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Article Contributed by Dan Razak

While some new business owners are more modest when it comes to their expectations than others, the end goal that they all share is the success of their young company. Some aspire to make their brand as popular as much as Coca-Cola or McDonald’s, and that way, create a legacy that will stand a test of time, while others are merely content with the idea of being their own boss. However, in order to get there, one must first reach some minor milestones along the way. With this in mind, here are five easily reachable goals that every new business owner should set their mind to.

1.      Keep your employees

What makes people fall in love with their workplace? Well, there are several factors. Some are driven by ambition and chances of vertical mobility. Others are motivated by greed. Then, there is a number of people who feel some sort of loyalty towards your brand or their boss. This final part is particularly important since there is a study that shows that people are more likely to quit because of the manager rather than the company. Be that as it may, as your employees start gaining more knowledge and start delivering promising results, your competitors might decide to try and poach them.

2.      Develop a sense of community

An ideal team model in the 21st century puts a heavy emphasis on diversity. Even though this may bring better results, this also means that you are supposed to put people coming from different backgrounds side by side and expect them to just get along. Well, this is actually not impossible, as long as you are there to give them a little push. Try to turn your teams into homogenous communities by exercising teambuilding activities and making interactive meetings where they will be able to share their ideas with each other.

3.      Develop a better tax strategy

In order to keep your business profitable, you need to pay attention to both your income and your expenses. One of the ways you can become more efficient in the latter is by developing a better tax strategy. However, this would require you to have a better understanding of tax structures, which would in turn give you a much more reliable succession planning. The best way to get a grasp of this would be to find a reputable tax accountant in Sydney area and consult them about this issue.

4.      Learn how to say no

One of the biggest mistakes new owners make is believing that saying no to a business offer is a bad practice. While there is some sense to this claim, it is even worse to agree to a project you know you can’t finish in time. This way, you will get a bad reputation and probably be forced to pay some penal fees for failing to follow up on your promise. Sure, it may be difficult, but for the sake of your business you must learn how to say no to your clients. Still, you’ll need to be quite delicate about it. Luckily, there are more than a few good ways to say no to a customer or a business partner.

5.      Diversify

Finally, keep in mind that putting all your hopes in a single product or service seems more like gambling than running a business. This is why, in 2017, you need to try and diversify a bit. Try to make another source of income for your business, even if it means advertising or retailing products made by other companies. Once you manage to secure at least a few streams of revenue, your business will become more independent and you will get into a position from which you can make some riskier moves.

Conclusion

While on their own, each one of these goals may not make that much of a difference, together they can completely revolutionize your business model. Apart from improving your income and making your company’s future more predictable, they are also making your business more flexible. This means that no matter what happens in the future, your business will adapt much easier.

About the Author

Dan Radak is a marketing professional with eleven years of experience. He is a coauthor on several websites and regular contributor to BizzMark Blog. Currently, he is working with a number of companies in the field of digital marketing, closely collaborating with a couple of e-commerce companies.



 
  


The decision to leave behind a permanent and familiar job in favour of self-employment is not one that you’ll take lightly. Yes, it will take a lot of hard work and determination, but ultimately there are many advantages to making the leap. Here’s a look at some of the benefits you can enjoy when you’re self-employed.

Increased potential earnings

One of the main advantages of self-employment is that your earning potential will be much higher and on average, you can earn 45% more than if you are traditionally employed, giving you the opportunity to invest your profits. You’ll be able to directly reap the benefits of your hard work, which is a more rewarding lifestyle than if you work within a company.

Look into the financial benefits and incentives available to you, as you may be entitled to tax deductions and the opportunity to claim expenses if you use your phone, internet and travel for business. Don’t be afraid to ask for advice when it comes to your finances. Many banks and building societies offer specialised services for those who are self-employed.

