Prosperity is like an ephemeral lady – unless you treat her very well, she will leave, and for good

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Prosperity is like an ephemeral lady who stays when people love and respect her – but unless you treat her very well and treasure her, she will leave, and for good .

Prosperity comes not out of the blue but when a nation or an individual or group works very hard, honestly and and when individual freedom and liberty is in place.

When these things are taken away, prosperity, like an ill-treated lady disappears.

It may take decades to bring her back or she may never return.

Some people took prosperity for granted and in fact made conditions so bad that she slipped out of the front door. No one knows when and if she will return.

Now, we all are in the same boat with worse to come, and unless hard work, forward planning, honesty and a reverence for individual freedom and liberty occurs, conditions won’t be conducive to encourage, coax or woo prosperity.

It’s very much like the goose that lays golden eggs. You know the story where a greedy person ripped open the goose to get more eggs but found nothing inside.

Once all the golden eggs are laid and the magic has gone, there are no more eggs.

There will, of course, be those individuals and groups who will experience some measure of prosperity – there always are.

But what we talking about here is overall national prosperity.

All the plans in the world and high-level grandstanding, count for very little unless values are in place.

We don’t want to sound preachy but unless there are values and one of them being cardinal, work ethic, there is no hope for a general state of prosperity.

Reading so far, you might think or feel that this sounds bleak. Well it is. It’s not a case of being negative, despondent, giving up hope or despair.

If you don’t take this message to heart, then it’s best to part company and go on with wishful thinking.

What’s to be done?

Well, everyone has an answer or several answers.

What is your answer?

It starts with getting your own ship in shape, trimming the non-essentials, cutting out the extravagant (if there is in these times) and coming up with new ideas, new methods, new uses for technology, new ways to do things better than they have ever been done before.

We aren’t born with a manual that teaches us how to succeed but if you want a guide for life and business improvement, find yourself a copy of ” Breakthrough Ideas”.

It’s helped others and it can help you too.

Tense and frustrated? Can you force ideas?

A stroll down the beach can get ideas flowing. Photo by Chesney Bradshaw

It’s difficult to generate new ideas when you are all tensed up, frustrated and despondent.

Some say you can. Use brainstorming, they say. But brainstorming in the way that it is practiced doesn’t yield quality ideas.

How then do you come to an optimal state where you can produce ideas? 

The general wisdom out there is that you need to be calm. And it’s probably right. How can you expect to use the creative part of your imagination when you are not at your best? 

One well known leader in the field counsels you to calm down and slow down. This enables you to enter a more resourceful state.

A brief visualisation session can also help to get the Alpha part of your brain working. Yet even with visualisation, you need to have a visualisation technique that can assist you to enter a positive mental state.

Idea generation can assist you in many areas of your life, including your business, personal circumstances and problem-solving. You might find yourself in a situation where your back is against the wall. Here it is vitally important that you slow down and use whatever you want to calm your mind. 

Unless you have a system based on techniques that work for idea generation, you won’t find your idea generation sessions that product productive whatever your mood or state. 

In the training manual, “Breakthrough Ideas”, from Bell & Cray Training Academy, you will find a whole range of different techniques for different situations that can help direct your flow of ideas into positive avenues. Without these techniques and methods, you can end up being just as frustrated when quality ideas don’t happen. 

The term “Breakthrough Ideas” means different things to different people. Your idea might not necessarily provide a breakthrough in the market. What we mean by “Breakthrough” is a personal breakthrough – something that helps you transcend or overcome your personal or business circumstances.

Find a place where you feel comfortable, do some deep breathing or whatever you wish,  calm yourself and let your ideas flow. It’s best to do an idea generation session when your mind is still fresh in the day. Don’t spend too long at it either because the mind and imagination easily tires. Keep with these sessions for one week and you’ll be surprised what you have achieved.

Coaching and training makes a huge difference whether in sport or business

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When all is said and done about the sheer brilliance of the Springbok performance in Japan, one reflects on the astounding coaching and training that the team experienced.

Coaching and training is important whatever form it takes. If you want to succeed in your small business or startup somewhere along the line you may well need to do training. You need to carefully selected a coach who can give you the relevant hands-on training.

The best experience of any business situation is to have hands-on involvement in a going concern. But there are things that you need to know that you might not pick up through experiential learning. 

A training course often covers too much ground but that ground prepares you for later on as your experience curve rises. Some of the areas where I have found it important to receive training is in small business management and business planning as well as in other specific fields such as business continuity, sustainability, health and safety, environmental regulation and business writing. 

This training has been valuable because it has allowed me to proceed with confidence in these specialised areas.

There is one thing about training that is so important and it is that once you have received training it stays with you – it’s your asset. When people walk out of the door of companies and businesses they take their skills with them. They can then market their skills wherever they want. They can also use their skills to start something of their own.

