I wanted to buy a product online recently, found a local online retailer who had the product available at a reasonable price but didn’t place in order because the small business did not create a feeling of trust and credibility.
What put me off and changed my mind was that there was no physical address. This for me is a big red flag because you don’t know where the people behind the online retail store are operating. They could be plying their trade in a dingy basement or broken down house in a residential suburb, running some kind of boiler room operation. I think I’ve seen too many horror stories on television and film. Continue reading “How can small online retailers build trust?”
An artist completed a large painting for a potential customer who had “commissioned” the painting. When the painting was completed, the potential buyer turned around to the artist and told her that he no longer wanted to buy the painting. Unfortunately, the artist had not asked for a 50% deposit upfront and had to shoulder the burden of a R4,000 canvas alone. Continue reading “Don’t be caught by this simple buyer’s trick”
The seed of success for most things in life — personal relationships, health, business, community — is creative thinking. It doesn’t matter if it’s thinking disguised as intuition, decision-making or problem-solving.
Creativity helps you come up with more imaginative ideas, do something new and different and even profit from your ideas if they are materialised into products and services.
When you mention the word creativity in conservative circles you may feel ashamed like it’s some sort of dirty word. Creativity is smothered or kept safely under lock and key in command and control organisations and institutions. Why? Perhaps because the new, the novel and different is scary to the traditionalists. Like oil and water creativity and business aren’t supposed to mix.
Someone I know who has moved back to South Africa from the UK has been trying for some time to break into the local advertising industry. He is a graphic designer and after two years hasn’t come up with any meaningful work. He advertises services on a local community forum and only got two replies. One was from a salesperson for a stationery company and the other a printing company.
The challenge in areas like this where so many people have similar skills such as graphic design and Photo Shop is to find a niche market. The thing is it takes time to build up a local personal network where you are able to select customers that will first of all give you work and secondly provide you with profitable work.
So many colleges and universities are churning out people with the same or similar skills that in many areas the market is flooded. In this hard economy with slower business companies are often not starting something new and don’t need these skills. Continue reading “How to find the right target market”
One time when making the decision to start a new business I decided much quicker than when things went awry and I had to decide to shut it down. In the beginning you are pumped up with enthusiasm. You feel unstoppable. But when things don’t work out and you know you have to decide to close your start-up it can take long to make up your mind.
Before the great tragedy in False Bay when foreign fishing vessels were allowed to trawl fish before they reached the bay, my father, Brian, ran a ski boat for sports fishing in the bay. In those days in the early 1970s the bay was teeming with fish. At times there were acres of yellowtail, bonito and snoek that entered the bay to feed and spawn.
My father covered the costs of running his ski boat because he had been fishing for many years and was able to come back with reasonably sized hauls. Even though the price of fish was low in those days he was able to pay for petrol costs, licence fees, bait and tackle purchases, maintenance and repair of the Land Rover, boat and trailer and purchase odd new equipment such as a fish finder. A big cost that had to be covered was when he took the boat out into the bay and caught no fish. These fishing trips had to be financed from any surplus from previous good catches. Continue reading “Re-energise your business by better handling cash flow”
Think of all the new products and services that have come about over the past five years. Products for the kitchen, bedroom, bathroom, living room, the home office and small business tools. All these products and services were initially conceived in the minds of people who used their imagination to think up new ideas. In the next five years there will be many more new products and services for the home, working environment, entertainment and sports field. Many of these products and services will come from the imaginations of entrepreneurs who’ve taken the time to explore their world and people around them and have come up with new solutions to problems and challenges.
You see, there isn’t a shortage of opportunities but a shortage of imagination. Whether you use your imagination to come up with a new product or service, many others will do so because of the opportunities that abound. If you took yourself back five years or even further into the past, and looked ahead over the years to where you are right now, you would be amazed at the number of products and services that have been introduced into the market over this time. As a famous entrepreneur said, they is no shortage of opportunity, only shortage of imagination. Continue reading “No shortage of opportunities, only a shortage of imagination”
I went into a small shopping centre the other day to take my clothes to the dry cleaner. The shopping centre was without electricity and the dry cleaning staff couldn’t accept my order because they don’t even have a manual system in place. The supermarket in the same centre was running its diesel generator to protect and preserve its perishable stock such as frozen products and refrigerated goods.
Power outages unfortunately affects the livelihoods of small business owners. In the instance that I mention, the power was out for two days. Water services that have been out in parts of the city have affected all sorts of small businesses including hair salons, gyms and car wash operations. Postal services have been down for more than three months with critical mail undelivered to small businesses. Yes, you may say that small businesses can use courier services but the costs for regular items can be astronomical. Continue reading “Does your small business have a business continuity plan?”
Today’s blog post is dedicated to my father Brian who celebrated his birthday on 31 October. As a dear friend said of my father this week after reading a recent article on the skiboat pioneers in South Africa in SkiBoat magazine, Sep/Oct 2104, “It’s a pity that his real, great legacy isn’t out there for all to see and admire – like he deserves it to be.”
My father Brian was a keen fisherman, a pioneer in the skiboating scene in the Western Cape, who chalked up records for catching giant bluefin tuna in False Bay.
As a sideline to his main job of motoring editor of the Cape Times, he wrote a regular angling column for the Cape Times.
We’d go out fishing on his ski boat at, for example, the Bellows or South West Reef off Cape point and get stuck into shoals of longfin tuna.