Flexibility and reduced costs

Another major pro is the flexibility that you will enjoy if you are self-employed. Gone are the days of paying expensive childcare fees and for school breakfast clubs; working from home means that you can skip the stress of the daily commute and set you own schedule, whilst also saving money on your petrol or train fare.

Plus, you will have more freedom when it comes to taking holidays rather than having to consult the office calendar and waiting for your manager’s approval. This means that you can plan a break during a time that’s most suitable for you and your company, and also find better deals.

Increased control

When you’re self-employed, the only people you have to answer to is yourself and your clients. You can avoid the office politics and receive the credit for your efforts personally. Feeling like a valued individual is a very rewarding benefit that you may not experience in traditional employment.

You can also pick your own customers, which means that your work is more likely to be varied, enjoyable and matched to your skills and interests. No two days will be the same and it will lead to a more creative and diverse lifestyle.

Do you like the sound of making the transition into self-employment? Make sure you seek further advice on how to get your business set up correctly, going through the government’s SME checklist research everything you need to know in the journey to becoming your own boss.


In business, one of the basic principles is that you buy low and sell high – which is why importing goods can be a very lucrative venture. All one needs to do is find a supplier that offers very low prices on consumer items, and you can then sell these items in the US with a nice profit margin.

Although there are potential problems such as obtaining commercial customs clearances, a professional customs broker can always take care of it for you.

What you don’t want to do, however, is to attempt to deal with customs yourself. To avoid risking your goods and minimize complications, you should always choose to get a licensed broker to represent you instead. Hiring professional customs brokers offer several advantages:

  1. It saves you the trouble of doing it yourself. If you’re running a small business, then you have lots of tasks to attend to, and it may seem that there’s not enough time during the day to deal with all of your responsibilities. So, why should you add to your responsibilities, when you could get a pro to do it for you instead? You can then devote your time to the day-to-day running of your business.
  2. It’s faster. Things go a lot faster through customs when you have a broker to represent you, and you can waste a lot of time if you attempt to do it yourself. It’s highly possible that you’ll be tripped up by precise rules, finding yourself with errors that delay the whole process.

Dealing with customs is anything but simple, and it takes a lot of time even just to get a ‘basic’ overview of the entire process. The US Customs and Border Patrol offers this “overview” of the process in the form of a PDF file that spans 211 pages!  Merely reading this report will waste a lot of your time, and it can equally be very difficult to interpret.

Customs brokers, on the other hand, are experienced in these matters, with a wealth of background knowledge to help ensure that you comply with all regulations. That speeds up the entire process considerably.

  1. You avoid penalties. When you’re dealing with customs, mistakes can be costly and you may find yourself having to pay penalties for any errors made. There may also be some taxes and fees forced upon you that you could have avoided if you had the necessary knowledge, imposing a significant extra cost to you as a business owner.

The brokers all possess this necessary knowledge, so mistakes and unnecessary fees can be avoided. This is one reason why getting a customs broker is actually a cost-effective measure, even though you have to pay for their services. You’re much more likely to pay a lot more without them.

  1. You get accurate records. At the end of the process, you’ll be sent the necessary paperwork for your record keeping so that you have the proper documentation for the importation. What’s more, customs brokers normally keep copies of all transactions for at least 5 years after the date of entry, meaning that they’ll act as a reliable backup for any queries that you might come across during your running of the business.

The next time you need commercial customs clearances for your consumer items, do yourself (and your business) a favor, and carefully consider hiring an online customs broker. With the skills and means required to facilitate a trouble-free importation process, their expertise is at your service to ensure a smooth, successful experience with Customs.


Do you remember what the famous Chinese philosopher Laozi said? “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step”. We will discuss those steps right below.

Do you have ideas, dreams, ambition but lack a magic dash to take the first step or maybe you just don’t know much about the startups?

Take a deep breath. In fact, starting an online business is not as difficult at you might think. It consists of a series of steps that need to be taken.

