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5 key things to get right when starting a business

5 key things to get right when starting a business

Starting your own business is a BIG leap of faith. Will you find any customers? Will you make enough income? These are questions that any founder will ask themselves.

But with the right planning, preparation and support, you can set the best possible foundations for your new enterprise, and take some of the guesswork out of becoming a business owner.

Building the right foundations

So, if you’ve got a great business idea and you’re eager to get your company off the ground, what are the key foundational elements you need in place?

To get your new company trading smoothly:

  • Define your vision and goals – so you know WHY you’re in business, what success will look like and who your target customers will be. If you’re clear about the ‘why’ from the outset, every decision will be easier. Think about who your product or service is aimed at, what their needs are and how your solution solves this.
  • Have a robust business plan – providing you with a clear route map for achieving your goals, with budgets, targets and pre-agreed timelines to meet. This doesn’t need to be a huge undertaking but it will need some thought. A good business plan will evaluate the idea and feasibility, as well as identifying opportunities and obstacles.
  • Get the finance you need – so you have the capital required to start trading, with enough in the bank to cover operational overheads and start generating income. A solid business plan will help you gain buy-in by proving the idea for investors.
  • Measure your performance – once you’re up and running, record and track all financial and non-financial data, so you can measure how well you’re performing and identify, early on, the areas that need attention.

Talk to us about setting up your new business

If you’ve got a world-beating business idea and the ambition to become a business owner, come and talk to us. We’ll help you flesh out your vision, write a workable plan and get your finances in shape for the next stage of the startup journey.

Get in touch.

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The Five A’s of Change - a process to achieve continuous improvement

The Five A’s of Change – a process to achieve continuous improvement

Whether it’s a new focus, a new venture or a new year, consciously recognising the process required to change can vastly improve your outcome.

The Five A’s of Change breaks it down simply:

1. Awareness.
First we must be aware of what needs to change. Perhaps we want to work smarter, not harder, so we can have more family time and better financial returns.

2. Acceptance.
We have to accept that in order to work smarter we will need to do things differently. There is no magic bullet; effective planning is critical to achieving change.

3. Action.
Once we have a plan; we must actually implement it. Taking action can be simpler than imagined; one step at a time, the momentum for change will grow. But, if we don’t act, planning is pointless.

4. Accountability.
Having someone independent to hold us to account is typically a foolproof way to ensure we act. A bit like going to the gym before work… we’re more likely to show up if we’ve committed to a friend or paid for a personal trainer.

5. Acknowledgement.
Humans are habitual creatures. It takes 21 times to change a habit. By celebrating the success of taking action and forcing change, we help to reinforce that good behaviour. The reaction is a chemical one.

This powerful model is simple and effective. Consider the things in your business that you would like to change and what stage in this process you’re at. What is your next step? Whatever your current situation, empower yourself and make a commitment to real change.

“The secret of change is to focus all of your energy not on fighting the old, but on building the new.”– Socrates

Need help making change stick? Check out how we can help you with planning and accountability.

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Taking the pain out of pricing - how much should you charge?

Taking the pain out of pricing – how much should you charge?

Figuring out how much to charge is a big learning curve for any business owner. The answer to how to approach it will fluctuate as circumstances and markets change. It is important to revisit the question throughout the lifecycle of your business.

There is no magic formula

All businesses are unique, with an individual offering of products and services. Before you set your pricing, It’s important to look at the whole picture. This will help to ensure you are being strategic and not just following trends.

Gather the dataTo get started, you need to gather as much information as possible. Block out some time to sit down with your business data and strategies. Pricing is essentially figuring out where your products and services are positioned in the market. So keep your business strategies top of mind. It doesn’t have to be a confusing exercise. Just grab a coffee get started.

Here are the first steps to consider:

  1. Record all the costs involved in production. Make sure you include indirect costs, such as assets, insurances, licenses and legal costs.
  2. Now that you have your outlay, consider your current profit margin or what margin you require. Remember there is a difference between net and gross profit margins. Net margins take all operating costs into account.
  3. Do your competitor research. Be thorough in understanding the market and what others are charging for the same service or product or variations of this. What unique selling points (USPs) does your business have that allow you to vary your prices?
  4. Think about your offerings. What extra benefits or offerings do you have that can affect your pricing? Think about cheap and no-frills on one end of the spectrum, versus high-end premium products. Can you create different products at different prices to cater to different segments of the market?

Don’t forget to check in on your pricing regularly to make sure you’re keeping up with your customers and staying ahead of the game.

