Celebrate Success! How to Throw the Business Party of the Year

A good party can bring everyone in your workplace together.If you’ve never organized one, however, you might be at a loss for how to get started. Here are just five suggestions for throwing an unforgettable company bash. 

Upgrade Your Internet 

If you’ll be teleconferencing with other offices or branches in a company-wide celebration, make sure that your Internet is strong enough for the task. Speed is probably the most important thing to keep your playback from lagging, but you’ll also need robust, reliable servers to prevent downtime. When everyone is toasting to the success of the company, you’ll want your sound and video quality to be crystal clear. 

Create a Flexible Schedule 

Since it’s a business party, you’ll probably need some kind of schedule for things like speeches and end-of-the-year acknowledgements.However, it’s important to have a little wiggle room with times. You don’t want to cut off a happy conga line so that the department manager can talk about stock trends. Mind the atmosphere of the party, and wave in your speakers when your audience is ready to hear them. 

Center Everything Around a Theme

Themes aren’t just fun for your guests. They’re also valuable tools for your party planners. When your drinks, games, activities and decorations all revolve around a specific idea like “casino night” or”winter wonderland,” it’s much easier to make decisions about what to buy. You might not be uncertain about your menu and music selection. However,if there’s a theme, it will all come together. For example, if you decide on a family-friendly theme, it’s only a short jump to buying Kaiser buns for burgers and fun pop songs to set the up-beat mood.

Mind Your Finances 

You don’t have to break the bank to host a great company party. You just need to be thoughtful and deliberate with your budget.One option is to break everything down by dollar amounts, and another possibility is allocating specific percentages of your budget to things like food, entertainment and venue. As long as you’re careful with your checkbook, you should be able to throw a wonderful party with cash to spare. 

Offer Freebies 

Everyone loves a freebie. You can generate a lot of goodwill towards both the company and the company party when you hand out goodie bags.You might also want to host raffles, giveaways or gift exchanges for the holidays. They can be a nice way to bond with your co-workers or raise money for a good cause. 

These are just a few tips for throwing a great business party. Whether you’re launching a new start-up or celebrating the expansion of your Fortune 500 brand, it’s always fun to let your hair down with the rest of your colleagues.

Dixie Somers is a freelance writer and blogger for business, home, and family niches. Dixie lives in Phoenix, Arizona, and is the proud mother of three beautiful girls and wife to a wonderful husband.

Getting Help with Your Finances

Most of us are in debt. We’ve got credit cards, loans, overdrafts, store cards, and car financing plans. Some of us even owe money to our utility providers and landlords. Even those of us that aren’t are cutting it fine. We want to save, we even open savings accounts, but find ourselves struggling to put any money in them. Many of us want to set up businesses and build home offices, but our financial situations won’t allow it.

But, just as many of us are doing nothing about it. We’re getting by paying the minimums back on our debts.We’re letting any savings that we do have just sit there, instead of finding ways to make them grow. We’re living paycheck to paycheck without taking the time to improve things.

This is often because we’re embarrassed. We don’t want to admit that we need help or that we’re in debt. We don’t want to ask for advice on how to save or make our money grow because we are ashamed to admit that we don’t know already or that we’ve been wasting our money up until this point. We are afraid of speaking to an accountant only to find that we’ve been recording our profits incorrectly and our small business accounts are in a mess. We bury our heads in the sand because we are embarrassed and afraid. But,there’s really no need to be. There’s plenty of help out there, and plenty of people that need it. You just have to make that first move. Here’s a look at some of your options.

Visit a Financial Advisor

If you’ve got debts, you might find that their repayments are crippling. That you’ve got very little disposable income each month because paying off your debts is eating it all up. It doesn’t need to be like this, but it’s so hard to see a way out when it’s your money.

A financial advisor can take a look at your situation and help you to find ways to improve it. They’ll look at your income and expenses and recommend consolidation loans or other options that could help. They can even help you to create a budget to manage your money.

Most banks offer a free financial advisor service. But, remember your bank is only likely to recommend their own products. You may have to pay to see an independent advisor, but you could be offered a wider range of options.

