Albert Einstein: An Influencer To This Day

Albert Einstein had the same mentality as an entrepreneur; he was a discoverer, an educator, a revolutionary and incredibly creative. Below are some of the few more reasons why entrepreneurs can learn from him:

1. Even geniuses get it wrong

Einstein wasn’t always right. The best example of Einstein getting it wrong, was when he had trouble accepting that the universe is based on probabilities, not absolutes. In a famous Einstein/Bohr debate, Einstein stated, “God does not play dice with the universe,” with Bohr retorting:

“Einstein, stop telling God what to do!”

2. One should read

When you find the right book, at the right time, it can have an incredible impact on your mindset. I have learned so much from books, and many have helped me as an entrepreneur. Not only does reading give you quiet time and space to look after yourself, but it’s also exciting to keep discovering incredible insights, and being surprised by their impact.

Now I don’t think I will ever dream up a concept that will have world-changing implications like Einstein did, but reading can open new doors for you and your mind, and take you places you never thought possible.

3. Enjoy the challenge

Einstein didn’t pluck remarkable theories out of thin air. He made many mistakes, he persisted and proved his theories worked.

Einstein would ask challenging questions and ask them in different ways. By doing this, he was able to address the unknown from different angles and eventually unveil some of the most perplexing universal secrets.

4. Your weaknesses are your strengths

Experts such have hypothesised that Einstein might have suffered from Asperger’s Syndrome; a condition where sufferers are described as socially aloof, emotionally detached and exhibit inappropriate social behaviour. But on the flip side, those with  Asperger’s Syndrome can display an obsessive interest in a single topic or object. So, while Einstein wasn’t the best at socialising, he relished solitude and made incredible use of his mind.

By embracing his playfulness, curiosity and laser-like focus, Einstein decoded the universe. Not so much of a weakness when you think of it like that, hey?

5. Find your tribe

His professors often criticised Einstein’s ideas; professors who were accustomed to conformity. It was only when Einstein worked as a clerk at the patent office that he made significant strides in his thinking within physics, mathematics and philosophy.  The point being, make sure you surround yourself with people who get your creative juices flowing and fuel rather than deplete you.

Source: Entrepreneur Magazine


Do You Have What It Takes To Be A Great Leader?

I recently hosted the Next Level Leadership Summit in Connecticut, where the main focus was answering the following question: What does it take to lead?

The attendees were seasoned businessmen who ran multiple 7-figure businesses. They had a chance to hear from entrepreneurs in industries like real estate, finance, tech and health. The stories from each presenter gave proof that it doesn’t matter what business you are in – we all have similar struggles. But the biggest insight was the difference between the chase of success versus the pursuit of greatness.

A leader doesn’t chase success, because he knows the chase is never-ending. He doesn’t care what others think, because he knows judgment kills growth. A leader doesn’t worry about how he’s going to make things happen, because he’s focused on the why that drives him to find a way.

Anyone can achieve success, but it takes a certain type of individual to be crazy enough to pursue greatness. This message hit home for me because five years ago, I got tired of chasing success. I had hit a wall in my life, and everything seemed meaningless. The path I had chosen was no longer fulfilling, and I felt empty.

It made no sense for me to feel that way. After all, I had everything anyone could ever want – a growing real estate business, a beautiful family and money in the bank. I thought I had reached success! So, what was wrong with me?

Was I being ungrateful? No. Was I depressed? I didn’t think so. Sometimes I would ask myself, “What if I ceased to exist?” Would anyone care besides my family? What impact have I made on the world?

It became clear to me that it wasn’t success I was seeking. I wanted to make an impact. I wanted to join the ranks of those whose deepest desire wasn’t the chase of success, but rather the pursuit of greatness. The only way to do it was to become a leader.

Today, we oftentimes confuse financial success and leadership. Just because a man knows how to make money doesn’t mean he’s a good leader. I was making money, but I wasn’t a leader, and all my success didn’t mean I was making an impact.

