Posts tagged: capital

Why Is You Business Going Downhill After Years Of Success?

business statusIf you drew a graph of everyone’s life, you’d find that it’s never just a straight line. No one has a straight line constantly moving upwards showing them get more and more successful from the day they’re born. Likewise, no one has a line going downwards all the time or staying level. Instead, we all have moments where things are steady, then they get worse, but then they might get better.

The same can be said of any business venture ever. If you’re reading this, then I bet you’ve been a business owner for some time. In the beginning, things were how they are in most businesses; it was steady, and you were just treading water. Then, you found your feet, and things took off. You saw a lot of success, with lots of customers every day. Now, for some reason, everything has gradually come to a halt. Your business is going downhill, and you have no idea why. You’re looking for answers, and you’ve come to the right place.

While every business is different, and your failures could be caused by things specific to you, there are plenty of common reasons that businesses start going south when they used to have a northern trajectory. Take a look at these reasons below, and see if they apply to your company.

You’re No Longer The Best

Often, small businesses see initial success because they’re the best at what they do. When you started up, you were the only company offering certain services or products in that area. You mopped up the market, and everyone came to you. Naturally, other entrepreneurs see your success and want a piece of it. So, established businesses alter their approach and try to rival what you offer. New businesses pop up trying to compete – and succeeding. In the end, you’ve now got way more competition, and you’re no longer the top dog. Here, you need to alter your approach and start being proactive. Assess your new rivals, figure out their weak points, and use them to your advantage. Don’t just do the same thing and expect things to change. People have outsmarted you, it’s time to be twice as smart as them.

You’re Outdated And Old

A lot of small businesses start failing because they’re seen as outdated and old. Online companies may have websites that just don’t fit with the times, or don’t offer the high level of security that others now do. Retail stores may not have an updated POS system that accepts card or contactless payments. Every business has elements to it that can become outdated and replaced with modern things. Sure, plenty of companies want to try and stay as traditional as possible. I get it, that might be your thing, your USP that makes you different from everyone else. Well, as we already discussed, that USP isn’t working anymore. So, you should start thinking about bringing your business into modern times, and also prepare for the future. A tech-savvy business tends to do a lot better than one that’s still using outdated methods, machines, and everything else.

You’re Offering Things That Are No Longer Desirable

This last point merges in with the second point about being outdated. There, I was talking more from the perspective of technology in that your business isn’t modern, it’s old. Here, I’m talking more about the products/services you offer. The first point spoke about other businesses offering what you offer, but better. This point is about instances where your product/service just simply isn’t desirable to the consumer anymore. The best example of this is a shop that sells a particular type of clothing. Let’s take things to the extremes and say you opened a store that sold fur coats. There was a time where this was highly desirable to consumers. Now, real fur is looked down upon and seen as unethical so no one will buy your stuff anymore. The same applies to service-based businesses; a service that was desirable five years ago might not be desirable anymore. I have a potential future example of this with web design companies. Who knows, in a few years there could be software out there that fully builds sites better than any designer can, meaning this service is no longer needed. You get the picture, and the only way you can improve things is to completely change what you’re selling. Think of something new and exciting that fits current market trends. Don’t force yourself into a small box where you’re restricted in what you can do.

The bad news is; your business is going downhill because of one of these reasons (or all of them). The good news is; you can fix things and start that upward curve on your success graph once more!

Advice For A First-Time Business Owner

time for businessIf you have entrepreneurial determination then that’s a good starting place for a business. Of course, it’s only one component of many. You need to think about your own experience or expertise regarding the management of a business, how you’re going to fund such a venture, how many other people you might need to hire to help you with this company, and, most importantly, what type of business you’re going to start. Money is probably the biggest worry on your mind but if you focus on making sure all other components of your business are running smoothly then the profits will look after themselves. Here’s some more detailed advice for any first-time business owners out there.

Become a real boss.

You might have an innovative idea and qualifications in a certain line of business but that isn’t going to be enough to transform you into a successful business owner. When you’re the boss of a company, you need to be an all-rounder. For example, if you’re running a legal business then it isn’t enough to simply have a qualification in law. You need to know how to manage finances, marketing, and, most importantly of all, people. If you want your business to get off the ground then you need to learn how to manage your team and fill them with the same passion for the company that you feel. Making that step will transform you from somebody with a great idea into somebody with a great business.

Research the market.

It’s your job to drive the direction of the company. You might have a good business plan at the moment but the market is always changing. You need to update your approach in order to adapt to a changing industry. You need an enticing and widespread online presence in this digitally-driven era of business, as we’ll discuss in the next point, so you might want to look into online companies such as Youi Pty Limited, who deal specifically with buying and selling goods online, for a little insight into their credit ratings and financial situation.