Get Help with Investments

Investing your money is a fantastic way to watch it grow. But, it’s complicated and confusing. If you’ve never invested,you might worry that you can’t because you don’t know enough. The good news is,you don’t even need to meet an advisor in person, read https://budgetboost.co/etrade-review/for another option that’s great for beginners and novice traders.

Hire an Accountant

If you run your own business or work as a freelancer, you might try to manage your own finances to save money. But, it can be all too easy to make costly mistakes. Hiring an accountant can actually save you money. They’ll ensure you are claiming any tax deductibles that you are able, and they’ll make sure you don’t face a hefty fine because you’ve either missed your tax return deadlines or made a mistake in your working out.Read more about deducatbles at https://www.raymondbenn.co.uk/services/businesses/detailed-list-of-tax-allowable-expenses.

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.

Should Your Business Consider Chatbots?

The business community has benefited greatly from advancements in digital communication technologies. Today, there’s practically no end to the ways companies and brand representatives can engage with, troubleshoot for, market to or otherwise stay in touch with their fans and customers.

Chatbots are a relatively new addition to a bundle of tools that already included email, video chat, SMS, social networking and more. Chatbots are the next logical step in many ways when it comes to keeping businesses and customers in constant and easy contact. But they’re not for everybody. Below are some of the advantages of — plus one or two warnings about — chatbots to help you decide if it’s the right time and the right tool for your company.

What’s a Chatbot?

This word is one of those terms that pretty much gives it all away up front: A chatbot is an audio-based or text-based assistant that can autonomously help customers find answers to questions, troubleshoot problems or carry out other business-related tasks, such as ordering or re-ordering products, changing payment information, inquiring about or renewing subscriptions and memberships and much more.

Command-based chatbots are relatively rudimentary but still deceptively “intelligent.” They can respond to customer inquiries using heuristics that match replies with the most relevant topics or sub-menus for the customer.

On the other hand, AI-based chatbots are more sophisticated but also have a further way to go before they’re available to a wider array of businesses and more consistently able to reply accurately to any inquiry. But chatbots powered by AI are undoubtedly already showing their potential: Thanks to their use of natural language processing, they can reply “from scratch” instead of using canned responses. They can even become better over time at picking up meaning and intent from conversations with human callers.

With the different types of chatbots a little better understood, let’s move on to the main question, which is whether or not chatbots are worth the investment for your business. For a start, some industries are simply a likelier fit than others.

If Chatbots Make Sense for Your Industry

Chatbots are a relatively new concept, but they do already exist out in the wild. And there are several frontrunners when it comes to the types of industries that are well-suited to adopting chatbots. Some of them are:

  • Hospitality
  • Banking and financial services
  • Retail
  • Service-based companies

Based on polling, some 80 percent of business representatives would be interested in bringing chatbots into the fold at their company. But early popularity in the industries mentioned above already indicates which use-cases might yield the best results and return on investment. In hospitality, guests and travelers often require nearly instant solutions for checking into hotels and lodging, boarding airplanes and other conveyances, choosing venues, organizing transportation for meetings and conventions and a multitude of other tasks that have to happen at the speed of business.

In financial services, chatbots can help even regional banks and nonprofit credit unions provide members with account information or help them tailor their retirement or college savings. In retail and services environments, chatbots can pick up some of the slack during high-traffic times of the day or season by taking orders, pointing customers to what they’re looking for and more.

The point is, there might be use cases in your industry, and there might not be. Industries that depend on timely, accurate, always-available customer interactions appear to be early favorites, but as the technology improves, applications will undoubtedly continue to appear almost everywhere.

If You (and Your Customers) Value Time

On the customer and the company side of things, the first major advantage of chatbots is that they’re on standby 24 hours a day and don’t take a single day off during the year, provided there aren’t any technical snafus behind the scenes.

Allowing customers to have their questions answered on their own time is great already, but chatbots also save time for the company by providing an automated solution to the “problem” of answering common inquiries all day long. Both parties can breathe easier. Customers know they won’t have to try their luck calling back during business hours or trawling through a website for answers, and businesses know their employees are a little freer to respond to other, more urgent demands on their time.

