and updates.

Once you have figured out your niche, you’re ready to construct the rest of your marketing strategy. Remember, having a niche does not mean you can’t sell or promote anything else; it simply serves as the focus for your business, and the main draw for your customers.

2. Set Your Budget

Having a clearly-defined budget is essential if you want the launch of your ecommerce store to go smoothly.

●    List your confirmed funding sources, and reach out to potential investors. Don’t rely on any funding source that isn’t definite.
●    Plan for setbacks. Figure out the cost of remedying potential problems, and budget accordingly. Tying up a portion of your capital in a recovery plan is far better than falling short in an emergency.
●    Take calculated risks. No business venture is a guaranteed success. However, you can greatly increase the security of your investments by weighing up the risks against the likely ROI.
●    Don’t cut corners. Careful budgeting means you can make savings and spend more efficiently as a result of planning and forethought. But remember that a greater initial outlay can sometimes mean lower long-term costs. Always consider your future costs when weighing up a purchase. Is it scalable? Is it future-proof? How much will it cost to maintain?

Knowing exactly what you have to work with is extremely useful when constructing your business plan and content schedule. Even matters such as selecting your ecommerce platform are heavily dependent on your budget, as different platforms and packages come with varying costs.

Keep in mind that your budget can always be adjusted if you secure additional funding. However, it is far better to base your plan on funds that you have confirmed, than to have to start from scratch if a planned source falls through.

3. Scope Out the Competition

Now you have the bare bones of your business, you need to bring yourself up to speed with the competition. Visit their websites, explore their target keywords, and consider signing up to their mailing lists.

These insights will help you to understand the sort of things customers in your industry have available to them. This enables you to create something that is new and different, while still catering to the same needs. It is important not to copy your competitors, as not only will you fail to stand out, but you will also have a much harder time ranking in searches.

While checking out your competitors, you may even find some that you could collaborate with. Perhaps you fall within the same industry, but are targeting different, yet complementary niches. This could be a great opportunity for guest posting in their blogs, or setting up a mutually beneficial partnership.

Another way to scope out the competition is to find similar websites that are listed for sale and delve into their sales figures and results. It will give you a good idea of what’s been working (and not working) for other retailers, and may alert you to a niche that’s become oversaturated. You may even find the perfect store and domain name already built – ready for a savvy buyer like you to snap up!

4. Design For Your Audience

Once you know who your audience is, you can decide on your marketing message, the aesthetic of your store, and even the social channels you will focus on. While it is important that your brand’s image reflects your aspirations for your business, it is also essential that you keep the needs of your audience in mind at all times.

Of course, it can be hard to define exactly what your audience will like the most, so this step can include quite a bit of trial and error. Split-testing is particularly helpful here, as it enables you to make complex design decisions, while gaining an insight into the preferences of your customers. This can be used for everything from your landing pages, to ads on social media, or even targeted promotions.

Depending on your chosen platform for your store, you may have access to a range of analytical insights based on the interactions of your customers with your website. This data will be invaluable for the growth and evolution of your business, as you will be able to identify the strengths and weaknesses in your marketing strategy, and optimise your approach accordingly.

5. Plan Your Website

The final stage of setting up your ecommerce store will be creating the store itself. A great option for many budding entrepreneurs is to use an ecommerce CMS. Platforms such as Magento, Shopify, and WooCommerce offer a range of functionalities, and varying levels of customisation.

You should base your choice on your budget, as well as your specific aspirations for your business. Shopify, for example, has an app store with over 1000 applications to choose from to help you customise your store. Others, such as Symphony Commerce offer pay-as-you-go pricing structures, which can be fantastic for a fast-growing business with limited startup capital.

Before settling on a platform, make sure it has all the features you require, and that you are comfortable working with it. Don’t be afraid to contact support services for your preferred platforms if you have in-depth questions about their functionality. It is far better to make an informed decision than simply hope for the best.

Of course, you do not have to rely on any of these platforms. If you are a confident web designer, or you have a team in place to handle this for you, then the greatest flexibility can come from setting up your store from scratch. Keep in mind that there are important features that you will need to include, such as a secure payment system, and a legally compliant means of collecting and processing customer data.

Once you’ve achieved all that, you’re well on your way to ecommerce success. Of course, the work has only just begun, so don’t relax just yet. To ensure that you maintain this success, and give your business the opportunity to grow, you will need to keep improving on your work so far.

Start with your onsite analytics, to gain insights into how well your content performs, and how your customers interact with your website. From this you can learn which products are your most popular, and which might need a little more promotion. You can also see who makes up your audience, which will ultimately help you to make better decisions about future marketing campaigns.

The more you learn about your customers, the better you can cater to their needs. And, of course, happy customers are more likely to buy more, recommend your store to others, and come back to make purchases in the future.

 

Victoria-Greene-100Victoria Greene is a branding consultant and freelance writer. On her blog, VictoriaEcommerce, she shares tips on ecommerce and how entrepreneurs can develop their businesses. She is passionate about using her experience to help fellow entrepreneurs do better.

Top Tips for a Successful Start-up

Thursday, December 14, 2017 15:13

business startup tipsOver the years I’ve talked to many entrepreneurs who started with a great concept and high energy yet failed to launch a successful business.

I’ve also seen people who only had modest ideas and yet went on to establish large profitable companies.

 

 

These are my conclusions and top tips for a successful start-up: 

1.  Know your market. Many of the entrepreneurs that failed had dashed headlong into launching their business without having done the spadework of testing the market’s acceptance of their idea.

