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How to Get Past the “Proof of Concept” and Launch a Successful Business

Posted By Administration, Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Proof of concept refers to the early stages of a business or product. It is the stage, often the first year after launch, where you have to prove that your business, business model, or product can be commercially and financially viable. It is the first hurdle you will have as a new business, and it can often be the most important one. It is difficult to get people to trust and try new brands, but you need to do this in order to become the success you have always dreamed of. To help you overcome the challenges common during this stage, you need to work hard and follow these steps:

Create a Comprehensive Business Plan

Business plans can help you survive past the first year because they are so much more than a list of steps you think you need to take. In order to create a great business plan, you need to start first with research. Learn everything you can about the industry, about your competition, and about the tools, you will be using. Learn from others’ successes as well as their failures. This way you can better prepare for any challenge that comes your way.

Acquire the Necessary Funding

Every business needs to look and act the part. No one is going to buy from you if your website is aesthetically lacking, is difficult to use, and your overall branding and product look like they were haphazardly made. That is why you need to go through the lending club personal loan reviews to see what the best option for acquiring funding is for you. The better your credit score, the better your loan will be. So, it could be worthwhile to build up your credit score as you work on creating a comprehensive business plan. 

Build Up Your Business

Once you have the funding, you will need to put that funding to action. This might be finding a factory to partner with to turn your prototype into a marketable item, or it might be building up your business and collaborating with brands to help build up your stock. Regardless of what business model you choose, you are going to need a website, social media profiles, and professional branding. The better these look, the better the user experience, and the better they are optimized for SEO, the better your new business will perform. You just cannot forget to engage, partner, and collaborate with others during this time.  

Partner, Collaborate and Advertise

No business can survive alone, which is why in order to succeed you need to get out there and partner, collaborate, and advertise every single day. Social media has made this incredibly easy to do, thankfully, so all you need to do is work on increasing organic engagement and expanding your reach through influencers and brands alike.

It won’t be easy to make it past your first year and become a success, but with enough planning and smart spending, you can become a huge hit before you know it. 

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The Art of Delegation and Why You Need to Master It

Posted By Administration, Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Whether you run a big company with many staff, or you have a start-up with just yourself in the beginning, you are reliant on other people to run your business successfully. However much you may wish to keep control of every aspect of your business, you will inevitably need help, whether that’s from a specialist service or by employing your own people. No-one can operate in a vacuum, and being able to delegate effectively is a key skill that you need to acquire if you want to succeed.

What is delegation?

Basically, it’s giving someone else a task to do that you lack the time, knowledge, or desire to do yourself. Organizations operate on the art of delegation, with each level of the hierarchy determining what is most usefully passed on to another member of the team. If you’re a sole trader, you might wonder how this applies to you, when you have no employees. In your case, one of the most common examples would be your tax returns. You could do it yourself, grappling with the complexities of IRS forms, accountancy terms and the fear of what could happen if you get anything wrong. Or you could pay an expert to do it for you, and claim the expense on your tax return – a pretty obvious course of action. You save the time it would have taken you to do the return and use it to work at your business, and you know the tax professional you’ve engaged will not only be able to correctly complete your return, but will be able to advise you on all the expenses you can claim. This principle can be applied to any business scenario, it just requires the ability to know what can and should be delegated and to whom.

What should you delegate?

Delegation is not a justification for landing unpleasant tasks on other people just because you don’t want to face them, or giving your work to someone else because you want to get home earlier. You need to be able to answer yes to one or both of these questions: Could someone else do this task more effectively than me? Would my time be more profitably spent doing an alternative task? A yes is a fair indication that the task is suitable for delegation, so then it’s a question of who to delegate the task to.

Who should you delegate to?

Determining that a task is suitable for delegation is only half of the story. You then need to decide who to delegate to. Again, there are a couple of questions you can ask yourself to be sure of selecting the right person: Does delegating this task present an opportunity for professional growth for this member of staff? Is there someone available who has the skills and the time to complete the task by the required deadline? Of course, in a small business your pool of candidates will be much smaller, and may indeed be just one other person, or none if you are a sole trader. Nevertheless, your decision will be based on broadly similar criteria - a judgement about whether your staff member has time, experience, knowledge, and the ability to complete the task, or whether it would represent a learning opportunity for them. If the answer is no, you then have the choice to outsource to an external agency.

Appraising the suitability of staff and external agencies

Knowing whether a member of staff is suitable for a task is largely a matter of judgement, your knowledge of them as an individual, and your experience with them thus far. This is why delegation only works well when it is cascaded one level down the hierarchy. A managing director is not going to know enough about the shop floor staff to allocate specific tasks to them effectively, whereas their immediate supervisor should know enough about their abilities to make a good judgement on their suitability. If you have no staff, or have decided that none are suitable, your next option is outsourcing, which is just the delegation of tasks to an external provider.

