Track the Cash.

Cash, money, moolah, greenbacks – call it what you like, without money, it is difficult to survive. Commerce cannot take place with it, if you do not have cash to pay or a product of similar value to barter, you are going to come away empty handed.

Business is simply providing a product or service that other people need. They pay you the amount of money you have valued the product or service at. They may pay you cash or with a cheque, they might use a credit card or they may pay the money into your bank account. You may extend them credit and let them pay it at latter time.

Ideally, to survive a business needs to make several sales a month. Because there are  different ways of getting paid, it is easy to lose track of the money. That money must also get used, some of it will be used to pay salaries, some will go to purchase supplies and of course, the object of any business is to make a profit.

Next time you visit a shop, take note of how they process your cash. Most shops will use a till and ring up the sale. Modern tills, even the simplest ones,  will track the cost of the item sold, the item code (if there is one) and work out the change from the amount given. The more sophisticated ones that use a barcode scanner will also adjust the inventory.

Even if you are a Sole Trader and do business in your name and not as company, you should separate the business’s cash from your yours and track it.

I ask my clients to pay me by EFT (Electronic Funds Transfer) on receipt of invoice. As money money goes strain into the Bank and I have a Cheque Card I can use for purchases, I can track my income and expense from my Bank Statement. In effect, my Bank Statement acts as my Cash Book. But I go one step further and write up my expenses on a spreadsheet using the  invoices and cash slips i get when making a purchase.

A simple system that works for me which I can then hand over to my account to do anything more complicated.

But what about the guy on the Flea Market, who puts the cash you give straight into his pocket. Any time, money changes hands for a service or product, that is commerce, so if the guy on the flea market was serious, he would track his cash and inventory. Simply writing it up in an exercise book would also work.

Money has a habit of disappearing if not tracked – how much do you think is in your wallet, now go check. Less, right!

Seen around Cape Town

Moving so no time for a real post. This photo was taken in Gie Road that runs between Food Lovers market and Harold Cressi School where Trevor manual went to School. Nice to see that they are extending.

This is one school where the scholars take pride in their school and their appearance, which unfortunately is not something you see a lot of these days.

Gie Road Cape Town

Straight Jackets and Small Business.

People go into business for themselves for a variety of reasons. Often, they believe they can improve on the way their present employer does things. So they draw up a Business Plan and get funding.

When starting a Business there is the euphoric state that comes with being your own boss. You go out and meet prospective customers, who all promise to get back to you. But soon, when all the business you have been promised, simply does not materlise and your cash flow is starting to cause you problems, reality kicks in and you wonder what ever made you think you could do it?

Before you start to poopah, remember South African Small Business has finally woken up to the fact that failure is often part of the learning process. There will be times when you are going to be tearing your hair, times when you will break down and cry and times when you will believe yourself a complete and utter failure.

Having to rely on yourself can become stressful, you are your admin, sales and marketing departments, as well as the operations engine. No matter how much you can sub-contract or delegate, the ultimate responsibility is yours and yours alone. So, when you cannot pay your bills or draw a salary, you are going to stress.

Stress and Depression go hand in hand, you will find it an effort to get up in the morning and will find any excuse not to.

Breaking the cycle of stress and depression is not easy and you will not do it without help. You will never prevent Stress and to be honest, some stress is a good motivator.

To keep stress at a controllable level, you need to put the following place;

  • Make your own lunch,  you saving money and cutting out the junk, you are also taking yourself away from work and concentrating on something else,
  • Cut out the fizzy drinks, they are just caffeine and sugar, drink water and juice rather.
  • Limit your Coffee and Tea, try Green Tea or Rooibos,
  • Talk regular Walks before or after Lunch
  • Of course you could also join a Gym or go jogging,

Your relationships are important, family and friends are the people you should turn to first when you need help.

