Ten Common Mistakes Entrepreneurs Make

These days business owners have many challenges to overcome to build a great successful business. Here are a number of mistakes often made that could lead to unnecessary additional obstacles that should rather be avoided.

Equal Partnerships
Creating an equal partnership seems fair in theory and typically works well for a while. However, sooner or later disagreements arise and the company is then in limbo because no partner has the final say. Eventually this will erode the company’s growth.  It is wiser to give a managing partner ultimate control and a majority ownership stake – even if it’s only 51%.  Alternatively, grant a small percentage to a third party advisor who will serve as the tie-breaker for the partners.

Elusive Product Perfection
Perfection is unattainable, but that doesn’t stop many entrepreneurs from spending a lot of money trying to achieve it.  Even if the company did finally make the perfect product, the market will change and eventually make the product obsolete.

Relying On One Big Customer
If you depend upon a single customer for more than 50 percent of your company’s revenues, your company may be headed for a meltdown. It may be easier to manage  one or two big customers, but if you lose a major customer, you run the high risk of business failure.

Creating Products in a Marketing Vacuum
Some companies put all their efforts into an idea, then develop a product or service – only to find there are no buyers for it. It is crucial to perform market research in advance to determine whether anyone will buy.

Low Price Strategy
Companies should charge the highest prices its markets will allow.  Too many entrepreneurs attempt to make up for low margins with high volume.

Insufficient Capitalisation
Being unrealistically optimistic can inflate sales projections, shorten product development timelines and minimize expected costs.  It is important to check and re-check the financial business assumptions underlying the proposed venture and only proceed when capitalisation can support the worst-case scenario.

Losing Focus
Small business owners often lose focus on the company’s core areas – product or service, markets and distribution channel.  Concentrating efforts in a limited area almost always produces better results than diversifying.

Inflating Expenditures
In a quest to live the high life, entrepreneurs sometimes let expenditure inflate more than revenue.  Spend the money necessary to achieve the company’s objectives, but nothing else until profits justify the expense.

Huge Return on Investment (ROI)
If the company cannot articulate the ROI that clients will earn from its products or services, how can it expect customers to understand its value proposition?  Do the analysis.  If the company can demonstrate a great ROI, sales will be inevitable.

Refusal to Admit a Mistake
The biggest mistake an entrepreneur can make is to ignore failure.  If success has not come to the venture, wipe the slate clean and reassess the investment.  Assume the original investment has been lost and decide from that perspective whether you can justify further investment.  If not, walk away.

PIeter du PlessisPieter du Plessis is a Franchisee of the global business coaching company – ActionCOACH.  He is a Chartered Accountant and an accredited Business Coach assisting business owners to significantly grow their profits and develop their entrepreneurial skills. To find out more about Business Coaching or to receive a complimentary coaching session,call 012-0040379, email PieterduPlessis@ActionCOACH.com or visitwww.pieterduplessis.co.za

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Business Success Relies On More Than Financial Statements

Image_Business_Success_Relies on moeFinancial statements are often used to judge whether a business is performing well or not, however these numbers alone seldom tell the whole story. Entrepreneurs might be knowledgeable in their chosen field, but may lack the technical skills to fully analyse financial statements. It is therefor crucial to investigate other methods available for analysis of their business. Let’s discuss the importance of using the right formulae to keep your business on track.

Seeing The Big Picture
While financial statements are a good picture of past performance, they are not entirely suitable for predicting where the company might be in the future. Because they use historical data, they cannot accurately  reflect sudden market changes or illustrate where a company is going. It’s therefore essential to use other measurement tools alongside financial statements to determine which processes are in need of improvement.

Break-even Analysis
Fistly, a business owner must ascertain the point at which a business is neither making a profit nor a loss. This is the break-even point. The formula is as follows: Profit = (Selling Price x Number of Units Sold) — [Total Fixed Costs per annum + (Variable Costs per unit x Number of Units Sold)]

Simply put, this formula is designed   to  provide   an  understanding of how many sales are required to cover all associated costs. Anything above this level, or break-even point, is profit.

