Six quick secrets to start-up success

Most successful entrepreneurs will tell you that there are numerous secrets to start-up success, let alone six. They’re also likely to tell you that even if you follow all the advice in the world when it comes to starting your own business, there’s no guarantee that it will succeed at the end of the day.

Most successful entrepreneurs will tell you that there are numerous secrets to start-up success, let alone six. They’re also likely to tell you that even if you follow all the advice in the world when it comes to starting your own business, there’s no guarantee that it will succeed at the end of the day. As with most things in life, it can be a gamble, but one that ultimately pays off if everything lines up in your favour. There’s no way of knowing the outcome at the beginning, but you can definitely put your best foot forward right from the start with these few tips.

Have a plan

Foundations are everything when it comes to starting a small business. If you don’t have a solid base from which to launch your idea, chances are things will crumble quickly. Know who you are, what you’re capable of and most importantly, what you want to achieve. Once you have a strong grasp of these elements, you can then start thinking about how you’re going to go about achieving them. This includes running your business idea by people you trust, conducting necessary research and then finally, coming up with a business plan. In order to give yourself the best chance at success, you need to have a clear idea of where you’re headed and how you intend to get there.

Take action

Many people have excellent business ideas but then never end up acting on them simply because they’re waiting for the perfect moment. The truth is: there’s never a “right” time. Once you’ve got everything lined up, it’s best just to take the plunge then and there – there’s no way your business will ever succeed if it never leaves the ground to begin with. So stop talking about it, and just DO it.

Build a strong team

In order for a business to move forward, flourish and succeed, it needs to have the right people behind it. For this reason, it’s your responsibility as the business owner to build a strong team of people during the fledgling stages. You’ll need employees who are committed, driven and experts in their fields, but most importantly, they need to share your vision. They are ultimately the ones executing your idea and bringing it to life, so you want to invest in people who have the skills required to do so, as well as the right attitude. Because your team also helps to shape the identity, culture and core values of your business, you need to ensure it consists of diverse and innovative individuals who will have a positive impact both now and in the future.

Don’t be afraid to fail early

Every business has its ups and downs, and if it’s going to encounter any major hiccups, it’s best that it happens early on. In most cases, small businesses take a few years to get up and running, let alone becoming successful. The key is to identify problem areas early on and make the necessary changes to improve the situation, and that’s only possible if things don’t work out as planned sooner, rather than later. Use the early years to learn from your mistakes so as to avoid them in the future and rather take your business to where you’d like it to be.

Equal parts passion and patience

As the saying goes: “Rome wasn’t built in a day.” This is something all entrepreneurs should remind themselves of on a regular basis, especially in the early stages. It’s easy to let frustration take over, but it’s important to remain as patient and as positive as possible. It helps to surround yourself with people who inspire you and keep you motivated, and the best thing you can do for yourself, your team and your business, is to stay passionate. It’s your passion that got you here in the first place and it’s that same passion that will give you the courage to take risks, to stay motivated and to never give up – so hold onto it and keep fuelling it.

Share the load

It’s impossible to take on everything yourself, so be sure to delegate and share the load with others. The last thing you want is to burn-out and so the only way to build a sustainable business is to entrust others with certain responsibilities. This will allow the business to be managed more effectively and for you to achieve your goals faster. Plus, you can’t be an expert in everything – rather let the people who are most suited to certain tasks handle them. That way you’ll get the best job possible done in the end and you’ll also be able to build the trust levels between you and your co-workers.

Succeeding in business takes time, money, resources and plenty of hard work, but if you’re lucky enough to turn your small business idea into something great, then you’ll know it was all worth it.

Another secret to start-up success is undoubtedly the reliable accounting and payroll software available from Sage One. Get in touch and find out more today.

Featured image: http://thestrategygroup.com.au

Top 5 business books to read I Career advice

Each month we recommend 5 books that we feel will encourage, inspire and educate you, whether you are the CEO of an international business or a start-up working from home. One should never stop learning. 1. And then they fired me by Jannie Mouton, 2012 Losing is not a word in Jannie Mouton’s vocabulary.

Each month we recommend 5 books that we feel will encourage, inspire and educate you, whether you are the CEO of an international business or a start-up working from home. One should never stop learning.

1. And then they fired me by Jannie Mouton, 2012

Losing is not a word in Jannie Mouton’s vocabulary. One of South Africa’s greatest success stories, Jannie Mouton built his business from scratch after getting fired at age 48. Straight-talking Mouton tells the inside story of how he started PSG, turning it into a triumphant success in only 15 years. Today the companies he is involved in have a market capitalisation of R61 billion.