The ones that succeeded had worked out a practical marketing plan, knowing how they were going sell the product or service to an identified group of customers.

I’ve written on this before, see Marketing Planning and Marketing Ideas

2. Start with a co-founder or partner. Almost all the successful businesses had a partner.

Bill Gates, Steve Jobs and even Richard Branson had co-founders. It takes some of the burden from you, inspires action and gives another person to bounce ideas off. See Should You Have a Business Partner?

But do make sure you put the business partnership in writing .

3. Start lean. In the early days those that were most successful focused their funds only on the areas that would make a difference.

No big cars or designer offices. The founders worked for minimum wages, ploughing all the money back into the business.

4. Measure and keep track of how you are doing. Knowing your costs vs sales and the timing of funds in and out is a necessity. Some that failed were profitable companies but sank because they underestimated the importance of their cash flow.

It doesn’t have to be difficult or expensive, use online accounting software like QuickBooks which is ideal for the small business. Because it’s online you are not trapped in the office to use it, vital when it’s you doing many of the jobs in the business and dashing around.

Nobly have a good reference for what to look for and have rated the best accounting software that you may want explore.

5. Use customer feedback. You won’t get everything right first time. Those that reacted quickly to customer feedback made the biggest strides. Also, in engaging with your customers you build loyalty and repeat sales.

In fact customer service is a great differentiator for you. Many that failed were somewhat arrogant in their customer dealings. Have a look at rather an old article now, but still relevant Provide a Better Service Than Your Competitors .

Yes growing a business is hard work, but also fun. With a little bit of foresight and doing the right things the business will blossom and provide you with enjoyment (and reward) for many years to come.

 

What will make my business more attractive to Investors?

Friday, October 6, 2017 14:28

How to get InvestmentInvestors have a lot of choice and you are in competition with all other investment opportunities, the final decision on which gets investment will be those with the best combination of good sustainable profit and lowest risk.

That may not be the highest profit, or the least risk, but an acceptable (to that Investor) mixture of the two.

The following will greatly help your chances of investment:

1. Know your market
- Show it is growing and sustainable (use facts)
- That you know the competition
- You can say what your competitive edge or uniqueness is
- What issue or need you will address
- Who will buy your product / service (your target customer)

2. Proof
Great ideas are a dime a dozen and investors have heard all the hype before, the more you can do to show your concept works and people will buy it, the better your chances of investment.
- Projects just at the idea stage seldom get funding
- For new products you at least need a prototype
- For services or retail you need at least some sales

3. Gain confidence in your ability to grow their investment and that you can work with the Investors
- Previous experience in this market
- Good work ethic and energy
- Confident, not arrogant, you must be open to input and be flexible
- Ideally an experienced team of people who can execute the plan, this isn’t always possible, so show you know where gaps may be and how you will fill them. Too many gaps however will start to increase the risk

4. Business model and implementation

- How you will make money (and a profit) from this great opportunity
- Understand all the costs and numbers, making sure they are realistic
- An exciting but achievable sales forecast
- It’s not often the idea but how it is implemented that counts, show that you understand this

5. Skin in the game
- Have you invested your own money in this? Investors like to see that you are committed and taking the same risks that they are. Sometimes your own funds may not allow much opportunity to do so; in which case you will need to talk about the other commitments you’ve made to the business.

6. Government tax breaks and Incentives
In the UK there is the Enterprise Investment Scheme (EIS), in the USA there are local State incentives to encourage new small businesses in their area. Some States have more advantageous and flexible tax breaks if you incorporate there, such as Delaware, Nevada and Wyoming.

Where ever you are, look into such incentives and show Investors you are knowledgeable. Don’t expect free grants to be available anywhere however, those days are past.

7. Lean start-up
Investors will expect you to use their investment to grow the business. Not mainly to pay you a salary or provide you with corporate luxuries. Show you are using the lean start-up principle; you can begin taking a better salary and working conditions as the profit grows.

Finally, make sure your plan is clear and that you are able to describe in a sentence what your business does. In one more sentence you should be able to describe your business model (how you will make money from the activity).

Clarity goes a long way in convincing Investors that you know what you are doing and that they can intrust their funds to you.

 

Do I need a Business Partner?

Thursday, July 13, 2017 9:29

Business Partners can be a help to every business from start-ups to established companies. A Business Partner will:

  1. Bring additional or complementary skills
  2. Have ideas that when added to your own create new opportunities
  3. Provide support and motivation when times are tough
  4. Share the workload
  5. May have contacts and some funding to grow the business

When taking on a business partner it is sensible to have a business agreement so that there are no surprises and it gives a chance to ensure that both partners are clear about the direction the business is going. See: Business Partner Agreement help

I gave some tips on forming a business partnership last year which is still up to date, have a look at How to Avoid Business Partner pitfalls

 

Once you have a business idea how quickly should you start it?

Monday, April 10, 2017 11:23

Business ideas need actionBusiness ideas are like freshly buttered warm toast, they look wonderful. But if put to one side for long enough they get cold, stale and uninviting.

The first surge of excitement at discovering an opportunity needs to then have action to build a momentum, which in turn drives further action.

If the initial process of research and getting products or services to market takes too long, it may never happen.

There is the real chance also that if the idea is topical and takes advantage of events or trends that are happening right now, others will go ahead and do it while you are dithering.

If you have a good business idea, check out that it is commercially viable and do it. Right now.