It’s important that you take note from other companies, whether they’re in your industry or not, so as to not only get an idea of what they’ve been doing well but what they haven’t been doing well. The great thing about being the second or third business to dive into a certain industry is that you don’t have to make the same mistakes as the companies that took the plunge first. You can save yourself a lot of money and time by figuring out how to cut straight to “Successville”.

Get your online marketing campaign right.

As touched upon in the point above, you need a strong online marketing approach in order for your business to succeed. You might not be a marketing expert but you should certainly get marketing professionals to help you if that’s the case. The “build it and they will come” mentality doesn’t always work because there’s a lot of competition offering the same products and services as your business. You need to stand out from the crowd if you want consumers to come to you. Figure out how to optimize the content on your website and social media pages so as to climb the rankings on Google and other search engines. That’ll get you in front of your target market.

The Future Is Now: AI to Boost Your Small Business

business setupYou can’t have missed the rumblings in the air. From water-cooler chat to major media focus, Artificial Intelligence (AI) is the phrase on every business owner’s lips. A lot of the noise concerns what the shape of society will look like with robots in our midst and whether our skills will become redundant under the slow creep of automation. With estimates from the PEW research centre showing that two-thirds of us in the US expect robots in the workplace to be a common sight within the next 50 years, it’s easy to take a dim view of society’s desire for a walking, talking embodiment of our knowledge. But robots are not exclusively a force of the future – since Victorian times humans have created and refined machines to take on drudge work and liberate them to dream bigger and achieve more. So could the future be brighter for small business owners who embrace AI? And how can you use it now? We take a look…

Customer Care Made Easy

One of the most significant challenges facing a young start-up is manpower. You need staffing to grow, but you need more revenue to employ those people. It’s a chicken and egg situation that’s stifled the development of many promising start-ups. And that’s why AI technology is so promising for entrepreneurs struggling to do it all. The advent of a more transparent, internet-connected customer base means that reputation is a more important sink-or-swim factor than ever in business, and whole sectors are now driven by customer review platforms. This means that excellent customer care is simply a hygiene factor, and customers expect an instant response when something goes wrong. For small businesses without an army of staff, this can be all but impossible – so investing in chatbot technology can be a real breakthrough moment. Thinking through the customer journey and created some scripts is simple and doesn’t require any real programming skill. You will find that a lot of basic enquiries are the usual suspects, so this can be an extremely efficient way of filtering those out to allow you to deal with more complex cases. Chatbots are good at instantly retrieving customer information, which can cut call queuing, and it’s a scalable solution that will grow with your company while helping to reduce barriers to sale with potential customers.

Get Your Accounts on Track

Smart software can make your financial management a smooth process, from solutions that allow you to access business loans and receivables all in one seamless system such as www.octet.com to machine learning that can use big data to predict spending patterns. If the day-to-day functions of finance become fully-automated, the resource can be diverted into strategic, long-term planning rather than the bandwidth-drain of servicing routine processes – returning you to being more of a specialist rather than a jack of all trades.

Your Personal Assistant in the Clouds

Keeping on top of the day-to-day onslaught of a small business involves being on the ball about hundreds of micro-decisions that need attention, but not many entrepreneurs can afford a PA from the get-go. Using a remote virtual assistant to schedule and monitor tasks such as travel arrangements, diary planning and admin support makes perfect sense. Using a virtual assistant can free up time and headspace for more demanding tasks, even if we’re not quite in the era of being followed around by a Jetsons-style sassy robot yet (although those will be on shelves in the very near future).

AI doesn’t have to be scary – in fact, it’s working with us right now, and its influence could future-proof your business.

Small Business Owners Need To Be All-Rounders, Not Specialists

business ideasThere’s a misconception about entrepreneurs that need to be eradicated. It’s the one of the genius leader, the one who can come up with a genius idea, usually thanks to their one track mind. In reality, small business owners don’t need to be specialists in anything; indeed, it’s probably better if they’re not. What they do need to be are all-rounders, able to do a lot of things well, rather than just one thing like an expert. Below, we take a look at a few of the areas that every small business owner needs to have at least a passing familiarity with, and a willingness to learn about.

Dealing with the Public

Your business depends on the public. Without people buying your products and using your services, there is no business. As such, you need to learn how to handle the complex nature of “the public”; a public that is often demanding, and full complaints; though of course, also filled with happy, pleasant people. If you’ve never had to deal with the public, you’d be well advised to put yourself in front of house – that is, if you’re normally behind the scenes – to see what they can be like first hand.

Being the Boss

If you’ve hired a team of staff, then you’re no longer an entrepreneur: you’re a leader. And as a leader, you need to know how to handle underperforming employees, office complaints and arguments, as well as all the logistical issues that go into staffing, such as rota planning, covering sick days, and managing staff holidays. For the personal skills needed to be the boss of a productive staff, learn from the experts. For the logistical side, you can use rota and holiday management software to make your job easier. If your staff are well-prepared and productive, then your company will have the best chance of being a success.