There are one or two caveats when it comes to using chatbots in extremely customer-facing industries. Human beings know — or can be trained by locals — to respect cultural taboos and avoid words or phrases that might cause offense in another country or region.

The problem of maintaining cultural propriety during international affairs is not a new problem. But while it seems to make sense to turn chatbots into public liaisons in regions where you don’t have a strong employee presence to process customer calls, those chatbots had better have been developed with linguistic and cultural input from the region they’re intended to serve.

Being mindful of potential cultural frictions and even the subtleties of respectful political correctness is key to successfully using a chatbot to fill in your service gaps here and abroad.

If You Want Additional Insight Into Your User Base

The average interaction between a human customer and a chatbot can yield a surprising amount of information about your user base — too much, potentially, for a human operator to take in all at once, much less record and pass on to interested parties.

A phone conversation is practically analog compared with a chatbot chat when it comes to the potential to take in information from your user base. When your customers interact with your chatbot, with just a couple of simple questions and basic analytics, you’ll come away with a greater understanding of how they use your products, where common sources of frustration are coming from and nitty-gritty details. These details include their location, the device type they’re using to contact you or interact with your services and other factors that might be of interest to your marketing team, your R&D team or both.

Chatbots are here already — and companies are figuring out how best to put them to work. By 2021, say industry experts, the chatbot “market” — including third-party cloud-based chatbot solutions — should reach a total value of $15.8 billion. That’s a ringing endorsement. Just remember that chatbots are a product like any other, and computing their probable ROI isn’t that much different, no matter what else you’re promised by a software vendor. In some cases, the human touch might just be the better choice for your business anyway — you’ll need to decide based on your unique circumstances.

Bio: Nathan Sykes is the editor of Finding an Outlet, a source for the latest in IT and business news and trends.

Is It Time to Grow Your Small Business?

How long have you been running your small business?

Whether many years or only a short time, you want to do your best to have the right amount of funds in your bank account. Not doing so can make it quite difficult to keep your business healthy and moving forward.

With that in mind, is it time to grow your small business?

Where Should You Go for a Loan?

If you are leaning towards seeking a loan for your small business, where best to start?

Your first move should be going online to see the loan providers available to you as a small business owner.

Most offering small business loans are going to have websites. Some are also going to be present on social media sites. As a result, you can learn a fair amount of information about them in the process.

In the advantages to the web, check what options you have with an online business loan calculator.

With the calculator in hand, you are able to come up with what amount you would be eligible for. Also, figure out how much money you would be seeking in the process.

Second, get to know some of the loan providers out there.

  • Among the things you’d want to know:
  • How long have they been in business?
  • What kind of track record do they have?
  • Are they known for top-notch customer service?
  • How do they compare to their competitors?

In doing your research, you move closer to finding the right loan provider for your needs.

Growing When the Time is Right

Another important factor in this decision-making process is to know when the time to grow is.

With that being the case, you should look at several factors.

Among them:

1. Trends in your industry – One of the things you want to do is look at the trends in your industry. For example, are you seeing a lot of growth in your line of work with business, companies adding workers and more? If things appear to be pretty stagnant, this may then not be the best time to want to expand your business.

2. Your ability to stay on top of technology – Also take the time to look at the technology you are using. If you seem to be falling behind in the area of technology, is your competition taking advantage of this? If they are, it could be putting some distance between you and them in their favor. You may well decide you need to take out a small business loan to upgrade your technology needs.

3. Expanding in your area – Last, if you want to expand office space, do you have the means to do so now? You may be in a position where expanding is not an option. This can be due to limited growth possibilities where you are now located. It may mean taking out a loan and building a bigger office somewhere or expanding an office that is for sale.

No matter the reasons you contemplate to grow or not grow your small business, be sure to put thought into it.

About the Author: Dave Thomas covers small business topics on the web.

Think Outside the Box to Secure Funding For Your Small Business

Once you have a great idea to start a new small business or expand one that already exists, the next all-important step in the process is to secure funding for it. After all, without financial resources, the business you envision stays trapped in your imagination. Try these approaches to getting the funding you need.

