5 Big Mistakes No Successful Entrepreneur Will Make Again

It may seem like some of the biggest companies out there are being run by people who know everything about the business world. While they may know a lot about it, it doesn’t mean they don’t make mistakes. In fact, almost every entrepreneur has made at least one mistake in their career. There’s nothing wrong with making a mistake as long as you learn something from it. And if you don’t want to learn from your own mistakes but you’d rather learn from other entrepreneur’s experiences, make sure you read on.

Not using social media

There’s no need to say that social media is huge right now. Just in New Zealand, there are 3.5 million active social media users and we can expect this number to grow in the future. However, some entrepreneurs believe using social media is a waste of time and decide not to create social media presence for their business. This is definitely something you don’t want to do, especially because people now often turn to social media search when looking for a product or service. In order to make sure everyone can reach you, you need to create pages on platforms such as Facebook and Twitter, and use them on a daily basis to communicate with your customers directly.

Forgetting to pay themselves

Many rookie entrepreneurs get so excited about running their own business that they completely forget about paying themselves. Even if they do remember to do so, they often decide not to do it in order to leave more money for their company to work with. This can seem like an amazing idea at first but it can seriously hurt both your personal and business finances. If you don’t pay yourself, you’ll soon find yourself with no money on your bank account. Also, you won’t get a clear picture of how well your business is doing and doing your taxes will be more difficult. Those who decided not to pay themselves have learned the hard way that they deserve to receive a paycheck for all their hard work.

Not being formal enough

Running a business is a serious task and only those who take it that way will be able to succeed. That being said, you should try to be formal whenever you get the chance. Let’s say you’re responding to a negative comment from a customer. Instead of arguing with them, you should try to be as formal and polite as possible. This will show your customers that you care about what they have to say, which can be a big plus for your company. When meeting a business partner, renting a vehicle from companies such as Avis Car Rental is a good idea as it makes you look more professional and helps you bring your A-game to the meeting.

Setting unattainable goals

Running your own business sure is great and just like most entrepreneurs out there, you dream of conquering it all. While dreaming big is an important part of success, you can’t just expect your business to do exceptionally well from day one. Many entrepreneurs end up setting unattainable goals for their business right from the start which ends up affecting their operations. In order to make sure this doesn’t happen to you, you need to be extra careful when setting goals for your business. It’s important to start small and adjust your goals as your business grows. We recommend putting your goals in writing so that you could review them every once in a while and make any necessary adjustments.

Taking everyone’s advice

The business world is full of “gurus” who believe they’re the next Mark Zuckerberg or Larry Ellison. Those people will often give you advice in order to help you grow your business. Taking everything they say seriously is a good idea and it could help you take your business to the next level. However, this doesn’t mean you need to do everything they advise you to do. Instead, you need to rely on your own knowledge and instincts. Therefore, every time you need to make an important business decision, you should think about what you want to do and only then listen to what other people have to say. Many of those who’ve taken every piece of advice they’ve got ended up failing even before they got a chance to show what they can do.

Being an entrepreneur isn’t easy. Make sure you don’t make these 5 mistakes and you’ll have nothing to worry about. Even when something goes wrong, fix it as quickly as possible and try to learn something from it.

Diana Smith is a full time mom of two beautiful girls interested in latest business news and new social media trends. In her free time she enjoys exercising and preparing healthy meals for her family.

How to Organize Your Small Business Finances

Having a brilliant business idea and developing a killer product is not enough for you to succeed. Research shows that financial problems are one of the major reasons small businesses fail. To keep your business afloat, you need to take your money management seriously, reduce operational costs and generate more cash flow and have a solid budget plan to back you up.

Here are a few vital steps to take.

Never Mix your Business’ Expenses with Personal Ones

One of the most common misconceptions among inexperienced business owners is that using the same bank account for their personal and business’ costs will save them time and hassle. There is a long list of reasons why you should separate your personal and business finances.

First off, using your personal accounts may make your business look unprofessional and hurt your brand image. Your target customers want to work with a legitimate business and not the individuals behind t.

