Growing and scaling

Why You Need to Work for Your Opportunity, Not Wait for One

Opportunity may not ever knock at your door. So go out, look for it, and take hold of it.read more

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Growing and scaling

10 Little Things You Can Do to Tweak Your Business for Big Big Results

Sometimes your business only needs some small changes to take off in the right direction.read more

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Growing and scaling

What All Small Businesses Can Learn From the Manufacturing Renaissance

The manufacturing renaissance in America shows small businesses that growing and scaling is based...read more

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Questions

What are some ways in which you reward key employees?

Jef Lippiatt
Jef LippiattOwner at Startup Chucktown
I totally agree with Greg but would like to add that everyone deserves recognition for a job well done. Consider the individual before deciding how to display that recognition.Do they enjoy public recognition?Would they prefer to get more personal handwritten "thank you" note?Types of rewards that can work when properly aligned:Additional vacation time (could be an extra day, or week)Loyalty bonus (specific dollar amount for milestone years of service)Flexible Work Hours or Location (let them work around their life schedule when and where they are comfortable)Paid Experience (could be going to an industry conference, or just a fun adventure)Additional Education / Training (put up money toward a degree, class or certification)Promotion (could be pay raise or just a new title to reflect their effort)
Greg Rogers
Greg RogersFounder and CEO at REthink HQ
Hi Kirsten,I find the biggest mistake that many organsiations/businesses/companies make with this question is not doing one very simple thing.Ask!Ask your employees. Not every employee will find the same 'reward' reinforcing. By definition if it's not reinforcing then it's not rewarding.People do what they do (behaviour) for one of or a combination of four consequences:•Social attention•Tangible reward•Self stimulation•Escape from demand.Understand what it is that they want more of and you will get more from them because it is rewarding and reinforcing.There is nothing worse than having an incentive and reward program that simply doesn't!If you would like to chat some more on this let me know.CheersGreg
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Questions

How do I change URL structure of my website without losing it's ranking?

Jef Lippiatt
Jef LippiattOwner at Startup Chucktown
Noreen, I don't think I can provide a comprehensive answer to your question, but I'll add my own experience to the mix.I recently switched from one content management system (CMS) to another. The previous one had a database. The new one did not (flat-file). I kept the URL structure exactly the same for porting over all the old articles I had written.Note of importance: ensure that you have a global redirect (404 page) setup. This page can be simple, but should at least have the global website navigation. The file where this information needs changed is the ".htaccess" file. If you know your way around code you can change it yourself. If not, you can search and find boilerplate code to use.Some content management systems by default don't use "search engine friendly" URL structures. The result is something like "yourdomain.com/blog/12420291942.php" that doesn't mean much to your users or search engines. Even if a user bookmarks such a page, they may not remember what it is about without revisiting it.So if you switch to search engine friendly URL structure (usually referred to as the "mod rewrite" - again search for more detail) search engines and users will be able to make more sense of your content. Having redirects (permanent or temporary) in place will also funnel people that try to visit old links to a page that can refocus their search for your content.
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Questions

How does everyone stay focussed on their business?

I am finding the stop and start quite mentally taxing. I have to mentally reconnect each time and... read more

Greg Rogers
Greg RogersFounder and CEO at REthink HQ
Hi Marcel,My first response is to +1 what Jef said, you are not alone!Everything Jef has said is great advice, I would add simply accept that there are times when you will need to disconnect the focus and that's ok.There are literally thousands of different methods, models, theories, strategies on this. For what it is worth here is another one that is simple but extremely effective. You do need the discipline though.The Pomodoro Technique. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pomodoro_TechniqueAt the end of the day it is mostly about mindset, accept that some times you will get wrong but dont beat yourself up about it.As Jef says, there will be times when you simply have to reset mentally and move on.All the best.Greg
Jef Lippiatt
Jef LippiattOwner at Startup Chucktown
First, I would say that this isn't unique to you. There are more distractions today than I could ever mention. However, there are definite ways to overcome or at least minimize them.Determine what time of the day you are most productive (morning, mid-morning, afternoon, evening, late-night). I won't bore you with details but this is probably when you are in an optimized period of "Flow". I've included a link to the book if you have more interest in learning about it.Once you understand personal flow, attack your tasks in focus (related to perceived impact upon completion, priority or time needed to accomplish). This makes a difference. But why? you can move less important tasks (checking email, following up on voicemail, organizing files, etc.) for times you aren't in optimal flow.Also, I've written an article on here related to this called, "3 + 1 = Improvement". I highly encourage you to read that to extend the information above further.Remember processes and routines? Sure they are less spontaneous, but they bring efficiency for reducing time and mental load. Document the processes you use so that you can make them routine. This will help reduce the feeling of having to "mentally reconnect" each time.Let me know if you would like any more detail on the information above or if you have further questions.
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Questions

How do you grow a business quickly and smartly?

