Business Reality Check

Musing about my business tasks today and the following realities of starting and running a business came to mind.  Just what I need to remind myself of my role as a business owner.

The Time Factor

Everyday we are bombarded with the miracle cure for whatever business ailment we may have. Whether it is procrastination, low self-esteem, lack of skills or imagination.  There is something out there prescribed to help you get results in an instant. Starting and growing a business takes a lot of time and effort.  Stop buying into those lies about the next best thing for your business that could make you an instant £100,000 profit with absolutely no effort on your part.  I spent a fair amount of money on some miracle start-up remedies some years back, they got me nowhere. Now I know better – one has to dig deep foundations for a business, so that when it grows it will not topple over.  Shallow foundations and quick solutions do not provide lasting results.

However, there are some great products out there that compliment your efforts – those are the ones worth buying.  They not only help your business but also make the job of running your business a lot easier to manage.

It’s Your Job

You can hire a consultant, an accountant or even cajole your mum to help.  If you want your business to succeed, then you need to do a lot of things yourself.  Even if you eventually employ people, you cannot ignore or shy away from your role as the business owner.    Yes you can copy systems off the internet or go to numerous seminars and get all fired up, you still have to put what you learn to work.  Take ownership of your business idea and push it till it becomes your reality.

The Dark Side

As the main decision maker in your business (if you are not a partnership) you should be ready for the dark and lonely days.  The days when the weight of the business decisions will be on your shoulders alone. When people will look to you for answers and to make decisions that will benefit the business. Create the right atmosphere you will need for those dark days; surround yourself with people who can uplift and motivate you to keep moving forward.

Eat the Humble Pie

There is no doubt in my mind that when you start your business you will be humbled.  Not everyone will think you have a good idea and not everyone will think you are smart. Be ready for criticism, irate customers, competitors who will steal your ideas, oh! be ready for all sorts.  The important point to remember is not to lose the values you hold dear when you face your business struggles.

Commitment

You can’t make a success of any venture if you do not commit to it.  You get out of your business what you put into it.  If you want it to grow then you have to commit to developing your idea on a daily basis. There is no short cut to business growth, be innovative and prepared for opportunities.  Set goals for yourself and commit to achieving them within a given time frame. The more you do this, the better you become and the more tasks you mark off your to-do-list. When you look back in a few years time, you will be amazed how far you have come.

Till next time, I wish you good success

Temi Koleowo.

Get the eBook: Bring your Business Idea to life and start the business of your dreams.

Photo courtesy of Bigstockphoto.

The Power of your Talent

I am sure most of us have watched British Got Talent. Isn’t it great when you see an unassuming person come on stage, watch people smirk and then everyone stands in awe as they perform their act? In the same way, others come on stage and go on about how good they are, but once they start their act, you wonder what on earth they had to drink before the show. They probably spent the better part of their lives believing they were the next best thing until the BGT judges brought them down to earth.

My Damascene Conversion

Many moons ago, I used to look at many people with envy wishing I had their talents. The better part of my life a few years back was a wish list. I wish I could run; wish I could sing, wish I was a little bit taller and wish I was good at this or that. After I was made redundant from my last job a few years ago, I finally got my ‘Damascene conversion’. I was forced to stop and take notice of MY TALENTS!!! I was pleasantly surprised to discover I had a collection of skills I had disregarded over the years. These were skills that were needed in the market place, skills that could make a difference, skills that could start a business. Well, all that is now water under the bridge as my talents have now become Business First Steps.Tada!!!

Your Personal SWOT Analysis

I come across many people in my job who fail to recognise or act on their peculiar and God-given talents. Some of the categories of people I find are listed below:

  • Some are aware of their talents but don’t do anything about it
  • Some just think what they do is nothing special
  • Some know what they are good at and want to do something with it.
  • Some know how to maximise and magnify whatever they have.

Well I know the things I struggle with (gardening and entertaining guests for starters) and when I see someone else do these tasks with it ease; I can’t help but stand in awe.

A good way to take stock of your talent is to do a personal SWOT analysis on yourself. You may have heard of SWOT analysis used mainly for business plans. The good news is you can also use it to self-diagnose your own strengths and weaknesses, so as to find and fan those innate abilities within you.

Strengths – These are the positive things you can control within yourself such as education, organisation skills, attention to detail, business experience, communication skills, fortitude, ability to see project through, ability to transfer skills to others, ability to teach, listening skills, self-confidence, ability to cook, gardening, parenting skills, good inter-personal skills etc.

