What’s the best advice someone gave you?

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Are you worried about your future? Or, are you living a care-free life with no financial worries? If so, you will only waste your time reading any further. However, if you see what’s happening in these hard economic times and want to do something about it, then what you read next could mean the difference between increasing hardship or taking control of your life and your income. Continue reading “What’s the best advice someone gave you?”

How “milking” a product led to its demise

Photo by Tadeu Jnr on Unsplash

Many years ago an entrepreneur in a town near Johannesburg came up with a new product to treat psoriasis. In its day the product was a breakthrough because it was about the only one on the market that gave long-lasting relief from the symptoms of this skin ailment. It was a relatively benign product because it did not do damage to your skin such as the cortisone-based products.

Over time, the original owner handed over the product to a pharmaceutical marketer who started selling it on a wider scale and nationally. But some time later this pharmaceutical distribution and marketing company began to harvest the product. In fact, there was no new product development. This was a great pity because money was not kept decide to reinvest into the product and to make it more effective. There wasn’t even any innovation in packaging, which would have been an advantage because the packaging was all right but it could have been far better.

Onward to the next pharmaceutical distributor and marketer. The second distributor and market was only too keen to get their name on the product but also used a harvesting pricing strategy. In simple language, this means that they jacked up the price each year until the product was overpriced and then sales naturally declined. Towards the end, the product was priced so high that unless you were a long-standing user, you would probably have given it a miss.

Then the product was taken off the market for good. When I called to ask what was going to happen to the product, all I was told was that it had been discontinued. No one, it seems, was prepared to even manufacturer and market it on a smaller scale. Now, there is nothing like it on the market any more.

But wait, there’s more … the product came back onto the market at an astronomical price. No one seems to know it anymore in store. It’s hard to find in pharmaceutical stores. One of these days it will be gone for good.

Those who have studied MBA marketing courses will know about a harvesting pricing strategy. It makes sense on paper, in a MBA marketing textbook, but the ethical approach to maintaining and building an effective pharmaceutical product doesn’t seem to come into the equation. No one thinks of the issues about denying access to such a product for sufferers of psoriasis. There is no tolerance these days for slow-moving product lines and if they don’t earn their weight in revenue and profit, they are bled to death and unceremoniously “discontinued”.

For the small business owner who has an effective product right now, things may be going well but what about the future? How will you ensure the longevity of your product without product innovation and even packaging innovation? Will you hand over your product to an external distribution and marketing company that can pick and choose from many other product lines? One way of avoiding handing over your product to strangers is to keep it in the family. But unless the family share your passion and know how to keep developing a product, it’s going to be a hard to ensure its life into the future.

How to take care of making your own breaks… even when others on the sidelines are ready to gloat if you fail

Don’t waste your time reading this if you are so comfortable that you never have to worry about money.

However, if you could use an extra source of income – one you create for yourself instead of making other people rich – here’s how to go about doing it.

Photo by Daniel Vogel on Unsplash

You may have to move fast. Faster than you think. Your income is being eroded by sad sack politicians and filthy rich money-grabbers like banksters and insurance thieves.

The biggest thief of all is … administered prices that are keeping inflation high. This is is a form of criminality where money is taken away from you so that others who have taken money at will can now make up for their recklessness. It’s not going to go away and will continue to erode the value of your savings and investments. Interest rates are not keeping up and the reason why is kept secret (hint, think of the people in debt).

Do obscene electricity price increases worry you? Maybe not. Maybe you have enough money to cover rising costs like this. But for how long? Electricity prices are not like petrol prices. Fuel prices go up and sometimes down (like the past few months) but not electricity prices – they will never fall.

Maybe taxes will not go up again. But who really knows? “Legal theft” of income is on a grand scale. It dwarfs the “illegal theft” on Street corners, in your suburb complex every minute 24/7, everywhere. Maybe tax will rocket again next year or sooner. Who knows? Perhaps it will be somewhere in the middle.

House prices and rentals will continue to rise. Maybe. Maybe not. Who can really say? But one thing we do know is that there is limited good stock. Don’t let tricksters fool you. Limited good stock means higher prices, higher rentals and higher levies. Do you own or are you letting?

