Wednesday, August 31, 2016

The “Money Problem”

There aren’t many scenarios in which people are repulsed by money…except of course, in the world of business. As a new business owner, conversations about money can be intimidating, uncomfortable and condescending. In a discourse where the exchange of service for currency is inevitable, it’s hard to conceptualize such a fear, but most business owners are able to recount instances where having to pick up the phone and discuss payment was a nerve-wracking as pulling teeth.  

There are three primary factors that are attributable to the money problem:

·         Value - Entrepreneurs struggle to accurately assert a price that is complimentary to the value of the service they offer. In some instances business owners quote clients/customers fees that are much lower than the product value because they fear that the consumer will not recognize the worth; the opposite is also true.  Pricing comes with a warranted level of sensitivity because quite often it dictates how well a business will perform in the respective market.  Consequently, talking about it can result in gaining clients or losing clients and some entrepreneurs are not willing to take that risk.

·         Cultural taboo - Cultures discourage discussions about money. Unfortunately, some entrepreneurs allow that inter-generational value to seep into the discourse of business. Where it is unacceptable to talk about money in the familiar institution, it is equally disrespectful in a financial one.  The symptoms of this cultural taboo are evident in scenarios where business owners are complacent in obtaining late fees, outstanding balances, and unpaid debts. Instead, they carry on quietly and accept the loss, notwithstanding instances where the obtainable amount is not of “significant” value.

·         Social Psychology, “A need to be right, and a need to be liked” - This explanation is quite simple: business owners and people in general, want to be liked and want to be right. When a conversation of money begins to occur, the rigidity of these two qualities is threatened. Consequently, a client may refuse business on such premise.

Talking about money can be uncomfortable, but it is necessary. The following strategies have been effective in relieving conversational tension on this hot topic.

·         Market Comparisons - Compare your prices to your competitors’ prices. Although this may require a little bit of research, the effort is worth the outcome. Pinpoint noticeable financial trends and assess your business on a similar spectrum. If there are businesses that price their services above average fees, evaluate their company to see why. Some businesses may offer additional services, have more qualified professionals, or may have simply capitalized on effective branding.  When you refer to your prices, quoting some of the prices of your competitors will reassure your client that they are not being lowballed. If your business is above average, make the same comparisons, but emphasize what you are offering that warrants a departure from the status quo.

·         Managing Your Motive - Why are you talking about money? How important is the conversation you’re about to engage in? These two questions are fundamental in shaping your thinking about money in business. If both responses yield a matter of urgency and your business will suffer if the matter is not addressed, it is imperative to have the conversation. On the other hand, if your sole motive is to get more money without providing a service that matches same, you’re better off not mentioning it.

·         Formal Non-verbal Communication - Talking on the phone or over a meal in a meeting may work for some business professionals, but it is not ideal for everyone.  Send an email outlining the details of pricing and be clear and direct. Not only does this alleviate some of the burden, but it also functions as binding documentation of exchange between you and the client. Further, emails accommodate, what are otherwise, high-intensity negotiations.
      In closing, the infamous expression, “money talks” is misleading, because money cannot talk until someone else does. And the reality is: if you cannot get rid of the money problem, it may result in a “non-existing business” problem. 

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Start-Up Mistakes to Lookout For!

Let's face it, every entrepreneur's first start-up is a fish-out-of-water- experience; new territories usually are. One of the best ways to tackle the unfamiliarity of business ownership however is to learn from those who have gone before you. Most entrepreneurs have a laundry list of things they've had to do, and redo multiple times before getting things right. Fortunately, we've got our laundry list of mistakes you should avoid to make your startup success attainable.

A Saturated Market

One of the more challenging tasks of being an entrepreneur is knowing how to reason with yourself and be honest in those responses. This is particularly true at the conception stage of your startup. You come up with an idea for your business, you believe in it, and you start investing time, energy, and resources to make your vision materialize. Finally, when you launch, you realize that the market is too saturated and your attempt to transcend your peers failed. Just like that, your business dissolves. Unfortunately, this is a common mistake.

When you have an idea for a startup, it is imperative to implement a market research component that facilitates your place in the designated industry. If you haven't invented something it is more than likely the case that your business idea already exists. Know who your competitors are, how the market is performing, and whether it makes sense to invest in a business idea that has seen one too many launches.

Launching too quickly or too slowly
Having a new business can be exciting and that excitement can persuade you to place your product or service in the hands of consumers as fast as possible. Prematurely launching your business can kill it. There is nothing quite like introducing an ill-prepared product to a consumer. On the other hand, it is equally detrimental if you have a successful product and you are unable to keep up with the demand for it. Take some time and nurture your idea to control for foreseeable outcomes like these.