Weaknesses – those internal negative things you can control, which can be personal or business traits such as nonchalance, disorganisation, low self esteem, inability to focus, lack of experience in specific field, impatience, inability to finish project etc.

Opportunities – situation within your control that you can take advantage of and maximise. These are opportunities you can identify internally and externally to enable you to develop the skills you need to start a business, fill a career gap in the market, find a novel way of doing things, remodel a system, add to an existing role, product or service etc.

Threats – External conditions that are beyond your control but which you can lessen the impact; these can include shortcomings or limitation in your chosen field.  Other threats could be the negative perception of your skills, industry, business, career, product or service, government legislations affecting your ideas etc.

Step Two

Ask a few family and friends to give their honest opinions of what they consider to be your strengths and weaknesses.  Be prepared for some hard truths as some might have more to say about your weaknesses than you bargained for.  Before I started out in business, I did this exercise too and my family had the opportunity to express themselves (ouch…truth hurts!). I also sought the opinion of a business consultant who was able to help me streamline my ideas and focus on the right ones.

These two exercises should help you identify some of your peculiar talents and what you do next will determine how far you can go with them.  Opportunities present themselves around us every day. Being prepared helps you spot those that fit in with your repertoire. Stop letting these opportunities pass you by whether to start your own business, develop an idea, a social enterprise or advance your career.

If you need help with your SWOT analysis or to identify your passion and turn it into purpose with profit/value, I can help.  Business First Steps provides the tools and services to help you bring your ideas to life.

I wish you good success

Temi Koleowo

Get the eBook Bring Your Business Idea to Life www.businessideabooster.com/

Why Hiring a Consultant is Essential for Business Growth

A lot of people with a business start-up plan would benefit from hiring a business consultant for a number of reasons. While many would-be entrepreneurs would go without this service to save money, it may actually cost them more in the end. Going without the consulting service doesn’t mean that the company will fail; it might just not perform as well as hoped.

The Benefits of a Consultant

If you have a business start-up in mind, there are some very good reasons why you should consider hiring a consultant before you get too deep in the planning process and completely miss your way.

A business consultant has a wide range of expertise in the entrepreneurial field these include:

  • Writing business plans
  • Assistance with loan or grant proposals
  • Company registration and licensing
  • Writing realistic marketing goals and even with creating a good budget
  • Support and assistance along the way

These are a wide range of details that are all very important in the life of a business. If you don’t understand each of them, the consultant will explain the intricate details to you. They will also help you with the completion of these tasks to start your business.

If you may have already created a business and marketing plan, a consultant can review your plan to ensure it is realistic and will lead to a viable business.  The Business consultant will also look at your ideas and plans to see if anything is missing. It is so easy to miss out on very important start-up tasks but these consultants have been trained to spot these things.

Start on the Right Path to Success

Starting a business is not an easy task, it takes a lot of dedication to develop a business idea and put the plan into action. That is why many people have ideas they carry around for many years without starting out.

There is also the post start-up tasks which include marketing and every day business activities to consider. The business consultant will lead you through these steps to understanding what it takes to start successfully. They will also discuss with you the use of any partners, joint ventures or employees if you are considering moving in that direction. Many individuals start off hiring staff and acquiring premises when this could be delayed and financial burden reduced. The professional consultant will let you know what is necessary or not for your business.

Other than these benefits of talking to a consultant, there are other areas that they can help you with. They can assist you with sales strategies, choosing marketing methods, cutting down on expenses, improving customer service, improving the product, seeing potential problems in the business model, and dozens of other tasks. These are all essential aspects to consider when running a business that not only survives but thrives.

When you, as an entrepreneur, go to a business consultant for assistance, it is possibly the best thing that you can do for your own success. It does cost money to review your business with a consultant and to obtain assistance with it. However, this will pay off in the end. Spending this money will make you more money as a result because you will understand how to make your business a better one. You will be able to control your costs and budget your expenses to a higher level. You will learn how to spot problems before they become too big to repair.
Business Consulting does not stop at start-up, it runs through the life of a business and those who cherish business success make use of the skill religiously.
These are all benefits of hiring a licenses consultant to assist you with your business start-up and they are all essential to the success of your company.

Business First Steps provides brainstorming sessions for start-up and existing businesses.  They help businesses focus on the right way forward, set and achieve realistic business goals.

Till next time, keep surging forward….Temi.

Are You Breaking The Rules?

We all have rules we live by most of which are unwritten rules, the same principle applies in business.  We start out with ambitious business strategies to take the world by storm.  We put most of this information down in a business plan and edit as we go.  But do we actually look back after a while and ask ourselves “is it time to change the rules”?