Budgeting and the setting of realistic business targets are two of the planning processes made easier by this analysis. Equipped with this understanding, as well as targets and ideal profit margins, business leaders can make strategic decisions in order to drive sales.

Measuring success
In order for businesses to increase their sales, they first have to understand them. All business is effectively driven by five key areas: lead generation, conversion rate, average sale, average number of transactions,  and profit margins.

Lead generation refers to the total number of potential buyers that have been in contact with the business. Conversion rates are defined as the number of these inquiries that become sales. Combining these two gives the business’s number of customers.

Average Number of Customers = Lead Generation x Conversion Rate
Once you have the number of customers, you can use it in a formula to determine revenues: This  can be done by multiplying it with the average Rand sale (or equivalent currency) and number of transactions.

Revenues = Number of Customers x Average Rand Sale x Average Number of Transactions

The final step of this process is to take the resulting revenue number and multiplying it by a company’s profit margin  percentage to calculate the bottom-line. If one of the numbers in this process is falling short — poor lead generation, low prices and so on — business owners can work with that specific variable to increase over- all profit.

Profit = Revenues x Profit Margins
With these formulae, business owners can enjoy a new perspective on what is happening with their cash flow. Testing and measuring the success of processes is vital to any business and doesn’t have to be as scary as it appears. These tips will have entrepreneurs on the road to profitability in no time.

PIeter du PlessisPieter du Plessis is a Franchisee of the global business coaching company – ActionCOACH.  He is a Chartered Accountant and an accredited Business Coach assisting business owners to significantly grow their profits and develop their entrepreneurial skills. To find out more about Business Coaching or to receive a complimentary coaching session, call 012-0040379, email PieterduPlessis@ActionCOACH.com or visit www.pieterduplessis.co.za

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Copyright © 2016 ActionCoach, All rights reserved.

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Tips for Finding Missing Pets

thumbnailUpload your missing pet’s information on the following websites:


and the following Facebook pages:

Tshwane SPCA
Wetnose Animal Rescue Centre
Wollies Animal Project
Animal Ambulance
Moot Lost and Found
Lost and Found Pretoria
Missing Pets SA
Barking Mad
Valley Farm Animal Hospital

Remember to include the following important details on all posts:
Date they went missing & area they went missing from
Type of animal (eg. Dog, Cat, Bird, etc)
Description of the animal, including:
Gender, coat type, tail type, colour, any special markings, whether they have collars or microchips
A clearly visible photo & CONTACT DETAILS

Other things to do:
Check all vets in the nearby area
Make missing posters and place in your neighbourhood, at local shops and vets
Don’t just call, come in to both the Waltloo and Centurion branches of the SPCA as soon as possible

Remember to keep collars on all your pets with your contact details on at all times, and get them microchipped if you can. The Tshwane SPCA does microchip animals at our Waltloo branch weekdays 09:00 – 13:00.

MOST IMPORTANTLY:  Remember to update all the places where you searched, and let them know once your pet has been found. It remains your responsibility to visit all kennels every 3-4 days to see if the animal has been brought in.

Korky Levenson
Fundraising & Public Relations
012 803 5219 (tel)  012 803 5775 (fax)  www.spcapta.org.za

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Good marketing leads to sales

Shopper_credit_cardIn order to properly address this subject, we first need to understand the difference between marketing and sales.

Marketing drives the demand for a product or service;  Sales fulfil the demand and create relationships with clients.