HUNTER LEONARD
HUNTER LEONARDFOUNDER AND CEO at BLUE FROG MARKETING PTY LTD
know your market, your competition, your customer, and your ability to service that customer, in that market - ie: what is your value proposition. unless you've done the work to properly work out your business and market strategy you'll never grow a business either quickly or smartly. the smarts come from the right strategy.the speed comes from having the resources in terms of money, time, people, cashflow etc to grow at the speed you want.hope this helpshunter
Brad Lyons
Brad LyonsOwner at SMS Fusion
It all comes down to the business you are in. However this is what works for me:Telemarketing:Start calling your target market and make some sales, that is the fastest way. Sort out who is your target market, buy that data and either make the calls yourself or get someone to do it for you. Presence:I go to conferences for one of the industries I am in, that way I can meet potential clients face to face. Having a presence makes a big difference.Follow up:Once you have their details, follow up with them and ensure they have all the information they need to make the sale. If they say it isn't the right time, send them an email every 6 months to let them know about new features, offers or anything you feel is appropriate. Why not:If they don't want to use your service ask why! If it is because your competitors have added features, better deals or simply a much better product, then you need to develop a better product. The truth is unless you have a "World First" product your potential clients will most likely be using a competitors product. If they are not using a competitors product you may need to educate them as to why they need it in the first place. You have to stand out from the rest, the size of a company doesn't mean they will have market share for ever. There is always going to be new companies coming onto the market with new ideas and processes. We have taken market share from very large companies in Australia because we have a better product, we develop it all the time and our competitors simply can't keep up. The only sales pitch they have is their name, and when that no longer works they have two options; give up or develop.If a potential client tells you that a competitor has a better product, don't bother calling them once you have caught up the the competitor. Call them once you are a step ahead and stay a step ahead.
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Growing and scaling

A CFO's Perspective on Scaling Startup Growth

The difference between a startup and an SME is not that great - what is beneficial to a new startup...read more

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Growing and scaling

4 Ways Mobile Payments Can Help Your Business Grow

Mobile payments have a proven track record of improving sales, which is great news for a small...read more

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Questions

Has anyone got any experience running social & influencer marketing campaigns in China?

Any recommendations of agencies, tips, what-not-to-do's etc. would be greatly appreciated! read more

Julie HyneOwner at Business4Beauty
I would contact women in global business, they should be able to direct you.
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Growing and scaling

Hey, Everyone! Let's Waste Some Money!

This article makes a good, if somewhat flippant, argument for spending your business' money without...read more

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Questions

Have you set up systems and processes that put you in a strong position for growth?

Presumably you hope your company will grow, so how do you prepare for growth? What recommendations... read more

Asked by:
Phil Khor
Phil Khor Founder at SavvySME
Steven Freeman
Steven FreemanOwner at Evolved Sound
Short answer is yes. Long answer is that creating and refining these systems and processes is never ending as your business constantly grows and changes. Often you don't know what you need until you get there - usual life story.In hindsight it is best to set these up as though you are lot bigger than you currently are rather than simply helping with solving your immediate requirements.
Brad Lyons
Brad LyonsOwner at SMS Fusion
Analytics is the short answer to that I believe.Without knowing all the information about your business you can't grow to your full potential. For those who believe in infinite growth are getting setup for failure. We live in a finite world so everything has limits.If you don't know your limits you don't know how far you can push. With business it is no different. If you don't know your limits you can find yourself in a position where viability vs return is declining. For example, how many employees per customers do you need. Too many employees and your profitability will drop. You don't have to be a mathematician to do this, it is very simple. I strongly recommend people to first understand their industry and do the maths on growth requirements. What are your growth limits and what will it take to get there. One of my old friends has been in the same industry for over 20 years, running his own company and is still chasing the dream of making the big money. Why, because regardless of the amount of times I have told him and offered to do for him, he has never looked at the real issue holding him back. Limits!He has the dream of infinite growth however is stuck making ~$5k per month running his own business, and has been like that for years. What he doesn't want to see is he cannot earn any more than that with the current limits he has, he is stuck in a rut and can't get out because he doesn't stop to think about what can be done. Not because he is lazy, because if he isn't working all the time he doesn't make money to pay the bills. So before you get stuck in a rut where you are running around like made to just get by. Do the maths on your industry. At what point do your reach limits and what can you do to push those limits further. What is the cost vs reward and the most important variable, what do you want at the end of this. I am sure you don't want to be working until you are 100, when do you want to retire and what will happen with your business then?Are you planning to sell your business, pass down to your kids or just let the business fade out. These are all factors you need to account for when it comes to growth and planning. Look for limits and work with them not against.
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Growing and scaling

