Category Archives: Business

Checklist for a perfect business partnership

business partnership

Choosing a business partnership is similar to choosing partner in marriage. The success of any business depends primarily on its relationships. To create and sustain a successful partnership you need to able to work with others and have an understanding and awareness of what makes others tick.

If you think you can create a viable business without a partner, then you are probably better off going it alone. Or you might be looking for partner who can complement your skills and talents. This is when you need to consider taking on a partner to ensure success of the business. Fifty percent of something or hundred percent of nothing.

Before taking on a partner, there are few critical elements you need to discuss openly and honestly with any potential partner. Here is a short checklist:

Trust – This is non-negotiable. It also needs to be unreserved, unambiguous, and unequivocal.

Compatible communication styles – matching communication styles is essential especially when making decisions, or flubbing a client meeting, or how to talk to employees; matching communication style will avoid some headaches and delays.

Complementary skills – It is better to find a partner with some skills that overlap, however if collaborating on projects causes needless arguments due to similar skills, then avoid these type of projects. Find a person with complimentary skills and a few that overlap.

Shared Mission and Vision – It is of primary importance for any partner to believe in your mission and vision of the company.

Objectives and Goals – Timing and priority for goals and objectives need to be discussed and agreed upon; and satisfactory for all partners.

A business plan – The minimum, you should have at least an outline business plan showing how your share goals will be achieved in a realistic manner.

A supportive partner – There needs to be a shared sense of support and optimism about the product or service. A supportive culture infused hope and sustain motivation.

Market Research and Target Market – You need have an identified a market need for your product or service and aware of any other competitors that would change your sales projections. Undertake a SWOT analysis.

Capable and agile management teams – Have managers that are capable of identifying issues and able to take action immediately.

Reward achievements – Any successful partnership will promote competitions within the partnership, and recognize and reward achievements.

Open relationships – For any partnership to succeed, all partners need to be consistently attuned to what is happening within and outside of the relationship, and the possible impacts on the partnership. All members pay attention with an open mind.

Company morale – All partners need to be aware of the emotional state of each other and not afraid to bring up the topic. An open and honest partnership create a culture where members are not afraid to raise issues about other partners that are harming the group.

Strong execution of decisions – The downfall of many companies is the failure to take the correct action with the appropriate energy and timeliness. Partners need to have full agreement and one mind.

Sense of security – All partners need to feel protection within the partnership. Each member is aware that any threat to the security of their partnership undermines progress and need to be discussed openly.

Formal partnership agreement – A formal partnership contract is essential to identify ownership details, rights and obligations.

Exit strategy – If things go wrong, and they might, it is always good to have an exit clause and strategy to allow partners to exit the partnership.

Warning signs your business needs a facelift

Business Facelift
There comes a time when many entrepreneurs and small business owners have to be realistic and ask themselves if it is time to give up. One of the hardest things an entrepreneur or small business owner will ever have to do is close a business that they inspired.

“When you put your heart and soul into your work, it can be very hard to let go.” – Richard Branson

If you take a step back and take a good honest look at the health of your business, on analysis, you might not have to throw in the white towel. Rather, you realize that all you need is business facelift. In order to arrive at this place, it is important to ask the right questions.

Has your product/service changed – Is your product / service still relevant and filling the current market demands. Perhaps outdated because the market has changed and now it is time to evaluate which direction you want your business to follow.

Blank stares when giving your elevator speech – If you have tried to explain to people what your business is all about only to be greeted with blank confused expression in their faces. If your elevator speech is confusing, then it may be too complicated for customers and investors to support.

Failing to reach financial goals – With all your business plans, projected cash flows,  goals, and anticipating problems; it is your financial projections that your creditors will follow most closely. If you notice you might miss your goals then you should make the right strategy changes.

Revenues start to decline – One of the easiest ways to know how you doing is to look at the financial health of the business. Take a look at your financial ratios and see if your revenue is declining.