Business plan

If you don’t have a business plan, you need the one. Before starting with online business, you first need to decide what type of business you want to enter into. Take into consideration your knowledge of that particular business. Think about the geographic area you would be operating out of and the geographic regions you would be selling to.

Best advice: Stick to something you know or are passionate about.

A business plan gives you more than the holistic view of what you are trying to do, but also puts things into perspective for you. Here are some free and paid resources you can reach out to regarding your business plan:

A thought out business plan will make you aware of the competition, the existing opportunities, the pros and cons of the industry, etc. But what’s really important, it will highlight your unique selling point.

BTW, a business plan also acts as a sales pitch book.

If your financials are correct, you will clearly know about what your expenses will be, and what it will cost you to run this business.

Once you have determined your vertical and niche for your product &/or service, it’s time to pass over to the next step.

Here are some questions to consider:

  • Is your supply line competitive and reliable enough?
  • What is the competition like? How many of your competitors are from your country/worldwide?
  • Will you be able to compete against them and make your way into the first search engine results pages?
  • How many of your competitors are buying ads? What is the average price they are paying per click? Will you be able to compete with them?
  • What is the average selling price?
  • What is your unique selling point (free shipment, extras, discounts, whatever)?
  • Is the product you are going to sell cyclical in nature?
  • Does your market scale horizontally or vertically?
  • Do you need to invest in inventory? If so, how much does that cost?
  • You may also need to look into Affiliate Marketing and Drop Shippers. These two options are great ways to start without having to worry about any sales process. You simply divert the user to the sale mechanism of the company you are representing as an affiliate, then all the rest is usually handled by them. Passive income for lazy-bones. Actually, referral sales are how most of businesses today are doing business on the web.

Online selling model

Internet Marketing Model is pretty much the same for most businesses.

Supposing you have the most attractive website on the Internet, selling the exquisite product or service. Though, if you don’t have any visitors, you will not be seeing sales soon. In other words, very often we concentrate too much on making our website absolutely perfect and ignore the necessity of visitors/traffic to make sales.

To understand traffic, you need to understand your visitors first. They can be divided into destined: visitors who are destined for your website, that is, they are typing the URL or click on a link to come to your website; transit: the visitors who use your website to go to another one; accidental: visitors who did not mean to come to your website.

Now, when you understand your visitor types, it’s time to get to know what sort of traffic types exist.

The four traffic types are:

Organic:

  • comes and builds up naturally
  • usually involves search engines traffic as well
  • comes through relevant linkages
  • is slow to build up
  • Google loves organic traffic as it is well-behaved

Referral:

  • also Organic in nature
  • comes through articles or linkages
  • is usually a derivative of SEO
  • when optimized – search engines are a major driver of traffic

Paid:

  • not Organic at all
  • existence is based directly on your ability to pay
  • is “keyword” specific
  • expensive – but the more sure to instantly generate traffic for your website
  • most preferred / utilized method
  • hinged on your ability to go keyword research

Direct:

  • is Organic in nature
  • word of mouth / offline referral / brand-identity
  • repeat / bookmarked visitors constitute largest segment
  • most internet marketers would not rely on this method alone
  • largest contributor if you have a brand

Domain name

You need a domain name for your online presence. You can opt for a generic domain name, or a unique domain name. Click here to know more about choosing a domain name.

You need to keep in mind that current online stores heavily rely on online optimization and marketing. That is why, choose your words for your domain name carefully. SEO is the matter you will have to consider later on.

Hosting

Once you have a domain name, you would need hosting. There are a variety of web hosting providers you can partner with: HostGator, BlueHost, GoDaddy, Verisign, 1and1, LiquidWeb, iWeb, etc.

Website development

Once you settled the issue with your hosting, you would most likely need to have a website developed. Here you have two options: either design it from scratch or use a ready-made template from a reliable provider, like TemplateMonster.com. The latter option is simpler, faster, and most cost-efficient, but of course it’s up to you to decide which way to go.

