Trust: why does your small business need it?

trustWhy does your small business need customers and employees to trust it? What does trust have to do with the bottom-line of your business? Trust is one of the key motivators for customers to become loyal. It is also important for employees to trust your business so that they will strive to be advocates for your company not just pen-pushers.

Trust is a trait which is built gradually over years but can be lost in an instant. How do you build trust in your business? According to David Horsager, there are eight pillars to trust. These are:

Be consistent

You need to ensure that the product or service you are offering your client is always the same. It should not change even if they deal with different people in your business or in different countries. Everyone in your business should follow the same ethos as you.

Be clear

It is important to clearly state what you offer. Don’t be ambiguous. When you are clear, people will know where they stand with you and what they can expect from your offering.

Be honest

Many entrepreneurs often choose the easy route out of a situation rather than the right route. When faced with a problem, you need to choose to do the right thing rather than the easy thing. This may be difficult and cause you discomfort in the short term but in the long run, you will win the trust of those around you.

Be compassionate

In a society which promotes a selfish agenda, it is difficult for people to show compassion and empathy. Try to understand another person’s point of view fully. Show compassion and work towards a win/win situation for both parties.

Be competent

You must be the guru in your industry. Learn about all the aspects of your operation. Keep up with the latest trends in your industry. Following podcasts and blog posts by the leaders in your industry.

Be committed

You need to stand the test of time. It’s easy to let go of something if you are not sure if it’s going to work or not. It is important to stand fast when complications come your way and find a way to work through the rough patches in your business.

Be a contributor

Your service or product promises your customer’s certain results. You need to make sure you are contributing to those results. If you don’t then people won’t trust you.

Be connected

People like to do business with people they like. If they have a connection with you, they will trust you and want to follow you and buy from you.

By having these eight pillars in your business you will be well on your way to building trust with your customers and employees.

Proudly brought to you by the NSBC.

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Three ways to regain your happiness

HappyEmployees
On Wednesday 1 May we celebrate worker’s day. This is an annual international holiday that celebrates the accomplishments of workers around the world. So as we commemorate this important day ask yourself this question, “Am I really happy at work?”

Maybe you are one of the millions of South Africans that wake up in the morning, fight traffic to the office, to spend the day doing a job that you don’t like. You do this every day so that you can simply earn a salary that allows you to pay for you and your family’s lifestyle.

Let’s be honest, this is a recipe for unhappiness, especially when you spend many of life’s moments being unhappy just to earn an income to maintain your lifestyle. The good news is that it really doesn’t have to be this way. Omar Khayyam, a Persian mathematician, astronomer and poet once said, “Be happy for this moment. This moment is your life.”

Too many people have spent their lives following a routine that is not good for their personal happiness. However, like any bad habit you form over time, choosing to be happy will take some work and a little effort.

Here are three ways for you to find happiness in your life again:

1. Meditate on the happy moments in your life 
If you’re accustomed to a busy lifestyle, you may find it difficult to sit still and focus on happy moments and events in your life. Sitting still, even for a minute, can feel like an eternity. However, practice makes perfect. Put in the effort and reap the rewards.

2. Find a way to celebrate your success at work 
Often, we’re so busy juggling multiple tasks at work, that as soon as one task ends, the next one begins. We don’t take time to celebrate the tasks we’ve completed. This is important. Take time to acknowledge your work and the achievements of the people you work with.

3. Make being happy a part of your daily ritual 
This is easier than you may think. Listen to your favourite happy song on your drive to work. Read inspirational quotes from people you admire. Get creative and purposely include moments in your day when you can focus on your own happiness.

Remember, your personal happiness is a conscious choice. If you work at it, focus on it and remain positive, soon you’ll find yourself healthier, happier and inspired.

http://yourlife.liberty.co.za

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Seven ways to manage stress in the workplace

manage stress in workplace
Do you have trouble sleeping or suffer from constant headaches? Are you always tired, experience chest pains, heart palpitations or muscular tension? Well, these are some of the physical symptoms of excess stress. Stress doesn’t only impact your body, it also has an effect on your mind. The psychological symptoms of stress may include irritability, anxiety and even depression.

Understanding the impact of stress at work
We spend the majority of our time at work with our colleagues. In most cases, we spend more time at work than we do at home with our families. If you don’t enjoy what you’re doing and you’re always under pressure to deliver, you could experience anxiety and helplessness. When you combine this with the general demands of life, like negotiating traffic, caring for your family and managing your finances, you could find yourself stressed out and depressed. Stress doesn’t only impact the individual; it could reduce overall productivity of the business and result in an unhappy home if irritability, intolerance and aggression manifest themselves. These behavioural symptoms can compromise the quality of your work and your personal life.

