The days are shorter and the mercury is dropping. Keeping your staffwarm and your offices well-lit during winter has some inevitable costimplications for your business.
An increase in energy usage is somewhat unavoidable – and has thepotential to be significantly over your anticipated budget. Byimplementing a few winter best practices, minimise the impact on yourbusiness’s bottom line.Be neat with your heat It may seem to be commonsense, but many businesses make fundamental errors in their heatingpractices. Heating costs increase your energy bills by approximately 8%for every 1° of heat, which makes this a potentially costly area inwinter. Don’t heat unoccupied or unnecessary areas of your building andmake a habit of turning off the heating at the close of business everyday.Trap the heat by keeping doors and windows closed as much aspossible. Adjust the temperatures for lesser-used areas in the building.Keep an eye on your thermostat or manually adjust it as the temperaturechanges and ensure that it is located somewhere with a constanttemperature, unaffected by outside temperatures and the effect ofmachinery in office and work spaces.Don’t pay for loss of daylight As the days shorten,so the use of lightbulbs increase. Convert traditional lightbulbs tomore efficient LED varieties and control your lighting by eliminatingunnecessary usage in unoccupied areas around your building. Automatedlighting is another option, controlling usage through motion detectorsin key areas in your building.
Get equipment working optimally, so you can too Itis worth investing in new technologies for premium cost-effectiveness.If you haven’t already, service your boiler and assess your building’sinsulation for best performance.Use data for cost management A smart meter andadvanced energy technologies can provide invaluable insight into yourwinter usage. They also take the guesswork out of your energy bills, sothere are no nasty surprises.Speak to your supplier If your contract is coming upfor renewal, this is the ideal time to get and compare quotes to ensureyou are on the best possible tariff for your business. Every business’sneeds change and it is advisable to explore the options to avoidautomatic increases. At this busy time of year, take the legwork out ofcomparing quotes by working through a broker. Ideally, get a full-marketcomparison and advice around your energy strategy.
Did you know that your business may be on a path to failure? Most businesses today can expect to last an average of 20 years, roughly the same age it takes to rear a child. Companies’ life spans, however, are shrinking.
Now that I have your attention, first and foremost, I hope that your business doesn’t fail. With a reported 30.2 million small businesses in the U.S. alone in 2018, someone has to drag down the average. By performing a premortem on these five key areas, you can get a better handle on the direction your company is headed and make the difference if your business thrives or dies.
Failure to Grow
There’s a joke in the business world that running out of money is an unforgivable sin. If your company fails to break even, the issue can be solved in two ways. First, outside investors. Second, by increasing revenue. Boosting revenue — here’s the punchline — is supposed to solve all problems. Just as growth forgives all things. In reality, boosting revenue is harder than looking to outside funds because to boost revenue, you need to drill down into your sales strategy and operations, to see if your current structure supports growth. You need to evaluate the people you employ, the processes you follow and ultimately, your product. Boosting revenue, in other words, often means rejiggering the entire organization. And even if you are able to procure investors, you’ll still need to solve the growth problem.
Not Changing Fast Enough
Most entrepreneurs start a business with an expectation of how the world works and who their customers are. If the world changes, but you neglect to change with it and don’t work to stay continuously relevant, your customers will go elsewhere. Just look at Nokia, Kodak and Blockbuster as examples. These companies failed to adapt to the shifting market resulting in nailing their own coffins shut with bankruptcy. Leadership and culture must focus on learning from customers, taking in new information and iterating on your product and services to evolve. Remaining static instead of matching the shifting market is a death knell for your business.
Your technology startup will fail. The cold, harsh reality is that 75 per cent of venture capital-backed new companies never return cash to their investors – while according to one prominent VC only about five per cent ever fall into the “truly interesting” category. So where do these new businesses typically come unstuck? The answer lies in arguably the most fraught moment on the startup rollercoaster: the aftermath of raising early-stage Series A investment. That’s when entrepreneurs must start scaling their business, from a bunch of mates in a co-working space to a team of 100-plus – often scattered around the world.
From sourcing talent to finding customers, managing company culture to assembling a board, the barrage of problems founders encounter can at times resemble an endless game of whack-a-mole, played while juggling the everyday stresses and strains of running a business without burning through cash. Over the past year, author James Silver interviewed some of the UK’s most successful entrepreneurs and investors for Upscale, a new book on how to scale a tech startup. Here are a few of their tips.
Try to be aware of your limitations
“Founders, along with other key people, can sometimes be a limiting factor in a company’s growth. People who are right for a certain phase may not be right for the next. It works in both directions – there have been plenty of cases where a startup has brought in a highly experienced person with a glittering CV, but they’ve failed to make an impact. But equally, you’re going to also have leaders who were brilliant early on, but at some point just don’t scale with the needs of the company.”
Balderton Capital partner Suranga Chandratillake on why some leaders need to step aside as a company scales.
