Monthly Archives: June 2017

Juggling Living in the Now and Our Businesses

Does anyone else find this quite a tightrope walk? It can be quite mind boggling!

The Past, Future but rarely Present

The business world at large demands projections, business plans, analysis of data and constant checking of figures – which area of our business should we concentrate on next, which country should we try to conquer next? A full time job in itself if we don’t have people to help us out!

All of the above serve to keep us in either the past or the future. The present moment is fleeting and reflects what we have been doing in the past anyway – so why spend so much time analysing it? Surely, by looking at the present moment and where we are – not just in business, but in our lives – we have a pretty accurate yardstick of how we have been creating our lives to date.

Business is a Serious Business

Most businesses are run with the aim of making money – yes, I know – I’m stating the obvious! However, isn’t it just this factor that takes the joy out of many businesses? A bit like a person who loves amateur dramatics, but when they decide to transfer over to the professional stage the joy dissipates because now their lifestyle depends on their success. There is a mantle of seriousness which now envelopes them and, except for a fortunate few, it’s not fun anymore, but business.

This very seriousness is what ties people up in knots, makes them tense, stressed and out of touch with their intuition and guidance. There is too much fear of failure and thoughts of not having enough money to support themselves, needing to go back into work that they hate doing just to make ends meet and even the fear of people telling them ‘I told you so!’

There are many layers to starting our own business. It’s about making ourselves vulnerable because we can ultimately be rejected by the world and nobody wants what we have to offer. The ultimate rejection! It takes courage to take that leap of faith.

We have to be Passionate

Loving what we do is really the only way to have any chance of a successful business, and I’m not just talking about money. I’m sure all of us have had dealings with businesses which have been run delightfully – restaurants that serve the most delicious food for example. Then one day we visit our favourite restaurant and the food isn’t quite as good, the service isn’t quite as personal and, on enquiry, we find that the restaurant has changed hands. The passion and energy of the person/people that started it has gone and, unless the restaurant is taken over by people with equal passion, the customers are going to feel the difference. Is there ever the same level of passion shown for a business which is already a running concern versus one that has been built from scratch with blood, sweat and tears? I don’t know, but I doubt it.

It is our energy which runs our business. We can have unlimited funds to throw at it, but unless we have passion for what we do that money is going to go down the drain, as potential customers will sense that we aren’t in business for the love of it, but purely as a way of making as much money as we can, in as short a time as possible. We won’t show up as people that they can trust!

Small Business Should Invest in Big Data

Big data refers to huge volumes of structured and unstructured data; however, processing such massive volumes of data via traditional data management tools is inefficient and impossible. To understand big data you have to realize the devices that are collecting it today e.g. bar code scanners, mobile cameras, CCTV cameras, motion sensors, smoke alarms, web analytical tools, CRMs, etc. From the examples, you can see that these devices collect a vast array of data types hence the structured and unstructured part in the definition. The sheer velocity at which the data is being produced cannot be controlled and processed using traditional methods and tools.

However, the use of big data and incorporation of big data analytical technology gives businesses the competitive edge over their competitors.

Big Data and Small Businesses

It is only a thing of the past when terms like big data and business intelligence were associated with large enterprises only. Today, small businesses have to leverage the data they are collecting in order to remain a part of the competition. For years, cost has remained the main reason why small businesses did not adopt big data analytical technologies, but this has changed now. There are budget-friendly tools available for small businesses to take advantage of the data they are collecting today. According to some experts, small businesses can take better advantage of big data since they are able to make the necessary changes far more quickly than large enterprises i.e. real-time response to insights from available data.

According to an IDG study in 2016, 78% of the large enterprises agree that big data strategy has the power to change how businesses have always operated. This shows the acceptance of big data technology and strategies for large enterprises and strengthens the fact that small businesses could become irrelevant if they did not adopt the same strategies.

Benefits of Large Data Analytics

Large Data and Big Companies, a report by IIA Director of Research, Tom Davenport, reveals that businesses are benefitting greatly from big data analytics especially in improving their products, making business decisions faster and reducing costs. Here are some ways small businesses can benefit from big data.