Market competition is increasing – Competition is good for any market. One it tells that there is a market for your product or service, but it also keeps you on your toes to provide the best product or service available. It is always a good idea to perform a Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats analysis relative to your competitors.

Your website needs a facelift – Today websites are essential for any business. A well designed website will give your business creditability. Make sure that your website is mobile responsive/adaptive, not in Flash as phones can’t read, loads as fast as possible, always updated, with fresh web design, copyright dates, and easy to manage content.

Has the product market changed – Has the demographics of your market changed? Have the needs and wants of your customers changed? If your product or service is no longer relevant then it is time to take a step back and do some research and find out who your target audience is and how to reach them.

Is your production process efficient – Are you producing your product at the lowest possible cost and in the most effective way. Are there new technologies to lower your cost of production and make your production process more efficient.

Your business name is outdated – Make sure your business name expresses and reflect the products and services you offer.

You are not converting sales leads – If you see that you are not covering your leads, then it is time to do a little homework and analysis to understand why this is happening. It could be product price, sales team performance, product or service is outdated, or possible marketing failures.

Are you meeting goals and objectives on-time – If you notice that you keep on missing important goals and objectives, then you need to analyze the problem and come up with ways to get back on track. Even if it means changing the business plan.

Is your accounting system right for you – Ledgers and spreadsheets are a thing of the past. There are a number of Accounting software that can streamline your accounting system and save costs.

How do you know your business has succeeded

Business Success
How do you know when you and your company have succeeded? How do you know that your start-up company is now a viable enterprise and moving towards being seen as a market leader?  How do you know that you business has grown into the company that you dreamed of and achieved all your professional dreams.?

There are a number of traditional standards and measurement techniques and formulas to evaluate your business success like revenue and profit curves, client contract renewals, employee retention statistics, profit and loss statements. All of these metrics will tell if you have succeeded or not.

Apart from these traditional standards there are many non-traditional abstract measurements of success. One of the best ways to evaluate if your business has succeeded is to ask yourself how others view your company.

Here are a few signs that you have succeeded based on how others perceive and view your company.

Your company name is used as an every day verb – You don’t have any further than Google. How many times a day do you say you are going to Google something.

Your employees no longer invite you, the CEO, to meeting – When the day comes and you are no longer asked to attend important company meeting, this will tell that your company has taken off and succeeded. This will tell you that your employees feel empowered, confident, capable of carrying on and innovating as a team. When you are no longer micromanaging any longer, you know your company has succeeded.

You know you have succeeded when you have returning customers – You are experiencing repeat customers for the same or similar product or service you offer.

People come back to buy the same thing more than once – Once you stick your toe in the water to sell a few things, look to see whether or not people to come back to get more.

You notice that clients are finding you – You notice that your company is attracting a clients base that you do not know or ever contacted.

When you are asked to be a keynote speaker or write a book – Any market sector and industry are always looking leaders. If your company is having an impact and influence on the industry, don’t be surprised if you asked to be a keynote speaker at a major industry event.

When your company becomes the default business standard in your industry – When other company’s look at you and try to aspire to how you run your business, is a sure sign of success.

Customers are referring others to your company – There no better compliment or sign of success when your clients are referring their friends, family, and business associates to your company.

When you receive from your clients – The one better than working with great clients, is having these clients asking you if they can come and work in your company. There is nothing better and a huge compliment to you and your company when your clients express their interest to be part of your company in far more active and direct way.

You continue to earn money while on vacation – When you are able to take a vacation and continue to earn money is a sure sign of success. This is a sign that your business has reached a level where your business is able to thrive even in your absence.

When a client or competitor wants to buy you company – the one sure sign of success is when you are approached by a client of partner to buy your company. This can happen when a key player in the industry feels that purchasing your company will give them a competitive edge and strengthen their market position.

Demand for your product or services grows outside of your geographic location – When the time comes and you notice that your client base and customers are coming from all of the world demanding your product or service.

When your competitors employees look to come and work for you – Any growing successful business will need to attract top people and it is inevitable that this might encroach on your competitors.