Second, managing your private and professional finances simultaneously is tedious. It would take your bookkeeper hours to separate your personal expenditures from your business’ ones and pay taxes on time.

Finally, it would be difficult to take out a bank loan or apply for a government grant for your business when the need arises.

These are just some of the numerous examples why you should separate your expenses strictly. Don’t use your personal funds for your company’s purposes and vice versa and you’re golden.

Secure Funds on Time

If bootstrapping was enough for you to get off the ground,that is great. Unfortunately, it’s usually not enough to maintain a spotless financial health. Namely, your business is constantly growing and, with them,your expenses will be bigger, too. Your priority should be to estimate these costs and secure the right funding options on time.

For example, one of the most common options small business owners choose is taking out a bank loan. Yes, it’s safe, but it’s far from being perfect. First, you will probably have to wait for weeks before your application gets approved. Then, there are huge monthly interest rates which will hurt your small business’ bottom line. Not to mention that it takes at least 10 years to pay off a larger business loan. There is a wide range of simpler, alternative funding options you should consider, such as crowdfunding, finding an investor, teaming up with another entrepreneur in your niche, or even applying for government grants.

Build a Solid Billing Plan

Billing is one of the most significant business operations. Precisely because of that, you need to take it seriously and have a solid billing strategy. Your main goal is to get your customers to pay you regularly and, at the same time, maintain strong relationships with them. Here is what you need to do:

  • Create a clear payment policy that ensures that your visions align with the ones of your clients. This is where you should state when you want to be paid, what payment methods you accept, how you will deal with canceled projects, or what the fees will be for late payments.
  • Ensure your invoices are always sent out on time. Otherwise, your clients may get the impression that you don’t care about punctuality and deadlines.
  • Inform your customers of any late or failed payments.
  • Automate your rebilling strategy. The billing processes mentioned above require investing lots of time and effort. Luckily, you can invest in direct debit services and automate your payment processing and management. No matter if your customer has forgotten to pay you or their transaction failed for some reason, the app will inform them of the problem and help them solve it automatically. Additionally, you will be able to track your cash flow and invoices on one platform, in real time.
  • Reward your customers for making payments ahead of time by offering great discounts, free products, or free shipping.

Learn more about Managing Money

Just because you’re a business owner doesn’t mean you are an accounting wizard. No matter if you’re working with an accountant or using automated software, you need to learn the basics of accounting. Understanding how your business’ cash flow works, you will be able to make wiser money management decisions, predict potential financial challenges and take the immediate steps to prevent them ahead of time. There are numerous online accounting courses for beginners, such as Fundamentals of Accounting, Financing Options for Small Businesses, or Udemy’s Introduction to Small Business Accounting Training Tutorial that will teach you about the different types of accounts, accounting terminology, payroll, and so on.

Pay your Bills on Time

Just like with your personal finances, it’s paramount that you pay your business bills regularly. Loan payment and credit card late fees are massive. The same goes for your utility bills, vendor costs, and taxes that may result in numerous penalties and even serious legal issues. To keep track of your costs and manage them effectively, you should set up monthly reminders or leverage automated bill payments.

Over to You

To survive in this highly competitive business world, you need to manage your money wisely. Do market research regularly to secure funds, learn the basics of accounting, encourage customers to pay you on time, and pay your business’ bills diligently. Above all, you should keep track of the market trends and your business’ performance regularly to predict major cash flow problems and solve them effectively.

How do you manage your small business’ money?

Guest author, David Webb, is a Sydney-based business consultant,online marketing analyst and a writer. With six years of experience and a degree in business management, he continuously informs the public about the latest trends in the industry. He is a regular author at BizzmarkBlog. You can reach him on Twitter or Facebook.

Working Overseas Can Improve New Graduates’ Career Prospects

Once you graduate, you’ll need to gather precious experience in order to get a good job. This gives you the opportunity to try doing different things and see for yourself which type of work you’ll enjoy doing the most. Another thing you can use this period for is travel. Visiting foreign countries and spending some time working there can be very beneficial for building your career in the future. And if you’re in search of more reasons for living and working overseas after graduation, here are some of the them.