What should you do? Maybe nothing. Wait and see… Until things get worse. Maybe something. But what?

First you must protect yourself and your family.

Second, you must look after your financial survival.

To date I have published almost 600 blog posts on every conceivable angle in finding opportunities in new and existing ideas for income and business. If you total all these words, it’s something close to 3 novels (a novel is about 100,000 words on average) or 300,000 words. Thousands upon thousands of people like you, serious people who are searching for smart information, advice and answers, come to my blog. Why is this? They are concerned. Perhaps not. Curious. Maybe. But that’s not the main reason. They may want to learn how to survive and thrive in uncertain, rough times.

Let me share something personal with you. If you want to do something about getting ahead or staying ahead, you must get a copy of “Breakthrough Ideas”. Don’t worry about the title. It doesn’t mean coming up with some hi-tech gadget. The title means a personal breakthrough. It will teach you to discover your own opportunity and do it yourself, easily and smoothly. I did not “invent” any of these steps. I picked them up from various people. If I did anything, I simply put them all together.

You’ll benefit from knowing you have taken action to do something about your personal circumstances. No one else will. Isn’t that correct? Only you. You’re on your own. No one cares. In fact, if you fail at what you are doing now some people… you know who they are, don’t you… will… can you believe it… gloat over your personal tragedy. Sadly, there are people like that. There are others who want you to fail because in their warped, it will somehow make them feel better. Even if they are scheming how they can “legally” steal more from you.

Are you going to say, “enough’s enough”? Maybe you will. Maybe you aren’t ready. Who knows? Only you know. Maybe you will wait. But in waiting you’ll continue to suffer income erosion. If you have decided you aren’t going to take any more, then you are ready to act now.

Business continuity for family-owned businesses

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

In this economy many family-owned businesses are fighting for survival. If they have a disruptive incident in their business, what would be the consequences? Depending on the nature of the disruptive incident and how quickly they recover, perhaps they stand a good chance of business continuity. However, if the disruptive incident is major such as a fire, explosion, loss of a major customer, the business could go down the tubes.

Someone said on a business radio program the other day that there’s something like 400,000 family businesses in the country. These business owners are the real backbone, the real foundation of economic activity in the country. But they are hampered by business regulation and laws, an unfriendly, even sometimes hostile, business climate, hefty interest rates for overdrafts, lack of access to finance, very late and increasingly late payments from customers. In other words, simply put, they are vulnerable and even more so in these economic circumstances.

As a business, especially a family business, how do you ensure business continuity after a major disruptive incident?

It all starts with understanding the nature of your business. Doing a proper business continuity assessment of the business is a step in the right direction. But more than this, once you begin to understand your business and its vulnerabilities, strengths and opportunities, you won’t have a business continuity plan but you will also have a strategic document. It’s not so much about coming up with a business continuity plan but it’s the process of better understanding your business and what you should do in the face of calamity.

The business continuity document will include defining the scope of the business, identifying risks and performing a business impact analysis of significant risks, defining the business recovery time objective and developing a business continuity strategy.

However, there is one obstacles standing in the way of many small businesses and family businesses. It’s simply that they don’t have the time and resources to better understand their business and its vulnerabilities. And you can’t blame them. They have to operate business as usual. Customers are threatening to close their accounts. Other customers are demanding unrealistic delivery times. Suppliers are not always delivering on time. Employees come with challenges that need to be given attention and solved.

That’s why plans or ideas to increase business or improve resilience often fall on deaf ears.

The challenge about preparing for a disruptive incident or recognising the need to prepare, is selling yourself that you need it. You, you are the only one that can be sold. Others think that are selling you on something but you have to see the need, you have to see the problem, you have to do something about it.

But if you do see the need and take action you will realise many benefits, the most important one being that special destination for anyone, peace of mind in your business.

Chesney Bradshaw, in business sustainability, is an accredited Lead Implementer and Lead Auditor for Business Continuity registered with the PECB.

Read the wrong books on creativity and watch out, you may end up like Don Quixote valiantly but vainly slashing his spear at windmills

Even the priest who came to Don Quixote’s house and helped his niece and housekeeper to get rid of and burn all the rubbish books he read on chivalry couldn’t stop his folly.