Business development needs flexibility.  The world economics is always changing and sometimes we can be stuck with business ideas and plans that work against us.  Even though our business requires structure, we need to adapt a flexibility mode as we grow.

Tip: Do not cast your business rules in stone rather be open-minded about the endless possibilities of your business idea. 

For example: If you set out to meet the needs of mothers with young kids and you get more enquiries from fathers with young kids, you need to ask yourself if it is time to change the rules.

Emotions can get in the way of your business idea, so be careful how you analyze your aims and objectives.   Yes, I know your business dream is to always meet the needs of moms with young kids but if the market doesn’t make that demand on you, you might need to change the rules.

I started out with Business First Steps from a very different platform.  I have an idea of what I wanted to do, but could not grasp the full picture at the time. As I progressed in business, I found out soon enough that some rules had to be broken. Yes my ideas in the beginning seemed great, but holding on to them will do my business more harm than good.  Emotions had to give way to common sense and good reasoning for my business to grow.

Action Plan:

If you have your business aims and objectives written down, now is a good time to revisit them and align them with the reality of your business operations.

If your aim and objectives are in your head, please take time out this month to write them down and post them somewhere conspicuous so you can see them every day.  This will help your business tremendously as you will know when it is time to change the rules.

I wish you good success

Temi Koleowo

www.businessfirststeps.co.uk

Business Tools and Brainstorming sessions for Business Start-up, Development and Growth.

Photo courtesy of iamwahid sxc.hu

Waiting for the Perfect Moment

I love this quote as it resonates with me in every way.  As someone with a melancholic personality, I tend to want everything to be perfect before I make a move.  Years gone by I wanted the perfect business plan, perfect location, perfect set-up etc before I could even consider launching a business. But when I started out in business, I was quick to realise that if I stay in the place of “wanting to be perfect”, I will lose my place in the queue.  Guess what? Someone, somewhere will surely come and take my place soon enough, then the idea I thought was going to be perfect will now be common!

Sometimes we need to start from where we are at so we can grow as we gain more experience.   I am not advising anyone to go out and start a business without adequate research, planning and good business advice.  But some of us just refuse to set out of the boat to check if the water is tepid or cold!

  • What business idea have you  been thinking about?
  • What expansion plans do you have for your existing business?
  • If you were going to take the first step what will it be?
  • Can talking to someone else about it help you put things in the right perspective?

One of the actions that helped me when I started out in business is getting my idea out there into the open by telling people (trustworthy ones) about what I want to do. Once it gets out there, you are somewhat committing yourself to act and do something about that idea.  You can bet the people you told will be asking you about that idea and what you are doing with it.  A few years down the line, I still follow the same process in developing new ideas for my business. This is where a business mentor or even a business consultant’s help can come in handy, it might be worth investing in one.

Write It Down, Make It Plain

You should also commit to writing down your ideas, invest in a journal or a notebook. Date your entries so you can look back over time to see how far you have come.  Write the inspirational information down as it comes to you and do not worry about format or frequency.  You can also create a mind map for yourself, with you in the middle and the potential of your ideas branching out from you like a spider web.

Take Small Steady Action

Developing an idea needs action on your part, ‘thinking it’ cannot make things happen.  There is room to daydream but you now need to progress from that place to the next room of ‘taking action’ to realise your dream.  Start a to-do-list of what you want to do with your idea. Do not develop long term goals just now as you might find it overwhelming.  Begin the process with a weekly plan, then monthly, six months, one year etc.

Go online and research the prospects of your idea/passion using various related keywords.  Check out your competitors and even patronise them if you can afford to and think of how you can differentiate your idea. Create a folder for the information you gather online/offline and bookmark useful websites.

Remember the journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.  If you already run a business, what are your ideas for expansion?  Starter? What ‘Business First Step’ are you going to take to develop that passion/idea lying dormant within you?

I wish you great success

Temi Koleowo

Business First Steps offers a FREE exploration session in addition to business start-up packages, eCourses, eBooks, business start-up one2one program, brainstorming sessions and other services.  We are passionate about developing new and existing SMEs and will love to be a part of your success story.

Photo culled from Shoreline Neighbours FB page.

Defining Your Sales Funnel

In the hope of making a sale, we cast our net through various marketing strategies to capture eligible customers from the deep blue sea of customer curiosity.  Though the net is cast for a particular target market, you end up will all types of people in your net.  A natural selection process starts to take place depending on what you have on offer.  Some will stay with you a little longer because you have what they need. Whilst some will immediately exit your funnel because there is a better offer, they prefer their previous supplier or for something else. Luckily some will come back later when the need arises for your product or service.