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What is employee engagement and why does it matter?

What is employee engagement and why does it matter?

An engaged employee is a team member who is fully absorbed by and enthusiastic about their work, and who takes positive action to further a company’s reputation and interests and achieve their goals.

More importantly, what does a disengaged team member look like?
The symptoms range from a negative attitude, poor communication, absenteeism, lack of initiative, laziness, lateness, lack of participation, and doing the bare minimum at work… all the way to actively damaging the company’s work output, culture, and reputation.

The impact of having a single disengaged team member can be catastrophic.
The effects are not limited to their own poor productivity and output. This person can infect the core of your culture; damaging morale and lowering the performance of the entire team. They could even cause the resignation of a key team member or, if client facing, cause irreparable damage to your brand.

Improved employee engagement leads to improved productivity and performance.
Numerous studies have proven that companies with engaged employees significantly outperform others. Why is this? People who are engaged in their role want to come to work, therefore take fewer sick days. This ultimately leads to reduced team turnover and less unproductive time spent recruiting and inducting new employees.

Not surprisingly, team members who are engaged feel more supported by their peers and are more likely to work collaboratively, leading to significantly less re-work and wastage. Also, fewer workplace accidents and incidents occur when team members are engaged. All of the above reasons contribute to much higher productivity and profitability.

The Engagement-Profit Chain* is another take on why engagement improves performance:
Engaged employees leads to… higher service, quality, and productivity, which leads to…higher customer satisfaction, which leads to…increased sales (repeat business and referrals), which leads to…higher profit levels, which leads to…higher returns.

There is a difference between employee happiness and employee engagement.
Your team could be happy but not necessarily working efficiently and productively to deliver optimum outcomes.

A number of factors can influence and improve employee engagement. These include developing and utilising Core Values, documenting an effective Organisational Chart, providing clarity on the roles and responsibilities in your organisation, and introducing KPIs to help define what a good day’s work looks like for your team.

Need help building a happy and high-performance working culture? Get in touch.

“To win in the marketplace you must first win in the workplace.” – Doug Conant

*The Engagement-Profit Chain was created by Kevin Kruse

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Funding is the key to your growth plans

Funding is the key to your growth plans

Sourcing the right funding for your business can be the first step in achieving your growth goals, or the helping hand you need when you’re in a cash flow hole.

Cash is king when it comes to funding your growth plan. But with the funding market now bursting with a huge choice of traditional and alternative finance providers, knowing what type of finance to opt for, and from which provider, can be a complex decision.

Choosing the right finance for your business

The type of growth you’re aiming for will determine the kind of finance that’s most suitable. So, if a quick cash injection is needed to hire extra staff, you might opt for invoice financing. Whereas a long-term scale-up project would need a larger secured business loan, or private investment.

To make your funding search successful:

  • Know what you need to borrow and why – be clear about your goal, why it’s business-critical and where the additional money will be used.
  • Have a clear budget and a healthy balance sheet – lenders will take you more seriously if you’ve estimated your growth budget and your financials are looking healthy.
  • Look for the best terms and interest rates – a loan on unfavourable terms will be more of a hindrance than a benefit. So shop around and look for providers who can give you the deal that you’re looking for.

Talk to us about accessing the best funding

If you’re looking to access additional finance, we’ll help you work out your budget and search for the best possible funding options – providing the money you need to meet your business goals.

Get in touch and we can help you find your ideal funding.

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6 ways to measure the health of your business

6 ways to measure the health of your business

When you’re running a business, it’s easy to get caught up in the day-to-day activity and lose sight of the big picture. Taking stock of the health of your business is important. Knowing where you’re allows for more effective planning, early warning about any issues, and the chance to better chart a course for success.

There are some quick ratios that will help you in order to gauge the health of your business. We can help you to assess your business health and show you how to calculate these vital checks.

Liquidity Ratios

Liquidity ratios are about how quickly you can turn your business assets into cash – which helps you assess whether you’ll be able to pay the bills.

High ratios are better, as this means you’ve got more assets than liabilities.

Current ratio

Current ratio = Total current assets / Total current liabilities

As a general guideline, 2:1 is a good current ratio, but this does depend on the kind of industry you’re in, and the nature of the assets and liabilities.

Quick ratio

Quick ratio = (Current assets – stock on hand) / Current liabilities

This measure excludes your existing stock, which you may not be able to quickly turn into cash, and is seen as a more realistic quick snapshot of your position.

Solvency ratios

Solvency ratios look at sources other than cash flow to see whether your business will be able to settle debts.