The question, of course, of costs always comes up. Training isn’t necessarily cheap. But what is cheap these days. It takes hundreds of hours to put together a training course and costs time and money to deliver the training. Just make sure that when you want to purchase training you do your homework and find the best training that is available for you.

Something to watch out for when you receive training is that after it’s finished you need to put it into practice as soon as you can. Training that is not put into practice can, of course, be a waste of money. You need the motivation to put into practice what you have learnt. 

Then after you’ve put your training into practice make sure you spend time reviewing how things are going. Periodic reviews of your progress will enable you to get more than your money’s worth from the training you received.

Is your small business committed to sustainability?

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We observe a lot of bad environmental practices among people whether pedestrians, motorists or residents. Motorists throw cigarette butts out of their windows in your community, pedestrians chuck takeaway packaging onto the pavement and residents leave rubbish and rubble outside their premises.

You take a walk along the Braamfontein Spruit in Delta Park and you see rubbish such as plastic bags and plastic bottles strewn all over the place. There’s no one to pick it up. Rubbish lies on pristine grasslands and chokes the river. Do people care?

A tiny band of people with an environmental awareness and conscience arrange cleanups on the weekends and encourage others to do so. What impact can their efforts make when the will of the majority rules? Drivers of commercial vehicles have the excuse that it helps to create jobs? Can you believe it?

Kilometres before towns you see plastic bags and other rubbish littered on both sides of the road. Last year driving in and out of Kimberley and then Upington it was the same. Filth desecrating pristine African grasslands.

What about small businesses whether kitchen-table entrepreneurs or small enterprises?

Well, it’s not easy to answer. Many small business owners are trying to reduce their waste and consumption of natural resources. However, just take a look around and you will see those small businesses that dispose of their waste in public spaces because they don’t want to pay the municipality for a waste collection fee. Detergents are dumped in waterways and oils are drained into the stormwater system. Broken exhaust systems belch noxious gases into the atmosphere.

A responsible attitude towards the environment requires that a small business owner does a survey of their waste and consumption of natural resources. Then the owner should work with their staff to determine how they are going to reduce waste and use of natural resources.

The survey can go much further than this such as substitution of materials that are less harmful to the environment. Sometimes it’s good to get in an outsider who can assist you with your waste and carbon footprint and make recommendations. Of course, it depends on the size and nature of your business.

But I can sense entrepreneurs reading this growing uncomfortable with added costs to their business. That’s one way of looking at it. The other ways to see it as an investment in your business reputation and credibility in the marketplace. You will gain admiration and support from your customers and may even attract new customers because of your environmentally friendly practices.

A word of caution — don’t make a song and dance about what you were doing until you have implemented sound environmentally friendly practices. Make sure that they are substantial rather than superficial. You see small business that say they are environmentally friendly but all they’ve done is to change their packaging but when you go look outside in their dustbins their rubbish will tell a different story.

Farsighted businesses are approaching sustainable practices in a genuine way because they understand the benefits of reducing their impact on the environment, improving their image, reducing costs, attracting right-minded employees and providing competitive advantage.

Entrepreneurs whether kitchen-table start-ups or small businesses require confidence

Photo by Chesney Bradshaw.

Do you have the confidence that is a pre-requisite for entrepreneurs whether a kitchen-table start-up or small business? The small business person cannot afford to be sucked in by the gloom and doom that surrounds them. They are fighters. They cannot close shop because of bad times brought about by institutions. 

Whatever set of circumstances they are given, entrepreneurs need to come up with new ideas, new ways of thinking, adapt to changes and rise above. 

I recently saw and spoke to the owner of a coastal trading store who three months before started promotions for the December/January holidaymakers. When I met her she was outside in the garden in front of the store mowing the lawn herself. Her’s is a very small business and most of the running of the business she does herself. She’s not shy of hard work. 

This brings me to another area of the small business person who isn’t afraid of cost-cutting. They are used to working and building their businesses on a shoestring. This means finding ways to spend less and leverage the small amounts of money they have. They know how to use less to create more. 

It’s tough putting yourself on the line. Some entrepreneurs who have started their businesses walk a very fine line – very close to ending up on the street but they cannot let themselves go backwards. 

Hardy, tough, persevering entrepreneurs do whatever they can to make something happen in their lives and  business. They have tasted the bitter fruits of failure many times and rise up above their circumstances. There is no one to bail them out. No one will pay for their mistakes. No one will pay for their extravagance, largess and wild spending sprees.

Successes is incremental. You grow one step at a time. One sale after the other. You never forget the hard times when there is so little money that you have to rack your brains for creative ways to start your business, run your business, promote your business.

Entrepreneurs ignore the bad news, the bust economy and use their self-confidence to get on with what they know they have to do.