Too many times as successful businessmen, we can’t figure out how to transfer the skills we use at work into the other areas of our lives. Many of us settle for an average relationship with our significant other when we could have more if we simply applied some of the passion that fuels us at our business. The same goes for our health. We often take it for granted. If the same low-maintenance approach were taken with our work, most of us would be out of business. And, what about making an impact – our higher purpose? Most of us settle for higher revenues and move through life like zombies without a purpose. We eventually burn out.

Greatness comes with a price. You have to be willing to lose it all. At that crucial point in my life, I made a decision to pursue my passion.

I decided to create the Next Level Experience. It was my passion business where I would help businessmen find the edge in their lives, and start living with purpose. I had to start from the beginning, and it was frightening and invigorating all at the same time. For the first time in long while, I felt like I was on the right path. My real estate partners thought I was crazy for putting so much time and resources behind it. They told me if I just put the same amount of effort, I would make 10 times the investment. But I was done chasing success. I wanted to create something that mattered, and I was willing to lose everything to make an impact. It was through that experience I learned I was ready to lead.

There’s something about the fear of losing everything that shifts your focus. You turn the switch. I had no other choice but to lead. Five years later I’ve helped thousands of men find their edge and turned my passion business into multiple 7-figures.

So, what does it take to lead? Everything you have. The world doesn’t need more millionaires and billionaires chasing success. The world needs leaders who are willing to do whatever it takes to help others along the way to greatness.

This article was originally posted on

By  Raul Villacis

11 Things Very Successful People Do That 99% Of People Don’t

Becoming wealthy and leaving an impact on the world is not an easy feat. If it were, everyone would go around doing it. At that point, it would not be much of an accomplishment at all.

Rather, being extremely successful requires an extreme amount of work. Especially when there is nobody looking. The best people have developed habits that help them reach their goals. These routines are not necessarily challenging to form, but they take consistent effort over extended periods of time. Creating these tendencies in your own life will propel your success.

Here are 11 things, that 99% of people (myself included) do not do, but really should.

1. Take advantage of introductions

When someone introduces you to another person, there tends to be a very good reason for it. The top people take advantage of these introductions because they know that they might lead to great opportunities.

It’s easy to blow off an introduction or not follow-up. Doing so is a missed chance to create a meaningful relationship with a like-minded person.

2. Consider the little things in their relationships

The best people are admired by those around them. This could be due to their high-quality work, their personal interactions, or likely, both.

They remember names, they follow-up when they say they are going to, and they take little steps to create stronger relationships with those around them. Something as small as sending a text after a surgery or a congratulations after a new job offer can make a big difference.

3. Read Consistently

The brightest people are always learning. There is endless knowledge, and, in order to continue to improve and learn more, reading is a necessity.

Most people make excuses about why they do not read very much. The best people do not allow themselves to make excuses, and instead prioritise personal learning. I’ve personally made it my goal to read a book a week.

4. Stay healthy

In order to stay effective and energetic, health has to be a top priority. Otherwise, you will go through life with less kick each day. The best people also make no excuses for their health. They make conscious decisions to eat well and exercise. They care about their bodies and take care of themselves in order to propel their success. This focus on health also gets them feeling better about how they look day-in and day-out.

5. Embrace ambiguity

Ambiguity is difficult. When the path is not spelled out, it means that you have to make more challenging decisions. The top 1% of people love ambiguity. It gives them an opportunity to be creative and stand out from those around them. They do not mind making hard decisions because they know that doing so will lead to higher impact, and it is more rewarding.

6. Adapt Constantly

If you cannot look back six months and see a drastically different person, then you are not growing fast enough. This is especially true early in life.

The most successful self-employed people are constantly learning and adapting. They let their barriers down and are always willing to change things about themselves in order to be better, happier and more productive.