Going back to the example of the sole trader’s tax returns, you would still need to evaluate the potential candidates for the role and not just stick a pin in a list of names. You would probably choose the best qualified person or firm you could find, who can provide genuine references, discuss your needs knowledgeably and engagingly, and who use high quality software systems like UltimateTax. This appraisal is important because in exactly the same way that you need to find the best internal person for a task, you need to apply the same criteria to external providers to be confident that your work will be done to the highest standards.

Can’t I just do it myself?

The answer is almost certainly, no! No individual has all the skills, or the necessary levels of expertise, to undertake every possible task a business generates, not to mention the time it would take to do everything yourself. It’s also a false economy to believe you will save money by doing as much as you can yourself, because while you are wading through hundreds of query emails, or trying to craft effective Tweets, you are not applying yourself to the most significant business development tasks, meaning your venture will stagnate. By delegating these kinds of tasks to people who are capable of carrying them out to a high standard, you will have more time to invest in your strategic growth, enabling your business to flourish.

Another important consideration is the development of your staff’s professional skills and boosting their self-confidence. As a good employer, it’s vital that you take opportunities to expand their knowledge and abilities, a practice that will ensure you have happy, fulfilled staff who wish to do their best and are equipped with the skills to add ever-increasing value to your business.

Whatever your position in the hierarchy, understanding the importance of delegation and how the decisions you make can have significant effects is a vital skill for the successful operation of any business.

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Tips For New Entrepreneurs Launching A Business

Posted By Administration, Monday, August 20, 2018

Looking to launch your first business? This is an incredibly exciting period in your life, but you are also likely to be feeling a great deal of stress and anxiety as there are so many hurdles to overcome and a great deal of uncertainty over the next few years. In order to alleviate this stress and put yourself in a good position to succeed, there are a few helpful tips that any new entrepreneur can benefit from. It can be difficult to navigate the waters by yourself for the first time, but the following advice should help you to hit the ground running and have all you need to succeed.

Find A Support Network & Mentor

You do not want to go solo into this venture as it will be a huge challenge which can take its toll mentally. It is for this reason why you must have a good support network in place, but it is also helpful if you have a mentor who can guide you in these early stages. This should be someone with experience in launching a business (ideally in a similar field) - if you do not know someone, there are online communities and local groups that you could consider joining.

Don’t Quit Your Day Job Just Yet

You may be tempted to hand your notice in and give this venture your complete attention, but this is a dangerous move to make. Continue working until the project is starting to bring in some cash so that you can safely transition. It is also a smart move to have a rainy day fund tucked away so that if things do not go according to plan you are not stuck in a difficult financial position.

Get Finances In Order

It is vital that your finances are in order from the get-go as it can be challenging to tidy this aspect of the business up when you are up and running. You need to secure funding, draw up a detailed budget that carefully tracks expenses, understand your tax requirements and open a business account. Those with a poor crediting rating can open a business account with no credit check with minimum requirements (contact details, 18+, trading address, etc.). This is particularly helpful for new or young entrepreneurs who may not have a great credit rating.

Avoid Comparisons & Be Patient

It is very easy to compare yourself to similar businesses in your industry or startups that launch around the same time as you, but this is a waste of time and will take away your focus. Instead, establish realistic short and long-term goals and be patient - success does not come overnight.

Hopefully your first business will prove to be a great success, but launching a successful startup is no easy feat, and it may take a few years until you start to reap the rewards. The above information can help any first-time business owner to navigate the tricky waters early on and provide them with everything that they need to go on and succeed.

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Key Ingredients For Business Success

Posted By Administration, Wednesday, August 15, 2018

The biggest challenge for most business bosses or owners is keeping their finances in good health. It doesn’t matter what sector you’re operating in, all companies – large and small – face similar pressures in the race for survival. So, how do you keep up the sales, while also keeping your staff satisfied and efficient? Here are three key ingredients for business success.

 

Have a clear vision

 

Large or small, any business needs to have a clear vision – a core business strategy, which charts the progress of the company and sets out key targets and motivations for the coming months and years. Without this, any organization is going to be stabbing in the dark when it comes to developing the client base and the products and services being offered.

 

If you’re just setting up a company, this is certainly something you will be encouraged to have from the very start. Any mentor will tell you that a business plan is essential in terms of figuring out whether you have a potentially profitable idea or not in front of you. Compiling the document will also discipline you into putting all your plans and aspirations down on paper and establish the ways and means in which you seek to achieve them.