10 Growth Hacks That Will Disrupt Your Industry

Innovation is the cornerstone of entrepreneurial endeavours, but it is easier said than done to be...read more

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Growing and scaling

Beyond Franchising: 6 Ways to Expand Your Business

Franchising can be a great for your business to broaden its horizons, and many entrepreneurs hope...read more

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Questions

What is the most common headache of fast growing SME's?

I have my top 3. "I cant do everything anymore" "Managers don't know what they are doing... read more

Asked by:
Yee Trinh
Yee TrinhCo-founder at SavvySME
I would have to agree with the two of you. maintaining company culturemaintaining quality hiring practicesmaintaining clear communication across the larger organisation with procedures and processes
Jef Lippiatt
Jef LippiattOwner at Startup Chucktown
I think the top 3 things aremaintaining quality hiring practicesmaintaining company culturemaintaining great customer service
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Questions

What drives customers and users to spread the word about particular products and brands?

Asked by:
Yee Trinh
Yee Trinh Co-founder at SavvySME
Andrew SnellOwner at Coaster Group
There are always different triggers based on the audience you're talking to. At its core though, there is one top-level notion that, if you focus on, lets you "plan for word of mouth"Be authentic, Have a conversationThere is so much choice in just about every market now that you need to distinguish on more than product and service. Your customers want to feel valued and respected. They want everything to be perfect, but moreover they want to know that if anything does go wrong that it will be resolved, and your business will do anything it can to rectify or remedy the situation.As soon as you make your business approachable, your customers, potential customers, and the people they talk to, will see you as more than a drain on their bank account.
Jef Lippiatt
Jef LippiattOwner at Startup Chucktown
In my opinion there are 3 things that drive customers and users to spread the word to others.Product / Service Value - The perceived value (intangible) of the product or service into their daily life has improved some aspect of their day (saves time, reduces stress or gives them more freedom in accomplishing something). The actual value of the product or service is seen as a "good buy" based on the price and the mix of features, design and experience with the product or service.Product / Service Quality - The perceived quality (intangible) speaks to the increased quality of life the customer believes has happened because of using the product or service. The actual quality of the product or service is based more on how well the product or service holds up (longevity) the materials used (weight, texture, design) and included guarantees (warranties, included extended service plans, etc). Customer Service / Experience - This includes every interaction that the customer has when interacting with your venture / brand. This starts in research, includes online / in store shopping experience, purchase experience, return policy / experience and troubleshooting the product or service.Keep in mind that each of the 3 points mentioned above include both their positive and negative states. A satisfied customer may tell (on average) 1 - 10 people (friends, family, coworkers, etc). However, a dissatisfied customer will tell potentially 10 times as many people about their bad experience (bad product, low quality product). Keep in mind that the internet and social media have greatly increased an individual customer's reach and has reduced the time it takes for opinions and thoughts to travel from person to person and multiple locations.
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Questions

How do you change a culture of chaos to one that adopts systematic processes?

If a growth company is dependent on systems and processes, where does one start in turning a... read more