The recommended basic elements of every marketing mix are as follows:

  • A brochure (electronic and/or print)
  • Website (do search engine optimisation, apply Google Ads and doing search word campaigns)
  • Advertising (using the most suitable media options)
  • Public relations plan
  • Sponsorships that are suited to your target market

Here are a few alternative marketing elements to consider:

  • Vehicle advertisements
  • Marketing non-competitive products and services to your client base in collaboration with other businesses (while they do the same for you)
  • Thank clients for business (email, phone calls, discount on next transaction)
  • Do after-sales service assessments, at the same time asking for referrals
  • Give away samples to introduce clients to your product/service

Your marketing mix should deliver the following results:

  • Creating awareness of your product/service and business
  • Creating a 24/7 presence of your business
  • Educating your clients on your product/service
  • Creating credibility and giving clients peace of mind that your business will deliver on promises made
  • Showing that you understand the needs and requirements of your target market
  • Creating qualified referrals (in most cases this is a by-product, but you can launch campaigns primarily aimed at lead generation

The well-known American writer and speaker Zig  Ziglar once said: “Every sale has five basic obstacles: no need, no money, no hurry, no desire, no trust.” These obstacles can be removed only if the marketing and sales functions are working together.

To support business owners with the important task of business planning, Sanlam gives you free access to the book Your Annual Business Game Plan for Success, which provides an easy and straightforward framework needed to draft a well-crafted game plan that will create the positive change and growth necessary for business success. Go to www.sanlam.co.za/gameplan to download your free copy.

Article written by Jannie Rossouw, Head: Sanlam Business Market

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Load Shedding is Killing Small Business

Hilton Tarrant – article from Moneyweb.co.za

Walking down Main Road in Sea Point, Cape Town during the last just over two-hour block of load shedding on Sunday left me worried. Main Road is unique, as it offers a highly concentrated assortment of retail outlets. All kind of shops, fast food outlets, coffee shops and superettes. Hundreds of them in the 2,5km stretch.

On my amble along the commercial artery, I could count on two hands the number of independent stores trading during the peak lunch hour brown out.

Yes, the big supermarkets were all open, thanks to generators mostly installed a year or two ago – or at the very least, a good few months back. Woolworths (all three Food stores), Pick n Pay, Shoprite, Checkers and Spar. Mostly, trading as normal. One or two of them slightly less-lit than you’d expect.

I find the Spars across South Africa particularly interesting, given that these are run by independent owners. When load shedding reared its inconvenient head late last year, you couldn’t find a Spar that didn’t already have a back-up generator. Of course, it’s logical. For every minute these stores aren’t trading, it’s the owner that’s suffering. With the bigger retail groups, that’s head office’s problem.

Aside from the supermarkets, practically everything else on Main Road was closed.

Those establishments that weren’t, had a rattling generator purring outside. A bookie, the vet, one coffee shop (the Bootlegger, look it up when you’re in Cape Town – it’s that good) and a handful of food outlets (all independent, save for the Primi Piatti). Subway, thanks to the product it sells, was selling subs in the dark! One petrol station out of five was pumping fuel.

I was nervous about what I could see load shedding doing to our economy in front of our very eyes. But as a Famous Brands shareholder, I was especially worried. Not one of the Famous Brands franchises on this strip were trading. Not Steers. Not Debonairs. Not Milky Lane.

Other food chains were also closed for the Sunday lunch trade. KFC, Nando’s, Taste’s Domino’s Pizza andThai Café. Ocean Basket was technically open, serving sushi.

Two centres were trading completely normally. A new HCI-owned centre (The Point), anchored by Checkers, and a Spar/Woolworths-anchored one (Piazza da Luz). Here, chugging generators in the basements kept everything running, including the restaurants (Simply Asia, Vida e Caffe and Knead, among others).

So, two distinctly different situations.

Be in a major shopping centre/mall, and you’ll probably be trading through load shedding (and be paying a decent rent premium, no doubt). Find yourself on the ‘high street’ or at a smaller, neighbourhood centre, and you’ll probably be forced to shut your doors (or make your own plan).

