Are your business skills, knowledge and understanding of the opportunities of technology past their sell-by date?

The other day my son sent me a link to an article from a UK publication pointing out how a woman just over 20 had acquired a £1 million home. She had achieved such rapid wealth through her prowess on the Internet and video sphere. If you don’t know about vlogs – video blogs – you wouldn’t have a clue how she did it. Would you know how she developed her business model?

It’s not only in the Internet marketing world where things are rapidly changing. I see people struggling with new technology, not understanding what the hang it’s about. Some small start-up business models are woefully out of date. New products are launched using old models that are doomed for failure while the start-up founder could have got up to date with lean thinking and know how to test market on a small scale before coughing up vast sums and depleting valuable financial resources on product development and marketing.

How do you stay up-to-date?

I think it all starts with having a blank slate. Why do I encourage blank-slate thinking? The reason is because we carry baggage with us. We have certain beliefs that we leave unchallenged. By putting your beliefs and attitudes to one side you can look with an open mind. Another thing is to become curious – instead of just marvelling at what others are doing you need to ask yourself: how did they do that? The answer will send you on an exploration journey and increase your learning.

You might want to also talk to younger entrepreneurs. Find out what the challenges are and how they are overcoming them. What are they doing different in today’s marketplace? How are they handling issues such as low-cost, no-cost marketing? What business models are they using? I heard the other day from an entrepreneur and business adviser about nine different subscription models for gaining additional revenue.

Another thing is to broaden your information sources. Thanks to the Internet this is much more possible and costs less than a few years ago. The Internet, despite some criticising it for its inaccuracy and bias, it provides much up-to-date information. Subscribe to newsletters, email lists, expert business advisers, pod , Twitter feeds and other social media.

Yes, look the newspapers but remember that over the past decade or so newspapers have become mainly vehicles for advertisers.

Much of the information that you get from them comes from press releases tarted up by journalists who do not investigate the facts.

They also don’t put the news into context so that you know what you are reading is important or not.

Even so-called business newspapers have deteriorated, becoming thin and filled with opinions and space that is clearly earmarked and allocated to advertisers and their press agents.

If you want to learn more about how to exploit information sources in the vast ocean of information that now exists on the Internet and use it to come up with a new business idea or two to improve your small business, then subscribe and find out more.

How to survive as a small business when your own currency is weak and volatile

IMG-20150616-00599If you told someone 20 years ago what you saw coming, they would probably have thought you were arrogant or crazy. But now we are here in volatile times with a currency that is being beaten slowly to death. People somehow forget that a country’s exchange rate is one of the most important indicators of its economic health.

Have you ever been to one of those bar parties where someone has a tab running. The party goes on. The drinking continues like there is no tomorrow. After midnight the revellers in a drunken stupor leave, escaping any contribution to what they’ve readily drunk. If you are still there at the end of the evening you will see someone there making hasty phone calls or haggling after midnight desperate for someone else to pick up the tab. Continue reading “How to survive as a small business when your own currency is weak and volatile”

Acquire a new skill to turn into cash

Raw Boerewors. Español: Boerewors cruda. Suomi...
Raw Boerewors. Español: Boerewors cruda. Suomi: Raaka boerewors. ??????: Raw Boerewors. ?????: Raw Boerewors. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The other day on a brief visit to Pretoria I stopped at the Groenkloof butchery to buy some boerewors (farmers’ sausage). I hadn’t ever bought boereworse from this butchery before so I asked the woman behind the counter what it tasted like. She said the boerewors was so delicious that some South Africans even tried to smuggle it in their luggage on their way overseas. The woman told me that their record sales on one day for the boerewors was over two tons – on 31 December for New Year’s day parties. The day I was there she said that they had already sold 500 kg by 3 pm.

It’s amazing how the basic skills of practising as a butcher can be turned into something so valuable. Hats off to this butcher who has come up with a special recipe for sausage that is in great demand. It just goes to show how valuable learning a skill can be. Continue reading “Acquire a new skill to turn into cash”

Time to tune up your sustainability skills at a fraction of the usual cost

I was looking at the cost of a basic university course in risk management and was shocked to see how much it costs. Basic three-year degrees cost as much as a top-of-the-range sedan. Not too long ago my son started a finance degree (he’s completed it) at a university and the rector in his opening address to parents remarked that the university had place for 22,000 students and had to turn away 12,000.

What a business to be in. Demand is strong despite the economy. Fees are so high that you are unable to pay for them unless you take out an education policy on the day your child is born or save for years for an amount that could buy you an apartment in a reasonably good area.

Education towards sustainability is even more expensive. At the high end, a basic one-day seminar on sustainability risk management costs up to R10,000.

For the start-up or small business, the costs of tuning up your skills in the area of sustainability can seriously challenge your non-existent training budget. Okay, that’s not to say that small businesses don’t invest in training. In fact, I was just looking at some information that showed small- to medium-size businesses invest the most money in skills.

How then do you find out the latest information, advice and techniques to take advantage of sustainability in your business? You’d be lucky to find any so-called “free” course on the market, and if you did, you will find that the information is heavily laced with sales messages for the service provider and their partners. Not only that but information is also often skewed towards forcing sustainability down suppliers’ throats. The materials have scant value to help a start-up or small business secure competitive advantage from sustainability practices.

Not all advice needs to come at a shockingly high price. One medium-size business reduced their energy consumption by 10% using a no-cost method that is so obvious but something that you won’t find on any sustainability course.

Another entrepreneurial business person in a dyed-in-the-wool business made one simple change to his process and his profits shot up.

For the costs of taking less than 30 seconds of your time, you can put your name down below and receive valuable regular tips, techniques, advice, suggestions that will help you tune-up your sustainability skills for a stronger competitive edge at a time when just that small difference can keep the wolf from the door and bring you improved profits.

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Last laugh

The bartender says “What’ll ya have?”

The climate scientist says, “I’ll have a beer.”

Turning his thumb towards the climate denier, he adds, “This jerk will have an extra strong hurricane. And no ice.”

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One sure way to beat this fire walk

Aren’t you just tired with people who make statements about small businesses but are far removed from the trenches of real business?

Politicians make yada yada in the media about supporting small business.

Academics chirp in on how jobs should be created by small business.

Conferences and summits with hefty admission fees are held on the state of small business where there’s much dreary theory but little hands-on practical advice. Continue reading “One sure way to beat this fire walk”