Shipping

If you are selling physical goods, it would be a good idea to sign up with say USPS, Fedex, UPS, etc.

Now, when you are almost done with your store, you would need to take care of a couple of things:

  • Telephone Number and Address for your business
  • Be aware of what your tax rate is if you are shipping within the state
  • Your terms of sale, terms of service, acceptable usage policy, privacy policy, service level agreement, disclaimer and legal terms all need to be worked out by an attorney. Believe us, money spent on this is worth it.
  • Your refund policy and exchange policy needs to be clearly spelled out.
  • Do make sure your shopping cart can handle refunds, etc.

Bookkeeping

For your accounting and bookkeeping, you can resort to a trustworthy online solution like Xero.com or Quickbooks.com.

Customer support

You would also need some form of a Customer Support/Help Desk, where your users can open support tickets or ask questions, etc. There are lots of SaaS options like Home, Web-based collaboration apps for small business, etc. for the purpose. Surf Google for “help desk” or “hosted crm” and you should see quite a number of results.

That’s it. With the above your online store is essentially complete.

Website traffic

We have already mentioned that now you need to draw visitors. The more targeted visitors you have the higher is the probability of a sale.

Most of the online websites fail because they underestimated the importance of post-website construction phase, known as traffic building. No traffic – no sales. Whether you bring in targeted traffic slowly (organically) or via paid clicks, this is an area you cannot ignore.

You can cooperate with a professional (solopreneur or company) to start online campaign for you. The online campaign is not just for marketing purposes, but it is also geared towards your search engine optimization (SEO). You would be looking at things like acquiring back links, having articles written and placed on various ezine sites, listing your website with the necessary online directories, making sure your site is indexed properly by Google and other search engines. Make sure your on-page SEO is done correctly. Your META tags and descriptions are well written, etc.

You can also get started with a small online PPC (Pay-Per-Click) campaign on Google, to buy ads and bring targeted traffic to your website. PPC is one of the fastest ways to bring visitors to your online store.

Every day nearly 50 000 blogs/websites go online. Think about it. What is going to make your website stand out is only how effectively people are able to search for the things they want to buy and how effectively you utilize and conquer the Search Engine Results Page (or SERPs). Don’t ignore the social media either. Today, more and more users can be found spending endless hours on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn, etc. Learn to adapt your marketing and communication by using social media.

In the end, it boils down to two things:

  • The end price the user will pay to have the product/service delivered to them.
  • The user experience.

It is not easy to compete with web giants, like Amazon or Ebay. That’s the truth. You need to give users a reason to come to your website and make a purchase.

Hopefully, this article would give you a clue on how to get started with your online store. We wish you best of luck with your venture!


03Apr

Don’t Do It Alone

Posted by Pamela Swift in Entrepreneurs

There’s a huge temptation when you have a crazy idea to keep it all to yourself but if you read the stories of those people that truly challenged convention you’ll often find a theme of sharing their idea with others that the mainstream media hasn’t really picked up on.

From Nike to Starbucks, the last 50 years have seen the creation of some huge brands by focused entrepreneurs who stand as figureheads to thousands of employees and billions of annual revenue. Yet despite being vastly different in operation, both of these giants hid a secret in plain sight.

The people behind these conglomerates may have been individually lauded as the men behind their respective brand success, but both openly admit to having shared the responsibility of growing their businesses and wouldn’t have succeeded without having done so.

Successful entrepreneurs get help early

While Howard Schultz of Starbucks brought onboard people with experience far in excess of his own right from the start to effectively run the operations of his business leaving him to concentrate on starting new stores; Phil Knight of Nike benefitted hugely from the passion and drive of his first hires to effectively operate their own stores independently of him.

In fact both of these wildly successful businessman didn’t even name their own companies. While Nike was a last minute decision with a cheap swoosh that Mr Knight thought he could change at a later date, Starbucks was actually an established coffee roasting company that Howard Schultz bought the rights to after starting his own coffee shops Il Gornale.