This is not only a Cape Town phenomenon. In Johannesburg, the problem is arguably a lot worse, given that load shedding operates in four-hour blocks. That’s an entire evening’s trade, potentially. (Unless you’re a wood-fired pizza takeaway, where boom-times are here!) Visit Sandton City (or newer centres like Nicolway, in the north) and the fact that there’s load shedding underway will only be evident from the traffic lights that are out en route to the mall. But, visit your neighbourhood centre, and only Checkers or Spar or Pick n Pay (and the Woolies) will be open. The line shops will likely be closed (including those Famous Brands stores!).

What I really don’t comprehend is those businesses that could trade but don’t because they don’t have a generator (or another workaround). Are franchisees so pinched that they can’t afford a generator? Are they that disinterested? Are they ok with closing their doors for two or three or four hours, practically every day this month? Are the franchise groups going to be forced to come to the party with some sort of asset finance?

Do the maths, and it starts becoming alarming.

For a food outlet, an evening’s trade could be half the day’s takings. A couple of those a week (depending on the cruelty of the load schedding schedule) add up very quickly. Throw in a few afternoons or lunchtimes and you might as well not be trading. How many more months can you get by with paying staff to sit around, locked inside a dark store waiting for the lights to come back on? Will the local burger place be able to afford six employees per shift if this is the case? They might trim that down. And what if every other joint does the same? See what I mean.

Retail is the one sector where the effects of load shedding on small businesses will be visible first. You’ll see the underinvestment, forced by the fact that they might very well be borderline and pushed just that little bit further. You’ll probably pay more where that business makes a plan to trade through (generators aren’t cheap). If this continues, which it will, slowly you may very well see them hitting the wall, simply unable to make a profit.

Don’t get me wrong, there are hundreds of thousands (millions?) of other small business where you won’t be able to see the effects. I’ve lost count of how many services businesses I’ve been told about where offices full of employees sit around for two/three/four hours at a time, completely unproductive. But we don’t walk past those businesses every day.

A large part of the growth in employment over the past decade has been thanks to the retail sector. When that number begins to stutter – or worse, drop – hopefully we’ll be through the worst of Minister Lynne Brown’s “three years more” of load shedding.

* Hilton Tarrant works at immedia. During load shedding, there’s back-up power at the office.

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How to achieve your goals in 2015

Goals_2015The time has arrived. It is the new year and time to set those desired goals for 2015. To lose that extra 10 kilos or to increase your list of clients by 10 percent — high achievers set goals. But did you reach your goals in 2014? If you did or did not, do you know why? We have all discovered that setting goals is the easy part. However, keeping the motivation and desire to attain those goals can be elusive.

Adherence to your goals is the glue that never seems to stick. Here are Five easy key steps to develop a program so that you will attain your goals for 2015:

1. Think about what worked this year.
That is, what you enjoyed, what enriched your life, what you want more of in 2015. Goal-setting doesn’t have to be about creating a New You every 12 months, and in fact it works better when it’s cumulative. Take some time to revisit your goals for past years, examine the successful (even semi-successful!) ones and think about how you can continue to build on them.

2. Limit your goals.
If you think about it, it’s the perfect number for anything: enough so that you’re challenging yourself, not so many that you’re overwhelmed. You may prefer two goals, or ten, but the important thing is to have a reasonable, achievable number.

3. Divide your life into categories, and think of a single intention for each area.
For instance, you might consider categories like home (goal: finally find some art for the landing wall), relationships (goal: meet up with friends whom you have not seen in a while) and career (goal: compile monthly reports in advance and not the day before).

4. Ask yourself “Why?”
So maybe you want to run a marathon this year. Or buy your first home. Great goals! But why do you want to do those things? What feeling will they help you achieve, or value that you hold dear do they support? Being honest on why we want things helps us clarify if in fact we do want them, or if something else will help us achieve the desired outcome (maybe a half-marathon will give you the same sense of fulfilment, or a lease with a landlord who’s okay with some DIY?) It’s also good to know that we’re focusing on targets that will truly make us happier.