2. Outliers: The story of success by Malcolm Gladwell, 2011  

In this stunning new book, Malcolm Gladwell takes us on an intellectual journey through the world of “outliers”–the best and the brightest, the most famous and the most successful. He asks the question: what makes high-achievers different?

His answer is that we pay too much attention to what successful people are like, and too little attention to where they are from: that is, their culture, their family, their generation, and the idiosyncratic experiences of their upbringing. Along the way he explains the secrets of software billionaires, what it takes to be a great soccer player, why Asians are good at math, and what made the Beatles the greatest rock band.

Available at any Exclusive Books.

3.  Snakes in Suits: When Psychopaths go to work by Paul Babiak, 2007

Let’s say you’re about to hire somebody for a position in your company. Your corporation wants someone who’s fearless, charismatic, and full of new ideas. Candidate X is charming, smart, and has all the right answers to your questions. Problem solved, right? Maybe not.

We’d like to think that if we met someone who was completely without conscience — someone who was capable of doing anything at all if it served his or her purposes — we would recognize it. In popular culture, the image of the psychopath is of someone like Hannibal Lecter or the BTK Killer. But in reality, many psychopaths just want money, or power, or fame, or simply a nice car. Where do these psychopaths go? Often, it’s to the corporate world.

4. Steal Like an Artist: 10 Things Nobody Told You About Being Creative By Austin Kleon

You don’t need to be a genius, you just need to be yourself. That’s the message from Austin Kleon, a young writer and artist who knows that creativity is everywhere, creativity is for everyone. A manifesto for the digital age, Steal Like an Artist is a guide whose positive message, graphic look and illustrations, exercises, and examples will put readers directly in touch with their artistic side.

Available at any Exclusive Books.

5. Change by Design: How Design Thinking Transforms Organisations and Inspires Innovation by Tim Brown

The myth of innovation is that brilliant ideas leap fully formed from the minds of geniuses. The reality is that most innovations come from a process of rigorous examination through which great ideas are identified and developed before being realized as new offerings and capabilities.

This book introduces the idea of design thinking‚ the collaborative process by which the designer′s sensibilities and methods are employed to match people′s needs not only with what is technically feasible and a viable business strategy. In short‚ design thinking converts need into demand. It′s a human−centered approach to problem solving that helps people and organizations become more innovative and more creative.

Available at any Exclusive Books.

Keeping the Legacy Alive – Family run businesses that continue to go from strength to strength.

Running any business is a huge responsibility at the best of times, but even more so when that business is a legacy and one that is the life-blood of your family. When a business is family-run, it tends to bring with it a different dynamic and there is often a whole different set of challenges that face those tasked with continuing the legacy.

Running any business is a huge responsibility at the best of times, but even more so when that business is a legacy and one that is the life-blood of your family. When a business is family-run, it tends to bring with it a different dynamic and there is often a whole different set of challenges that face those tasked with continuing the legacy. Whilst this may be the case, there is a long list of family-run businesses that continue to expand, strengthen and of course, make huge amounts of money year after year. It’s impossible to know the winning formula if you’re not involved in the day to day operations, but there are clearly some businesses that seem to be getting it right over and over again. Take a look at a few such companies here.

Estée Lauder

Co-founded in 1946 by dynamic husband and wife duo Joseph and Estée Lauder, Estée Lauder grew to become one of the most famous and beloved cosmetic producers in the world. Synonymous with luxury and style, the brand offers everything from premium skincare products, to fragrances, cosmetics and hair care. Aerin Lauder, granddaughter of the Lauders, is head of Global Advertising and the driving force behind the brand’s impressive marketing approach. She is also the public face of the brand, bringing an authenticity to it that would only be achievable through strong ties to the family. The Lauder’s sons Leonard and Ronald are at the helm of the company, with Leonard being the chairman of the board and their grandson William holding the position of COO.

Walmart

Never in his wildest dreams could Sam Walton, founder of retail giant Walmart, ever have imagined that a single store in Arkansas would turn into the massive conglomerate it is today. Walmart is the largest retailer in the world and since its beginnings in 1962, has grown to include thousands of stores across the United States and the globe. Operating under its well-known name “Walmart” in the US and Puerto Rico, it is also known as Asda in the United Kingdom and Seiyu in Japan. The Walton family still owns and controls the business, with S Robson Walton (the son of Sam Walton) serving as the company’s chairman. Sam Walton built Walmart from the ground up and if its success over the decades is an indication of what’s to come, then this family-run businesses is sure to go from strength to strength.