Widening your horizons

While you were a student, you managed to get a broader view of life by reading books, watching films and documentaries, as well as through occasional trips. Once you decide to work overseas, it’s like becoming one of the characters from those stories and films, and this is one of the benefits of changing your surroundings. By getting first hand experience with a completely new place and culture, you’ll be able to see and learn things that you never could from books and TV. Coming into contact with new people, ones whose everyday lives differ greatly from yours will enrich you intellectually and spiritually, as will trying new food, listening to new music and simple making new friends. Embrace this as a huge plus for building any career in the future, since you’ll be more prepared for dealing with people from all over the world.

Learning a new language

Any new skill you acquire can help you progress in life and business, and this is especially true for learning languages. The difficulties of sitting in classes and having to do your homework in order to learn the basics of a language are replaced by throwing you straight into the fire and making you communicate with people, which is definitely the best way to actually be good at speaking a language. Adding another language to your CV might just get you in front of other candidates when you decide to apply for that job you really want.

Gaining experience

There is a huge difference between being taught about something at university and being able to do it in practice. Finding a job overseas can help you a lot in this area. For example, studying English language and literature can be amazing, but even if you’re a native speaker, once you actually have to start teaching groups of children or adults, you might feel nervous and unprepared. This is why you should be additionally trained in one of the incredible Monkey Tree TEFL courses. Institutions like this one offer you the opportunity to further develop your professional skills, learn from people with classroom experience and gain confidence necessary for actually stepping in front of a class. This is an effective way to advance in your career, no matter what part of the world you choose to work in afterwards.

Becoming better at adjusting

Any employer will be more than happy to hire somebody who is able to adjust to new people and circumstances quickly. Just like anything else, the ability to adjust is something you can upgrade by practicing. And what better way to achieve this than by moving and having to adapt to new living conditions in a strange place, where you don’t really know anybody. The way you handle new situations and how fast you do it can be a significant factor when building a career in any business, so make this one of your strengths by getting a job abroad.

Broadening your contact network

You met a lot of people while you were studying and you made some very useful and interesting contacts. However, by moving to another country you can widen your circle of acquaintances and potential business associates. Not only can the professional connections you make abroad vouch for you when you decide to try for a new job, but they can let you know when there’s an opening in the companies you’d like to work in as well. This can prove to be a huge advantage over other candidates applying for the same position as you. And since many of these people will, just like you, be from various countries, they can actually open doors for you all over the world, so that you aren’t limited to your country only. Finally, when you get to meet experts in your own field, there’s always a good chance for you to learn something new or discover some innovative ways of using the knowledge you already have, which can be a valuable asset.

If you’re ready for a change and trying out something younever have before, the period after your graduation is the perfect time forthat. So, pack your stuff, grab your passport and go for it!

Tracey Clayton is a working mom of three girls, passionate about traveling, marketing and everything tech related. Her motto is: “Live the life you love; love the life you live.”

Taking Action When You Experience Injury or Illness in the Workplace

Generally speaking, the majority of us will head to work in the morning, complete the tasks expected of us, then return home at the end of each working day right as rain. However, there are occasional unfortunate situations where someone will head to their workplace and experience some sort of injury or develop some sort of illness as a direct result of their employer’s negligence or malpractice. It’s extremely important that you know what to do if you find yourself in this situation!

Seek Medical Help

The first step that you should take is to seek medical help. If you experience any sort of injury or any symptoms of illness, a medical professional will be able to identify and diagnose the problem and ensure that you are provided with the correct form of treatment. This will help to set you on the path to recovery as quickly as possible.

Seek Legal Help

Once you’re on the road to recovery, you may want to consider seeking legal help. Not only is experiencing injury or illness due to work a particularly unpleasant experience physically, mentally, and emotionally, but it can affect your finances too. After all, you’ll have to front medical bills and may lose earnings if you have to take time off work in order to recover. You don’t deserve to slip into debt as a result of this! The infographic below should show you how to find the best personal injury attorney to claim this money back.