Find out who makes the decisions
“Always find out who the decision-maker in a corporate is. There’s no point in taking meeting after meeting with people who can’t say yes. Aside from creating that sense of fomo about your product or service, find out where the sign-off will come from. Then work out how to get in a room with that individual. Too many people are just too nice and tread carefully. Ask up front about a corporate’s processes, and if the person you’re meeting isn’t the decision-maker, then quickly find out who is.”
lastminute.com co-founder Brent Hoberman on how to partner with – and sell to – major corporations as a startup.
Go for home-grown talent over experience
“When you’ve raised a lot of money, it’s very easy to go on a hiring spree. We made precisely this mistake; we were so excited to fill the [new] roles that we just started hiring people because they had experience. But before you decide you need someone with five years’ experience from a large corporate or tech platform, give your home-grown talent a chance. Our best hires have been our interns. When you watch people like that rise up, it gives everybody confidence because they know they’re in a meritocracy.”
Sarah Wood, co-founder and chair of Unruly, on hiring.
Don’t sell umbrellas to camels
“One of our team says: ‘Don’t sell umbrellas to camels’. What he means is make sure you understand who your ideal customer is and focus almost exclusively on them. They are far more likely to become referenceable customers, who can then provide air cover for your sales leads, [by giving your company] a great reference. If you’re an enterprise business, then referenceable customers are huge. So over-index on keeping them happy. It should get markedly easier the more of them that you have.”
In today’s society, almost everyone wants to be an entrepreneur and the term is used so loosely. While yes, anyone can start a business — from the kid on the corner selling lemonade, to the guy selling clothing and electronics at the barbershop, to the savvy business owners you see online with multiple courses — it takes time, endurance, patience, and much paperwork to sustain the business.
1. Talk To Your Customers At such a stage of growth, Token is looking to interact as much as possible with our users. Typically, this will include everything from talking with one another in the Facebook comments section or sending out surveys. Early adopters tend to love to be part of the growth process, so simply talking to them and asking for input is a great way to excite consumers about your new business. – Yana Zaidiner, Token Payments, Inc. 2. Attend Community Events At Jiffy Junk, we try to attend as many community events as possible. Breast Cancer Awareness Walks and Veteran Runs are just examples of events that we donate our services to and sponsor. – Adam Butler, Jiffy Junk 3. Organize An Interactive Experience When we moved our studio to Bushwick last year, we organized an art show to show some of our furniture designs. “Room for Ritual” was also an interactive show: We asked all the attendees to pose on our tatami (meditation altar) for a photograph. We published the images on our Instagram page and on Facebook. The success was way higher than we expected and it was really a blast! – Sergio Mannino, Sergio Mannino Studio Forbes New York Business Council is the foremost growth and networking organization for business owners in Greater New York City. Do I qualify? 4. Tap Into Local Media Outlets And Influencers Following the local news, blogs and social media influencers is huge. Follow what’s happening in your community and allow the community to see what you’re up to by sharing with those very same groups. People in the same community tend to support one another more often than people think. – Hoda Mahmoodzadegan, Molly’s Milk Truck and F’in Delicious Beverages 5. Interact With The Community In Person My most successful community engagement has come from physical interaction. I feel the best way to engage the community is to show them what I do. One of my firm’s specialties is behavioral profiling. It’s been this aspect of my business that has made an impressionable impact on people. I show them something they are not used to seeing. I show them the things that make my firm different.
Are you a digital product marketer? Then it is the high time for you to take a break from Word Documents, Excel Spreadsheets, PowerPoint Presentations and Photoshop Mockups. These tools aim to provide help in getting your day-to-day work done, however, often you end up with inefficient results after using them.
Time to take a look at the seven tools that will take your digital marketing and product management efforts to the next level.
- Project tracking tools
You no longer need to use Excel Spreadsheets to track projects. Tools such as Basecamp have specifically been designed for project tracking purposes. On the other hand, it is possible to coordinate teams and track projects effectively with the assistance of Slack. If the number of projects you have to manage are on a large scale, you can think about using Salesforce or JIRA.
- Wireframe designing tools
You can use wireframe designing tools such as Mockingbird, Balsamiq and Invision. They provide you with the ability to design user interfaces in an effective manner.
You will get the opportunity to move around with your creativity while you are using them.
- Product Information Management tools
Before you take a deep dive and figure out which product information management tools you need, you should have a clear understanding of what is a PIM. A PIM manages all essential information related to a product. They are able to automate the information tracking and management activities. Hence, you will get the opportunity to stay away from the hassle associated with information overload.
Sales Layer is for individuals who are dealing with product information management.
- Roadmapping and workflow tools
When you are working hard to launch one product or campaing, you will need to track the roadmap as well. Roadmunk and Roadmap are two tools available in that kind of a situation. They help you to track the entire user journey in an effective manner and can be used as a SaaS.
- Customer feedback tools
After the launch, you will come across the need to collect customer feedback. But you don’t want to do it manually. Canny, TruckDuck and Survey Monkey are some tools available for the digital product marketers. You will be able to store all your customer feedback and manage them in an efficient manner. If you are looking for a more simplified solution or don’t have a massive customer base, Google Forms can be a good option.