How to take a start-up to the next level

Business StartUp

Taking your start-up business to next level and becoming a market leader is a very challenging task. Start-ups that are able to get off the ground have a long way to go before they become a leader in any industry.

Does this sound familiar? You are an entrepreneur with a small business that is growing nicely and brings in a nice cash flow but there is enormous potential to do a whole lot more. You are currently doing most the business operations yourself – marketing , sales, accounting, social media, perhaps with the help of one or two full or part-time employees assisting you. You have a whole array of ideas on how and where you would like to take and grow your business but are only able to act on a few of these ideas before taking on the next one.

All start-ups will have problems along the way. Here are a few ways and steps to take your start-up the next level.

Your business plan is not cast in stone – As your business grows you will see that your business plan will also change and evolve. Always go back to your plan to re-assess your goals, vision, and  objectives to see what is working and what is not.

Make sure to create good operation manuals – Make sure you documents every aspect and activity of your business with an operations manual or even  checklist. This will come in handy when you have hand over responsibility of certain operation to another person.

Start a blog and connect with your target market – Only do this if you are able to post at least 3 articles per week. You can also choose to outsource this to a top writer. A blog will take time to show results, so keep an eye on your analytics.

Assemble a good team of employees – You will never grow your business all by yourself, so make sure to employ a good team of people who can function together.

Find a mentor – Find someone who has been there, done that, and learned lessons the hard way. It is important to have someone to talk to and discuss any idea or issue you have for free.

Be frugal with your expenses and trim the fat – There are a number of things you can do from downsizing your commercial space or even converting to a virtual office, or even moving from permanent employees to freelancers for example. The more you save the more you can manage your debt and spend on things that will grow your business.

Monitor and practice good SEO techniques – Without good SEO you might as well not be online. See what your competitors are doing and then do it better. It is critical that you understand what you are doing with SEO and that it will take time to see results.

Be sure to hire the right employees –  Everyone will make mistakes when hiring, so it might be a good idea  not to do it on your own. Remember if you cannot fire never hire. Don’t keep an employee because you don’t want to hurt their feeling. This is not good for your business or the employee.

Cherish those good reviews and testimonials – The best form of marketing are good reviews via word of mouth. Engage with your clients and find out why they like your product. their reviews with boost your credibility and market reach.

Stop being a control freak – In order to succeed you have to let go of wanting to control everything and be able to delegate different roles and tasks to your team. Proper documentation and operational manuals will help you to delegate tasks.

Take into account the location of your business – Take into account the location of your business especially when it comes to income tax, corporation tax, cost of living, and property tax.

Questions to ask about Starting a Business

Start up Questions

When you decide to start a new business it is exciting however very daunting. Where do you begin? Here are a few questions you should be asking and seeking answers too.

  1. Should I make my business a private or public company or partnership or  a sole proprietorship?
  2. Where should my business be?
  3. How much should I capitalize my business?
  4. How likely will it be that I can get financing?
  5. How much in share ownership of my company should I give up to investors in my business?
  6. How big should a stock option pool for employees be?
  7. How can I get a venture capitalist to listen to me?
  8. How do I choose a great name for my business?
  9. What are the biggest challenges with starting a business?
  10. What kind of business should I have?
  11. What are the biggest mistakes made by entrepreneurs?
  12. How can I protect my ideas?
  13. Do I need a lawyer?
  14. How can I obtain the name I want?
  15. How can I drive traffic to my website?
  16. What do I do to check that someone has not already started my idea?
  17. How do I create a business plan?
  18. Where can I get money for my business?
  19. What permits, licenses or registrations do I need?
  20. What do I need to worry about in hiring an employee?
  21. What kind of records do I need to keep for my business?
  22. What kind of insurance does my business need?
  23. How should equity be divided?
  24. What online resources are helpful for learning more about starting a business?

Now you are ready to start that fabulous business of yours! You are armed with all the right information; you have done your research. Now have fun!