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4 Top Tips for Acing Your First Business Trip

Business trips sound fun only from the first sight. But when you think of it, there are a lot of things you need to take into consideration while packing and preparing, especially if it's going to be your very first business trip on behalf of your company. You need to plan ahead all the little things that could go right or wrong, think about how to eliminate any minor or major details that could potentially put your trip under unnecessary risk. If you're about to take your very first business trip and you don't know where to start your preparations and make it a success, then you're in the right place. Take a look at these 4 easy tips to help you ace your business trip from the very first try. So, you’ve finally earned your degree, landed the job that you were dreaming of, and now you’re being sent on your first ever business trip. For many new recruits, the first business trip that they embark on is the most nerve-wracking, not least because they have no idea what to expect. Thankfully, with the right amount of planning, it’s easy to make sure that you’re fully prepared to ace it and seriously impress your employer with your performance. Here are some top tips to help you ensure that your first business trip is a resounding success. 1. Plan Ahead As the saying goes, failing to prepare means preparing to fail. Before you set off on your first business trip, it’s important to spend some time preparing and making sure that the finer details are all taken care of. Not only will this make it easier for you whilst you are there, it’s also going to impress your employer when they see that you are willing to put the time in to make sure that everything is just right. 2. Make a Packing Checklist The last thing that you want is to arrive at your destination, only to discover that you have left something important at home. A simple way to avoid this is to make a packing checklist and each time you pack an item, make a note of it so that you know exactly what you have with you, and what you still need to pack. Write down everything that you’ll need to bring, including clothes, toiletries, gadgets, and any important files from the office that you’ll need for work.   3. Travel Light Although a packing checklist is a great idea to ensure that you have everything covered, it’s important not to write a long one. For most business trips, all you’ll need is a carry-on bag and a rucksack or handbag, unless you plan to be staying at your destination for a long time. Many business travelers enjoy participating in some leisure activities during their free time, so take a look at this capsule wardrobe idea to help you pack everything that you need in a small amount of space. 4. Look Smart, But Be Comfortable Whilst dressing to impress is certainly one of the best ways to make a positive first impression on your first business trip, don’t forget that your comfort is also a top priority. Although you should be putting just as much, if not more, effort in than you do when in the office, don’t forget about things such as comfortable shoes, which you’ll certainly be grateful for if your trip requires you to do a lot of walking between destinations. If possible, wear comfortable, loose-fitting clothing for your flight – unless you’re meeting a client or senior colleague at the airport when you arrive, this will make your journey more enjoyable for you. Taking your first business trip can be a nerve-wracking experience! We hope that these tips were useful for you. 

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5 Business Etiquette Tips to Outsmart Your Competitors

Business etiquette is a powerful tool for any business owner to establish himself as a trusted partner in the market. Sometimes businessmen might forget about small gestures that matter the most in the competitive corporate world. We are here to tell you more about them and present 5 of the best business etiquette tips to stand out and outshine the competition. Knowing how to use the power of business etiquette can well prove to be your secret weapon towards unlimited success. But the question is, do you have the time for practicing business etiquette? If the answer is not in the affirmative, you should immediately make efforts to put it on your top priority list. Remember, good business etiquettes often act as silent ad campaigns!    The following five business etiquette tips will definitely provide you a competitive edge:   1. Talk Less and Listen More Talk only when it matters! Talk only to make a positive difference! This is an absolute golden rule for establishing a good relationship with your client in the long run. Clients mean business; therefore, the talks should always be productive and directed to add value to your time and the client’s at the same time. Furthermore, to gain a competitive edge, you would do well listening to what your client has to say. Finally, listen carefully and attentively to pick up the subtle suggestions and criticism made by the client. 2. Offer Personalized Gifts: Personalized gifts have always proved an excellent option for strengthening the bond with your clients. They can be distributed on any occasion as a token of remembrance for the continued support and trust showed by the clients towards your business. However, please do take your time to make them as special as possible. Big gifts may not necessarily prove the best option as corporate clients often face strong criticism on receiving them. For instance, big gifts like food baskets come automatically with an invisible pressure of sharing or distributing with the other team members of the organization. Therefore, such gifts can make your clients uncomfortable.   On the other hand, a small and an inexpensive present such as a gift voucher to a popular restaurant or coffee shop, would not only prove a nice gesture on your part, but would also come as a present that could be accepted without any objection. You can also pick coffee mugs or table calendars with your client’s name embossed on them in the list of your gift items. Whichever option you decide to go with, clients will appreciate the gesture and remember you.  3. Find Your USP Make an effort to find out what makes you so unique in front of your own clients. Why they continue to restore faith upon you? Place this question directly in front of the clients and wait for their feedback. This is absolutely crucial for strengthening the relationships with your existing and potential clients. Brief surveys conducted through Zoomerang or SurveyMonkey can prove to be excellent sources for this crucial information. The collected data will give you an exact picture of where you stand in the competitive market. You might find this similar to marketing, but this is a pure etiquette move directed towards the well-being of your business. You can even seek consultancy, training, coaching, and therapy from professionals to help achieve your business goals without compromising on the well beings of your employees. 4. Realise the Importance of Hand-Written Mails A hand-written mail in this email-oriented corporate world can easily attach a distinctive edge on your business reputation. It would indicate that you are prepared to take the necessary time out for your clients, and also that you definitely care for them. Keep your mails as simple and original as possible. Finally, make sure that all the mails always include a thank-you note for the referral or opportunity provided by your client.    5. Treat Everyone with Equal Importance There’s no hiding to the fact that you have to be extremely patient and as reasonable as possible with all your clients. But at the same time, it is equally important to develop a healthy professional bond with the bookkeeper or even the administrative assistant of your esteemed client. Just strive hard to establish such bonds – and it will open avenues of unimaginable opportunities in front of you. So, these are some tips that might prove extremely helpful if you decide to follow them religiously. Don’t forget to add your own insights so that your business manages to outsmart your competitors without getting into an ugly fight. 