5. Practice gratitude.
Speaking of happy, it seems easy to avoid these days, especially in the arena of goal-setting. As soon as we’ve achieved something, we’re after bigger and better ambitions. Taking time to appreciate what we do have and have achieved makes future goal-reaching all the sweeter.

Article from Indwe Risk Services

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7 Ways to Get People to Believe, Like and Respect You

514_400x400_NoPeelThere are some simple, yet often forgotten, business principles that can build a positive professional reputation and keep credibility intact – for you and your business. Here are seven ways to convey that you are poised, polished and ready to conduct business with the highest standards of professionalism.

1. Be honest.
Unfortunately, fraud and scandals are too common in modern business. Your credibility is rooted in your ability to be honest, no matter the situation. Although you might be tempted to intentionally lie, misstate or misrepresent yourself or an aspect of your business, the long-term cost severely outweighs any short-term benefit. Even small fibs can damage or ruin your reputation.

2. Keep your word.
Your professional reputation is damaged when you don’t deliver on a promise. Every time you make a commitment, you have the opportunity to raise or lower your credibility quotient. Your word is all you’ve got. It’s important to be straightforward and upfront, letting everyone involved know what to expect before you start a new project. No one likes surprises. If you can’t complete a task before the deadline or stay within the budget, let clients know immediately. People tend to be much more understanding and forgiving if they’ve had advance warning.

3. Admit your mistakes.
Failure is an inevitable aspect of business. Though mistakes happen, successful managers and entrepreneurs understand how important it is to focus on solutions rather than obsess over problems. To maintain a professional reputation as someone who is reliable and trustworthy, own up to mistakes as soon as they occur. Don’t attempt to cover up, ignore or minimize your errors or those of your business. Instead, take responsibility and find a solution. Always learn from your mistakes and then move on.

4. Be punctual.
Clients will evaluate you in part on your dependability. Most people will choose to work with someone who consistently delivers projects on time and on budget over someone who is talented but unreliable. Manage your time carefully to ensure that you never miss a meeting, deadline or commitment.

When meeting with clients or associates, arrive a few minutes early. Give yourself a buffer for travel to account for any traffic delays, inclement weather or difficulty with parking. If you arrive with plenty of time to spare, take a few moments to go to the restroom and gain your composure. Take advantage of your punctuality and build rapport with others who have arrived early. If something unavoidable happens to delay you, don’t make up an excuse. Instead, simply apologize.

5. Don’t use foul language.
Choose your words carefully. What you say and how you say it can deeply impact how others perceive you. Using profanity and foul language in public can send the message that you are immature, impatient and lack self-control. Swearing in a professional setting will never command the respect of those around you. Instead, a foul mouth will isolate and alienate you from others. Don’t give clients, co-workers and customers an excuse to not work with you. If you find yourself so angry or upset that you start to lose your temper, walk away. It’s much better to excuse yourself to another room than direct your anger at someone else.

6. Handle conflict gracefully.
There will be times when you don’t agree with your clients, colleagues or partners. The potential for arguments and disagreements will always be a part of doing business. But how you handle difficult situations will reveal your character. If a client tests your patience or questions your authority, don’t allow the situation to ruffle your feathers. Try not to react with anger or take frustrations out on someone else. Instead, work with the client to find a compromise. When you’re wrong, yield with grace.

7. Don’t burn bridges.
The business world is tumultuous. Never speak negatively of a past client or business relationship. Your adversary today could be your ally tomorrow. In 1992, I lost my job to a department-wide layoff. Though it would have been easy to lose touch, I kept in contact with my former director. Two years later, when I was interviewing for a public relations position at the Breakers Hotel in Palm Beach, she was happy to give me a good reference. Her recommendation helped me get the job.

Relationships change and people may surprise you with a change in position or stature. The person you once took for granted may eventually turn out to be a powerful acquaintance.

Author: Jacqueline Whitmore www.entrepreneur.com

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