Evolution Articles

Funding your Small Business

Small enterprises are a main driver of Australia’s economy and need their ways of funding so that they can grow. In Australia, capital can be raised for small businesses to start up. Some companies pool their own resources while others seek outside help. There are many ways other than a bank to fund your business. Some businesses opt to utilise a combination of a number of these finance methods for their purposes so there’s always going to be a money management scheme that’s right for you: “The source you choose depends on the amount of capital you are looking for and how you intend to pay back,” writes Benard Mouka in his blog, Bizify. If you need guidance planning your business, you have the option to recruit the help of a business advisor. A few common options to fund your small business are the following: Your own personal savings A natural course of action, using your personal finances in itself indicates that you trust in your business idea enough to actually tap into your own account. Depending on whatever you have is a personal sacrifice which can have a great impact on your own life and finances. Borrow from family or friends Borrowing from immediate relations is speedy and readily available. When you do this, try to legalise the whole process and make sure that you pay them back (debt finance arrangement). However, you can risk straining your personal relationships with people with a business failure. Apply for a grant or a loan Determine the main financial figures of your business: your current income, net profit, expenditure and future projections when drafting your business plan. To qualify for a loan, your business plan needs to have enough detail to encourage loaners to finance your business. Grants, meanwhile, are by nature competitive and projects are usually proposed to the grant-maker for a specific purpose. Crowdfunding Crowdfunding websites such as Pozible, Indiegogo and Kickstarter make things happen: crowdfunding gets a large number of people to invest in a startup in return for a good, service or equity, usually through the Internet and the platform has been given a boost in Australia’s Federal Budget 2015-16. Venture capitalists and Angel investors Private angel investors fund early-stage businesses and can make investment decisions quickly. Venture capital, on the other hand, is high-risk for high-growth businesses during all stages of a business’s development and is seldom used in Australia for business startups opt for other funding methods. Both provide business advice to companies besides fund provision. External sources of funding These are funding sources outside your business such as banks, suppliers, finance companies and the aforementioned family and friends. Terms and conditions vary across each finance solution, in interest or payment period, and you should be able to establish a working relationship with these external sources. Funding needs come at the top of any business owner’s priority when they are starting up but legal requirements such as registration, permits and licences, accounting systems and future growth are some other responsibilities they hold to manage their small business in Australia. Contact us today for more information and advice!

Setting up your Business Website

Business websites represent your small business and are easily accessible, sometimes being the first go-to of interested customers. Visitors have an objective in my mind when they browse through business websites, and having a great set up site can convince and win a potential customer over. Whether or not they choose to stay on your web page depends on their personal impression of it. Consider these points and tips when coming up with a business website that will achieve it purpose. Domain name First thing about setting up your business website is choosing the appropriate domain name. Make it easy to type, using significant keywords relating to the nature of your business. Also ensure that it’s not being used by another organisation – which can lead to legal issues – and finally, choose an extension that works for you. For company, commerce and community usage is the suffix .co. .com.au is also popular for websites in Australia. Lay-out, design and structure Take good care weighing in what people expect whenever they browse a website. They’re sure to expect a certain lay-out and design that they are used to seeing online, and going off in the other direction just for the sake of it would just be confusing and disappointing. Certain website structures are standard models for a reason, they certainly encourage the visitor to get to what he was looking for with minimal clutter and maximised enjoyment; they’re tried-and-tested successes. Truly understand your business You can’t formulate a proper lay-out for your business website if you don’t have a clear idea of what you want to see in it: colours, banners and headings, icons, and text create the visual impact of the site. In this aspect, what your visitors would want to see is equally important. When you hire a web designer’s expertise, discuss so he can have a clear picture of an outcome that best corresponds with your business. Meaningful, timely content Invest everything into creating content that you and your prospective or existing customers would want to see on your website. Writes Brooke Hazelgrove for More Business Online, “A content marketing strategy is what you’ll need to catch their attention, build trust, convert them to leads, and close them as customers (not to mention how you’ll keep working with them as recurring customers.)” Do write for your audience; this way, your content will be designed to match what they are looking for when they search in search engines. Search Engine Optimisation (SEO), the process of improving your search engine rankings to get more site visitors, should be applied in your content. Visitors are there to know more about your product or service so pertinent information should be laid out, ideally with photos or videos next to the descriptions. Company information on the Website If e-mail messages have e-mail signatures, your website should also have company information such as contact and business details; ideally these should appear on the home page or anywhere else easily visible. This is for site visitors to contact the company. Website access on other devices Always consider the bigger picture if you aim for business growth. Some websites are customised for smartphone or tablet browsing and so the overall concept should be mobile-friendly and adjusted for easy device-usage. Some even have different looks depending on which device the customer is using. Websites shouldn’t be that tricky once you’ve conceptualised your design goals and overall effect which you can achieve with the help of a professional web designer. Setting up your business website is the obvious solution to answer the needs of today’s customers who turn online for information. That way, you can convert potential consumers into loyal customers if you give them a great website experience and they are impressed with your site’s professionalism. Contact us for more information and advice!