- Marketing design tools
When you are working to enhance the visibility of your product, you will need to pay a lot of attention towards marketing campaign initiatives. Out of marketing campaign tools available for you to consider, landing pages have received a lot of attention. Unbounce and Instapage can be used to create the landing pages and you will get the need to enhance the visibility of your product through email marketing campaigns. Mailchimp is the ideal and affordable tool available for you to use, providing effective tracking and analysis.
- Analytics tools
Finally, you are encouraged to take a look at analytics tools. They help you to complete your responsibilities as a product manager. As soon as you launch the product, you should go ahead and keep an eye on your analytics. You need to understand how many people view your product and how many people go ahead and touch it, try it , visit it and buy it. Google Analytics can be considered as a great option available for you to try. But if you are looking for a specific tool for product analysis, take a look at Kissmetrics, Mixpanel and Qualaroo.
There are many different ways of determining, in starting your own company, when you’ve started to become successful — when your revenue start outweighing your expenses, when you hire your first full-time employees, when you start getting press or even buyout offers—but in my experience, nothing is a stronger indication of a mature startup than being truly selective with the clients you work with.
This isn’t about managing client expectations — you should be doing that no matter what stage you are in your business. My business is college consulting, which does not include writing essays or otherwise doing work the students should be doing, but there are unfortunately plenty of students and parents that are looking for that. Generally, these prospective clients won’t explicitly ask when signing on, so I’ve always, since day one, had to make sure our service offerings are clear and tried to ensure nobody signs with us with that expectation.
Still, no matter how clearly you align expectations before signing a client, sometimes a chiropractic intervention becomes necessary. Whether the client is texting you at all hours of the night, missing meetings and being unresponsive, or any myriad of other potential problems, the first step is always to address the issue in a clear, respectful manner. The first step is to remind them of what you made clear when signing (i.e., “Just a reminder that we do have a 24-hour cancellation policy.”) It also doesn’t hurt to explain again why those expectations are in place (i.e., “If I don’t have at least 24 hours notice for missed appointments, I can’t make that time available to other clients.”)
Always take client concerns seriously and go above and beyond to make sure their experience lives up to your standards for your services. Someone that offers negative feedback or expresses displeasure — even impolitely — is not automatically a problem client. These complaints only become problems when the client’s expectations are unreasonable. In my experience, misaligned expectations are the leading cause of strained client relationships.
If the reminders of your boundaries and expectations or your attempts to address client concerns are ineffective, you may be dealing with a problem client. Often, problem clients are also higher-paying or higher-profile than your other clients. Often, they know it, and assume that means they can get away with worse behavior. In the early days of your business, they’re often right. That’s why it’s such a clear sign that your business has matured when you reach a point where they need you more than you need them.
by Christopher Rim .
You can have the best product in the world, but it doesn’t mean your company’s profit and loss statement will always reflect that. Sure, it helps if you have a brand that’s beloved and known for superior quality, but too many other factors can get in the way of your company’s growth. The economy might tank. Your main supplier could go out of business. Market changes and technological advancements could render your business model obsolete (think Blockbuster and Toys R Us).
Things move fast out there, and there are some things you may never be able to prepare for. But as a business owner myself, I believe you can and should be looking ahead at market trends so you can stay ahead of any upcoming trouble — and grow or evolve despite whatever ominous developments may come your way.
If you’re wondering what I mean, I’d say most businesses should stay on top of the following, especially in the near future.
Tariffs And Other Product Price Changes
This is tricky territory because everything changes so quickly in the news. One minute, it looks like we’re entering the most insane trade war ever; the next moment, maybe we’re not. Still, I have to admit that right now — based on CNBC’s recent report — I’m glad I’m not in the business of growing soybeans.
However, if your business is affected by tariffs, you’ll want to stay on top of what’s happening and find alternative ways to do what you do without raising prices — for example, by adjusting to the rising cost of bananas, as explained by a Wall Street Journal article (paywall) that I weighed in on. Of course, if you have to raise prices, you have to. I believe it’s better to do that than shirk on quality.
by Patrick Galleher
With the huge group of baby boomers hitting retirement age, we’re seeing a lot of businesses up for sale—and Gen-Xers won’t be far behind.
When the time to exit rolls around, it’s extremely important to get the most value out of your company, because there are no “do-overs” when exiting your business.
Consequently, a large and growing industry has developed around the business of selling businesses. Not to question the value of those in these ancillary businesses, but let’s face it: They all take a share of your money, and the goal of selling your business is to end up with the biggest chunk of change in your pocket. Right?
This is why if you decide to sell your company, you need to explore all your options before you commit to one path. There might be popular business brokers in your community that are recommended, but they are going to take at least 10% of your proceeds, so don’t sign on with anyone just because of convenience.
Take a long look at doing a DIY or hybrid DIY sale of your business. I recommend this approach because today, more than ever before, you have excellent free resources available to you, including:
- Free advice from experienced retired owners and executives
- Excellent internet assets
- A dedicated Small Business Administration (SBA)