Juiced up about a lemon business? Think again

Cover of "We Bought a Zoo: The Amazing Tr...
Cover via Amazon

An adventure reporter with two children is widowed. He leaves his reporter’s job and decides to buy a zoo in a small rural community. Despite the misgivings of his brother and children, he goes ahead and buys the zoo.

From the outset, the new zoo owner runs into problems with everything: staff who question his motive, sick animals, zoo keeping regulations and financial hurdles.

“We bought a zoo” is a light-hearted comedy/drama family film but it has some interesting lessons for startup owners and buyers of second-hand businesses.

Benjamin Mee, the new owner of the dilapidated zoo, has to convince the small staff that he is for real. None of them are convinced that he can resurrect the zoo. Continue reading “Juiced up about a lemon business? Think again”

What can you do when costs get out of control?

Johannesburg (Photo credit: austinevan)

The Free State’s Young Farmer of the Year for 2014 shared his saddest day in his farming career:

He had to sell his 400-strong dairy herd five years ago because his declining profit margin made it impossible for him to continue.

The local agricultural publication Farmers Weekly reports that the farmer has now gone in for diversification to spread his risk through beef cattle and sheep, irrigated wheat, maize, sunflower and lucerne. Continue reading “What can you do when costs get out of control?”

The curious case of the shopping centre promotion levy

Shopping mall
Shopping mall (Photo credit: pix.plz)

On Sunday I popped into a stationery store in a shopping centre in Sandton, Johannesburg, and noticed that I was the only customer in the store.

“How’s business?” I asked the husband-and-wife owners. They have recently set up shop in the centre, moving from the more high-priced retail shopping space elsewhere in Sandton.

They told me how slow business has been now they are located at the back entrance of this shopping centre. Yes, they have attracted some of their old customers to their new location but winning new customers is proving difficult. Continue reading “The curious case of the shopping centre promotion levy”

What sales channels will you choose to sell your new product or service?

Trolleys. (Photo credit: Polycart)

When you have developed and tested your new product or service, you will need to choose what sales channels to use to maximise your sales.

These days in competitive and uncertain markets both business-to-business and consumer businesses need to select sales channels carefully because of the increased costs of distribution and face-to-face selling.

Start-ups and small businesses are increasingly using a mix of different sales channels. These may include a retail store, a direct sales person who calls on larger companies, agents to serve the business outside its home market and an online store. Continue reading “What sales channels will you choose to sell your new product or service?”

Where do you find the best business advice?

Sand dunes in the Namib-Naukluft National Park, Namibia. Older dunes are reddish and larger, newer dunes are yellow-brown.
Sand dunes in the Namib-Naukluft National Park, Namibia. Credit: Yathin S Krishnappa

A few months back I was advising an entrepreneur was eager to market his service to other small business people but his ideas to sell his Internet offering sucked. Rather than tell him so and risk hurting his feelings, I suggested that we would go speak to some prospects to find out what selling methods worked best with them.

A small business owner who had been running his deli business for a few years told the entrepreneur that the only marketing he would respond to would be direct contact. The entrepreneur needed to call him and let him know what he could do to help grow his business. Continue reading “Where do you find the best business advice?”