You can’t meet the needs of every one that comes your way but you can either direct them somewhere else or introduce more products to meet the needs of your target market. So how do you capture the ones you want?  What do you give to entice your potential customers that visit your website or read your offline advert?  One great option is to define and create a good sales funnel.  A Sales Funnel helps you pass customers succesffully through your sales process so you can generate sales over a long period of time and also gain repeat purchase.

Create Awareness:

People need to know about what you offer before they can patronise you. This can be through email marketing, flyers, social media etc.  So what have you got in your bag of tricks that you can offer them for FREE or as a taster?  When you advertise your website/shop to potential customers; entice them with free offers so they can get a taste of what your business is about. E.g. a complimentary 30 minutes session as a wedding planner. Make sure your free product or service is high value and good quality too. Remember you are introducing the strength of your business by this offer.

Generate Interest:

We all have unanswered questions in our lives and the businesses that excel are the ones that are able to provide answers to our questions or meet our needs.  So is your business generating interest from potential customers?  Re-evaluate your marketing strategy and ask yourself if you are feeding the curiosity of people who come through your sales funnel.

Give Intent:

Help them see a good outcome when they purchase your product or service by selling the benefits and results to them even before they buy it.  . Do you identify with the pain of your potential customers?  E.g. As a personal stylist, what will be the greatest need of your customers? Highlight those benefits on your website as the antidote for their pain.

Finally a Purchase:

Your ultimate goal is to gain a customer through the purchase of your products or services over time.  For example Asda and Tesco have very large sales funnels.  Once you enter the shop, they provide the means to meet many of your needs – food items, electrical items, furniture etc. Think of your target audience and consider the products and services you can add to your offering to ensure they patronise you for longer period of time.  If you can successfully get your customers to pass through your sales funnel then that is a job well done.

Business First Steps Sales Funnel Workbook and Action Plan is coming out soon.  This workbook will help you identify the needs of your customers and create a wide range of products and services to meet those needs and also create passive income for your business.

I wish you good success

Temi

www.businessfirststeps.co.uk Affordable and personalised services for your business start-up and development.

Photos from Martinandmatthew.com and ngould sxc.hu

The Potential of your Passion

Ideas are a dime a dozen!! Yes that may be true, but I also believe that what makes an idea unique is the person driving it forward.  Two people can set off from similar or same business idea paths and end up in two completely different destinations.  The determining factor is the passion, personality and fortitude of the person who holds the potential of the idea in his/her hand.

The Old Vs The New      

I was browsing the internet recently when I came across this simple and lovely idea of fruit delivery to offices http://www.fruitfortheoffice.co.uk/.   Now I don’t know the owner of the business but I read the story of how the business came about and I was well impressed.  What separates this business from the fruit stall at the corner of your office block is the boldness and audacity of one business owner to flow with changing times.

We all remember the fruit stalls that are usually situated at the entrance to the train station.  On a good day when you get out of your house early enough, you stop by to get some fruit so you can fulfil part of your 5-a-day intake.   The stall owner’s luck changes when the weather is not so favourable.  You hurry by to get to the safe haven of the four walls of your office; bad weather equals loss of sales to the fruit stall owner.

So when someone like Fruit for the Office comes along, I doubt if you will stop by the train station any longer when fresh fruit is now waiting for you in the office – most likely provided by your employer.

Use your Creative Juices

The same brainwave can happen to your business idea if you take time to research what you have, what you know and what you can offer.  Your passion or business idea has the potential to grow if you are willing to do the ground work and build a solid foundation for it to stand upon. Don’t just look at what has been done, think of the potential of what can be.

Start With Questions

What have you been musing about all this while?

What idea has been bugging you for weeks without end?

Is it time to give that idea life?

There are many routes to develop your business idea but the first step is to own it and identify its potential.  Take some time out and consider what you can do with the ideas floating in your head.

What is your idea? Who is it for? Why do they need it? How will it work? Where can they buy it? When can you launch it? These are some of the questions you should consider before you set off on your business path.

Research plays a key factor in the idea development stage. Once you identify and test the potential of your idea, then give it LIFE with a business plan.

Business First Steps is passionate about defining passion, developing viable business ideas and business start.  Stop by at www.businessfirststeps.co.uk we will love to help you bring your business idea to life.  Our workshops to help you discover your passion and develop your business ideas are coming soon.

Regards,

Temi

Photos courtesy of sxc.hu Michaelaw and Svile001.