Tag Archives: small business

Ten ways to grow your business and your income

 
 
 
 

 

Top tips to make money in an economic downturn
Ten ways to create a booming business in a recession

 

Top tips and survival strategies to create a booming business in an economic downturn

Times ahead look challenging for business owners but you can actually build your business and grow your business income, even during this tough economic climate, if you employ the right strategies.

I’ve interviewed scores of company owners and self-employed people to establish just what it is that separates the winners from the also-rans in times like this, and here’s my summary of what they are doing right, that you can do  too:

1. Refocus: in good times it is easy to have a scatter-gun approach to sales and marketing. Clients, customers or companies who might not be natural buyers from you have the budget to indulge side-projects, and you are the beneficiary.
When budgets are more tightly controlled, only the essentials are purchased. Therefore, it’s time to refocus your business and identify which customers regard your products as essential.
2. Define your customers:  In order to know your core market, you need to define your key customers. How to define your customer? Think about the following: from whom have you had your best repeat business? Who provided the funds for your single biggest source of income last year? If your market is seasonal, what additional products might your key customers need at other times of the year?
3. Visualise your ideal customer as a person, give them a name and think about what is their definition of a good day. Repeat business comes from happy customers whose needs have been met by your product or service.
4. Identify your unique offering:  What are your personal qualities, and those of your business, which make you different from other competitor businesses? Go through the feedback you have received from past clients – what was the recurring theme of their positive experiences? When you distil down what it is that makes people return to you, you can build on this and incorporate it into your marketing message.

5. Be confident in your pricing: How to charge more for your business and services? When you have defined your USP, then you can explain to customers the added value that you are offering. It is business suicide to compete on price alone, because there will always be those who are cheaper than you. If you can justify being “reassuringly expensive” – in terms of enhanced client or customer experience, value and outcomes – then you don’t need to reduce or discount in order to grow. You can’t do this unless you have followed step 2, which is to identify who your key customers are, and what they define as “value”.
6. Be disciplined about your time: Try to establish which effective marketing campaigns – newspaper ads,  website, blogging, Twitter, Facebook, personal referrals, webinars, trade shows, speaking engagements – have generated the greatest and most lucrative leads. Especially if you are an owner-manager of a business you can’t afford to spread yourself too thinly, so work out what is the most productive use of your time. Measure your results through Google Analytics and other web tools.

7. Create positive habits: When you work alone or in a small business it can be mentally challenging to stay focussed during lean periods.  Have a strategy for dealing with times when income is not coming in regularly – such as budgeting for quiet periods, keeping cash on deposit to maintain positive cash flow when clients pay late, and building in sufficiently daily periods of rest, relaxation, and exercise.
8. Let go of the old stuff: it may have worked in the past, but if the market has shifted and it is not working now, don’t continue to flog it. Move on. You need to know when to change business branding, especially if you have identified that you are not currently playing to your full strengths. The book “Who moved my cheese?” takes only an hour to read, costs less than £4 but will make you rethink your objectives and challenge your attitude to change.

9. Think positively: Resolve to implement one positive action every day that will grow your business, produce additional income, raise your profile or promote your brand. To quote Aristotle:  “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence therefore is not an act, but a habit.”

10. Pay down your debt:  Position your business well, maintain healthy cashflow, and reduce your overheads as much as you can. Debt is often necessary when you are establishing a business, but you should aim to get out of debt as quickly as possible, because until you do, the profits you are making are benefiting the banks, not you or your business.
Regards, Marianne Curphey

The secrets of running a successful home business

 

People who have “proper” jobs have a funny concept of what it is like to work from home, possibly because when they do have a day out of the office, not much “work” actually gets done….

 

If you are moving from an office-based job to a home office, here are five tips on how to make it work,

1. Have a proper office space

Don’t try to work at the kitchen table, in the living room, sprawled across the bed. None of that feels like a genuine place to work, and as a result you won’t feel like you are doing a proper job, which you are.

2. Open a work bank account

It doesn’t have to be a business account at first, as high street banks tend to charge extra for processing cheques, transactions and other fees just for businesses. An ordinary current account into which you pay your earnings and which is separate from your household accounts is free and a good idea. It helps you keep track of your money and allows you to demonstrate genuine business costs and expenses, which you will need to be able to do if the Inland Revenue comes calling…..