• Cost Savings

The upfront cost of implementing large data tools and strategies is high undoubtedly, but the long term benefits of doing so are matchless. The healthcare industry is a great example of how the use of large data can help businesses reduce their costs regardless of their size. Using predictive analytics, Medicare and Medicaid Services forestalled more than $210 million fraud in healthcare with just 2 years of utilizing the aforementioned technology.

In addition to preventing frauds, small businesses can also reduce their costs by steering clear of creating more inventory than needed, including better partners in the supply chain, etc.

• Improved Decision Making

This is the biggest benefit of large data. It allows businesses to expedite decision making by processing the data fast and giving insights in timely manner. In the past, business decisions were reserved for future strategies in the light of available data and the trends that were observed in it. The amount of data that businesses are sitting on today is huge and thus more powerful insights are to be gained from it.

This vast amount of data requires the use of modern big data hardware technologies. Once both the things are in place for a business, they can understand customers better, create products that are a closer reflection of what customers want and develop a brand based on most reverenced values.

• Impenetrable Security

Businesses are more focused today on using large data to improve their core capabilities, but less attended to a more serious concerns i.e. cyber threats and security breaches. Almost every small, medium and large business is connected to the internet today. Moreover, the Internet of Things has broadened the attackable security surface for businesses making it easier for cyber criminals to attack networks and penetrate company databases.

The biggest concern for modern businesses is that they have to “respond” to cyber attacks that have already occurred rather than being able to prevent them from occurring. The use of big data and big data analytical tools can be a game changer in this area allowing businesses to prevent any security attacks way before they are executed.

Developing A Business Startup Success

It can be easy to lose sight of the very reasons why you wanted to open your business startup. You can get wrapped up in the day-to-day operations, leaving little time to focus on what makes your business startup standout in the market. Having a strategy in place that allows you to keep you motivated can ensure your business stays on a path of success.

Fall In Love With Your Business

Any business that you invest your heart in soul in should be the great love of your life. You need to nurture it and watch it grow. Having a real passion for what you are doing and the products and services you sell can make your business startup a real labor of love. You should have a real hunger that drives you to do well. Making your business startup idea one that you can stand behind and love to eternity is the first step in achieving success.

If it seems that you are losing that connection with your company and not really feeling the love, take a step back and allow yourself to remember how it all started. This can spark your emotions for your business and allow you to fall back in love with what you are doing. Your passion for your business is often times enough to get you through the challenging times.

Surround Yourself With Good People

From your employees to your professional network, the people that you surround yourself with can have a strong influence on your business startup. These very people can give you new ideas and help educate you on your business’ operations.

Having positive people to lift you up can be a strong motivator and allow you to have someone to bounce thoughts off of when you feel uncertain about a decision. Use your network to gain valuable information and learn from your peers on what mistakes to avoid. They can prove to be a big part of helping you run your business and ensuring it is successful in its endeavors.

Don’t forget your employees; they can be a big part of keeping your focused on your business startup on a daily basis. Good employees will drive your customer service and in turn your revenue. When your employees believe in your business and the vision you have set for it, it makes it that much more important that you deliver now and into the future.

Create A Marketing Strategy

Having a marketing strategy in place to promote your business is necessary to help achieve strong revenues. You should have prepped and planned a strategy that you want to adhere to market your business startup to your customers. It doesn’t have to be a large portion of your budget, but it should include some effort on your part.

Think about where your customers go for their information. Be visible to them and make sure you use every opportunity that is available to you to market your business with both new and existing customers. Try social media, check into local advertising, hold and an event, and use what is available to you to reach your customers and introduce your business’ products and services to the masses.

If you stay aggressive with your marketing plan, you are sure to garner the attention of your current customer base as well as a new group of potential clients. This can bring in more revenue and keep your business startup on a path of success.

Get To Know Your Customers

It is your responsibility as a business startup owner to know everything there is to know about your customers. You should have a strong idea of who they are, what their likes are, and where they are located. When you truly understand your customers, the more effectively you can serve them with your products and services.

While your attention may be turned toward gaining new customers, don’t lose sight of your current clients. They are the bread and butter of your business, and you want to make sure you are not replacing existing customers with new customers at a losing pace. Show your loyal customers how much you appreciate their business. Without them, your business will only see marginal success, and you want to make sure to grow your business startup rather than be stagnate in its approach.