Small Business Marketing

Marketing is about establishing brand-client relationships that are beneficial to both parties, ultimately and ideally leading to a sale. Communicating your brand, product or service is a key aspect of marketing which can be used to identify a business’s target market before full-fledged advertising. To market, you’d need a marketing plan. There are six “Ps,” “6Ps” or the “marketing mix” that are the framework for coming up with a marketing plan: Product, Place, Price, Promotion, People, and Process. These six are crucial in understanding your company and how best to approach and operate your business. Look out for characteristics displayed in each of the Ps so that you can think of an appropriate marketing strategy and research for your small business. Many ways are available to market your small business: Create a website or a blog Small businesses using Internet marketing earn 20% higher annual revenues. A cost-effective way to market your small business, setting up your own website creates an online presence that potential customers can search for. Familiarise yourself with Internet marketing strategies such as creating lead-generating content and Search Engine Optimisation (SEO). Email, mail or SMS messaging Possibly cross-channeled, you can use one to prompt another. Deliver offers to your contacts through e-mail and then follow up with an SMS message. Since many people use their smartphones before making a purchase, you can steer this towards your direction. Social Media Sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Youtube and LinkedIn have millions of users, making social media a powerful arena to engage with your customers. Marketing involves knowing what your customers want, and reading all those feedback from your target market leads to insights into their behaviour or preferences. “Put your heart into it,” Trevor Young, founder of Expermedia said of social media. “Create content that has personality. Sure, there’s ways to write things and do videos but nothing beats heart, personality and passion. Seminars or events Social events are a great way to gather all your advocates and contacts and start networking at a personal and business level while being an opportunity to share your brand to the public. This is an efficient way to communicate your business with a lot of information disseminated and exchanged. Make the most of what you already have If you have a showroom or an office, make sure that it feels right for you and looks neat, accommodating, and professional. Phones and staff should be managed because these are how some customers contact small businesses; make sure that information about your brand is on hand. After all, marketing is about getting your brand’s message: product and service to customers for potential usage. Content management allow brands creative freedom to really get their brand across the way they want. Attracting the right people is a goal that the Internet and other channels make possible. If you’re a small business, you’d need to respond to consumer trends or what people want to effectively grow your business. Small businesses should learn how to utilise emergent media in order to best engage their customers. Contact us today for more information and advice!