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5 Simple Ways to Reduce Office Expenses

Your regular office expenses will have a direct impact on your business's profit margin. Therefore, it is vital to constantly look for ways to reduce your regular business expenses. By making a few simple changes, you can cut down these costs, make your business more profitable, and reward your employees accordingly. Here are 5 ways to reduce office expenses in your organisation. 1. Adopt A Digital Filing System The old habit of making hard copies of virtually all "important" documents and filing them is still prevalent in some companies. But the emergence of cloud-based digital document storage has provided a faster and cheaper backup solution for all your official documents. You no longer have to worry about the effects of a crashed hard drive, careless data handling by an employee, or a computer virus attack. Cloud-based storage is reliable and it can save your company a substantial amount of money every year. Apart from saving the cost of paper, toner, and energy used to make hard copies, you can also make your business more efficient by giving remote employees and business partners access to data through your cloud-storage provider. 2. Reduce the Cost of Printing In addition to using a digital cloud-based filing system, you can reduce the total cost of printing any document in your organisation. For instance, you can replace the small printers on individual desks with one central network printer. This printer should be a multi-function copier, scanner and printer with email capabilities. You will save cost on ink and toner if you can strategically place one of these powerful machines in your office as a replacement for several small printers. The cost of energy used to power the small printers will also be saved. Furthermore, you should always try to use refill toner and compatible cartridges that reduce the cost of printer consumables. 3. Switch Off Appliances and Use Cheaper Lighting Switching off office appliances when they are not in use will cut down the cost of electricity in your office. Make sure you and your employees shut off air conditioners, computers, photocopiers, printers and light bulbs when appropriate. Some organisations have been able to save close to a third of their annual energy bills by doing this. Don't rely on the stand-by modes of these appliances because they still draw an appreciable amount of current. Instead, let your employees put them off and set up a reward system to encourage your employees to develop and maintain energy-efficient work habits. In addition, you should replace all old long florescent tubes and incandescent light bulbs (if you still have them) with compact florescent bulbs or the more energy-efficient LED bulbs. Apart from saving more than one-third of your power consumption daily, the bulbs will last much longer than the older type of bulbs, so you will not need to replace them often. If you have a large office facility, you may also consider installing motion sensor switches on your lighting fixtures to automatically switch them off when no one is present in the room. 4. Adopt Efficient Climate Control Avoid the constant adjustment of the thermostat by anyone who feels the office is too hot or too cold. But if restricting the adjustment of the thermostat may disrupt the harmony in the office, you should buy an advanced thermostat system. Some of the newer thermostats now have a feature known as a thermostat lock. This enables employees to adjust the temperature within a fixed range (just a few degrees) so that the energy bills do not escalate. Additionally, you can invest in a programmable thermostat that will automatically adjust the temperature at night and during weekends. During summer, you can use fans which need less energy to function. 5. Reduce the Cost of Business Insurance Insurance premiums are part of the recurring expenses that you can reduce to save cost in your business. Although cheap insurance is not usually the best option, there are ways to reduce your risk and subsequently qualify for a lower premium. For example, you can reduce the risk of theft in your company by installing a reliable security alarm system and ensuring that your business premises is situated in a relatively secure location. The one-time investment in the alarm system could lead to annual savings in the cost of your business insurance. Conclusion These five tips will help you to start reducing your office expenses. After reducing the cost of doing business in your organisation, you can use the money saved to give your employees a pay rise, purchase new equipment to improve your customer service, increase your customer base by raising your marketing and advertisement budget, and sponsor community development projects. Photo Credit: Flickr