Take Time For You

It may be difficult to imagine, but you need time away from your business startup. You may think that you can’t take time away or that your momentum will crumple without you, but taking a vacation every now and then is one of the best things you can do for your company. When you step away for a moment, you allow yourself the opportunity to recharge and refresh. You’ll be able to see your business in a new light and be surging with motivation when you return.

Expansion Pitfalls All Small Businesses

A great number of small business owners have a constant urge to expand. Of course, the mere idea of expanding and becoming a “big” business known to thousands and millions of people is fascinating. However, expansion is not all about finding a new office space and hiring new employees to fill the vacant seats.

There is much more to expansion than most small business owners realize. It is unfortunate that a larger population of these business owners is only focused on the benefits of expanding while completely omitting the challenges that entail business expansion. Let’s take a look at some of the most common challenges, concerns and considerations before you expand your small business.

Major Pitfalls to Avoid before Expanding a Small Business

  • Outdated Information of Market Conditions

Too often, the decision to expand taken by most small business owners is based on information that is many months old. The important thing to consider here is continuous market research. An idea that seemed like it will lead the market a few months ago might be an average offering today.

For example, you might have landed in the market with a unique product, and its sudden popularity might make you think you should expand as soon as possible. What you don’t realize is that the acceptance and popularity rate of your product can diminish with time. The big reason behind that is the competitors who can imitate anything that you have created.

It does not matter if you have patented the technology, method or the product itself before launching it. Your competitors will always find some way to imitate and emulate your products. A great example of this is Apple, the tech giant that patented the touchscreen technology. You can see there are more non-Apple touchscreen smartphones in the world today than Apple’s own iPhone.

  • Regional Limitations

When you are expanding your business into new territories, you must know them well. You cannot expect people to react to your offerings, marketing methods, advertising tactics in the same way everywhere. In fact, cultural considerations are an extremely important consideration when businesses are expanding.

You don’t have to be expanding to a completely new country to consider culture. There are many things that people in one state might love and people in another state completely hate.

These considerations have to be made based on the type of business you have. If your business has some cultural dependencies, you have to be very careful with where you are thinking of expanding your business operations.

  • Cash Flow Challenges

You need to be on top of your cash flow before you expand. Cash flow is important for any business, but it is essential when it comes time for expansion. It does not matter how much money you are expecting to come into the business after making the expansion move; it is going to require a lot of money upfront too.

This is the time when you have to stop thinking about the revenue and start focusing on your income. Your revenue does not tell you how feasible it is for you to expand your business. It is the money that you can use without affecting your current operations that matter in the expansion.

Look at your profits and see how big they are. If your profits are small, don’t just assume that things will be fine and you should just make a move. You don’t want to create a situation where not only you fail with expansion but affect your existing operations as well.

  • Technological Issues

The way modern businesses operate, technology goes wherever your business goes. Many small business owners think of expansion only regarding new office space, furniture, and new employees, but that’s not the case. Today’s businesses rely heavily on technologies, both hardware, and software. When your business expands, you have to support it with better hardware but what’s more important is the software side.

Unless you are using a cloud solution for your database and other internal tasks and activities, you will have to spend a lot of time in arranging the right system. Syncing information across multiple locations and managing bigger databases with more accounts and information can be a challenge in the beginning.

  • Overestimating Business Popularity

Some businesses that start with a unique idea and get attention from media fast are able to reap great benefits from sudden demand spikes. This situation often makes business owners feel that they should expand as soon as possible. What they don’t realize is that this is only the “trial” period for customers in their minds.

Even if they like your product, in the beginning, it does not mean they have put full trust in your offerings. A onetime purchase does not translate to loyal customers and repetitive purchases. You might have received a great response from customers when you started the business but wait for some time to know if your customers have started to repeat.

It is only the number of repeat customers that can tell you if your product/service has been a success. It could be a nightmare for you if you start getting negative reviews from your first customers as soon as you expand into new markets and locations. You could end up creating too much inventory that no one is willing to buy.

  • Underestimating Growth of Employees

While a lot of things get overestimated by new business owners before expansion, there are some things that they underestimate. Sometimes, business owners are not able to fully foresee their growth regarding employees.

They arrange new space to continue business operations in a new location without realizing that the growing number of employees will force them to expand their office space again. Not only is it inefficient but it could lead to a lot of hassle for the working employees if the expansion of office space takes place while they are working there.