Social Media and Business

62% of Australians use social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn and nearly half of these social network at least once a week. Social media can have an important role in business “marketing and reputation management, impacting on brand awareness, customer acquisition, customer relationship management, and search engine optimization.” Entrepreneurs need to use social media for business wisely for it to be successful. Growth of interest in social media for business shows the impact of such sites in developing brand-customer relationships. Some advantages of using social media for your business are: 1. Social media reaches out to customers and potential consumers You can use a site such as Twitter to zero in on a customer who tweets about a certain product or exhibits a certain habit or preference. Business owners can send out messages to attract possible consumers who are in the area or who had expressed an interest in what you offer. 2. Cost-effectiveness It’s inexpensive, sometimes coming at no cost, and it’s practically required for businesses to have a professional online presence and for continued success. 3. Analysis of social media audience data Nowadays, it’s incredibly easy to track and access information about your social media audience based on website traffic. You can gather what their dominant language is, their age and their gender. Social monitoring supports your future marketing strategies besides allowing you incredible knowledge and insight about what your target market wants. Free online tools for such purposes include Followerwonk and Twitonomy. 4. Social media allows for open communication and interaction between a brand and a customer in a quick, unparalleled manner through updates or comments, likes, shares, tweets or pins. Feedback is easily accessible to the brand while the size and reach of your social network affects your search result ranking, increasing your visibility. 5. The most obvious advantage of having your own social media for your business is it will increase revenue. This can be done through discounts, offers and promotions. Advertisements put up on social media can lead to your website. On the other hand, job networking sites like LinkedIn can help with recruitment for your company. Ensure your social media for business is a success with these guidelines: Choose the right platform. Each social media platform has different functions and features which make one suited for a particular business over another. Make your clients the priority and focus on your chosen platform. Make the content relevant, accurate and interesting. Keep everything up-to-date and adhere to your schedule or else you’ll appear unprofessional. Engage your clients and followers. Use videos and photos on your site, be it Tumblr, YouTube, Pinterest or others. Be interactive, social media is a powerful, easy and fun way to build a foundation for a relationship with customers. Social media is a great tool for businesses to build and maintain a relationship with their customers, maintain a loyal following and advertise. Get to know your online followers for business management and strategising to succeed. Contact us today for more information and advice!

Top 10 Lessons for Entrepreneurs

Entrepreneurs should open their minds to these lessons which they can then apply to their daily lives and business to create success. Do something that you love, the “spirit of the times,” that propels you to work hard towards your goal out of commitment and passion. Don’t do it for the money. That shouldn’t be the reason why you’re in business; you’re in it to change the world for the better. “The only [thing] that really matters is making a difference to someone else,” reflects Shiju Thomas, general manager of Autogenie.com.au. Prepare yourself beforehand by conducting research and keeping up with what’s happening in the business world. This is vital for well-informed management. Get all the good values intact -- integrity, honesty, discipline -- all those morals and principles which your company can use and which you can abide to. You’ll need them in the long run for yourself and for everyone around you, including your business. Practise the art of truly listening: listen to everyone -- your employees, your immediate team -- and most of all, sync in with your customers. Listen to your inner self too. Customers most of all are what shape your business, listen carefully to what they want from you so you’d better understand how you can improve as an enterprise. Surround yourself with amiable people. No one likes the toxic colleague who brings a company down. Being a team player who is open to group activities such as discussions is a valuable fit in any company. Having like-minded people who are great at what they do boosts team performance and inspires all. Learn from the success of established entrepreneurs. Look up their life lessons and try to incorporate a structure that suits you and your business or simply guide yourself with the wisdom of those who had made it to the top. Focus on your product or service: “Focusing all your effort on your niche, refining the product to perfection, and focusing your time and energy in the core product gives your business a higher chance of succeeding,” says Ben Duncan, founder and CTO of Atmail.com. Indulge yourself in other activities besides work, especially when you’re already starting. It’s a good idea to set aside time for leisure to help you get through the day. Aligned with loving what you do and avoiding greed is believing in yourself. This is an important life lesson for any venture and is especially valued in business. Believe in what you are doing and you will find ways to stand after a fall until you attain success. Entrepreneurial success demands dedication, patience and the willpower to persevere after failures. Entrepreneurs can learn from lessons from their business peers and build their enterprise on sound advice. Contact us today for more information and advice!