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5 Things To Do After You Write Your Business Plan

If you've been in the business world for a while, then you definitely know the importance of having a business plan before starting out. However, simply writing down a beautiful business plan is not enough to get your business up, running, and gaining money. Find out what are the top 5 things you should do AFTER you write your business plan. You’ve written out your business plan. Congratulations. Maybe it’s really detailed. It could be full of optimistic financial forecasts for the next two years. Or perhaps you’ve used the Lean Canvas method and intend to fly by the seat of your pants. Regardless, at this point, your business plan is all theory and pie in the sky. The onus is now on you to make it actionable. Your business plan should not be static. Your business plan should be a working document that you can follow, edit, and change as required. You have a lot of work ahead of you. So here are the 5 key things you should do next after you write your business plan. 1. Get help It sounds like simple advice. I guarantee that you won’t be able to do everything on the list. If you lack the knowledge and experience to understand your sales numbers or have no idea how to advertise, find someone who does. You need to employ the experience of other professionals who can offer advice and guidance. Not only that, if you need technical work done (like building a website or an email funnel) or creative work (like logo design and copywriting), you’re going to need to hire someone to do those things for you. Unless you plan to tackle all of them yourself, these things cost money. If you don’t have a lot of funds or are bootstrapping, you may need to get creative. Can you offer your services in exchange for someone else’s expertise? Contra deals are a great way to get things done for free. It’s like the 2018 version of bartering. Whether you need to hire someone to get some work done or ask someone for advice, there are a lot of platforms like this one to help you get some work done on a limited budget. 2. Make sure it connects to your purpose Why do you want to do what you do? If you cannot answer that question each and every time someone asks, that’s an issue. There will be times when you get stuck on something difficult. Your WHY is a way to keep you focused when things seem to be at their worst. You should get in the habit of connecting everything back to your WHY. Your WHY is the reason for your business. It’s the driving motivation behind everything that you do. Do you know what your WHY is? If not, you should start thinking about it. Your WHY should be the foundation for everything that you do. It can help you get through the tough times and keep you grounded during adversity. It’s what sets you apart from your competition. You may be in the same industry, but your WHY is what makes your business special. 3. Test and measure Begin to test and measure your assumptions. Your plan is untested and still just a concept. Now you need to see how effective your business plan functions in reality. Start looking for actionable things that you can measure. These will help you gauge your progress. One of the easiest things to measure is sales. However, sales are the end result of all the work you have done. If you are using Google Adwords, what is your conversion rate? How many interactions do you need to make a sale? Once you start becoming familiar with these numbers and ideas, you can get smarter about understanding them. The more measurements you make, the better off you will be. Testing the success of your business plan from multiple angles will help you see the big picture. For example, considering your sales information alongside your advertising will help you make informed decisions when you decide where to allocate your marketing budget. This brings us to the next point... 4. Use the 80/20 rule The 80/20 rule, or Pareto’s Principle, states that there is always an uneven divide between the amount of work that we do and the reward that’s earned for that work. For example, you might find that 80 percent of your business comes from 20 percent of your advertising. Conversely, that means that 80 percent of your advertising is only responsible for 20 percent of your business. Once you’ve identified this trend, you’ll want to direct more funds toward the part that’s working and reduce your spending on the less effective areas. When you are searching for evidence of this principle, you want to look in 4 key areas: Daily habits, Processes, Clients, and Marketing. After you’ve collected your data, look for any places that have unbalanced spending and returns. Make adjustments as you see fit. Analyse your results and repeat the process. If you fail to look out for the 80/20 rule, you may unknowingly be spending money in all the wrong places and missing opportunities for a higher return on your time and money. 5. Learn something new (quickly) Most people go into business using a skill they already know. Plumbers, accountants, fitness instructors, and web designers who go into business for themselves usually pick the industry because it is what they do best. The problem is that they quickly discover that they don’t know much about anything else. After a short time, they have accumulated some clients and then suddenly find themselves stuck. They struggle when faced with a technical task like marketing, copywriting, or SEO. If you find yourself in a situation like this, your first instinct might be to hire someone to do it for you. However, you need to consider how limited your knowledge is of the task required. Will you be able to tell if the person you hire does a good job? You should always try to at least understand the work being done. If you are thinking of hiring someone, consider whether or not you could quickly learn to do the work yourself. Being able to learn quickly is a skill that needs practice, too. If you are unable to learn quickly, you might find yourself working in your business and never on your business. Now that you’ve got your business plan written, you need to be sure to take these 5 steps. How you manage your time and direct your energy will make or break your business. At this point, your business plan is just an idea, a theory. It is up to you to prove that it has the potential to be a successful, profitable business. Until that time, you should be making constant adjustments to fine-tune your business plan. The ideas outlined above provide the steps that are necessary to build, develop, and maintain your business through its infancy.  What are YOUR tips after writing a business plan? 