1.  Approach Family Members

A 2016 survey from Bank of America polled 1,000 entrepreneurs in the United States and found over one-third received funding from friends or family members via loans or gifts. You might hesitate to ask your parents for help, especially if they assisted with financing your education not long ago, but it could be a smart move if they’re in a position to help you.

Think about asking others who may be able to help too, such as cousins or grandparents. If those people are business owners or fully on board with your efforts, that’s even better.

2. Pawn Your High-End Luxury Items for Quick Cash

An emerging trend shows an increase in wealthy people going to high-end pawn shops and parting with their luxury items in exchange for fast cash flow to make their business ideas become realities.

Maybe you got a Rolex watch as a gift from a late wealthy relative, and it’s collecting dust in a drawer because you only wear it once a year. If the person who gave it to you always urged you to follow your dreams, you could take that as encouragement to pawn the watch for cash.

Or, maybe you’ve inherited a rare fine art piece that’s undoubtedly beautiful and high-quality but doesn’t match the décor in your home.

These examples show that even if you don’t have a house full of expensive possessions, a few well-chosen ones could help you bring in money quickly. That could be important if, for example, you’re trying to close on a deal for property related to your business and don’t have time to go through the processes required for slower funding methods.

3. Collect the Necessary Documents for a Bank Loan

If you’re an entrepreneur who prefers to fly by the seat of your pants when seeking funding, that approach, unfortunately, won’t work when applying for a loan from a bank. Financial institutions require specific things from you. The representatives there will ask for a polished business plan, a succinct description of how you’ll use the money, your businesses’ financial information and more.

Once you gather those things, organize them neatly in a folder. Then, when it’s time to speak to the loan specialist and make a good impression, you won’t feel or appear flustered.

Even if you don’t think now is the right time to apply for a loan, get all those documents together anyway. Then, when or if you’re ready, you won’t have to scramble around looking for them as your stress level rises.

4. Use Data to Prove Your Point

When approaching people who may invest in your venture, it’s crucial to back up your claims with data. For example, instead of merely explaining why your business idea will succeed in the marketplace, provide hard statistics that show an existing gap you can fill or some other problem your company addresses.

EducationSuperHighway is a nonprofit organization dedicated to improving internet speeds in K-12 schools so that students can take advantage of digital advancements. It’s working with nearly two dozen state governors and has achieved a reach of 22 million students.

Before it got to this point, though, the group wisely used data to prove that internet connectivity problems existed and even to hold themselves accountable to early investors. In short, if the organization couldn’t show it was doing worthy work through data, they emphasized that investors shouldn’t feel obligated to give them another cent.

Research ways to compile data that convinces potential investors why your idea is different than what already exists and that there’s a genuine need for it. Taking that step strengthens your case rather than making it seem like you have little more than a firmly held opinion.

5. Look for Microgrant Opportunities

Perhaps you’re in a situation where you only need a small amount of funding for your small business that you’ll use for better office furniture or to invest in a printer that doesn’t break down more often than it works.

Those scenarios are excellent for microgrants. As you might realize from the name, they involve community members or professional investors collectively giving small amounts of money to successful candidates.

The Awesome Foundation funded over 3,400 projects and operates in more than 16 countries. Grant recipients get chosen monthly and receive $1,000 for their projects.

A more localized effort in Charlottesville, VA is called Charlottesville SOUP. It provides microgrants for arts-based projects. Past recipients include a graphic novelist and a fashion designer.

Grant candidates stand in front of audience members who have each paid $10 to hear about the projects while eating a soup dinner. The spectators’ entry fees also act as votes. At the end of the night, the funding seeker with the most ballot box dominance immediately receives a crowd-funded amount for their project.

These dinners occur monthly, and the first one was held in January 2013. So far, the initiative has awarded more than $20,000 to people in the community who needed funding for their efforts.

Creativity Could Take You Further Than Expected

You’ve undoubtedly had to use creativity to develop your business idea. So, why shouldn’t you try to ignite that creative spark when looking for funding? When possible, it’s ideal to take a diverse approach by looking for traditional sources of money for your business such as bank loans but also thinking outside the box and exploring the lesser-known opportunities.

Bio: Nathan Sykes is the editor of Finding an Outlet, a source for the latest in IT and business news and trends.

 

 

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.