Infographic Design By how to find the best personal injury attorney

7 Things That Can Kill Your Company Culture

Every company develops a unique culture that defines how people feel and behave as they work. For the most part, business owners and managers take the lead in creating a culture that reflects their values.

A study published by the Gallup organization revealed that having highly engaged employees resulted in 10% increase in customer satisfaction. Research also shows that the productivity of workers can jump by 12 percent when they feel satisfied. Such efficiency gains reduce the cost of human resources and directly impact your bottom line.

Build a healthy, satisfying work environment for your business by avoiding the following killers of your company culture.

1. Not Hiring Team Players

Some people just don’t work well with others. You might even use labels, such as “jerks” to describe them. They constantly criticize their boss and try to spread discontent. If you have this type of person on your staff, now is the time to weed them out.

Meanwhile, do everything possible to ensure that you only hire team players. Try to screen your applicants by their demeanor during interviews as well as feedback from their personal references.

2. Bureaucracy

A multitiered hierarchy can kill your company culture. Seemingly endless meetings, PowerPoints, emails, and “edicts” from upper-level management can waste time and leave your team members feeling powerless.

Help people do their job by only involving them in meetings that directly impact their work. Also, ensure that each worker directly reports to only one supervisor or manager. Empower your employees to innovate to improve quality and efficiency.

3. Stress

Deadlines are only one of the many sources of stress that can kill your company culture. You need to counter the pressure to promptly complete projects with sensible work-related practices. For instance, encourage your staff to take breaks, drink water and eat healthy food.

Fantastic managers periodically check on their direct reports to answer questions and ensure that work proceeds smoothly. If you leave your employees without the answers they need, they will feel stressed, especially as due dates approach.

4. The Boss’s Way or the Highway

As a leader, you should welcome diverse perspectives and opinions, even when they contradict your own. Furthermore, by emphasizing results rather than tasks, you can help your team develop independence and confidence.

When you let everyone participate in decision-making, you help them have a sense of value and belonging. Your employees will begin to identify themselves with the firm and always look for ways to improve the way they work.

5. Lack of “Beyond the Paycheck” Motivation

Some employees only show up to work because they want a paycheck. These workers show little intrinsic motivation and will rarely do anything outside of their job description. Such workers can kill your culture and negatively impact everything your firm does.

Engage your workforce by providing perks and incentives that transcend payday. Motivate your employees by providing each of them with a clear path to advancement. Also, consider offering non-traditional work arrangements such as remote work and flexible scheduling.

6. “Keep Your Head Down and Get it Done” Attitude

Employees who focus on doing their work without providing feedback can cripple your business. You need people on your team who will share their ideas and ask questions in ways that stimulate innovation.

To create engaged employees, never ridicule a suggestion and insist on practicing an open communications policy. By creating a safe, trusting business culture, you harness the thoughts, experiences and ingenuity of your employees for the common good.

7. Micromanagement and Lack of Trust

Healthy relationships among your team members require you to trust them. However, in many companies, business owners and managers communicate distrust by micromanaging everything their workers do.

Avoid closed-door meetings and suspicious whispers in hallways that make employees feel as though you are deciding their futures without them. Instead, treat everyone with respect and assume the role of a mentor or coach rather than an overlord.

In the end, pay attention to all the feedback you receive, including from employees who leave your business. Take your employees seriously and treat them right. By building a healthy company culture, you build a strong reputation for your firm and a solid foundation for success.

Jen McKenzie is a freelance writer from New York, NY. She is fascinated by all things having to do with words,business, education and cutting-edge. When Jennifer is not busy writing, she enjoys taking long walks and spending time with her two pets Brando & Marlon. You can reach Jennifer @jenmcknzie

4 Ways Business Managers Can Better Connect with Their Employees

The most effective managers are those that make it look effortless. Connecting with your employees is the best way to become more effective at your job. Here are some techniques that you can use to help you better connect with your employees.

Practice Open Door Relationships

Almost every manager will say that they have an open door policy. Employees know that some managers are just saying this instead of practicing it. You have to practice what you preach. Take the time to listen to what your employees have to say. Be sympathetic and try to help them brainstorm solutions to their problems. You may find that they’re more willing to be open with you in return. This could help you to be aware of ongoing issues within your employee group.