This can be extremely challenging for many because it means letting your guard down and being vulnerable. We see ourselves in a certain light, and we make our decisions accordingly. Changing means accepting that our past choices might not have been the best. When those past actions are tied up with our ego, it can be especially difficult to move past them. The best people are able to take this in their stride.

7. Set goals

Goal-setting is underrated. Most people do not take the time because they do not think it is a worthwhile endeavour. The value is that it helps align actions. Setting goals also gets you thinking about what you are really trying to accomplish and why.

Those that are able to set goals tend to be much more productive and focused in their efforts. This allows for a higher level of output, greater success, and more impact.

8. Surround themselves with other great people

We are the average of the five people we surround ourselves with the most. Therefore, it is critical to be around great people. There is a reason that many successful people tend to be friends before rising to fame. They have made an effort, from the onset, to be around others who can motivate them and propel their success.

It can be challenging to abandon or step back from destructive friends that we have been close with for long periods of time. The most accomplished people have been able to do so, though, because they know that there are many amazing people out there for them to spend time with.

9. Persistence

Persistence is also very underrated. It’s easy to work-out one time or to send a few emails. It’s also easy to take on an 80-hour week once. Pushing yourself consistently, though, is an extreme challenge. It’s where 99% of people fail.

It’s when nobody is looking that effort matters the most. The best people work hard and smart consistently. They have increasing returns to scale and their efforts compound over time. Successful athletes do not suddenly emerge. They have been working for years and years on their craft to reach their current point.

It’s easy to believe successful people reached that level through luck or raw talent. That is almost never the case, though. Persistence over time is an absolute must.

10. Pursue their passions

The top people do not spend their lives living other people’s dreams. They pursue their own passions. That gives them the energy to attack each day with all that they have. It also allows them to think more independently. After getting over the fact that you cannot please everyone and that you have to think for yourself, life becomes a lot better.

Spending time doing what you love enables the highest quality of work and it makes staying consistent significantly easier.

11. Accountability

Many people blame others for their shortcomings. Doing so might have immediate benefits, but it’s detrimental in the long run. Neglecting accountability prevents personal growth and, over time, it develops a bad reputation for yourself.

The best people take full responsibility for their actions. This garners more respect and allows them to grow at much faster rates.

This article was originally posted on


Savings culture can boost your business

Cape Town – The development of a savings culture is not only appropriate for individuals, but for businesses too, a financial expert said.

With July being Savings Month, it was right that South Africans begin to develop a culture of savings, according to Elize Giese, head of liabilities at FNB Business.

“Many small- and micro-businesses sustain a material proportion of every economy,” said Giese. “Small businesses are vital to economic growth, employment and innovation.

“Small businesses are small only in name and not the impact they have on peoples’ lives. The success rate (longevity) of new (start-up) small businesses is notoriously low. South Africa is no exception.

“Small businesses have their own peculiar difficulties to arise and stay afloat,” she said. “The multitude of hurdles is daunting; such as, building a rational business case, finding the finance, and then wading through all the compliance requirements and the associated bureaucracy. Staying in business often becomes a daily endeavour.

“Business school wisdom identifies a handful of reasons for success or failure of single-trader, partnership and other small start-ups. A primary reason for failure is variously defined as lack of cash-in-hand, lack of capital, or inadequate cash reserves.

“A colloquialism that describes this graphically is ‘that there is simply not enough oil in the machine’ to keep it moving, either from cash flow or reserves.

“One of the most difficult management decisions a small business owner will have to make, on an ongoing basis, is how to balance cash on hand (some form of reserve or savings) with funds (capital) to deploy in the business for requirements such as inventory, technology, marketing and so forth.

“Experience reveals that a sustained mismatch between sunk capital and expenses, and lack of cash flow and reserves, results in business stress and possible failure,” said Giese.

Two forms of savings

“Small businesses face two forms of savings, namely, ‘expenditure efficiency’ and setting aside cash reserves. The former deals with managing costs including paying staff and suppliers – each outgoing rand turned over a few times, and maximum value derived from each rand spent.