The Trump Organisation

Originally known as Elizabeth Trump & Son, American businessman and investor Donald Trump took over the family business from his father, Fred Trump, in 1971, renaming it the Trump Organsation. Most of the company’s wealth comes from property investments and even after taking numerous hits due to temperamental economy, the Trump Organisation still has a net worth of roughly $4 billion. Whilst Donald still fulfills the role of president and chairman of the organisation, his daughter Ivanka and son Eric are both the current Executive Vice Presidents of Development and Acquisitions. This powerhouse of a business is truly a family affair and each Trump member seems to be more driven than the next – together, they are sure to achieve greatness for years to come.

Some families have successfully managed to keep not only their legacies alive, but they have also managed to do it while simultaneously growing the business for future generations. Family businesses can be delicate things, but with the right people in the right positions, a thirst for success and unwavering desire to bring glory to the family name, they can be thriving powerhouses.

Whether it’s a family-run business or large company you run, do the right thing for your business and invest in Sage One accounting software – once you’ve tried it, you’ll never go back.

 

Featured image: http://myob.com.au

Beat those back-to-work blues

It felt like only yesterday that you were putting on that out-of-office and locking those desk drawers before leaving the office for that much-needed holiday. Returning to work after some time off is never easy and very often we’re overcome with panic and anxiety the night before our first day back. The minute you set foot into the office, the joys of sleeping in, relaxing on the beach and lazy afternoons seem to become distant memories.

It felt like only yesterday that you were putting on that out-of-office and locking those desk drawers before leaving the office for that much-needed holiday. Returning to work after some time off is never easy and very often we’re overcome with panic and anxiety the night before our first day back. The minute you set foot into the office, the joys of sleeping in, relaxing on the beach and lazy afternoons seem to become distant memories. Going back to the grindstone and getting back into a routine can be tough, so here are a few helpful tips for how you can beat those back-to-work blues and settle down back at work faster.

Take an extra day (or two)

Giving yourself an extra day or two to finish off admin or recover a little if you’ve been travelling can really make the holiday-to-work transition that much easier. Whilst some may think this is simply prolonging the inevitable, at the end of the day a four or three day week sounds much more manageable than a full week.

Ease into things

The last thing you want to do after a holiday is dive head first into work without any planning beforehand. Ease back into things slowly and be sure to pace yourself for the first day or two. Creating a to-do list can really help you prioritise things and having a plan of action will mean less anxiety and a clearer head. It’s also a good idea to tidy up a little too: make sure your desk is clean and organised because a clean desk means a fresh start.

A little preparation is good

A few days before returning to work, you should consider scanning your emails and perhaps categorising them. This means that when you do return to the office, you won’t have to face the daunting task of sorting through all the emails in your now bulging Inbox. Rather lessen the blow and make things easier for yourself upon your return.

Don’t be so quick to turn that out-of-office off

The minute you turn your out-of-office off, it may signal to people that you are back at work and available. This can result in you being bombarded with many requests at which point you may feel completely overwhelmed, just as you’re trying to ease back into things. Rather leave it on until you’re ready for your clients and colleagues to know you are completely available. This will give you an opportunity to get organised and do a little planning or strategising for the coming weeks, before having to deal with current tasks and issues.

Get inspired

After a relaxing holiday, it’s never a bad idea to get those creative juices flowing and to get involved in an interesting new project. Trying something a little different to what you usually do can be very inspiring and it’s a great way to kick off the New Year. It will give you a challenge to focus on and at the same time indicate to your superiors that you are driven and ready to work hard. It’s a win-win situation.

Something to work towards

Many people get their next holiday booked soon after returning to work as this way, they can get back to the office knowing that they’ll be off again soon. Having something to work towards (especially if it’s another getaway or simply a few days off) makes the days seem more bearable and somehow makes all the reward on the other side of all the hard work, that much sweeter.

Perhaps the most important thing to remember though when returning to work is that the post-holiday blues are temporary. After a week or so you’ll be back into the swing of things and hopefully feeling more positive than when you first came back. Good luck for a successful and prosperous 2015.

Discover how Sage One Online Payroll can help you ease into the New Year.

 

Featured image: http://i.dailymail.co.uk

Ways to improve your small business

Running your own small business comes with its ups and downs, but successful entrepreneurs are always finding ways to improve and grow their business. It can take quite some time before a small business is up and running, and for many business owners there’s a lot of blood, sweat and tears that go into building a business.

Running your own small business comes with its ups and downs, but successful entrepreneurs are always finding ways to improve and grow their business. It can take quite some time before a small business is up and running, and for many business owners there’s a lot of blood, sweat and tears that go into building a business. Once a business has been established there are always ways in which it can be improved so as to become the best business it can be, and more importantly, to deliver a product or service of the highest quality to its customers. Here are a few ways to improve your business and take it to new heights.