Both Knight and Schultz benefited greatly from not only the realisation very early on that they couldn’t build their dream alone, but the acceptance that there were better people out there to build their dream but them.

Follow the Starbucks example

At the outset they worked out the various components that it would take to launch their businesses, and set about recruiting great people to help them. At Starbucks Schultz figured out that roasting coffee wasn’t revolutionary, in fact neither was ensuring a range of drinks was available but what hadn’t been done before was bringing the Italian sense of community to stores, ensuring you weren’t just drinking the best coffee but escaping from the hustle and bustle of everyday life too.

Because of this, Schultz recruited great operations people to run the behind the scenes part of Starbucks while putting his main focus onto doing something different with the shops (the part he couldn’t recruit for).

Schultz effectively worked out that the bits he didn’t need to revolutionise he could get other people to do. Like grandmasters of chess, these people had been there before, roasted tonnes of coffee and as such he chose to benefit from their compiled wisdom, learnt from years of mistakes and successes to frog leap the trials and tribulations of starting up a new company and turbo charge his operations team.

At the same time he threw his heart and soul into fund raising and launching new coffee shops, safe in the knowledge that his operations were well taken care of.

The fact that he could rely on other people meant that he could put all of his efforts into the parts no one else could do rather than spread himself too thin.

The common mistake when getting help

Yet often the opportunity to recruit other people to help you can be misunderstood. In an effort to protect their crazy idea entrepreneurs hire low skilled people they have to micro manage which adds to their workload and takes them away from the areas they should be focusing on in order to make their crazy idea work.

Of course having low skilled workers, or at least those that aren’t the grand masters of their area of expertise is also part and parcel of building a team. Once your leaders are in place you need to reinforce them with the troops that can help them build capability within your business.

Build capability by being attractive

In fact building capability was one of the main focuses in the early days for both Nike and Starbucks. While most entrepreneurs concentrate on the weird and wonderful periphery parts of running a business like logos and brand names, Knight and Schultz chose to focus on building their people.

Schultz recognised the importance of people early on, introducing a healthcare scheme that was unheard of at the time while also allowing employees to comment on developments at the company.

A simple but highly effective way to motivate the people you work with towards your end goal is to give them a voice. Schultz chose to do this by allowing any employee to comment on a company decision in reference to the Starbucks mission statement. If a manager, product or action didn’t adhere to the cultural mission statement they could highlight it and were guaranteed a response within two weeks.

Learn to listen

While most business love to play lip service to employee schemes, Schultz realised that such schemes only work if the employee recognises an action is undertaken as a result. It’s simply no use in letting people comment and then taking no notice of them.

It’s the same reason why Phil Knight didn’t call Nike Dimension Six, he loved the name but when he presented it to his employees it went down like a lead balloon. Great entrepreneurs listen.

Listening and deciding when to take action is a corner stone of being a good leader and it’s something you’ll need to do if you’re going to build your crazy idea from the ground up.

But there’s one last part you mustn’t forget. If you’re going to listen and take action, then you need to not only communicate that action to your team (what, when & why) but you need to allow your team to feel the benefits of that action if it’s a success.

Make people accountable

Both Knight and Schultz did this through incentive schemes that made people’s pockets accountable for their actions. While the first people to join their teams (at a senior level) were rewarded with stock, bonuses linked to company profits were essential. This doesn’t always mean putting extra money in someone’s pay packet. Starbucks led the way with a “Bean Stock” campaign that awarded stock options to every single employee they had, allowing them to buy into Starbucks and benefit from its growth as the share price rose they would become richer too.

By making their employees feel a partner in the crazy idea, they assumed ownership and were motivated towards the end goal. No matter the level of employee or the area they work in, building a team that’s focused on your end goal is a must.

No one can do it alone.



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