“The latter involves keeping cash reserves to plug expenses gaps, fund projects or buy assets and moderate cash-flow mismatches. In some cases, owner funds may be used to finance business expansion, and supplementing loans, should that be a sensible option.

“In instances of a mismatch between financial inflows and outflows there is a business need to have immediate access to funds. Funds may be accessed easily and additional deposits made on an ad hoc basis.

“The first step in selecting the right savings and investment product is to understand your business cash flow. You must consider the volatility or stability of your cash flow projections. If income and expenditure are predictable and you know what your cash positions are going to be for the foreseeable future, then you should think about foregoing some liquidity and flexibility, and investing in longer term assets that provide for higher returns.

“If, on the other hand, your cash flow predictions change from month to month, then you should rather consider shorter term investments that provide for more liquidity and flexibility, even if the interest rates received are relatively lower.

“Every business must provide for short-, medium- and longer-term cash needs to stay in business, and grow if that is an objective. Expansive order books do not pay the bills either. Cash in some form of savings vehicles should be readily available to manage demand for cash,” concludes Giese.

Source: Fin 24

‘Stay focused, keep on moving, and find some cheerleaders in your life’

It’s an unusual combination of skill sets to have in business: the ability to hyper-focus with steely determination on your business goal, and simultaneously look around for someone other than yourself to inspire and support you. Clearly this talent for managing the hard issues side-by-side with the so-called ‘soft’ issues in the financial business space has worked well for Alida De Swardt, CEO of RMI Investment Managers.

It might have something to do with the fact that while exhibiting all of this single-minded goal orientation early on in her career, she was offered a position in her dream company, RMB, by a woman who became – and remained – De Swardt’s mentor for the entirety of her own tenure as Head of Treasury at RMB. So De Swardt speaks from first-hand experience when she emphasises the importance of mentors and cheerleaders.

In fact, whatever subject she’s discussing, she seems to always be balancing the hard-core business aspects with liberal doses of emotional intelligence. So while she has this unshakeable belief in putting your goals front and centre of everything you do, she also believes that the universe gives you what you put out there.

In this Quick Insight, extracted from a full length interview, De Swardt addresses these concepts from the perspective of young entrepreneurs and professionals who are starting their careers.

Watch the full length interview here.

Moneyweb, in partnership with FNB, presents this bespoke leadership video series with top business people. The interview draws on the person’s life, failures and the lessons they have learnt on their journey to the successful leadership positions they hold today.

Source: Money Web (in collaberation with FNB)

Good managers cultivate young stars

Cristiano Ronaldo proved it and so did Lionel Messi – two players who Sir Alex Ferguson referred to as world-class players.

“In my book,” the iconic football manager wrote in Leading, “there are only two world-class players playing today – Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo.”

However, the two greatest players of our time couldn’t carry their respective teams to victory in the World Cup in Russia.

Even after Ronaldo scored a hat-trick to save his team against Spain, the feat couldn’t be repeated.

This proves that, where a team is involved, the focus should be on building a strong team and not trying to build it around a lone star.

Building the team and making sure that it works is the manager’s real job. A good leader understands that his control has limits.

In football, once the referee has blown the kickoff whistle, the coach has no more control – it is left to the players to execute the strategy and the tactics. Winning now depends on their judgement as they trap every ball, kick it, bend it, loop it, head it.

The same is true in the office. The manager cannot be present at every customer meeting, production process or the other activities that the business is involved in. So the manager must employ people whose judgement he can trust when they are left alone.

Trust without training is the beginning of self-inflicted tribulations. So, as the team manager, make time to properly train your staff so that they can deal with the aggravations of work, and seize new opportunities when they are identified.

The lone star is stingy with opportunities, fearing that he may be eclipsed by new stars, and so would rather see the team be relegated than lose his sheen.