Set goals

It’s important for entrepreneurs to have a clear vision of where they see their business going. It’s of no use simply to float along without a clear plan. Setting various (and realistically achievable) goals will provide guidance and help a business to get to where it wants to be. It always helps to have something to work towards too and when those goals are eventually achieved, it can only boost morale and encourage further hard work. Nothing beats the addictive feeling of accomplishment.

Stay on top of things, especially the finances

Finances are undoubtedly at the centre of a business because without generating revenue, a business cannot survive. Being in control of your finances is key to ensuring that your business runs smoothly and thrives, so make sure that you’re staying on top of those expenses and cash flow. Financial trends are always changing so in the long run, it pays to have an expert keeping a watchful eye over the financial side of the business. This is especially useful if you’re not too great with numbers. Hire an experienced accountant who can look after the financial matters.

Monitor trends

The landscape of the business world is constantly changing and as a result, so are its trends. These changes can have an effect on your business so it’s important for you to monitor them and make sure you’re up to date and relevant in your approaches and stance. This will also help you be sure that you are delivering the best possible goods or services to the most important people in your business: the customers.

Be smart with your marketing

Many businesses end up wasting huge amounts of money on marketing that ultimately isn’t very effective at all. As an entrepreneur you’ll want to invest in low budget marketing, but marketing that nonetheless has a high impact. Spend wisely in this area of the business – you can even learn more about marketing yourself and then possibly run it internally, as opposed to employing an external provider. This can drastically cut costs and the money can be better spent elsewhere.

Motivate your staff

Happy employees almost always automatically mean a more successful business because of the high performance level. It’s vital to motivate your staff on a regular basis because they are, after all, the backbone of the business and if they’re not performing at their best, the chances are that the business will suffer. Motivated and talented staff is a winning combination and the more motivated they are, the more you’re likely to see your business improve more and more.

Deliver killer presentations

Getting in new business can only help your business grow and develop further. Ensure you have a well-oiled sales team or work on those presentation delivery skills so that you deliver powerful pitches and presentations to potential new business. Once people see how good you are there’s no doubt they’ll want to offer you their business.

Do what you can to improve your business over time and remember that it’s a process. Take those small steps so that your business can ultimately grow by leaps and bounds.

 

Featured image: http://www.farmerbrown.com

Mandela Day: Inspiration for uplifting you and your business

Former President Nelson Mandela spent 67 years fighting for a better world. In light of this, his birthday (18 July), has been declared International Nelson Mandela Day by the United Nations. For everyone all over the world, but especially for South Africans, this day holds a special place in our hearts. The Mandela Day initiative calls on everyone from all walks of life to devote just 67 minutes of their time to helping improve the lives of others.

Former President Nelson Mandela spent 67 years fighting for a better world. In light of this, his birthday (18 July), has been declared International Nelson Mandela Day by the United Nations. For everyone all over the world, but especially for South Africans, this day holds a special place in our hearts. The Mandela Day initiative calls on everyone from all walks of life to devote just 67 minutes of their time to helping improve the lives of others. The idea is one that has spread drastically, with individuals, corporations and charities all working together, just as Madiba would have wanted.

So what will you be doing this Mandela Day?

 When it comes to figuring out which project you or your company should participate in on Mandela Day, there certainly isn’t a shortage of amazing things from which to choose. The main aim during those 67 minutes is to do something that has the potential to better someone else’s situation. This could manifest in the form of anything from a beach clean up to helping out at a school or animal shelter. Here are a few ideas for you, your family or your business to participate in this Mandela Day:

  • Reading is one of life’s greatest pleasures, but it is one that millions of people around the world are not able to enjoy. Go and read a snippet of your favourite book to someone who can’t, for example, a visually impaired person, a resident in an old age home or young children at a nursery school.
  • Foster a friendship with someone from a different background. This is likely to mean more to both of you than either of you could ever have imagined.
  • Help prepare someone for the working world. Assist them with putting together an impressive CV, or help them prepare for an interview – you could just help change the course of their future.
  • Host a fundrasing event and donate all the money raised to a charity of your choice. This could be done through cake sales, jumble sales or food stalls.
  • Organise a drive or collection of clothing, blankets and non-perishable food. Everything collected can then be given to someone, or even a group of people, in need.

There are plenty of things you can do this Mandela Day and the above just forms the basis from which to kick-start your thinking. Sage One, for example, provides a platform from which small businesses can grow. Their free online accounting trial and online Payroll demo provides a free, month-long service to help get things off the ground. Just as Sage One helps small business owners to grow and manage their businesses more easily and efficiently, so too can you help someone in need grow and feel better about themselves, even if only for a short while. What matters is that you take the time to try and change someone’s world – a little really can go a long way.