Asked by:
Yee Trinh
Yee Trinh Co-founder at SavvySME
Shannon YoungOwner at The Care Factor
I agree with Jeff regarding leadership as key to culture change. I specialised in culture change for 8 years and that was the key.Additions to realise are that people people need to let go of the old way of doing things. I agree with Jeff that this is where understanding WHY the change is happening is key. People need a reason to change. Overall connect the change to a purpose that means something to everyone - communicate this in a way everyone understands and gets WIIFM (whats in it for me)Remember that you can change all the systems you want but unless you get the people to transition (that internal change within themselves), they will always find a way to do things the way they have always been done. People tend to run in "transition deficit" and so are on or two steps behind the actual change that you are implementing.A way to get them to buy in to the change is involvement (agree with Jeff again) as people want some control during this uncertain chaos of change itself and gaining input is a way to do so. A large insurance company took a huge gamble in a change program a few years ago and opened up their entire organisational structure for feedback from ALL of their staff. That is a huge show of trust and belief in their people and this brought them on the journey.and communicate, communicate, communicate. I tell you, you cannot over communicate in times of change. Once you stop communicating people will fill in the blanks themselves and that can be really scary.SoSHARE WHY, INVOLVE ALL AND COMMUNICATE OFTEN
Jef Lippiatt
Jef LippiattOwner at Startup Chucktown
You must set an example from the top down. You must also be persistent, the longer it has been the way it is, the longer it may take to change directions (people are mostly adverse to change).Also, the shift in culture cannot be just grand speech/language, it must be visible action (even if in small steps).What is a good catalyst for accelerating the process? Give your employees/teammates the "Why" behind the change and the goal for the changed outcomes. How will it improve the company? How will it benefit each employee?Each change should have deep meaning to your specific business (do not try to steal a great company culture from another venture). What works at one business will not necessarily work at all businesses. Another great way to get higher acceptance is to ask your team members and employees what they would like to see change about their roles and the company and why. If you let everyone (in large or small ways) have some ownership into impacting the culture they will feel less adverse to adapting to something new.Ensure that all new employees are vetted against your new culture values, but use them as guidelines. There are unfortunately too many ventures that go wild with their own hype to the point where it seems like they have been drinking their own kool-aid (for far too long). If that metaphor doesn't translate well, basically they've bought into their own hype too much and have started ignoring reality. You need to balance between turning the rudder toward the new and improved culture but keeping a keen eye on the realities of day to day change.
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Questions

What is the biggest difference between successful small businesses and successful chains/franchises?

How does one make the jump from being a successful business owner to being a successful... read more

Asked by:
Yee Trinh
Yee Trinh Co-founder at SavvySME
Andrew SnellOwner at Coaster Group
Hi Yee,An interesting thought - and one entrepreneurs face a lot, in my experience. (If I had a dollar for every time I heard "Surely you just need to sell more"!)I think the first part of your question has been covered, the difference at it's core is control and freedom.One thing that hasn't been pointed out though is for an entrepreneur there is a big difference between running a SME to founding a business that becomes franchised. It isn't as simple as selling the model to a new person, there is a totally different emphasis needed.Just about any venture, in its early stages, will be focussed on being different, agile and creative. That's what makes small business great, having that flexibility. As soon as the business is going out to franchise (either under a wholly franchised or company owned/franchised model) the focus of the founder has to change.The boutique culture the business grew up with needs to be systemised and replicated. By its very nature, the individuality is lost. It is also a very different focus for the founder - one that is all about brand protection, product integrity and predictability in the market place.For the entrepreneur it is a huge shift in mindset, from being at the cutting edge in every way, to ensuring customers always know what they are going to receive. Of course the business can still aim to be ahead of the curve, but implementing it becomes a much bigger stakeholder management task than when the business is all owned by the entrepreneur themselves.There are plenty of examples of it happening successfully - to me the key is having a great culture and appetite for growth from the early days of the business.
Hitesh Mohanlal
Hitesh MohanlalDirector at WOW! Advisors & Business Accountants
I agree with Lisa above. The main difference between successful small businesses and successful franchises is control and freedom to do as you wish in your business.If I own a Subway and decided I wanted to stock Cola made by my brother in law the men in suits at Subway might have a few words to say about that. Not only do you have to use a Franchiser's systems and procedures you have to use their suppliers too. A Nando's store costs $400,000 to fit out. For that money you can build a four bedroom home but at Nando's you get a Kitchen a few ovens, tables and some chairs. Its the same if your till breaks down. On the upside, good Franchises will give a brand, great systems and procedures and this is where the real value is as it has the ability to save hours of time.I could never operate as a franchisee simply because If i want to change something i do it. Getting approval from a man in a suit would drive me insane. When I get into conversations with people considering buying a franchise i talk about the above and if they don't mind being restricted then buying a Franchise makes sense.Also those in small business tend to be more innovative and are looking for ways to improve and change their business. When your in a franchise you are hoping the big guys on top are doing it for you.It is also worth remembering that not all franchises are successful. At the end of the day, it is down to the owner and how well they operate the business.
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Growing and scaling

5 Business Lessons From Billionaire Mentors

These are the basics, but to truly succeed, you need to blaze your own path, like Richard Branson...read more

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Growing and scaling

Forecasting Is Hard, But It's Harder to Run a Business Without Doing It

We're people, we don't know the future, so we are always guessing. But we're not just guessing....read more

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