Eight things successful companies have in common

As with many things in life it’s about figuring out that winning formula, the one that paves the road to success. Whether you’re training to become a world-class athlete or creating the latest impressive dish to add to your restaurant’s menu, it’s all about finding the right balance of elements that fit together seamlessly ensure success. 

As with many things in life it’s about figuring out that winning formula, the one that paves the road to success. Whether you’re training to become a world-class athlete or creating the latest impressive dish to add to your restaurant’s menu, it’s all about finding the right balance of elements that fit together seamlessly and ensure success. When it comes to small businesses and start-ups, the same applies: perfecting certain aspects so that when they join together, they produce a powerful and successful business. Here are eight common traits that almost all flourishing business have found to possess. How many of them does your business have?

A solid business strategy

This essentially forms the foundation of any business and without it, the business is certainly headed towards failure. Solid business strategies should be as thorough as possible, and include plans for the running of the finances, marketing and product development – these will provide the guidance and structure a business needs to grow and achieve the goals it sets out for itself. Keep the strategy simple though and rather focus on putting energy into its execution.

A positive attitude

This applies across the board – from the small business owner, to the managers and team members. If the employees of a company are positive about the work they do as well as about the business for which they’re a part, then chances are high that the business will succeed. Having a positive attitude breeds productivity and true dedication that can only lead to great things. It’s particularly the people in leadership positions that need to set the tone for everyone else by showing those around them the importance of staying positive and motivated.

An outstanding company culture

We’ve recently written a post about the importance of creating an impressive office culture , so it goes without saying that it plays a vital role in the success of a business. Thriving businesses are bound to have put a huge amount of effort into cultivating and maintaining a working environment that keeps employees satisfied, motivated and inspired, as this does not only lead to a strong connection forming between employee and the business, but it will also attract the right people (both customers and employees).

A commitment to customer service

Without customers and their business, a business cannot survive. Therefore it’s imperative that a company shows a deep commitment to its customers and meeting their needs. The product or service you provide needs to be created for a specific target market, and all measures then need to be taken to ensure that said products and services satisfy the requirements of that market. When customers feel like you care and that your business listens to what they have to say, they are more likely to return as well as to share what you have to offer with others. Impeccable customer service leads to brand loyalty – something every business should strive to attain.

An ability to adapt and take risks

Businesses that succeed are able to adapt when necessary. In business, change is constant and having the ability to adjust accordingly and embrace it is a characteristic that every business should want to possess. This can involve possibly taking certain calculated risks when the time is right – business owners who take smart risks with clear outcomes are the ones who are most likely to lead their businesses to success.

Business processes that work

Just as a business plan helps to bring direction to a company, so too do its processes. Having streamlined processes in place which employees can follow ensures that tasks get completed as efficiently and quickly as possible. Finding suitable and effective systems that work for the business and its goals are paramount if the business is to succeed because without them, things will not run smoothly and as a result, productivity will not be at its optimum.

Advisors on hand

Talk to any business owners and without a doubt they’ll tell you how invaluable trusted and experienced advisors can be. Navigating the running of a new business can be tricky so having the guidance from people who have been there before can make all the difference. Advisors act as an objective source of information, advice and knowledge and can very often help immensely when it comes to decision-making and development within a business.

A healthy dose of discipline

It’s one thing to have an idea of where you’re headed in business, but it’s another to maintain the drive and discipline required to achieve your goals. All successful businesses possess a healthy dose of focus that allows them to knuckle down and get the job done on a regular basis – without it and the passion to succeed, there would be no driving force behind a business.

The recipe for success consists of many ingredients that combine together perfectly to create that winning formula. When it comes to successful businesses, there are very often common ingredients that can be identified, so if you’re thinking of starting your own venture, be sure to remember the characteristics mentioned here so that you can get off on the right foot.

Sage One’s online accounting software can help your business towards success by providing you with a fast and effective way of managing your finances. Contact the Product and Sales Enquiries team to find out more.

 

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Seeking small business heroes

702, CapeTalk and Sage One are recognising and rewarding SA’s best small businesses. The 702/CapeTalk Small Business Awards with Sage One are underway, with more than R1 million in prizes up for grabs for the winners and runners-up in the Western Cape and Gauteng. The annual Awards seek out small businesses with big dreams and enormous potential, recognising their achievements and providing them with the support they need to grow.