When starting out, most work from home. This is a great way to save costs, but it is lonely, making it easy to get depressed, which leads to stress. You do not have the socialising you get in an office. One way to get around this is to sometimes to work from the local coffee shop where you will get WiFi to help you work. But the WiFi is either limited (if free) or expensive. What I found has worked for me is Coworking For a small rent, I get my own desk, fast WiFi, a meeting and a kitchen area.

The space is filled with individuals Freelancing or operation Small Businesses,  making it an ideal place to network and find new business – I already have picked new business here.

Not having Business and therefore an Income is very stressful, but by changing your lifestyle so that when faced with a problem, you have both the mental and physical fitness to meet it head on, you will find that the answers and solutions are easier to come by.

Time is fleeting, madness takes its toll,

And with that, Riff Raff, the handy man in the Rocky Horror show  summed up the dilemma that faces most small businesses.

There are simply not enough hours in the day to get everything done. You can carry on working, when everyone else goes home or you can give up your weekends. But, lets face it, you are slaving away and burning out whilst everyone else is relaxed and going to the movies or out for dinner.

Stop!

You need to step back and look at what is taking up so much time. Is it necessary? Can someone else do it and free up your time?

Is it necessary – before you say yes, ask yourself, “If I stop doing this what will happen?” If the world does not come to a screaming stop, the task is unnecessary.

Can someone do it –  take your accounts,  someone who does it for a living, could most probably do what seems to take you forever, very quickly.

But even after you get rid of the unnecessary work and sub contract other work, you may still find you do not have enough time. The ideal solution is to employ someone to do the extra work , if you can afford to do so.

if you can afford to employ someone, you will find that between the two of you, you can take on more work – and more work is always good.

Whether you do take on someone or not you need to plan your day, week, month and year.

You do not need some fancy and expensive tools to do this.

 I use a combination of three free tools to plan. maybe these do not suit you, but using the idea, you can find what works for you. Until recently, I used a large Desk Diary to record everything and used Google Calendar as a backup. Desk Diaries still have their uses and you may find them the ideal way to plan and keep records.

 I stopped using the Diary, because I now can sync my online planners with my PC, Tablet and Smartphone, making my diary superfluous.

 For planning ahead for the year, I use Google Calendar, it is free and I can open it on my PC, Tablet and Phone. In fact, you can do everything on Google Calendar from. planning your day, week, month, tasks.

 I gotten used to planning my Month using a spreadsheet that I have divided into weeks and days. i could do this using Google Calendar and really the only reason I do it, is out of habit. There is also an added advantage that I can work on it offline.

I use Workflowy, an online simple organiser. I prefer using this because it allows me to hight headings and subdivide tasks using indents and bullets.

These are my preferences, you need to experiment with what suits you. Don’t overthink it – a list is only an aid, you need to follow it. You can get by with a scrap of paper that you have written down your schedule on.

A more formal way is the Pomodoro Technique, breaking your day down into timed tasks. Even if you don’t us, you will find it useful in teaching you to control your better.

Remember, time is valuable and wasted time can never be recovered, but there is always a point at which you must take time for yourself – you can learn from experts, but only you can find what works for you!

Cash is King, Debt Sucks!

Money, songs have been written about it, books have been written about, it has been termed the Root of all Evil and we are told that it cannot buy happiness.

But, without it it, we die! Whoops, did I say die – you need money to buy food, clothes and shelter, the necessities of life and if you are sick, medicine costs money.

A business is made up of physical elements, the people who staff it, the premises it operates from, the products it sells. These cannot survive without money, staff have to be paid, rents and mortgages have to be paid and products have to be manufactured using materials that have to be paid for.

Money is as important to us as the air we breathe. It is only evil or leads to grief  if used incorrectly. We all have the right to not just survive but to be comfortable.

 A business gets its money from the sale of products or services. Sometimes, money is exchanged for goods or services immediately, but often, in business  the product is handed over or the service performed with the promise of payment at a later stage.

