Business Operations

3 easy ways to use more technology in your business

2020-02-01T15:48:29+01:00 May 20th, 2019|Categories: Entrepreneur, startupgold, TheStartUpGold|Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Let’s face it. In 2019, if you are not riding the wave of technology, chances are your business is missing out on a world of opportunity. From sales through to operations, technology is simplifying traditional ways of working and improving efficiency. Interestingly it is still not a favourite topic for a lot of female entrepreneurs.  

An investment in technology can make all the difference in your business. I am not just talking Facebook and Instagram. Today, ease of use and flexibility for small business are key focus areas for tech providers when building their products. So we have less excuses not to embrace tech and many more reasons to love it.

Companies that use technology for competitive advantage will win in today’s fast-paced business environment

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If you like what you hear about technology but not sure how to get more of it in your business, here are some ideas.

#1 Hire a tech savvy person on your team.

You don’t have to go with a full time person if you’re just starting up. You can hire a freelancer on sites like Upwork, Fiverr or Freelancer. A part time virtual assistant with a tech background will do for a start. Task them with researching what tools are in the market and how your competitors are using them. If you like the results the tools can provide, make the investment and get your techie to integrate it into your business. With so much competition in the tech market, you can get tools at competitive prices, a lot of providers also offer flexible payment plans.

#2 Always default to automation first

Automation can save you a  lot of time and money. The golden rule is as long as it is a repetitive task, it can be automated, you don’t need to hire a dedicated person for the job. Today there are easy to use tools that automate almost every part of the business process. Marketing funnels, scheduled advertising, email, messaging, billing and payments automation, there are lots of options to choose from. So think of your end to end business process and and research the areas you can automate. The first thing you and your team should consider when you start a new project is how you can automate.

#3 Attend conferences and exhibitions.

One of the best ways to adopt the newest and brightest tech trends in your business is to attend industry events . You will find enthusiatic exhibitors keen to tell you about their products and how they can help your business grow. You also gain insight from other business owners in your niche who can share what works for them.

If you are thinking, “well my business runs as a service which I deliver myself, I don’t need technology”. As a business owner you should continuously think of how to grow and technology can help you do that. Think of how many more customers you can reach if you are advertising your services online and building an email list of clients interested in your services. Today the world is digital and there are so many tech tools that will help you achieve better results faster.

Smart entrepreneurs keep up with the times and use what works to serve their market. Technology works

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A guide for business growth

2020-02-01T15:38:19+01:00 April 16th, 2019|Categories: Entrepreneur, startupgold|Tags: , , , , , , |

Deciding what is next for your business can be very confusing.

A growth model developed by Larry Greiner depicts phases every business must go through as it grows. The age and size of a business are variables that influence the growth rate. Over time new knowledge and resource is acquired, ideas are tried and tested and businesses learn from their mistakes and failures hence enabling their growth.

Understanding where your business sits in the model might provide some clarity for the next step on your growth journey. Our adaption of Greiner’s model applies five stages of growth and encourages you to understand what stage  your business is at.

1. Growth through creativity: In this early growth phase, you are likely launching a shiny new product or service to the market. As the business leader, you are involved in almost everything. You have the ideas and while you can do with some professional support you know just about enough of what to do to meet your objectives. To move from this stage to your next level of growth you will need to consider hiring some added hands to get more done.

2. Growth through direction: At this point your products have been launched,  you are hiring and directing a team to manage all the admin and support that comes with running a business. You now need those professionals you weren’t keen on in your creative phase to help you see the wood for the trees and get the business running productively and efficiently.

3. Growth through delegation: You may find it hard to let go of control and allow your delegates do their job. Worse still your delegates may actually be rubbish at their job and so you aren’t actually realising the benefits of the stage. Either way, you have a team and as your business continues to grow, delegation becomes a  crucial part of giving the founder and management capacity to focus on the bigger picture and determine the next initiatives.

4. Growth through coordination: In this stage, more emphasis is put on getting you and your delegates working in harmony to add more value to the business. As you look to enhance your business systems and processes, investments may also be made to facilitate growth.

5. Growth through collaboration: In its simplest term, collaboration is working together with groups or individuals to a common purpose in order to achieve a business benefit. When your business has gone through all other growth phases, collaboration either internally or externally can  facilitate growth. You birth new ideas and project through new alliances, networking, mergers, outsourcing or partnerships.

The phases are not meant to follow a linear approach. You may need to revisit a previous phase to be successful on the next. Businesses that cycle through these growth phases are constantly in a state of evolution as they prepare and position for their next stage of growth. It is worth noting that after each phase there may be a calm evolutionary period as the business realises success and moves to its next stage of growth or there may be a crisis that requires the business to stabilise and restrategise to move to its next level.

An adaptation of Larry Greiner growth model for businesses.

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Smart Business – Ethics

2019-02-03T20:52:26+01:00 January 10th, 2019|Categories: TheStartUpGold|Tags: , , , , , |

What policies do you have in place to safe guard the safety of your business? Do you have measures in place to check you are operating with high ethical standards? Are you aware of the impact of poor ethics on your business? It sounds like a boring topic until your business gets slammed and profiled as running sub standard ethics.

Business leaders in some countries may argue this isn’t a relevant topic for the environment in which they operate but it nonetheless sets a benchmark for the sort of company you run and even limits the extent to which International businesses with high ethical standards will work with you.