What small businesses need to watch out for with their Internet shopping websites

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The Internet shopping experience differs from website to website and it’s useful to know how online shoppers think and behave before they make purchases, when purchasing and after they buy. 

I’ll share some of my shopping experiences and how I go about buying on the Internet. One thing is knowing the credibility of the online retailer that you are buying from. You look for indicators such as the age of the business, who the founders are, what other customers say (both on their website and on other platforms), and the way that they lead you through the online buying process.

Before I buy anything of high value from a particular retailer, where possible, I make a trial purchase for a small amount. This will give me a good idea of when I will receive the goods, whether they are in good order, if customer queries or complaints are handled speedily and whether refunds are given quickly.

I’m sure that you have experienced problems with online shopping. Some of mine are waiting weeks and even months for packages to arrive, broken products, missing products and wrong products. When this happens you feel like you are not an online customer but just part of a sausage machine where the packers just slap your order together and send it out as quick as possible.

Another thing to watch out for is online sellers who no longer give guarantees. This means that they will send your item to you by post but if it doesn’t arrive, well that’s it. No refund. This is risky for the buyer and this is happened to me at least twice now. I won’t be ordering again from these sellers.

If you are concerned about your customers’ online shopping experience at your website, then you need to ask customers about their shopping experience with you and even, where possible, speak to those who don’t buy online and find out why not.

I was surprized recently at a fun evening hosted by a local radio show that when the CEO of the radio station asked about 100 people whether they had downloaded their radio app, only two hands went up. 

To be sure, online retailing offers the kitchen-table entrepreneur and the small business owner opportunities outside of their local market. If you website is in English then you have access to many markets where English is either the official language for the non–official language. 

Make sure you are attracting customers and repeat business rather than repelling customers through the blind spots on your Internet retail site.

Low-cost publicity tips for the kitchen-table business

How to promote your small business. Photo by Chesney Bradshaw

Bad news sells. Check out your news feed on your favourite website or app. What do you see? Most news items telling you about conflict, how tax and rising prices are emptying your pockets, people who have been injured or killed, environmental destruction, climate devastation and drought.

Remember this about bad news because that’s your real competition when you want to create low-cost publicity for your kitchen-table business or small business.

Publicity can be put under the umbrella of “good news”. You have a product or service and you want to promote it. Are you going to talk about its faults or failures? Hardly. You need to find some angle or hook that can make whatever you are going to say interesting.

Your lever is curiosity. You need to say something different, very different, unusual, radical even, to motivate people to read about your product or service.

Remember to that you have to get past the “gatekeepers” who are the editors of print and online publications or moderators of websites and social media. These people deal with news every day and have an instinct for something that will appeal to their readers, listeners or viewers.

Recently a group of vegan warriors launched an angry protest outside butchery in the UK. That’s news. But it’s hardly something that the ordinary kitchen-table business owner would want to do. Why? Because it’s risky. It could blow up in your face. It’s better left to left -wing activists. The worse their publicity backfires, the better results for them.

You don’t always have to go for the unusual or over-the-top, you might also consider plain vanilla flavoured news interest items such as informing customers about your business opening or a new product that you have on the market. Just remember that these two types of events are once-offs because you can’t go back and repeat.

You need to think of updates – how can you provide an update on and existing businesses or service? Any publicity agent, worth her salt will help you generate ideas for promoting your business. In fact, a short while back I had a free gift for new subscribers on no-cost, low-cost publicity techniques for small businesses. Unfortunately, that valuable information is no longer available.

I’m sure that while you been reading this you’re thinking to yourself that you can use Facebook or Twitter to make announcements. Sure you can but be careful of being bland or too outrageous where the customer sees little benefit in it for them. The point about social media is that if you don’t have a way to record interest such as bookings for an event or driving social media traffic through to an opt-in page, you really don’t know the success of your promotion. What are you going to do with page views and likes?

Generating publicity for your kitchen-table business can be fun, and valuable for your business but make sure you get the basics right.

All-women run small butchery shows opportunities in niche markets for kitchen table entrepreneurs

All-women run butchery despite the name. Photo by Chesney Bradshaw

Are you a kitchen table entrepreneur looking for opportunities in the niche markets? Have you looked at your background and experience and found what you would like to do?

First, some context why kitchen table entrepreneurs are growing in ever increasing numbers. The reality is that everyone is wanting to take more out of your pocket. The tax man cometh. Failed institutions are bleeding – and who ultimately pays for that? Manufacturers put up prices at will. This one and that one wants your money. Institutions are not creating jobs at the rate that they did in the past.

On Saturday afternoon I came across a small butcher run by women. They’ve been operating the butchery from the same premises for the past 10 years. It’s not in an up market centre but are rather in a rundown one but the rentals are lower. 