Marketing and Advertising

Once upon a time, it’s possible that your business may have been able to be successful without much marketing or advertising. Alas, those days have long gone; now, you need to commit considerable resources to your marketing campaign and be advertising in a variety of mediums (print, online, etc). No-one’s expecting you to come up with the world’s greatest advertising campaign, but you should understand what works and what doesn’t.

Inspiring, Productive

The company, especially in the early days, isn’t anything overly abstract: it’s you. The quality and success of your business will rest on your ability to be an inspirational and productive worker. While there are a lot of tasks to take care of, it’s important that you’re always well rested and able to deliver your best work.

What To Outsource

Finally, remember that you don’t need to do everything on your own, and you don’t need always to give your staff tasks. Outsourcing will be an invaluable tool for your business, especially when it comes to repetitive and specialist tasks. Use it wisely, and you’ll be bringing the best on board to your company.

The Business Costs Startups Should Never Skimp On

invest in start upsAs a startup owner, chances are that you don’t exactly have a huge and unlimited pool of money at your disposal and it’s only natural, and sensible, that you should try to make savings wherever possible if you want to be in the best possible financial situation 12 months from now, but there are some things that startups just should not even think about skimping on.

Here are some examples of the kinds of things you MUST invest in if you want your business to be a success commercially and financially:

Reliable IT Services

So much of what we all do now is done at a computer, tablet or smartphone, and online is the space that modern businesses really need to conquer. What this means for you as a startup owner, is that you really cannot afford to skimp on reliable IT services. If you cut corners in this department, not only could you lose money when your network goes down, but you could actually risk losing sensitive data, and that could get you into a whole lot of trouble, not to mention cost you a whole lot of cash. It really isn’t worth the risk, especially when you can find great IT services which are moderately priced.

Data Backup

It’s also sensible to invest in a good data backup system, preferably in the cloud, so that should your website be hacked and your data lost, you will be able to instantly recover it. You can backup your data securely for as little as $10 per year, so it really would be foolish not to do so, especially when a loss of data really can cripple a small business.

Great Design

A lot of what determines whether or not a business will be successful, rightly or wrongly, is how attractive its brand is. Think of all the massively successful companies out there; your Google’s, Coca-Cola’s and Nikes and you’ll notice they all; have one thing in common – an instantly recognizable brand. If you want to be in their league someday, you need to invest in great design for your website, logo, business cards and, where applicable. Your products.

High-Quality Web Hosting

A lot of small business owners opt for the cheapest web hosting package they can find available to them. This is understandable, after all, hosting is hosting, right? Wrong! Very wrong! You see, a lot of the cheaper hosts go offline a lot, and when your website is down, that means you are losing money. Not only that, but a poor host could mean a slow website which will put customers off and prevent your media from effectively loading. Factor in the time you spend sorting it out, and the losses to your company could be huge.

Web Design

As well as putting a great web hosting package in place, you should also invest some of your startup capital in creating a website that looks beautiful and performs flawlessly. In the 21st Century, your website is often the first thing about you that the consumer will see and if it looks awful, well, they’re hardly going to have much confidence in your products and services are they? Don’t make the mistake of using a basic template when even just a little investment in a custom solution can be all that it takes to make that sale!

Creative Content

Naturally, you’ll want to put some content on your website so that people can actually find your company. If you want that to happen, it pays to invest in high-quality content written by professional copywriters, either on staff or freelance. If you do this, you can bet that you’ll make your money back and then some in the fullness of time.

Customer Service Training

Most startup owners are so focused on the future and how they want their business to be a year, two years or even ten years down the line, that they often lose sight of the things that need to be done now to get them there. One such thing is high-quality customer service training.

You see, although customer service might not seem like your most pressing issue right now, or even something you can justify using the business credit card on, it is actually one of the most vital tools in your arsenal. After all, your customers are the people who will make or break your business, and without them, you won’t even have a business at all. Once you realize this, it’s well-worth taking the time to invest in the right training so that your employees always treat your customers right.

Legal Counsel

We all know that legal fees are expensive, lawyers aren’t exactly known for being poor, after all. However, there is absolutely no way of getting around the fact that, if you want to start a successful business and avoid future financial difficulties and even bankruptcy, you need to invest in good legal counsel when you set up your business. If you don’t do this, you could end up making a mistake somewhere down the line and getting sued and, as I’m sure you will know, the cost of litigation, not to mention the cost of compensation should you lose a case, can be astronomical.

Great People

You can try, but I would bet against you starting a successful new company without a few good people by your side to help you along the way. Every company’s biggest cost is its payroll and hiring more employees than the minimum or those who don’t exactly come cheap might seem like a good way to cut business costs, but if you want your company to grow, you need to invest in the most creative, hardworking qualified people and you need to invest in enough people so that none of you are spread too thin.

As the old cliche says “Sometimes, you have to speculate to accumulate.” This is something that is certainly true in the startup world, and especially when it comes to these particular things.