If the supplier has sufficient cash in the bank to cover their expenses until they get paid, they are in the black* but if the have insufficient funds they are in the red.*

*before accounts were done by computer, they were written up in black if your account was in credit or red if overdrawn.

Cash flows in and out of the bank, if you balance your account at the end of the month and there is money in the bank, you have a positive cash flow, otherwise ou have a negative cash flow and if it happens frequently, you are in trouble.

 You can stabilise your cash flow, but making more cash sales, taking out a loan, selling off assets and chasing customers who do not pay on time. You may also consider taking a deposit.

As a freelance Website Designer, I follow the industry standard of taking a deposit up front and the balance on handover. Do not get bullied into working for the promise of money at future date, if someone does not want to pay you they will come up with every excuse in the book.

 As my ex-boss would say, you cannot go in to the supermarket and buy you groceries and promise to pay for them at a latter stages – you will get laughed at. So why get unnecessary credit**?

**Sometimes credit is necessary to get the client – ask yourself is it worth the trouble?

 

Warm up your Cold Calling.

I once was looking through the posts on a local business forum, when I came across a post;

need work, prepared to do anything, except cold calling

Actually, the post read, Desperate for work, and someone commented,that if he was so desperate for work, why not do cold calling, after all it is work.

I know I get annoyed when interrupted at work by a call trying to sell me something I do not need and if they are persistent, I put the phone down. Yes, people tend to be rude even abusive when getting nuisance calls, but this mainly because the caller is reading off a script in a rather bored voice or is pushy.

But for any small business to survive, they need paying customers and the best way to get new business is to cold call. Cold calling is very difficult, unless you are prepared. Simply taking the phone directory and calling the numbers listed will not get you very far.

You need to prepare.
First ask yourself, what is your product or service and who needs it?
Next ask yourself, where you will find them?
Now make a list of potential clients.
Research and qualify the businesses on your list;

Location
Anything special or unusual
Who is the decision maker
Contact Details

Now prepare your pitch and phone them. Remember to smile, don’t be fooled by the fact you are behind a telephone, a smile does affect your voice quality and makes you sound better. Be polite, you will most likely get through to a gatekeeper. tell them why you are calling and ask who you should speak to. remember to use any special information you may have learnt to help warm up the call.

You may get an objection, again don’t be rude or pushy, offer to send them your brochure or even better ask if you can add them to your email list. You want to keep the door open.

What I have learnt from Cold calling, I was never shouted at, nobody was rude, I did get a lot of objections but I also got requests for more information as well.

You need to track everything,

When you called
Who you spoke to
What reaction you got
Any action you need to do
Diarise when to call back

Call Calling is about persistence, not everyone is ready to buy when you call them, you need to nurture the lead and stay in contact, so when they are ready to buy, they remember you.

You will get objections, and when dealing with them, never raise your voice or be rude, listen to the objection before answering. Use phrases like, I am glad you asked that or Good Point, when answering. Yes you need to humour them without sounding like you are humouring them.

When you prepared you pitch, you had to look at it from your client’s point of view and prepared yourself with answers to the most likely objections.

By being prepared, knowing who you are dealing with and cold calling becomes easier.

Your Pitch – Elevator or Taxi.

Any small business owner understands the importance of networking and meeting new prospects. He needs to tell them who he is, what he does and why he is the best in his field, and he needs to do it both quickly and with enthusiasm. People have a short attention span and if you cannot hold their attention, you have lost a potential customer.

We call this pitch, the Elevator Pitch, because if you step into an elevator (as we call it in South Africa, a Lift), you have a very short time to introduce yourself. In South Africa, we call it the Taxi Pitch. Minibus taxis are a popular way to travel in South Africa and many small businessmen use them to get around, making them the ideal place to meet potential customers.

What is a good pitch: You introduce our self and your company, what it does and what makes you unique. And, you have less than two minutes to do it in. Easy right, not really. Watch how Josh Light of Cup Ad does it

Quick, concise and enthusiastic.