Self-starters are the best people to employ, but they also need other qualities, such as courage and the ability to collaborate with others.

You need people who have character and who keep their promises. When someone says they will deliver something to a client, you should never have to follow up on his or her promise.

Your big job as the team manager is to set the vision, but the daily job is to make sure that the team works together to deliver the objectives of the organisation.

This means looking after their welfare and inspiring them to produce what is necessary to the best of their ability.

There are undesirable parts to the job, such as occasionally pruning the team and making sure that it changes to suit the changing times.

It is the nature of work – bosses will always see a lot more when they are sitting on the sidelines. It has become normal for soccer coaches to jump with excitement like players and fans do when a goal is scored.

They have lost the demands of their position – to remain emotionless during the “proceedings”, as it were.

In the business arena, so many bosses become emotionally involved and, in so doing, they become excited by activity and completely miss the big task at hand.

Good football teams are honest with each other during the half-time break. Often, adrenaline is pumping, time is limited and this is no place for massaging egos.

The coach could favour a certain player, but, at half-time, if that player isn’t performing, his team-mates will tell him so. It is the duty of the manager to create an environment where openness thrives. The most successful managers are those who are able to cultivate younger managers, because that means the company will last forever.

By Muzi Kuzwayo

* Kuzwayo is the founder of Ignitive, an advertising agency

Source: News 24

How every small business can learn from failure

By Chris Smith

In life and in media there is a lot of talk about and a lot of focus on success, but little attention is paid to the importance of failure. Failure is one the best ways to learn in life, and our innate human desire to avoid it at all costs means we will want to do our absolute best not to repeat what caused us to fail in the first place. However, identifying exactly where things went wrong and how we failed – especially in business – isn’t always the easiest thing to do. When feeling disheartened and demoralized after failure, it can be hard to look back over where we went wrong and learn from it, but there are a few key tips to think about that might just help you along the way.

Re-evaluate Your Business Plan

There is no better place to start than at the beginning. When your business idea didn’t work at all, or, simply, a new project your business has taken on hasn’t worked, going back to your business plan can be a great way to learn where you may have gone wrong. You put your business plan together when your company was in its infancy and when your enthusiasm and excitement would have been at an all-time high. Was your plan too ambitious? Did you set appropriate and realistic goals for yourself? Did you overlook issues within your business idea? Did you properly consider your competition? Looking back at what you planned your company to be and to achieve can highlight decisions you may have made along the way that led to these not coming to fruition. Understanding what you should have considered and planned for at the beginning is a valuable lesson that can set you up for success the next time around.

Examine Your Goals

Setting clear targets and goals for yourself is crucial when starting out as they allow you to measure your progress against where you wanted and hoped to be. Examining these goals and targets after experiencing failure should provide insight into where you went wrong. When analyzing the goals you set for yourself and whether you met them or not, consider why you set these goals in the first place, why you thought these were achievable and think about the decisions you made that led to the goals not being reached. Remember that your goals themselves may not need to be changed, just the way you tried to achieve them. Looking at why you didn’t achieve your goals can be eye-opening and can reveal issues in your business you didn’t notice originally.

You’re Not Always Right

Knowing your industry inside out when starting a business isn’t always going to guarantee success. Business ideas you thought were great or marketing strategies you though were innovative may have – when actioned – turned out to be complete non-starters. Failure is, by its very nature, a humbling experience, but this can often be a good thing. Learning that your ideas aren’t always great and that no one person can be an expert in all areas of a business, is a great platform for the future from which you can identify the areas you need help when starting again. Knowing that you don’t know everything and not all your ideas are going to be revolutionary will mean that going forward you are much more likely to be the right amount of cautious and do more research – research your potential audience, research your competitors and fully research and understand your product and service.