The owner and one of the other senior staff have a long family history in the meat trade and livestock farming. They have spent many years learning the trade in other retail butcheries and on farms. The shelves are loaded with speciality items such as Parmesan cheese chicken breasts and marinated sosaties. Their boerewors is made for a discerning clientele. 

Yes, but you might say, you can get meat in supermarkets. For someone looking for something special for a Saturday evening braai, a matured steak or something for a Sunday roast, this butchery offers some delightful cuts of meat.

There still are opportunities in markets for small business owners. All you need to do is listen and observe and you will find gaps in the market that the super big retailers, manufacturers and service organisations don’t find profitable to fill.

But smaller entrepreneurs can operate with lower overheads and make a good living for themselves. It’s not just Internet businesses such as coaching English and teaching art that are flourishing but all sorts of niche businesses because of the institutionalised scarcity of opportunities. They have to make a plan and go find opportunities. 

Hats off to small niche entrepreneurs and other similar personalities that provide quality and outstanding service to their customers. Where everyone is going big and not succeeding in quality and customer service a reverse trend is occurring. Small, niche entrepreneurs are springing up all over the place, finding customer demand for their products and services and beating the odds.

Time for an internal audit of your business continuity plan?

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Unless you review your business continuity plan at least once a year it is worthless.

How do you go about reviewing your business continuity plan?

You could start with an audit – the audit can be done by an external auditor or by an internal auditor. It doesn’t matter really which one as long as the internal auditor is certified for ISO 22301.

The benefits of an external auditor are that you get third-party external advice and objective opinion. The advantages of an internal auditor who is ISO 22301 certified as a lead auditor is that the auditor knows your organisation and understands your business processes.

The word “audit” can be intimidating. Whenever we hear the word “audit” we suspect bad news. But it doesn’t have to be that way – an internal auditor isn’t there to find fault but to show weaknesses in your business continuity plan.

The internal auditor identifies areas where your business continuity plan can be improved. The conclusion of the audit would be a list of corrective actions that you need to take to strengthen your business continuity plan. The auditor will give you a certain period within which to close the gaps.

What is the internal auditor and external audit to look for? The auditor would go through your business continuity plan with you and look at areas such as your scope, risk analysis, business impact analysis, whether you have communicated your plan to your team, your business management strategy, whether your plan shows continual improvement and the specific actions you would take following a disruptive incident.

You would need to provide the auditor with supporting documentation so that he or she can see concrete evidence of what you’ve done. What also be important is whether you have done an annual walk-through of your plan or test. This will show your commitment to business continuity. The auditor may also want to look at your disaster recovery plan and to see how it fits in with your business continuity plan.

Business continuity planning is an important element of risk and controls. By thinking through what you would do in the event of a disruptive incident, you can be better prepared for one. The aim of business continuity planning is to help you get your business back up and running or operational as soon as possible after a disruptive incident of whatever nature.

If you have any questions or need assistance with business continuity implementation, business continuity management systems or auditing of your business management system, please let me know.

Do you have a talent for ideas?

I was listening to a radio interview with a celebrated singer last night and she mentioned that she also teaches people how to sing. She said that people with a natural talent for singing are easier to teach but those without natural talent, if they work hard, can find their singing voice.

In a way, coming up with ideas, and especially business ideas, is much the same. People come up with ideas all the time. It’s part of being human.

Cast your mind back to yesterday and think how many ideas you needed to come up with to get through your life and work. Some people who we call entrepreneurs have a natural ability to come up with business ideas. They actively generate ideas or look for ideas in their communities. They have made idea identification and generation a part of their being. It’s one thing talking about something and actually being something. A good book on the subject is Siddhartha a novel by Hermann Hesse.

What should you do to become a better ideas person, particularly in business?

Think for a moment about when you are under pressure. You may find yourself in a situation where change is occurring to your life and business. You need to come up with new ideas to survive. This means that you begin and to search for new ideas.

For example, I needed a new business idea last December. Immediately I started writing in a journal and never stopped until 17 days later. My business idea did not come out of my journal writing. However, the journal writing paid off by preparing my mind to open itself up for new business ideas. How did this happen?

I was taking a leisurely walk along a main street in a coastal village. I was waiting for the traffic light to turn green so I could walk across a side road when I looked up and saw something that triggered a business idea.

So strong was my feeling about this idea that for the next two days I wrote everything down I could, what the idea was about and how I could implement it. I spent the next year producing the product in my spare time.

To get back to idea generation, we don’t always have to you wait for crises before we can come up with new business ideas. We have tools, techniques, methods, approaches, paradigms and prompts to spur new business ideas. These ideas generation tools and techniques, new ways of thinking, equip you with power to generate and develop ideas any time you wish. To find out how, get yourself a copy of “Breakthrough Ideas”, a resource, a toolbox if you will, that will show you how.