Provide an Outlet

There will be times in which your employees need to vent. Let them know that this is okay as long as they’re respectful of their coworkers. Another venue to provide them with an outlet is to host an event or company party. This will allow everyone to get out of their element and socialize. Look into using a rental company like Party People Rentals & Sales to help you with your party needs. It will give you more time to focus on planning activities instead of the logistics.

Be a Mentor

Give your employees an opportunity to grow into a new position if they’re interested. You can help them achieve their goals by providing mentoring and helping to set goals. This will give you a chance to have a meaningful conversation with them about their motivations and desires. You may find that you have more in common with your employees than you had previously thought. This can garner you more respect with other employees.

Get down with It

Some of the most effective managers are those that understand all aspects of the job. Lead by example and pitch in if someone is out sick or there is a large project looming. If employees see that you’re willing to help out when needed, they view you as more approachable. This may be all that you need in order to start connecting with them. A manager that’s willing to get into the trenches tends to be more respected and trustworthy.

The first place to start when connecting with your employees is to make it personal. Having a vested interest in their success will show them that you care about their well-being and livelihood.

Guest author Hannah Whittenly is a freelance writer and mother of two from Sacramento, CA. She enjoys kayaking and reading books by the lake.

 

6 Catastrophic Mistakes An Entrepreneur Can Make In Their Business’ First Year

What makes a great entrepreneur? There are numerous theories on the subject. Is it their hard work, dedication and commitment? Is it their invention, imagination and ability to think outside the box? Is it their ability to parse metric data and use it to keep their finger on the pulse of what their customers want and need? Or could it be their ability to motivate and rally their employees; helping them to work with gusto towards a shared goal. Ultimately, these are all extremely important but it’s arguable that the most important quality of entrepreneurship is…

dream

Image by Pixabay

Just start.

There are lots of people out there, right now, slaving away in jobs they despise who have a great idea for a business. They have spotted a gap in the market, devised a concept for a product for a product or service that neatly fills that gap and they have a clear vision in their heads of how that can be extrapolated into a living, breathing, working SME. They may have cobbled together something resembling a business plan in their free time. They’ve had some preliminary thoughts about what their business’ mission statement might be and how it would be reflected in their branding. They might even have crunched some numbers to create a reasonably accurate cash flow forecast. But they never reached the point where they reached out to sources of funding or even registered their business’ name. Why? Because they were paralyzed by their fear of the unknown. This perfectly natural and perfectly human impulse may be understandable but it can keep potentially successful entrepreneurs stuck on the path of wage slavery; languishing away in jobs where they’re underpaid, underappreciated and undervalued when they could be at the head of a thriving enterprise.

By far the most crippling of fears when it comes to starting a business is the fear of failure. After all, the numbers are not on the side of nascent entrepreneurs. We’ve all heard that 50% of SMEs fail within their first four years and we’re paralyzed by the fear of what will happen if we fall within this damning statistic. But here’s the thing…

There’s nothing to fear but fear itself

If you have a fantastic idea for a business that would benefit your local high street, create jobs, fill a gap on the market, benefit the local economy and liberate you from a job you despise, it behooves you to overcome your fear of failure and at least attempt to make your business a reality. Very often, failure in small business is not the end but simply a blip on a long learning curve. At worst, you will be made bankrupt (although this is certainly not an inevitable consequence of failure in small business). But in most cases bankruptcy is not the end of an entrepreneurial career. Some of the most successful people on the planet have been made bankrupt at least once.

That said, failure is never an appealing prospect. If we can forego the expense and emotional turmoil that come with failure in small business, so much the better, right?