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5 tips for successful business development

5 Tips for Successful Business Development 1. Business Development Is Not Increasing Sales Managing the development of your business has a lot in common with conducting an orchestra. It’s a case of encouraging and leading the various differing components of your business forward, in harmony, to the same point at the same time to produce an extraordinary effect. You need to develop your unique product or service to meet the highest level of customer expectations and you must do so at a price representing fair value and at a cost which generates a fair profit. 2. Understanding profit does not equal cash Profitable businesses fail every day. Many small business owners chase growth and revenues forgetting the basic facts of cash management. Profit equals Revenue – Costs but until you have received payment you are in a cash negative position. Ideally you would ensure that you have sufficient cash reserves to meet three to six months of costs. In the early days of a business keep fixed expenses as low as possible, use a virtual office and work from home if possible, keep full time staff to a minimum, pay cash or do without non-essential plant and equipment. This helps if you have a quiet month or even two. 3. Intuition Versus Fact Don’t build a business around a product or service you like or you would buy. Undertake sound quantitative research to determine what your prospective customers want and buy then see if you can develop an even better product or service at a price they are prepared to pay. Don’t be tempted to compete on price alone. If company A has been making its product for many years and you realize you could source and sell that product at a good profit for less that’s a good value proposition to you not your customer. The market is less willing to change supply on price alone but if you can offer a better value/service proposition where they get a better product and improved customer service you will have a much greater chance of success. 4. Business & Financial Planning There is an old saying “if you don’t know what you want you will probably never get it” and that’s certainly the case in business. A well thought through and documented business plan outlining your core objectives, market analysis, product development, marketing strategies and detailed financial budgets is essential. This is an area where you should consider the use of a mentor or an external consultant to help you get it right. Your financial plan should include linked budgets for P&L, Cash Flow and Balance Sheets. A beautifully bound business plan kept on a shelf is a waste of space it has to be a living breathing document understood and read regularly, reported against monthly and the strategies varied as needed to meet your actual versus budgeted position. 5. Respect all Stakeholders  A successful entrepreneur understands that the stakeholders in a business are not just the shareholders. The stakeholders include employees, suppliers, customers, shareholders and advisors and they are vital to the success of failure of your business. Spend time with each stakeholder, respect them, listen to their ideas, take their ideas, discuss your plans and your position with them. Take them on your journey as partners. Keep them honestly and openly informed and they will join your team and give you their full support. Again many businesses fail because they don’t earn the respect and support of their stakeholders. Building a successful company is hard, it requires a lot of commitment and courage as well as a little luck and of course having a great product and team. Watching your idea become a product and a product generate revenue that becomes a successful company makes it all worthwhile. Working with your stakeholders and mentors, following and constantly updating your plans and finances will go a long way to ensuring success.  