 

If you’re a boss within an existing, established company, you will need to understand the vision that’s already in place clearly and work with your senior management colleagues to adapt and change your priorities according to client requirements and market changes. You can’t stand still, otherwise you risk getting left behind.

 

Motivate your workforce

 

With a clear business strategy in place and with clients coming in, you also need to focus your attention on your workforce – those will be on the front line when it comes to selling and delivery your products and services. They need to feel appreciated, a part of the company’s success – and to want to stay with you for many years to come.

 

Achieving this comes through excellent support and training opportunities. For example, one of your staff may be keen to develop their human resources skills, or to take their training to the next level. You could look with them at options such as a CIPD qualification from Avado, an ideal qualification for your HR department. You’ll also want to ensure that you have a range of in-house training mechanisms in place, to help workers achieve the aims of your service delivery.

 

Look after your clients

 

Keeping your staff content is one thing, but you also need to keep your customers happy too. If you don’t have them, you don’t have a business. So, don’t just view your clients as a quick source of cash. You should be looking to nurture strong relationships with them, so that you have a commercial bond which keeps bringing them back to your company.

 

Selling a product or service is just the start of that relationship. Customers, like your staff, need ongoing support and advice. They also need great after-sales care, if any issues or problems arise. Don’t give them a reason to look for another supplier!

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Powerful Marketing Tools To Boost Your Business Potential

Posted By Administration, Thursday, July 26, 2018

If you’re looking to become more productive and efficient in your marketing efforts then using tools to help your processes can bring considerable benefits to your business. Marketing tools have been designed to assist in automating marketing tasks to free up time to concentrate on improving performance and minimizing errors. They are also created to help you deliver specific metrics in your company such as setting targets for attracting new customers, converting both new and existing visitors and growing your current client base. Depending on the goals of your marketing strategy, these tools often fall into categories that give you a basis to start from. To identify the areas you’d like to integrate into your business, take a look at some of the primary marketing segments that offer tools for success.

Social media management

Social media marketing has become an integral part of the marketing strategy for many companies in recent years, and it can often be an arduous and time-consuming task to manage several platforms at once for your business. One of the main aspects of social media marketing is to create a plan that identifies the type of content you need to post and the scheduling of each post. However, these social content plans don’t have to be manually imputed into spreadsheets and then posted to your platforms anymore, as the range of scheduling tools enables you to plan content and publish it automatically at optimum times. There is a host of handy software options to choose from, and each has free and paid plans to suit your business needs.

Customer surveys and feedback

Obtaining useful information from customers can be a daunting task especially if you are looking to ask specific questions to gain valuable feedback about your products and services. To help get the most helpful insights from your customer base, creating a survey is a great option. It’s also important to ask the right questions when designing your survey questionnaire, as lengthy and irrelevant queries will likely put people off answering it.

SEO tools

Search engine optimization (SEO) is an effective way to help drive traffic to your website. It should be an integral part of your marketing strategy and incorporated into your website in a number of ways. Everything from the content on your site to the speed pages load can positively or negatively affect how your business appears in popular search engines. As part of your efforts to improve your ranking, using SEO tools is a handy way to help make this process simpler. You’ll find software that provides a detailed analysis of your link profile to the type of keywords your site is appearing for and how popular they are in regards to searches. The breadth of tools available enables you to work towards making your site the most attractive to visitors and search engines, plus highlights specific areas you may need to focus on to change your position in the rankings.

Trend tools

We’d all love to predict the future but alas we don’t have a crystal ball, but for the next best thing using the selection of trend, tools are a great way to see what’s hot and what’s not in your industry. One of the best places to see what the world is talking about is Google trends, and being one of the largest search engines in the world, they often know what they’re talking about. This is a free service and enables companies to take advantage of topic analytics and web surfing behavior across the globe. As well as monitoring trends, you can monitor the data of your own business too. By using services to effectively analyze customer behavior on your website and also analyze how efficiently your business runs, you can find areas of your business, if any, that need improvement to ensure you are optimizing delivery of your business’ services at all times. Addressing performance issues through services such as Devo  can see you boost your business potential quickly and easily, with minimal effort on your part, with potentially a lot of insight to improve your business.

Email marketing tools

This style of marketing has proved a useful way to grow a company database, and with the range of software options available to host your database, it has never been easier to tailor your marketing efforts to your audience. Useful marketing email tools give you a range of features such as template designs that can be modified easily, scheduling functions and segmentation tools to target the right people. The beauty of these platforms is that there is an option for both smaller businesses and larger corporations to take advantage of affordable packages suited to their needs. The analytics provided by email marketing platforms also offers you a detailed insight into open-rates, click-throughs to links within the content and segmentation data. You also have options to resend to people specific people and target others that may have an invested interest in other services you provide. 

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