Improve What’s in Your Control

You can’t influence what your competitors are doing and you can’t change the entire economy, but there many areas of business in which you do have full control. Try not to focus on how any outside influences added to your failure, but, instead, work on everything you do have control over. Identifying the areas you have total control of and how these could have been improved to prevent failure will be an important learning curve for the future. Dig into your metrics, pick apart your marketing strategy – what worked and what didn’t work, examine your expenses, which parts of your product/service were successful – just look at everything you has a say over and drill into that until you see things you wish you had done differently as well as areas which proved successful. Having a list of what worked for you and what didn’t will be incredibly useful for any future business plan and attempt at entrepreneurship.

Consider Mentors

If you didn’t the first time around, it’s time to consider business mentors. Mentors should be experts in your field – preferably with their own experience in business – who can provide an outsider’s perspective on your business plan and business in general. A business mentor will not only be able to help you identify where you went wrong previously, but help you see through to completion any new business project and identify areas of weakness in your new plan. A mentor will make you much more likely to succeed, will share what they’ve learned from their own mistakes and be a sounding board for new ideas, issues and concerns. The beauty of a mentor is that they can refocus your attention, guiding you towards areas you easily overlooked when starting out such as pension considerations, protecting your business, permits, taxes and employee expenses. Consider your mentor as important as a co-founder and as such, make a concerted effort to the find the best person for you; join networking groups, mentorship programs and talk to those already in the industry to help find the kind of mentor you need.

Above All Else, Learn

Failure can be humiliating, humbling, destructive, demoralizing – you name it and it can probably be associated with failure in some way. However, there will always be some good to be found in failure if you look hard enough. It might not seem it at the time, but failure can set you up for success in the future and, in fact, is often a stepping stone on the way to building a successful company. To make the most of your failure and to find the value in it, make sure you learn from it. Follow these key steps and do what you feel is necessary to take the most value you can away from the experience.

Chris Smith is an independent writer and blogger at Spend It Like Beckham

Source: SME Web

Six common cash flow issues and how to avoid them

By Simon Paterson, Partner at Surrey accountants, RJP LLP

Managing cash flow is one of the biggest challenges a small business owner has to overcome. It is the reason why many sound businesses often fail. They have a fantastic product or service, but cash flow problems and an inability to raise the finance they need in the short term can mean they cannot meet their liabilities and hence they fail. According to recent US research, it is the reason why 82% of small companies fail.

Understanding how to manage cash flow effectively and keep things running smoothly is absolutely essential for every business owner, whether you are a sole trader, partnership or limited company. Here are 6 common challenges a company can face when it comes to managing their cash flow with practical advice on how to overcome them.

  1. Paying staff salaries on a weekly basis

In some industries, it is considered the norm to pay staff on a weekly or fortnightly basis. This is common in the construction and hospitality industries but the downside is it results in cash having to be found on a weekly basis, which means a constant drain to cash flow levels. It is especially problematic when staff are being paid weekly and yet customers are on 30 days or more payment terms. Moving staff to monthly payments will ease the cash flow burden.

  1. Poor credit control function results in customers paying too slowly

Customers paying too slowly is a big reason why businesses can struggle with cash flow. Having a good credit control function in place, which ensures that income is received on a regular basis and within credit terms, is absolutely essential. Consider having a dedicated person to take care of credit control or outsource it to a specialist.

Start off by making sure the customer gets the invoice in the first place, so there are no excuses. Then follow up again just before the invoice due date, to ensure that if there are potentially going to be delays, you can plan ahead for them. In the majority of cases, if customers know you expect prompt payment as the norm, they will get into good habits from the outset.

  1. Over trading of the company

Whilst increasing turnover is important, it should not be to the detriment of cash flow. In many instances a business will chase turnover but if the business is incurring costs up front and payment is not received until a significant period after then the bigger the turnover gets then the bigger the cash flow deficit will become. Where possible try and get out of pocket expenses paid at the start of a project.