Leverage ratio

Leverage ratio = Total liabilities / Equity

This is a measure of whether your business is reliant on debt financing or equity to fund your assets. A higher ratio can make it harder to borrow money.

Debt to assets

Debt to assets = Total liabilities / Total assets

This tells you what percentage of assets is being financed by liabilities.

Profitability ratios

Profitability ratios will let you know how efficient your business operations are. Where possible, it’s good to measure your business against others in your industry.

Gross margin ratio

Gross margin ratio = Gross profit / Total sales

This ratio tells you whether you can cover the necessary business overheads from your sales.

Net margin ratio

Net margin ratio = Net profit / Total sales

This measure tells you the percentage of sales dollars left after you’ve settled your expenses, except for your income taxes.

Checking in on your business health is a great habit to get into. Using these ratios helps you to understand your current business health and allows you to plan. Talk to us about how to calculate the factors in these ratios in order to keep your business on the right track.

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The Top 10 Time Wasters In Your Working Week

The Top 10 Time Wasters In Your Working Week

There are 1,440 minutes in a day and each of us have the same allocated amount. Some people manage to achieve much more than others. So, how can we free up time to help lead a better business and ultimately a happier life?

The top 10 time wasters:

1. Lack of clear goals. Planning and setting SMART goals provides clarity. SMART = Specific, Measurable, Attainable or Achievable, and most importantly Time-bound. Have your goals documented and visible.

2. A messy desk. Desk clutter equals mind clutter. Tidy your workspace each day before you leave. Also consider how paperless you are; paper is part of the problem.

3. Procrastination and shifting priorities. Avoid unnecessary pick up and put down. Multitasking is a productivity myth. Plan your day carefully and stay focused; don’t deviate unless it’s really necessary.

4. Interruptions (from humans and technology). Establish ground rules for others, and set yourself clear parameters regarding your technology distractions, e.g. turn off your email notifications and only check emails between tasks. If it’s urgent, they’ll call or tap your shoulder.

5. Ineffective delegation (and abdication). Responsibility and doing are not the same. Invest time in creating clear processes and empower others to do more for you. When delegating a task, responsibility still falls on you… and without a clear process, you are setting someone up to fail which will ultimately reflect poorly on you.

6. Ineffective systems. Mistakes can usually be attributed to ineffective systems. Involve your team to get buy in and LEAN up processes where possible. Eliminate systems that don’t add value; always go back to your purpose.

7. Inability to say ‘no’. We are defined not just by what we say yes to, but what we say no to. Planning helps us to say no to things that don’t align with our purpose and goals.

8. Ineffective meetings. Every meeting needs a purpose, an agenda and clear objectives. Stick to the agenda, document outcomes and consider which meetings could be replaced with reporting or an online planning tool (such as Trello).

9. Ineffective email use.Think twice before playing email tennis. Ask yourself: 1.) Is the directive clear? 2.) Is the tone correct? 3.) Is it better to walk five steps to have a conversation?

10. Poor planning. Effective planning has three key components: a one page plan (with goals, KPIs and required actions), regular reporting to ensure continuous improvement, and accountability.

What are your biggest time wasters? Identify your top 3 and take ownership and responsibility to minimise them today!

‘Regretting wasted time is wasting more time.’ – Anon

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Are you a Slave to Your Business?

Are you a Slave to Your Business?

Your business is there to serve you; not the other way around. In other words; you should never be a slave to your business.

Being a slave implies a victim mentality – that the world has simply dealt you a bad hand, that you have no say in the matter. Perhaps you hear yourself thinking you’re a slave to your business because your clients need you, or your team can’t cope without you, or maybe the economy is busting, or booming… basically, insert any excuse here as to why you can’t change. But it is exactly that, an excuse.

The OARBED behaviour model tells us we must act above the line; that we must stay out of BED, and take Ownership, Accountability and Responsibility for our actions – and choices. So, what’s stopping you from taking control of your business? What must you do to be a victor?

  • Do you need to start going home on time every night?
  • Do you need to stop accepting work from people who don’t respect your payment terms?
  • Do you need to block out calendar time to respect your health and wellbeing?
  • Do you need to implement 10 strategies to grow your cashflow?
  • Do you need to train and empower your team to do more?
  • Do you need more time to plan?

No more excuses – it’s your business, you make the rules, choose not to be a slave!

Need accountability coaching? We can help you be the master of your business.

‘Success isn’t a result of spontaneous combustion. You must set yourself on fire.’ – Arnold Glasgow

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