As a CEO or person in leadership the onus is on you to ensure the right controls are in place for your business to perform optimally not just on internal targets but on its social responsibilities and performance in the external environment. For larger firms where it takes a village, focused departments on ethics and compliance are carved out to empower people make the right decisions and set the right initiatives to ensure the business operates with high standards.

Corporate Social Responsibility refers to the impact your business is making in the outside world and its compliance to areas of the law and national economic or international standard.

So what parts of your business feed into these areas?

Have you considered your I.T department and the effects of your business output on your employee and customer data security?

Recent events in the news about Facebook has forced a lot of companies into reviewing this area of their business, however it isn’t relevant to large corporate only. As a small to medium sized business, it is your corporate social responsibility to safe guard the privacy of employees and customers that trust your company enough to do business with you. Tighter controls on the systems and processes for communicating and enabling customer information as well as regular compliance training to raise awareness in your business and remind staff and vendors to be diligent when handling people or customer data are some effective ways to improve data security.

A second area of your corporate social responsibility that needs regular review is your Accounts department.

As a leader in your organisation are you aware of where all the money is going and how it’s been used and reported. We can review case studies of businesses that have had troubles due to poor accounting standards – Sybase, Micro Strategy, Computer Associates, Enron, Lehman Brothers, Worldcom….. A review of these companies would be a start but more pertinent is to have a proactive approach to being diligent about the accounting practices of your firm. Keep in mind that a lot of these large corporates have used other reputable firms to handle their account but still gotten into trouble. The key message here particularly for business leaders is to understand the practices and processes that govern their accounting principles and mobilise the right controls where gaps exist. This remains relevant for small to medium sized businesses as leaders monitor the financial performance of the firm.

The final part of the discussion that needs attention is your HR function.

This includes the ethics your business has in the areas of rewarding, developing and protecting people as well as encouraging a diverse and inclusive work force .

You’ve probably heard a lot of companies use the catch phrase “people are our greatest assets” Smart business is about engaging your workforce and creating an atmosphere that enables the people not only to help realise your targets but position you as a responsible company as well. The world more than ever before is paying a lot more attention to areas such as gender inequality, diversity and inclusion, so ensure you are conversant of this and feeding into your people management initiatives.

These three key departments – Technology, Accounts and HR are by no means the only important departments required to have a strong ethical focus in businesses. In a fast paced world where change and economical issues are prevalent, they are usually the most visible areas that flag the controls in place to show the company operates with high ethical standards.

On a final note, we learn something new everyday. If there are areas within your business that need improvement on ethics, start to initiate the steps today. Your customers may have picked up on this already and asking questions about certain areas. We have learned over the years about the importance of transparency on matters with clients and this can help build loyalty and strengthen your brand.

Do you need support for your business on ethics and compliance. Contact us at info@thestartupgold.co.uk today to utilise free consultancy services available to your business.

Are there other departments that need more focus to improve business ethical standards?

Leave us a comment, we would love to hear them.

7 Hacks to get prompt payments from customers

2020-01-04T13:11:55+01:00 January 10th, 2019|Categories: TheStartUpGold|Tags: , , , , , , , , |

Continuous late or delayed payments can very easily bring a startup business to its knees. A healthy cashflow allows businesses make the required investments to grow. A firm hand on spend and income is really important for a Startup to be successful.

Customers are key to this as most of the business income will come from invoices that have been sent out in return for goods and services they have procured.

It isn’t uncommon to find customers that wouldn’t bust a gut to pay their dues on time. If you run a business, here are seven ways you can get your money’s worth on time.

Bill on time

Have a set time of the month to verify all invoices have been sent. A lack of organisation could result in your customers receiving an invoice too late to meet your payment target date. You might also overlook certain areas that have been charged resulting in lost payment.

Use technology

Reduce the stress on customers and make it quick and easy to make payment using a mobile and online system. Google Pay, Amazon Pay, Paypal, Apple Pay and Stripe are some more popular choices with online businesses today.

Hire a watchdog

In other words, hire a book keeper or book keeping service to keep track of where the money is being held up and do the follow up. A book keeper can help prevent errors with invoicing as well as manage your company cash inflow and outflow.

Maintain a professional client relationship

Business is Business and fees are due after you have delivered a good or service. Gratitude isn’t an acceptable form or payment if you are in business to make profit unless you see this as a means of increasing customer loyalty and expect more business in the longer term.

Have an agreement

The terms of your agreement covers what you are billing for, make this clear and obtain an agreement before proceeding with the work. Ensure this is mapped out clearly on invoices to avoid delays with clarification. Itemise all necessary areas, such as quantity, hours worked, discount if any or VAT.

Offer a payment plan

Give customers a flexible option for payment such as spreading the costs and offer incentives for quick payment. If you pursue a flexible option for payment ensure you have a water tight agreement in place.

Have a late payment policy

Ensure this is set out clearly from the onset in the terms of your service as it shouldn’t come as surprise to your client. Send a courtesy reminder about late penalties to the client before your deadline and ensure whatever you charge, it is in line with the laws in your area.

Are there are other strategies you use to ensure prompt payment from customers? Let’s continue the discussion, Join our community for more business tips and share yours with other entrepreneurs.

 

 

 

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