In my search to understand creativity and innovation I must have bought a small mountain of books. Each one of them seemed to trot out familiar themes on creativity and innovation but there were a few that approached it from a different and sensible way. A sucker for punishment, I stumbled on a new book on creativity and innovation and acquired it. 

But I haven’t had the temerity to read it yet after recently getting stuck into Cervantes “Don Quixote”. I am reminded by the foolish exploits of The Ingenious Nobleman Sir Quixote of La Mancha because of the vast number of books he read on chivalry. Even the priest who came to Don Quixote’s house and helped his niece and housekeeper to get rid of and burn all the rubbish books he read on chivalry couldn’t stop the folly of Don Quixote.

I think of the books on creativity and innovation, read but not opened again that lie on my shelves.

One book was from a so-called creative guru who comes up with wild ideas every day but which amount to candy floss.

Another creatvity book that lies dormant is jam packed with so-called creativity tools that are more appropriate for a professor of business or a corporate innovation officer rather than the ordinary person who wishes to generate new ideas, evaluate them and implement them.

Then they are loads of books written by people who have produced them more as calling cards for their seminars and training. Even some academics, professors, fall into this category. Well researched, same bibliographies and long indices — but again short of anything that can help you in the real world.

One thing that caught my eye with the new book I have acquired on creativity is the argument about your creativity versus creativity aimed at commercial ends. The author believes that creativity and innovation in the world as been mainly directed at fostering commercialism. This is not a bad thing overall but has put creativity in a straitjacket.

The author quotes that creative book, full with wisdom, by Lewis Carroll, “Through the Looking Glass:

I can’t believe that!” said Alice.

“Can’t you?” the queen said in a pitying tone. “Try again, draw a long breath, and shut your eyes.”

Alice laughed. “There’s no use trying,” she said. “One can’t believe impossible things.”

“I dare say you haven’t had much practice,” said the queen. “When I was your age, I always did it for half an hour a day. Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.” ? Lewis Carroll, Through the Looking-Glass and What Alice Found There

Should we really abandon thinking about our wild ideas?

By the way, Cervantes “Don Quixote makes a good read and fires your imagination. I read once that it is the kind of book that you want to read in youth, middle age and old age.

A book on creative action that I can, however, recommend, is “Breakthrough Ideas”, a practical, hands-on manual that will help anyone in the real world to generate ideas, evaluate them and put them into action.

Small business creativity in Northern Cape

We took a long, hot journey through the Northern Cape, stopping at small towns and larger ones like Kimberly, Upington and Springbok. Along the way we stayed at Augrabies and spent some time observing the spectacular Augrabies Falls.

On the gravel road from Kleinzee to Porth Nolloth. Kilometres of gravel road and minimal traffic.

Then it was down to the coast on gravel roads and finding our coastal destination through thick mist for about 40 km.

Apart from the main economic activities such as agriculture (grapes, wine making, raisin drying, nuts and other crops as well as cattle and sheep farming) and mining the other main economic activity is tourism in the Northern Cape. Note no mention of fishing – see below.

On our trip we experienced and saw fine accommodation places for overnight or longer stays and roadside stalls selling everything from biltong to fruit preserves, jams, home-baked biscuits and savouries and craft items.

At the small coastal village where we stayed for a few days, we saw how ingenuity was at work. Small businesses ranged from seaside view restaurants, coastal tour operators, fishing trips and even fine artists who have made the sea village their home and are selling their art.

For coastal towns including Port Nolloth tourism has become the main source of economic activity. It is sad to see how over the past four decades the fishing industry has all but gone.

Overfishing has virtually depleted fishing stocks such as crayfish, pilchards, soles and hake. West Coast fishing has been decimated. At Port Nolloth, for instance, there was not one fishing trawler in the harbour (and none were at sea). Only a few diamond dredging vessels owned by a very large JSE-listed company were moored in the harbour.