702, CapeTalk and Sage One are recognising and rewarding SA’s best small businesses.

The 702/CapeTalk Small Business Awards with Sage One are underway, with more than R1 million in prizes up for grabs for the winners and runners-up in the Western Cape and Gauteng.

The annual Awards seek out small businesses with big dreams and enormous potential, recognising their achievements and providing them with the support they need to grow. The Awards invite 702 and CapeTalk listeners to nominate small businesses that have impressed them over the past 12 months.

The aim is to give recognition to great small businesses that offer exceptional service, and provide them with the necessary exposure to help them grow, and inspire other businesses to follow in their footsteps.

The Awards are sponsored by Sage One – simple, secure and affordable online accounting and payroll for small to medium businesses. “Whether it’s a start-up, or established business, the key to success is passion, persistence, hard work and determination. We want to know about small businesses that are striving for success in everything they do, including customer service,” says Ivan Epstein, CEO of Sage AAMEA (Africa, Australia, Middle East and Asia).

“Small businesses are the engines of employment and economic prosperity. We at Sage are passionate about helping them to succeed. We want to highlight the achievements of small businesses that are creating jobs, building the economy, and delivering goods and services that enhance the lives of their customers.

For 702 and CapeTalk, the campaign offers valuable exposure to small businesses. “Since we launched the Small Business Awards we have profiled 420 businesses on our platforms, giving them an opportunity to reach new markets. The feedback from the business owners has been that the interviews have had a direct and immediate impact – their phones start ringing as soon as they come off air,” said Colleen Louw, CapeTalk station manager.

“The Small Business Awards are part of our broader strategy to support small businesses as this sector is critical to the growth in our economy,” added 702 station manager, Pheladi Gwangwa. “As large enterprises downsize and restructure, small businesses have come to play an increasingly important role in creating employment and for that reason they need our support to give a multiplier effect to this role.”

The winning small businesses will be awarded the following:

  • The Winners: In each region, the two winners will receive an advertising package to the value of R250 000 on 702/CapeTalk.
  • The Runner-ups: In each region, the two runner-ups will each receive a R125 000 airtime package on 702/CapeTalk.

Sage will award the winners in both regions a laptop with free access to Sage One Accounting and Sage One Payroll software (including one year of software support) and a training course or seminar of their choice, giving them the freedom they need to run their business anywhere, any time.

Last year’s 702 Small Business Awards winner was Book Express, founded in 2005 as a micro enterprise that provides new and second hand books at an affordable price to the UNISA student market. Leather goods manufacturer Research Unitwon the CapeTalk Small Business Awards.

“We received more than 1 800 nominations last year, showing the diversity and strength of South Africa’s small business sector,” says Epstein. “This year, we hope to receive even more. We’re looking for small businesses with a passion for excellence and achievement.”

If you have received exceptional service from a small business, 702, CapeTalk and Sage One want to recognise it, so be sure to submit your nomination as soon as possible. Finalists will be announced from the week of 10 August. Visit www.sba.702.co.za or www.sba.capetalk.co.za for more information.

 

Press release from 27 July 2015.

Three ways to create a winning first impression with customers

As the old saying goes, “first impressions are lasting impressions”. If you own a small business, you will know all too well just how true this is. Making a good impression on your customers the first time you interact with them is of utmost importance, as they are likely to tell their friends, family and colleagues a lot about their encounter with your business.

As the old saying goes, “first impressions are lasting impressions”. If you own a small business, you will know all too well just how true this is. Making a good impression on your customers the first time you interact with them is of utmost importance, as they are likely to tell their friends, family and colleagues a lot about their encounter with your business. And because word of mouth is one of the most effective means of gaining new clients, it’s crucial that you do everything in your power to ensure your business always makes a good first impression. So how exactly do you do this? We’ve got three quick and easy tips that will can help you do just that.

Be polite

Manners can go a long way in creating a great impression. Make sure that those representing your business are always polite, because they are essentially, the face of your business. For example, whoever answers the phone should do so in a friendly, polite and helpful manner because often, a phonecall is the first time that a client will have contact with the business, whether it be to ask for directions to your premises or to enquire about pricing. By making the client feel as though all their queries are welcome ones, they will immediately warm up to the business itself.