It is also possible to launch too slowly. Some startups require a large amount of preparation time. Research, testing, and funding are among the primary factors that can delay a launch. However, if you are taking too long to make your business accessible, perhaps it has no place in the market. Otherwise, you're hurting your business if you withhold something that is on demand and is necessary to your consumers. They may stop waiting. If you are slow to launch, there should be substantial reason.

Poor Investment Strategy

Every business wants to grow, but that growth is heavily predicated on how money is managed. Your business should be your investment manager's priority. Monitor the monetary flow and forecast of your startup to effectively regulate where you can make more money and where you should pull back a bit. Further, investments should yield growth and this should not be interpreted as investing solely in the interest of shareholders. Investments should also be made in favour of consumers; they make the business. “If you invest in your users, your investors will benefit regardless”.

No Target Audience

It's unfortunate that some startups fail due to the lack of a clear and definitive consumer. Knowing who you are selling your product to is instrumental in startup success. A designated target audience helps drive marketing and promotion strategies, product development, and sale projection. When you have a target audience you are aware of exactly where to find your market and how to control it and be competitive. On the other hand, failure to determine a specific group to which to market your product can result in financial loss and over-investment.

A Divided Team

Lastly, if your team does not share your vision, you are doing a disservice to your business. Hire like-minded people who share your values, but differ in creativity and skill; this will diversify and enhance your business potential.

Starting a business can be intimidating, but minimizing your mistakes can make the ride a little less bumpy and a little more successful. 

Thursday, August 11, 2016

The Starting Point for Small Business Marketing

When you decide to start a business, one thing is immediately obvious: you are your own boss. This is usually symbolic of the unshackling from the demands of workplace discourse, but every new business owner quickly falls off of their high horse into a pit of demands to which they are solely accountable for.  All of a sudden you are in charge of the product, promotions, advertising, payroll, and most importantly, marketing. Fortunately, marketing has transformed how business is done thanks to social media. In fact, even the most successful businesses are becoming increasingly reliable on the marketing power of resources such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter to name a few.  Small business owners and first-time entrepreneurs must become familiar with this newly popular outlet if they want to get in the game, stay in the game, and be competitive. So what’s the big deal with this seemingly impersonal marketing tool? Here’s our big three!

Traffic! Traffic! Traffic!

Traffic is to business what location is to real estate. It is imperative that your business drives traffic. If you are not interacting with your potential customers, clients, and consumers regularly you are doing a disservice to your business. Social media provides the perfect platform to engage. Whether you are posting once a day or multiple times a day, posting is what will spark interest. The more interesting content you post, the more likely you are to drive people to your website and find out more about your business and what services you have to offer. 

Hashtags are particularly important to expanding your reach beyond the set number of people who are following you. Don’t know what a hashtag is? Hashtags are keywords relevant to the corresponding image, text, or information that you post on a social media outlet. It is always preceded by the “pound” or “number” sign. For example, if you are starting a real estate business and you posted a home for sale on Instagram, you can hashtag words like #realestate #buying #selling to allow your image to populate on those pages. The idea is, if someone is looking for home, they can search the hashtag and browse your social media page. This method is quick, easy, free, and effective. Hashtags aren’t the only way to drive traffic to your page and subsequently your website. You can team up with other business owners and agree to promote each other. These tactics are likely to increase traffic to your business pages and website and are quite interactive.


Equally important to any business is feedback. If you want to know if your business model is working, you ask. Social media puts you in direct contact with the people you intend to serve. Post questionnaires and ask for product feedback to find out how your product is doing or why the service your offering is helpful to some people and not others. Having an interactive platform is beneficial to molding your business for success. It is one thing to have input from shareholders and investors, but when consumers are telling you what they like or don’t like, there is a lot more weight in their words.

Engagement does not only help you to evaluate and shape your business, it also helps to gain it. This can be accomplished by interacting with your followers. People want to know they are being heard. If someone comments, make an effort to respond. If you are consistent you will gain customers and clients. The key to mastering engagement on social media is creativity and consistency, so be sure to run trials. Be observant to what posts garner the most “likes” and what posts are less popular. Use these statistics to guide your posts.


One of the primary goals of marketing is to be recognizable and  stand out among your competitors. Social media facilitates branding goals such as recognition and loyalty. Any opportunity you have to post your logo or assert your brand, you should use it. In doing so, you will increase your visibility and enforce familiarity with your audience. Using social media to promote your brand will also keep existing customers engaged. As previously mentioned, the more you engage with your audience, the more likely they are to remain customers and fans.

Social media marketing may not be the hot topic forever, but it is the hot topic now. Don’t let your business fall through the cracks. It may take some time to get acquainted with social media discourse, but once you master it your business will flourish.