3. Keep records

The better your records, the fewer hours you will spend filling out your self-assessment form. When your business grows and/or you set up a company, you’ll need to do two sets of accounts – your personal accounts and one for your company.

4. Spend money wisely

You don’t need lots of expensive office equipment or a sophisticated accounting software package until your business is growing rapidly, but you do need very good anti-virus software on your computer or laptop.

4 proven ways to boost your cashflow

By Marianne Curphey

More time to enjoy life
Work for yourself and enjoy more free time

When you are first setting up your own business one of the main worries is likely to be how you will fund the transition from employee to self-employed, and how to stay financially afloat.

IThe difference between being a successful entrepreneur running a healthy small business, and a business failure, is management of cashflow.

Here are four proven ways to improve cashflow:

1. Get paid in advance

Request payment in full or in part in advance for your business services or products. This is easier if you provide services to individuals rather than large companies. In this economic environment, however, it can be a good insurance policy to request at least 50 per cent payment upfront for large projects.

2. Diversify

Often problems arise early on in business life if you rely solely on one customer. If they are late paying you, or unable to pay, you are going to be the one that suffers. Having a number of clients who pay you at different times for different types of work spreads the risk and evens out the intervals at which you get paid.

3. Join a collective

If you have like-minded friends or colleagues you can band together to set up a subsidiary business in which you are all involved. This means you earn income from their efforts, and vice-versa, so some income is being generated when you are not working. It also helps to protect you against potential periods of ill-health when you might not be able to work.

4. Make a note of the cheque run

Every business has a date on which it pays outstanding invoices and in order to be paid as quickly as possible you need to know the date of the cheque run for each client you work for. The “cheque run” also applies to BACS payments and transfers. By submitting your invoice a day late, for example, you might wait another 30 days to be paid.

Why right now is the perfect time to launch your own business

Time to become your own boss?
Why now is the perfect time to launch a business

So you want to run your own business, either because you are sick of your job, you’ve been made redundant, or you’ve had a long-held dream of creating something special? That’s great, because there has never been a better time to run your own show.

Contrary to received wisdom, new businesses can and do survive in tough economic times. The difference between launching your own business in a time of austerity is that you really have to think through your niche, your offering and your unique selling point (USP) in a way that you might not have needed to when money was plentiful.

And here’s why now is the perfect time to become self-employed:

1. Secure jobs are illusory: cut-backs, redudancies and downsizing in companies big and small show that there is no such thing as a job for life…..or even for the next five years. Just because you are on PAYE does not mean that your salary has a gold-plated guarantee. Self-employment offers a much more bumpy ride, income-wise, but no-one can ever fire you.

2.You can’t get finance: in my opinion this is an excellent discipline. We’ve all seen the figures about how one in three small businesses fail in the first few years, despite their creators writing fabulous, long-winded business plans to soothe the nerves of the bank manager when they are trying to get a bank loan. Creating a business that requires minimal investment and leaves you in total control is the best way to control costs and survive in a tough economic climate.

3.You’ll awaken your passion: who wants to hang around in a job they hate until the economy picks up…. or until they retire? Life is too short to spend eight or more hours every day doing something you hate. Finding an outlet for your creative business energy will inject more excitement and fun into your life than you ever dreamed possible.

4. Your business idea will need real focus: lots of flakey business concepts struggle on in good times because of the glut of disposable income. In a recession, you need to find an idea or product that people really need. This is absolutely the best discipline for concentrating your mind on how, why and where you will sell your products, and to whom.

5. The power of the internet is perfect for small businesses: once you were constrained by geographical boundaries, now thanks to social media, Google searches and the power of Facebook and Twitter you can potentially reach hundreds of thousands of prospective customers across the country – and the globe. This is perfect for tightly-targeted niche products which may have a limited market in the UK but a huge market on a global scale via internet marketing and selling.

In my next blogs I’ll be looking at what business schools don’t teach you about running your own business, and how to set up a micro-business while you are still in a job,

regards, Marianne