Seven tips to alleviate work-related stress

  1. Exercise regularly Exercise refocuses the mind on your body’s movement rather than obsessing over your worries. It can be a form of active meditation that has a calming effect on the body and mind.
  2. Form positive relationships Much of the stress we go through can be relieved by simply talking about it. This is why positive relationships at work are important.
  3. Eat healthy foods Avoid “stress eating” or “comfort foods”. Sugary or fatty foods make us feel lethargic, adding to our listlessness and exhaustion. Instead, try to eat foods that are rich in carbohydrates that fuel our brains to enhance concentration and focus.
  4. Get enough sleep Lack of sleep inhibits your ability to cope with even normal amounts of stress, and negatively affects your mood and outlook. It can’t be emphasised enough… get sufficient sleep!
  5. Prioritise and organise Do it or risk a chance of feeling overwhelmed. Make time to sit with your manager to set clear objectives and realistic deadlines.
  6. Daily detachment Switch off work and let go of the day’s events and worries at the end of each workday. Create and adhere to a leisure and relaxation process that puts you in charge of your mood.
  7. Seek help Some companies offer emotional support to employees. However, if this isn’t available at your workplace, consider speaking to a professional counsellor that can help you manage your stress.
    From: Liberty Newsletter
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New Year inspiration for a successful small business

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The new year has dawned – and as usual, it will be full of challenges, surprises and hopefully growth in our personal and business life. Thinking back about the beginning of Rietmark, way back in 1997, I once again realise how much the business landscape has changed.

Saving the Rietmark ads on floppy drives and stiffies (you remember it still?), faxes as one of our main office tools, and mobile phones still in it’s infancy. With time developed the internet, e-mail communication and the monthly updates of our printed booklets on our own website.

Starting and running a business in 1997 was very different from today. But 22 years later, Rietmark advertising is still going strong, with even more services, such as printing and signage. Below follows some of the actions, attitudes and resolutions we embraced over the years. Hopefully you find some inspiration!

Keep learning.

Your business can’t grow if you don’t. Attend trade shows, read journals, take seminars, hire a consultant to teach you new skills. Your brain is your most important business asset – use it and add to it.

Keep priorities straight.

It’s easy to keep busy being busy, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you’re being productive. Make a list of those few items that make the difference between succeeding and failing, both in business and in life. Put your energies there. Don’t let unimportant squeaky wheels get all your attention.

Stay in touch with former clients.

We all focus our attention on the projects at hand, but former customers are one of the best sources of new business. Find an easy way to communicate with all your customers, past and present, at least two to three times a year.

Be technology savvy.

Use technology to streamline and improve your business. Search the internet to find tools for bookkeeping, HR, record keeping, project management, product sourcing, etc.. These days there are various free cloud services to assist you with various aspects of your business.

Know when NOT to use technology.

Technology is not the answer for every problem. Be open to the right solution for each problem, whether it’s technology or paper and pen. Every day, find time to turn technology off and interact with your customers, staff and family. Make time to get in touch with yourself.

Back up data.

Hard drives crash and computers have breakdowns, usually at the most inconvenient and busiest times. Make it one of your resolutions to move all your files to the cloud, for automatic backups.

Reflect.

Take time to think. It’s easy to get so busy we stop thinking about our business. So regularly, ideally every day, stop and think about what you’re doing, what you’re saying, how you’re saying it. The busier you are, the more important it is to pause, catch your breath, and reflect.

Hire more help.

Sure, it takes time and energy to train employees, and money out of our pockets, but evaluate whether you might actually make more money if you had someone to take over some of your non-income producing tasks.

Help employees to grow.

Help employees grow by letting them make decisions, do things their way, and sometimes make mistakes. In the long run everyone takes ownership of the growth of your business.

Help others.

Finally, let’s all find ways to have our businesses help others. Let’s make it a year in which we add to the wealth of our beautiful country, not just in monetary terms but in terms of kindness, sharing, lending a hand, and giving others opportunity.

Have a happy, healthy, and prosperous New Year!

Miemie Theron @ Rietmark

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Got outstanding invoices? Here are 8 things you can do

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Article provided by Xero

It would be nice if you could send an invoice, then sit back and watch the money roll in. But half of all invoices are paid late. And some aren’t paid at all. So how do you handle outstanding invoices?

How to collect money

Some people – like credit control managers, accountants and debt collectors – make a living out of getting invoices paid. Their methods aren’t rocket science. Just a mix of persistence and courage. If you’ve got outstanding invoices, try their techniques. Here are their tips on how to collect money (and many experts recommend starting at number four, by the way).

Write a payment request letter or email

This is your first move when someone is late paying an invoice, so there’s no need to overthink it. Open your note with a polite greeting, quote the invoice number, say when it was due, and ask when you can expect payment. There’s no need to explain what the invoice was for. The details should be on the invoice itself. Keep the letter or email really short.