When growing a business you need to plan ahead and ensure you have access to cash flow boosting facilities such as a bank overdraft. Another good option is to use invoice discounting facilities, which allows you to draw down on revenues due to you in advance of being paid by the customer.

If you need to hold stock within your business then you make look to a stock finance facility which again can improve the cash position of the business whilst at the same time holding the stock.

  1. Buying capital equipment outright unnecessarily

It can be tempting to buy assets outright if you happen to have the funds available at the time. However, it is not always wise and may be more beneficial to use a funding facility such as hire purchase or bank loan. For instance, if you are looking to buy computer equipment for your business it can be a hefty one off outlay. Spreading the payments over 2-3 years will greatly assist the cash position of the company.

  1. Minimise expenses and overheads

Where possible, try and keep fixed overheads to a minimum. This then gives you flexibility as you grow and means you can adapt to a changing market. For example use outsourced services for HR, accounting etc. rather than having dedicated staff which is then a fixed cost you are committed to. Having costs which are of a more variable nature means you can dip in and out of them as you need them.

  1. Under-pricing for your products and services

When you first start out in business or in order to attract a client, it can be tempting to under price for a job or service. Short term, it might be helpful to secure some business but this creates problems in the longer term. For starters, it means your client will get used to paying less and it makes it harder to increase prices later on. It also devalues what you do, the client may be less likely to really appreciate the work because they see you as a ‘cheap supplier’, and it can create resentment in the long term.

It is far better to price yourself accurately and if the customer is unwilling to pay, walk away. If you quote a fair price it is probable they won’t get better elsewhere and are likely to realise this and return. And from a cash flow point of view, under-pricing means lower profits and the lower the levels of cash you will ultimately generate.

Cash flow is the lifeblood of a business but it is a balancing act. The trick to managing cash flow well is to take a multi-pronged approach and seek improvements to a range of different things. Work on the principle of marginal gains. Small improvements made consistently will result in a big improvement over time, and you won’t look back.

Source: SME Web

How to effectively market your small business

By David Grimes, CEO of My Parcel Delivery

Developing a sound business plan and ensuring a successful product launch can be a time-consuming and, at times, daunting process. It takes a lot of hard work and determination but it’s seriously rewarding when everything comes to fruition.

Once up and running, you may feel a sense of relief, but the hard work has only just begun. All your meticulous prepping could go to waste unless you have a strong marketing strategy in place to support business growth.

The vast majority of new businesses struggle in the first year, and in order to survive you need to ensure that you are visible and in front of your target audience.

An effective marketing strategy will play a key role in attracting new customers, as well as keeping existing ones happy. But, for small businesses working with tighter budgets, the challenge is to keep spending down, so you’ll have to be savvy with promotional methods.

To give you a kick-start, here are my five top tips. These should prove useful for any small business owner looking to step up their marketing efforts.

1) Identifying a target audience and tone

As a starting point, identify exactly who your target audience is and how the products or services you’re offering are an attractive option. Are there any customer ‘pain points’ that you can tap into with your promotion? Addressing these will likely get people interested in the business. It’s also beneficial to research the competition to gauge how you can differentiate yourself from what is currently on the market. This prior planning will lay the foundations for a well-targeted marketing strategy.

Finding your unique selling point (USP) in a noisy and digitally-dominated business world requires some serious thought, but it’s certainly achievable. Think about the tone you’d like to take with your brand, and the language you’d prefer to use; will you be marketing yourself as a playful and fun brand, or take a more serious tone? Establishing these things beforehand will allow you to stay consistent with promotions across all platforms and marketing channels.

2) Building brand reputation

Getting your name out there no longer needs to be limited to the traditional methods of advertising via billboards or bus shelters (although these are useful). Social media has changed the game – particularly for businesses operating on smaller budgets. Platforms like Facebook and Instagram allow business owners to reach users worldwide, often with minimal expenditure.