Listen to what they have to say

For consumers, one of the biggest frustrations is not being heard. Set yourself apart from your competitors and make sure you listen to everything your customers have to say, whether it be positive or negative feedback. If they have an issue with your product or service, take note of their frustrations and do what you can to help them find the right solution. Helping them resolve whatever problems they have is sure to renew their faith in the business, and because of this, they are likely to stay loyal to your brand.

Anticipate their needs

It can be tricky to anticipate the needs of others, but if you can master the art of this, your business will likely go far. Making sure that you have enough stock of a product or enough people on the floor during busier times will help reduce the frustration of the customer, as well as allow your business to run smoothly. The demand for a product or service will fluctuate and decline, depending on seasons, so make sure that if for example you own a shoe shop, come summer time, you won’t have too many boots on the shelves but rather sandals.

Creating a good first impression is extremely important for any business, big or small. All it takes is a little bit of time and effort, but it will all be worth it in the end, as you can rest assured that your customers will appreciate the work you put into making them feel valued right from the start.

 

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Your target market: How to exceed its expectations

There are a lot of businesses out there that are satisfied with being average, but it’s the ones that push themselves to be more that end up being the most successful. In order to set your small business apart from the rest, you often have to go the extra mile with the aim of not simply meeting expectations, but exceeding them.

There are a lot of businesses out there that are satisfied with being average, but it’s the ones that push themselves to be more that end up being the most successful. In order to set your small business apart from the rest, you often have to go the extra mile with the aim of not simply meeting expectations, but exceeding them. By surpassing your customers’ expectations, you give your business the best possible chance of creating a positive impression on them, something that helps greatly with building your brand and cultivating a loyal customer base. Happy customers will not only end up spending more and doing so more frequently, but they’re likely to tell others as well, thus expanding your business’s reach. Read on to discover how you can not only meet expectations, but hit them right out of the park.

Identify, understand and anticipate

First thing’s first: in order to exceed expectations, you have to know what exactly those expectations are. This may seem rather obvious, but you’d be surprised at how many businesses don’t really know who their customers are and what they expect from them. Once you have a firm grasp of who makes up your target market, it will then be much easier to identify their expectations, understand why they have them and down the line, be able to anticipate how they may evolve. In-depth customer research is imperative when it comes to trying to exceed expectations.

Touch points need some tender-loving care

A touch point is basically any kind of single interaction a customer may have with your business, so it can be anything from a phone call to a visit to your website. You need to take a close look at each of your touch points to determine how they currently function and how that can affect a customer’s experience of your brand. You’ll then be able to identify problem areas and start to develop solutions for how they can be improved. If you know something can be better, then you need to strive to make that happen – your customers will thank you.

Don’t bite off more than you can chew

Going all out at once can potentially be dangerous for your business, so even though you’re eager to impress customers in one go, you’re probably better off starting small. Pick one touch point, for example, that you know needs some work and put everything into that. Whilst it may take longer, starting small and then building up can be beneficial, with you being far more likely to achieve the desired outcome in the end. At least when you tackle one thing at a time, you’re almost guaranteed to do things right because you’re allowing yourself to focus on a single area at a time.

Become the customer

There’s no better way of knowing whether or not the experience you offer customers is just mediocre or beyond, other than testing it out for yourself. Spend some time going through the same process they will go through to get a better idea of how it will be experienced. Be honest about it and whether it does in fact exceed expectations. By becoming your own customer, you’ll get a taste of how your brand is being perceived by those who matter most.

Always welcome feedback

The fastest way you’re ever going to rectify issues and improve so that you can surpass expectations is to have the very people whose expectations you’re trying to exceed give you feedback. Make it known that you value what people have to say about your business and that you’re open to hearing all feedback, both good and bad. It’s a great way to gauge how people feel and to pinpoint what you need to work on in order to reach that coveted point of over-delivery.

With competition being fierce in the business world today, your business should be striving to be more than just average – it’s not impossible to achieve, you just need to be ready to take the right actions and work hard to get to that pinnacle position.

 

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