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5 Tips to Implement Your Business Plan Effectively

Writing a business plan is truly difficult but using it is even harder. If you have a clear-cut business plan it doesn't mean that you have to stick to it. Successful entrepreneurs keep changing and adjusting their business plan day to day based on their goals and principles.  There are practices you can follow as a business owner to get the best out of your initial business plan. Read to find out what they are.  ​​ In the last blog, we talked about 5 Things to Do After You Make Your Business Plan. But this isn’t enough. Anyone can write a plan. Anyone can follow a plan. The real magic happens when you learn and adapt quickly. There is little value in following a plan for 12 months that isn’t working. Your plan should and will change weekly--perhaps even every day. Here are the 5 key elements to ensure that your plan works for you and not the other way around. Connect With Your Genius We are all great at something. We all suck at other things. Too many of us continue to struggle with the things that trip us up. We work too little on the things we are a genius at. We often struggle to take a step back. Without understanding the big picture, we are unable to think critically about the balance of what we are doing against what needs to be done. What habits can you develop to fully utilize your genius? How can you incorporate your genius into what you’re already doing? The idea is simple. Yet, most people fail to grasp the nature of their genius and implement it effectively. Identify your 4 areas of competency: Unconscious incompetence Conscious incompetence Conscious competence Unconscious competence Once you understand these four concepts, the next step is to identify your daily tasks and figure out where they fit into each category. Work on a plan that will allow you to spend more time on tasks that utilize your competence. Minimize the time you spend on areas of incompetence. Remember, there is no shame in being incompetent. By recognising your strengths and weaknesses, you are able to allocate the right time and resources to the right tasks. Set Effective Goals An effective goal is one that is measurable. Your time is a precious commodity that must be used wisely. We talked before about testing and measuring your results. What process have you put in place to analyze what you’ve done so far? What are your S.M.A.R.T. goals that you want to achieve? Learning to evaluate and measure your goals is a skill that takes practice. Before you can do anything, you need to make sure that your goals are realistic, achievable, and measurable. Once you are satisfied with the goals you have created for yourself, you need to find a way to regularly measure your progress towards those goals and the impact they are having on your business overall. You have many options to help track the headway you’ve made. Whether you prefer old-fashioned pen and paper, or you want to explore smartphone applications, choose one that helps you keep all your information in one place. It will help you see the big picture. Identify Your Key Habits Highly effective people tend to do the same things again and again. You know the story about Steve Jobs wearing black every day so that he had one less decision to make in the morning. Having goals is crucial, but your habits and rituals will help you realize your goals. When evaluating your habits, each of them will fall into one of three categories: start, stop or keep. What habit do you want to start to help you make progress towards achieving your goal? Which habit is detrimental to your success that needs to be eliminated? Which habit of yours do you find to be successful that you should keep? You should be able to think critically about your habits. Have an honest conversation with yourself. Getting into new habits is almost as hard as breaking an old one. Identify which of your routines is bringing you closer to achieving your goals and which are holding you back. Watch Out for Common Problems Common problems are exactly what they say they are. Things that come up often. Too often. They arise so frequently you can no longer claim them to be a coincidence. These problems should demand your attention. You must fix them before you move forward. Otherwise, they will continue to make you suffer and will distract you from focusing on more important issues. These problems will be unique to you in some ways but commonplace in others. If you are having a particular issue, it’s likely that someone else has struggled with the same thing and found a solution. Effectively identifying problems and patterns is one of the keys to rapid growth. Find a common problem, solve it, and move on to the next one. There will always be problems in business. That’s why it’s business: people pay you to solve a problem. The better you get at addressing them, the more successful you’ll be. If you find yourself handling the same problems over and over again, you need to find a way to fix them permanently. Embrace Your Many Roles Entrepreneurs and small business owners all have one big problem in common: there is no one there to hold them accountable. Being your own boss means not having anyone to ensure you’re making progress on your goals and following your plans. When you go into business for yourself, you are now a combination of 3 distinctly different people: The Entrepreneur - the one with the vision, ideas, schemes and inspiration for the business. Without the entrepreneur, there is no business. The Manager - the one who sets the priorities, goals, budgets, forecasts, and ensures that the business is heading in the right direction. Without the manager, there is no business. The Worker - the doer, maker, expert, consultant. The one that makes the work actually happen, answers emails, pays the bills and keeps everything moving forward. Without the worker, you guessed it, there is no business. All three roles think, assume and act like they are the crucial factor in the business’ success and failure. The reality is that the true magic happens when they find the sweet spot in the middle and ALL three work in harmony. However, the manager is often the one we ignore, bully, or disregard. We might refuse to implement the manager’s systems and advice. He’s just not cool. He’s the one you didn’t like at your last job. He’s the killjoy. He’s all about rules and regulations, deadlines, and necessary evils. You wish he’d just go away! And yet, he is your accountability. Accountability is the manager within you that keeps you on the path to success. You're Good to Go You’ve got your business plan written. You’ve taken steps to make sure you stay on top of it. You agonize over details and make changes constantly. Now that you’re making progress, you need to make sure that you stay accountable to your plan. It’s easy to get distracted when problems arise. You might discover that you aren’t utilizing your talent effectively. Despite knowing about this disparity, if you aren’t actively taking steps to correct it, you aren’t being accountable. If you struggle with accountability, consider joining a Mastermind group. A good group will help you address all of these issues and give you advice when you need it most. The group will hold you accountable and will advise you on all of the topics we’ve mentioned. If you aren’t accountable, you are doomed to fail. Is there a tip that YOU find particularly helpful in running a business?  