Maximising the potential of these channels requires you to invest time into developing profiles and scheduling regular posts for each day. You could use a scheduling platform, such as Hootsuite, to do this for you automatically, and map out a week’s social media posts in advance. If your budget will stretch, you could also consider paying for social media advertising or targeted posts. These are relatively inexpensive ways of raising your profile and getting new eyes on the company page.

3) Designing an appealing website

Think of your website as your digital shop window. An impressive and well-designed website can be a big driver of sales; turning a casual browser into a paying customer. If the buyer has a smooth browsing experience, they will be less likely to leave your website in a hurry.

An online site needs to be attractive, easy to navigate and should take the user no more than a few clicks to reach checkout. So, try not to clutter it with too much information. Instead, opt for a clean design that draws attention to key products or promotions. Make sure any product information you do include is accurate, and that all related products are grouped together for ease of purchase.

4) Creating relevant content

One of the cornerstones to any good marketing strategy is content creation. Writing blogs or articles on topics that are relevant to your industry can establish you as a thought leader and go-to voice on a particular subject. But, as any good blogger would tell you, consistently uploading quality content is key. A content section needs to be updated regularly – the last thing you want is for a blog to go stale with old, outdated articles.

Tied into content marketing, is the impact it can have on your brand awareness online. Writing good quality content, which offers value to the reader, will make a difference to your search rankings over time. This should, in turn, increase the likelihood of them wanting to visit your site to find out more about you and – although not a direct result – ultimately encourage some form of purchase.

5) Using customer feedback wisely

Customer feedback is a powerful tool, as positive reviews can have a huge influence on sales. Encouraging those who have purchased from you previously to review their experience can build up your reputation as a trusted brand. To make the most of this feedback, you could choose to include a testimonials section on your website, or use a social media page as a place for interaction and comment.

Constructive use of critical feedback also involves direct communication with customers. If they have any queries, or raise any issues about your service, then be sure to answer these promptly. This is your chance to prove that you can handle criticism effectively, and use feedback to improve service in the future. Set yourself apart as a business that really cares about its customers.

While there’s no silver bullet to attracting new customers and driving sales, the marketing steps I’ve mentioned above should guide you in the right direction. Setting aside some time to map out your strategy will set you up for success now and in the future.

Source: SME News

YES Community Hub launches in Gauteng

DURBAN – The first Community Hub from the Youth Employment Service (YES) was launched yesterday.

The hub is an infrastructure solution that is targeted at addressing the unemployment challenges in South Africa.
The YES initiative which was launched by President Cyril Ramaphosa this year is a social impact initiative that will see government, business and labour work together to give one million youth one million opportunities over the next few years.
The launch is the first step towards the goal of establishing 100 Community Hubs across the country. The hubs will give rural areas and business communities business infrastructure.
The hubs are a part of the Development SMME Development Strategy from the YES initiative and house three focus areas.
The three focus areas are:
1. Business development
2. Route to market
3. Skills training
More than 60% of the unemployed people in South Africa are from the townships. Through the hubs small businesses will be able to use idle youth labour while starting up local economies and boosting domestic markets.
The hub is fitted with modern technology and staff that are skilled. The hub has been created as an inclusive and engaging platform through which both existing and aspiring businesses can enhance their business or ideas.
The Community Hub which is located in Tembisa has been made possible through investments from companies like Sanlam, Investec and Unilever.
The CEO of YES Tashmia Ismail-Saville said that the launch of the first hub is a visible demonstration brought to life, that is a true collaboration between government, corporates and the community.


This past April, MTN announced that they will be creating 1000 jobs to support the YES initiative.
According to MTN, they will be creating the jobs across their South African business and Group head offices that will be both operational and functional roles.
Rob Shuter the MTN Group President and CEO said,”YES is an innovative social partnership that has the potential to be a significant catalyst for economic growth and development.”
Other companies have also joined the initiative including Absa, Sasol, Shoprite and Spar.

Source: IOL

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