Learning from the mistakes of others

The beauty of living in the digital age is that we have unparalleled access to a wealth of information which can give you and your business the inside track. As well as learning from our own mistakes (an inevitable and necessary part of small business) we can benefit from the mistakes of other nascent businesses. While there may be no surefire way of avoiding failure in the world of small business (if there were, everyone would be running their own SME), there are certainly commonly made mistakes that you can sidestep when you plan your operations and strategy around avoiding them. Here we’ll look at some of the commonly made mistakes made by businesses in their first year and how you can prevent your business from replicating them…

Under investing to insulate profit margins

When many entrepreneurs start out, they do so with one goal in mind… turning a profit. So long as the numbers are in the black month or month that means the business is going well, right? Well, not necessarily. As important as it is for small businesses to guard against irresponsible, reckless or vanity spending, it’s also vital that they avoid under investing in their enterprises. Under investment in personnel, capital investments like software or equipment, or maintaining / renovating your premises can impede your business’ growth. Unless you’re prepared to invest in better infrastructure for your small business it will only ever stay small and its scope will be limited. While you should certainly learn to walk before you can run and it can be counterproductive to set out with growth in mind before you know how to facilitate that growth sustainably, you should avoid the temptation to under invest in your business for the sake of insulating your profit margins.

Small businesses need to be agile and adaptable and if you fail to invest adequately, you may fail to capitalize on opportunities that come your way and your competitors will leave you in the dust.

piggybank

Image Credit

Dipping into personal funds to finance aspects of the business

Separating personal and business finances can be a real learning curve for nascent entrepreneurs. When you have a lot of passion and personal / emotional investment in your business it only makes sense to put your money where your mouth is… but this can be a serious mistake. Not only should you have separate accounts for your personal and business finances, you should take pains to ensure that one doesn’t bleed into the other. Otherwise you could find yourself on a slippery slope.

Trying to do a grade A job with grade B materials

In your first year of business, the name of the game is reputation. With such a plethora of competition out there, prospective customers need a reason to choose your business and not the legions of others who do exactly the same thing. This means that your reputation must be beyond reproach. While a big part of this is in how your employees deal with customers and the experience that your customers can expect, let’s not forget that you can’t do a grade A job with grade B materials. If you work in the construction industry, for example you know that you wouldn’t compromise on materials or make rush decisions when building the foundations of your project. You’d go to HelitechCCD.com and invest what you had to in materials that are right for the job. Otherwise, the whole thing could come tumbling down and take your reputation with it. Whether you’re in construction, catering or content the principal remains the same.

Spending too much time “at the coalface” and too little time on strategy

Entrepreneurs tend to have a proactive and hard working nature and when they see their employees struggling, their first instinct is to roll up your sleeves and join them at the coalface. But while noble in its intentions, this approach can be counterproductive in a number of ways. It can make your employees dependant on you at best or at worst turn you into the kind of relentless micromanager that employees hate to work for. Moreover, this is rarely the best place for you to invest your time and efforts. As the CEO of your business, your time is better spend in your office, concentrating on the strategic running of your business rather than day to day operations. It’s your responsibility to analyze your performance metrics and use them to influence your operational strategy month by month.

Having a resistant approach to new technology

Technology these days moves at a blistering pace. Investing in your technological infrastructure is rarely cheap and often requires an investment not only of capital but of time and effort as you and your employees get to grips with the software and hardware that your business needs to succeed. Thus, when equilibrium is achieved between a business and its tech, it can be extremely tempting to resist technological change. But technological change is an inevitable part of doing business in the 21st century. You need to maintain an agile approach to tech and be prepared to throw out the rulebook when a technological advancement necessitates an overhaul of your operations. If you resist technological change you could end up a dinosaur in your industry, like Blockbuster video in the age of Netflix. If this involves a prohibitively expensive overhaul of your IT or tech infrastructure, you may wish to consider outsourcing your IT operations. Not only will it insulate you from a lot of the cost of staying current, but your tech solutions can be scaled up as your business grows.

copetition

Image by Flickr

Failing to keep an eye on the competition

As important as it is to stay ahead of the curve, keeping your eyes too closely on your own work can be counterproductive. Your business does not operate in a vacuum and competitor analysis is an essential component of any sound business strategy. If your competitors offer something you don’t, run a promotion that you don’t or offer the same services at a price you can’t match you can’t assume that your customers will remain loyal to you.

Steer clear of these common pitfalls of first year businesses, however, and you stand every chance of laying a firm foundation for success.