Send a past due invoice

You could send a past due invoice, which is really just the original invoice with a ‘past due’ stamp on it. Or you could simply re-attach the original invoice to your payment request email, with or without the past due stamp.

Send a statement of accounts

A statement of accounts shows all the outstanding invoices a particular customer has with you. If someone has a few, by all means summarise them into one document or use your accounts software to generate a statement. But don’t expect it to hurry them up unless you follow with a phone call.

Make the dreaded phone call

Businesses that chase late payers by phone tend to get the best results. Customers can always screen your call but, once you have them on the line, it’s hard for them to ignore you. Don’t say too much. They’re the ones who need to do the talking. Just identify what’s overdue, ask when it will be paid, then wait in silence. Don’t get off the phone till they’ve told you when payment will arrive.

Charge a late payment fee on your invoices

You can demand more money if payment is late, but you can’t do it out of the blue. You need a late-fee policy and it must be clearly communicated up front in your payment terms. This is a great reason to get an agreement signed before supplying anything.

Identify late fees on the invoice, too. Don’t make it complicated. Some businesses quote it as a percentage but you’re better off to do the maths for your customer. Say something like:

Total due by 1 June: R100

Total due after 1 June: R110

Write (or call) to tell a customer when they’ve entered late fee territory. You could even offer to waive the fee if the customer pays right away.

Cut them off until outstanding invoices are paid

Why would you keep providing goods or services that you’re not getting paid for? It’s unsustainable. If a customer stops paying, stop filling their orders. And tell them what bills need to be paid before you’ll start supplying them again.

This is an aggressive move and some customers will take offence. You need to be prepared to lose the business to do this.

Hire a debt collector to go after your overdue invoice

Debt collectors have a skill for getting overdue invoices paid. It should cost nothing to put them on a case, but they’ll take 25% or more of the money they collect. This is likely to bring an end to your relationship with the customer so make sure you’ve exhausted all your other options.

Call in the lawyers

If the debt collectors don’t make any progress, then you could go all the way and hire a lawyer. The specific legal action will depend on the type of organisation you’re dealing with. It’s different for sole traders, partnerships and companies. In other words, it can get complex – so use a specialist lawyer. Your debt collector might have in-house legal expertise, or they may introduce you to a lawyer.

If your outstanding invoice stays unpaid

You have a lot of levers for getting paid, but sometimes none of them work. You may get stuck with an unpaid invoice. If that happens, you should write it off so your accounts reflect the lost income. That’s especially important if you’ve already paid tax on the income that was expected. The act of writing it off allows you to claim the tax back.

To reduce your chance of getting caught with an unpaid invoice in the future, consider doing credit checks on prospective customers before agreeing to work with them.

Xero is a proud Partner of the NSBC.

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Marketing Strategies for Tough Times

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South Africa entered a recession in the second quarter of 2018, for the first time since 2009.

Should you cancel your marketing plans, batten down the hatches and ride it out? Or should you beef up your promotional efforts and try to generate as much business as possible? These are questions companies have been asking now and for decades.

Maintaining corporate and product brand recognition should be considered an ongoing business investment. The moment it stops, it begins to lose power immediately, and future sales are in jeopardy. Studies have shown it takes four to six months to see the results of an advertising program. Cutting back during a downturn is like throwing away that investment. Maintenance today costs much less than rebuilding tomorrow.

Advertising should be seen as an investment rather than an expense. It is an investment  not only for short-term sales gains, but also for achieving longer term goals and developing brand equity. Strong and consistent advertising reinforces favorable attitudes toward your company and its products.

Data shows there is a direct effect of increasing or decreasing advertising during recessionary periods. The three basic premises are:

  • Advertising creates power. Companies that invest more in advertising over a period of years experience faster growth than those that spend less.
  • Advertising serves to revitalize. Companies that have increased their advertising budget during a recession have recovered more rapidly than their counterparts that have maintained or reduced advertising.
  • Advertising increases the bottom line. Organizations that have continuously increased their advertising investment have enjoyed similar increases in sales.

Here are some strategies that can help a company thrive in a recession economy.

  • Develop a strategic marketing plan. Don’t waste money advertising the wrong message in the wrong place and to the wrong audience.
  • Increase the advertising budget.  If your competitors cut back, your message has the chance to grow stronger.
  • Stay in contact with loyal customers. Keep in touch and let them know what you have to offer.
  • Product introductions. Introduce well-conceived and properly marketed new products when the competition is weak.
  • Sustain awareness. Advertising works cumulatively – remind people frequently about your brand or they’ll forget you.

A recession can help you strengthen the position of your company in your marketplace. Continuing advertising and marketing during a recession may not only be a smart thing to do, it may be a business opportunity you can’t afford to miss.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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