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6 Essential Steps for Starting Your Own Farming Business

A farming business starts with identifying and researching the market you want to produce for. It also takes a comprehensive and smart business plan. Next, make an infrastructure plan for storing your produce, not only for the present but also for the future as the farm expands. You'll also need to review your personal finances to make sure you have the resources to make the farm possible. Once you understand your finances, it's time to purchase all the materials and supplies you'll need to get started. And finally, you will likely be in debt when you start, so it's wise to have a plan to take it on strategically. Farming has been a productive, profitable way to earn a living for centuries. Through your own personal effort, effective strategy and planning techniques and good fortune from Mother Nature, you can live off of the land you own and can turn a profit that supports you and your loved ones. If you have the dream of starting a small farming business, you may be wondering how to set up your finances. These helpful tips will get you started on your farming business venture. 1. Identify and Research Your Market Long before you begin tilling soil and planting seeds, you must carefully identify and research your market. You likely are well aware of the types of major crops that are produced in your local area. Take time to research the market for each and to determine the most cost-effective option to pursue with your space. Consider all aspects of the process, from the cost of seeds and the need for water and pesticides to the price you can obtain in the marketplace. 2. Create a Business Plan Running a farm is essentially the same as running a business. You have a product to produce, equipment to purchase and maintain, perhaps staff to employ and more. Take time to explore the concept of a business plan, and create one for your business. This will help you to guide your activities as you go along, and it may help you to position your farming business for improved success before you get started. 3. Plan for Your Infrastructure Needs Your property may already have the farming infrastructure in place, such as various sheds and barns, but you’d still want to double check your storage capacity to avoid future costs. Of course, if you don’t have any usable farm buildings, you will need to build new ones to store your equipment, supplies, and other items safely. If you’re starting small, you should go for prefab and modifiable buildings to always have options when it comes to storage, garages and other structures you’ll need, but which will most likely become too small as your business continues growing. They’re easy to assemble or disassemble, giving you the freedom of designing to your personal tastes and terrain requirements. Even if your farm has existing buildings that in the future will lack space for your needs, it’s quicker, faster and ultimately cheaper to go with prefabricated structures. 4. Review Your Personal Finances You may be well aware that farming is not a get-rich-quick option, but rather good old hard work which in time pays off very well. More than that, it may be several months before you see any income from your efforts, and it may be even longer before you turn a true profit. In addition, Mother Nature can wreak havoc on your crops, and you may obtain less profit from the sale of your harvest than you originally planned. You must have a solid plan in place for managing your personal finances through these times. 5. Purchase Equipment and Supplies Running a farm requires you to have a substantial amount of equipment and supplies on hand. Machines and equipment can drastically reduce the amount of time and effort it takes to till the soil, plant seeds, harvest your crop and more. However, modern machines and vehicles tend to be rather expensive, so if your budget is tight, you may want to start with cheaper, second-hand or older vehicles. You also need supplies such as seeds, fertilizer, pesticide and more. Find the best deal possible on these items so that you can save money on their purchase. 6. Take on Debt Strategically Many farmers with a small operation need to take on debt initially to purchase the required equipment, supplies and infrastructure. They may also need additional funds to live off of until they can produce a profit. Your business plan can tell you the exact sum of money needed for these purposes. When you take on debt, ensure that you can make the monthly payments. Have a financial plan in place for paying the loan payments in a worst-case scenario. Starting a small farm business is a wonderful idea as it can enrich your life personally as well as financially. However, it does require financial planning in various ways. Follow these tips to get your business off the ground.