Even close-to-shore-based diamond diving is now practised on a very small scale after four decades of hammering the coast. The coastal diamond rush had its heydays in the 1980s. Coastal weather conditions have changed resulting in fewer sea days annually in the Atlantic ocean and all the rich spots have been pumped out.

The illegal mining by individual diggers shows economic desperation. Deaths have resulted and crime is on the rise. Fortune seekers are rushing in from Southern African countries and all over the place with little or no knowledge of mining. One wonders who benefits because the locals seem to be crowded out.

Tourism remains relatively small in the Northern Cape. The country has major attractions in other provinces. However small, tourism in the Northern Cape is done with professionalism, warmth and friendliness. Tiny businesses eke out an existence mainly from local tourists who largely know what to expect in the region. Small business owners have to carefully position their small businesses also towards locals who provide their bread-and-butter business throughout the year.

The Northern Cape and surrounding coastal areas provide a fantastic opportunity for a memorable holiday, especially with family and close friends, and showcases the real warmth South Africans are well known for. The small businesses scraping out a living in this dry semi-desert country demonstrate ingenuity, hard work and resilience.

Launch a good enough product, and then spend time perfecting it. How true is this?

Well, it depends. If, for example, you have a low-risk business proposition – say a small kitchen-table service business – then you can start up and refine it as you go along.

You hear this advice all the time. Start something, anything, and get it out to market. But how realistic is this? Continue reading “Launch a good enough product, and then spend time perfecting it. How true is this?”

How to restart from scratch in 30 days

It’s amazing, isn’t it? That some people make claims like this. What am I talking about? I’m talking about the so-called gurus who claim that you can make a new start in only 30 days.

Photograph by Chesney Bradshaw

Really! How feasible is this?

Well, I suppose it depends.

Some entrepreneurs may be able to get going within 30 days but would they be able to start producing income in 30 days?

There is a huge difference.

Think about this for a moment: how much investment is required to find a new location for a store? Build an online store? Then, how much capital is required to stock it? What about the rental? It’s unlikely that the entrepreneur will obtain an open-ended rental agreement from a landlord.

Wouldn’t you argree?

Yes, so it may be possible to restart quickly.

But the real question to ask is: How long do you need to trade before you can start producing income?

That depends on the nature of your start-up business, whether you are going to trade in fast moving consumer goods, or online or consult on and execute projects.

It means that you need to pay attention to carefully working out capital outlays, cash outflows and inflows, before you pull the trigger to start your business.

Remember this — it always costs twice as much as you think to start up and takes three times as long to get going than you originally thought.

Creative business ideas on our farms

Watercolour wash and ink drawing by Chesney Bradshaw

Creative ideas for small businesses can be found everywhere. I’m always amazed at the creativity of the women who form part of the farming community. I was reminded of this when I saw how the wife of a farmer in the Hartswater, Northern Cape, latched onto a consumer trend in dieting and came up with a business idea.

She is selling her pecan nut flour to baker’s, distributors to baker’s and dried fruit and nuts distributors in five provinces. She also sells the waste product from the pecan nut flour process to poultry farmers.

This farmer’s wife began making pecan nut flour for rusks for her husband, a farmer, who started following the Tim Noakes Banting diet. She decided to help him, according to the main farming weekly in South Africa, with his diet. Before long her pecan nut flour began to take off. She decided to make it on a small scale and is producing 5 t of pecan nut flour a season.

Continue reading “Creative business ideas on our farms”

How do you crack open your self image so you can reach higher levels of achievement (and it’s got very little to do with pumping yourself up with positive affirmations)?

Sketch by Chesney Bradshaw. Delta Park, Johannesburg. 26 August 2018

Have you ever woken up in the middle of the night sick with worry that you have gone too far? You may have decided to take the next step to launch your side-income small business and feel that it’s just too much for you to handle. You could have pursued a line of action where you are coming up against huge resistance in your personal or business life and you are experiencing doubts that you may have overreached. If none of this applies to you, you may want to still read on because the opposite is overconfidence where you may jump into something believing you can do it only to find out some time down the line that you bit off more than you could chew.

Continue reading “How do you crack open your self image so you can reach higher levels of achievement (and it’s got very little to do with pumping yourself up with positive affirmations)?”