How do you go about perfecting yours. Write it down, and practise it in front of the mirror. When you are confident you have it right, try on a friend and get their feedback. Next ask your friend to videotape you using your phone, so you can see it for yourself.

Remember, no matter how many times you practice, you need to make it sound natural when presenting.

Now, you may be asking, why you need to prepare your pitch? When meeting someone for the first time, even in a social setting, you are going to get asked, “What do you do?” You could find yourself talking to someone who needs your services, or knows someone who does. Your pitch if presented correctly will get his attention, it helps you to get your foot in the door, when you meet the right prospect.

Once you have it right, remember to change it when something changes and keep practising.

I am planning for success – recession or no recession.

Any good Entrepreneur will tell you that in order to succeed in business, you must first fail. OK, been there done it, more than once.

The Government tells us the recession is over and the economy is thriving,  They are lying, things are still tough out there and the recession is far from over.

So now is the time to succeed in business, because if you can succeed in business in tough economic times, doing it during a time of plenty, will be a walk in the park.

I know this, I cannot do it by myself, I need help. The Internet is a great place to find help – any problem you encounter, someone has found the answer. But the Internet can be very impersonal and very general. So you need to speak to other Small Businessmen.

I belong to a Marketing Group that meets regularly to discuss marketing problems and strategies. During round table discussions someone will bring a problem they and they group will look at ways it can be solved. Often, someone has had that exact same problem and tell us, how they solved it. I have learnt so much through sharing, and not just about marketing but also about business in general.

I do other networking and do belong to other groups, because it is the human factor that is the most important factor when it comes to doing business. Yes, i use the Internet to market and connect but at the end of the day, i want you to shake my hand and look me in the eye.

So I have decided to take another step, one I know is going to get me off my lazy butt. I am getting a Business Coach. I have seen business coaches in action and I have seen business that operate in an Incubator for a while and i know that I am about to work my butt off, but if I walk away from it a better (and wealthier), i will be happy.

So here is to an interesting and wild ride.

What did you learn from 2014?

At the beginning of every year, the buzz is about setting goals. But what are goals and how do you set realistic one for your business?

Goals are targets you set yourself with the intention of achieving them. So if your target is to generate an income of X per month, you need to look at;

  • How many products or service do you need to sell?
  • How many did you sell in 2014?
  • Did you make target in 2014?
  • If not, why?
  • How do you improve on your 2014 sales?
  • Do you know who your competition is?
  • How much business did you lose to competition in 2014?
  • Why?
  • What are the Market needs for 2015?
  • What were the Market needs in 2014?

By looking carefully at your successes and failures of 2014, you can see what needs to done.You need to remember, you want improve on the past.

A Website Solution that will grow with your Business

The 5 Page Plus Content Management Solution

The main purpose of any Website is to help your Business Grow. The keyword here is Growth! But in order to grow, you need to start somewhere, often with limited funds.

Your first Website need not be expensive, but it has to have certain key elements;

  • A Page that tells your visitors who you are and what you do,
  • A Contact Page that tells your visitors where to find you,
  • A Legal Page that takes care of the fine print.1

These three pages are at the core of any Website, but you need to add your product or services portfolio and to start with 5 Pages should be fine.

As a Business grows, their Website needs to be updated and new pages added – more cost, right? Actually no!

The Solution is WordPress, a Content Management System that lives in the server. You can access this from anywhere you get a internet Connection.

This means you can edit, delete and add pages as needed. Through the use of Plug-in3 you can make the site into an eCommerce site or add a Mail Form or just about any enhancement to make your Website person better.

And my all time favourite, when your Website starts to look date, you can change the theme, quickly, by downloading a theme3 and changing it.

So, you pay once and you can keep updating your Website at no cost as long as you want – no that is a bargain!

  1. There are free examples available online, but one prepared especially for you by an attorney is best.
  2. At Solutions Web, we know how important this information is so we provide thes pages free and only charge you for the 5 Content Pages.
  3. There are both free and paid plugins/themes available