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6 Quick Tips to Build your Customer Base

The importance of your customer base Identifying your most valuable content. Here's how to get in front of potential new customers. Building your customer base has never been easier. With the rise of Social Media, there are so many new and exciting ways to expand new business opportunities. Through Business Coaching and Mentoring so many Small Business Owners to help set up, grow and evolve their Businesses, I see first hand on a daily basis the importance for each business in having a focus on building a targeted Customer Base. Having a great product or service that you're sure many people will need and want is just the start to any business. The next step is finding your Target Audience and also making it super easy for potential customers to find you! Usually organic business and word of mouth make up a large portion of customers however, it's important to market beyond this if you're really wanting to grow the business. Acquisition Marketing is extremely important in gaining new customers on a regular basis, even once the business becomes established. To do this, we need to grow the Businesses Customer Base. Below are 6 quick tips to expand your customer base through adding value to the experience you are giving your customers or clients.   Get Personal Business and sales get a bad rap in the sense that they are seen as impersonal and one-dimensional. In fact, they are the very opposite. Many leads and referrals can come out of networking events and workshops that require you to get a little ‘personal’ with other like-minded people. To foster personal relationships with potential customers and referral partners you meet at these events, it is pivotal to follow them up with a quick acknowledgement via social media or email. Let them know how great it was to meet and connect with them. Asking whether you can do anything to support their business and continue to keep in touch can help to establish some really meaningful connections. These relationships often take time to create, though these same relationships will help to establish you as a reliable resource and may open the door to potential business opportunities.    Partner with a Non-Competing Business who has a Similar Target Audience Look for other businesses that have a similar target audience and are actively marketing their business. Seeing that they are actively marketing their business indicates they’re invested in growing and will be more receptive to your partnering idea. It also shows they will be easier to work with through splitting the workload in a manner that will suit both of you. Through partnering with businesses, you will unlock a whole new customer base and add value to your own business by having other products / services on hand to refer your clients to. These are usually reciprocal relationships, whereby helping other businesses to grow, your own will grow!   Expand on the Content your Already Providing Look at your analytics to identify the content on your website, blog and social media platforms which have gained high engagement. Consider the different ways you could provide further valuable content on similar topics. For example, if engagement on a particular blog post is high, think about transferring this content to a podcast episode where you will be able to expand upon it and share even more of your expertise. Adding value to your business and the experience potential clients have in their engagement with you can easily be done by engaging them through “freemiums” like an e-Book or a free download. This will lead to capturing their email addresses, which you can then Market to via email.   Step Outside of your Comfort Zone Get comfortable with being outside of your comfort zone. There is the cliché saying that outside of your comfort zone is where the magic happens. Truth be told, this could not be more relevant to creating success in business. You may not be comfortable with taking a step outside of your comfort zone but the more frequently you do, the better you get at it and before long, you will be unstoppable. Running your own business is a huge discomfort for so many people, so do it in a way that suits your personality. This comes up time and time again in my Business Coaching sessions. I always create Marketing Strategies for my clients to showcase their passion, skills, message and innovation in a manner which stretches their comfort zone however is done in a way that they are happy to give it a try.   Leverage Existing Partnerships Word-of-Mouth provides a high amount of revenue for most businesses once they are established. Referrals are your existing ambassadors for your business. Referrals usually come from existing customers, clients, suppliers and referral businesses, all of whom can become some of your greatest allies for increasing your customer base. Have a think whether you can apply some Marketing Strategies to these categories to increase your leads and enquiries.   Showcase your Expertise There are so many ways to get in front of potential new customers and clients to generate interest in your offerings. Social Media has made showcasing your expertise so simple and easy! In addition, whether it’s starting a Podcast, Blog a YouTube channel or hosting regular Workshops; educating your audience about relevant topics in your state of business is essential to growing your customer base. Other ways you can do this may include creating a challenge, hosting group sessions, publishing an e-Book, speaking at a seminar, trade show or exhibition or even hosting a meet-up. All of these methods will allow you to get in front of people who are already engaged, interested and potentially ready to sign up for your product or service. A great activity from here is to create a list of how your existing customers and clients are currently finding you. Once you’ve identified this, then have a think about how you can improve on this and put a further focus on it. The above tips are a fabulous guide on how you can begin to take action. 

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