How do you gain the first-mover advantage as a small business?

(Copyright © 2016 by Chesney Bradshaw, all rights reserved)
(Copyright © 2016 by Chesney Bradshaw, all rights reserved)

When I was growing up and we went fishing for snoek off my father’s ski boat at Cape Point we became excited when we were the first to discover the giant shoals of Snoek. When the shoals of snoek were concentrated as they moved into False Bay, the fishing was good. Within a few hours you could catch enough to fill the boat’s fish hold and go home early to market.

In the following days, the commercial fishermen out of Kalk Bay and Simon’s Town and the ski boat fraternity would hear that there was snoek off Cape Point. A whole flotilla of fishing boats would be fishing for the snoek shoals. Sometimes it was chaotic. If you were into a shoal of snoek, other boats would drift next to you throwing out the lines and entangling them in yours. There was much cursing and cussing. Within a few days, unless the South Easter or North Wester came up, the shoals would have dwindled and the fishing would be poor. Continue reading “How do you gain the first-mover advantage as a small business?”

How do you acquire competitive advantage in hostile environments?

IMG-20141225-00131What is a hostile environment? It’s not where competitive intensity is high. That is capitalism. It’s where for whatever reason business and owners are penalised, punished and prevented from market opportunities. We could elaborate but there are many ways in which businesses are being harmed and harassed.

We want to look at how to reposition, transformed or reimagine your small business to strengthen your medium-to-long-term competitive position. Here we can’t be too specific because each business is different. Customised advice is best suited to a private consultation. All I’m trying to do here is get you to think about possibilities before the carpet is pulled out from under you. Continue reading “How do you acquire competitive advantage in hostile environments?”

One thing an entrepreneur values most

(Copyright © 2015 by Chesney Bradshaw, all rights reserved)
(Copyright © 2015 by Chesney Bradshaw, all rights reserved)

I was talking to a successful entrepreneur the other day and asked him what he valued most in entrepreneurial business leaders. His answer surprised me. All the business consultants, advisers and the coterie of small business gurus believe that they can read the mind of the entrepreneur but when you actually sit face-to-face with entrepreneurs, you know, the things they value of different to what you hear. Continue reading “One thing an entrepreneur values most”

If you don’t have this ingredient in your small business, you could be repelling many potential customers

(Copyright © 2014 by Chesney Bradshaw, all rights reserved)
(Copyright © 2014 by Chesney Bradshaw, all rights reserved)

While visiting a small town in the heart of the citrus growing district of the Gamtoos Valley we had to drive about 10 km from the farm to the nearest supermarket. Although this was a country Spar supermarket it was a pleasure to go shopping there because of the friendly, helpful service. Being in a store with an unfamiliar layout, we were pleased that even the cashiers would get up and go show us where the products were located. We were surprised that they enquired where we were from and how we were enjoying our stay in the village of Patensie.

Friendly, efficient and fast service goes down well no matter whether you are buying goods in the city or the countryside. It makes you want to come back. You also have your identity reaffirmed because you feel less of a number. But the most compelling reason for superior customer service is the impact that it makes on your small businesses bottom line. Continue reading “If you don’t have this ingredient in your small business, you could be repelling many potential customers”

How do you make your small business more productive?

English: Product icon for MindView mind mappin...
English: Product icon for MindView mind mapping software. A productivity tool for MatchWare A/S (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In this economy with high labour costs, low productivity and increased competition it’s worthwhile to look at your productivity in your start-up or small business.

The place to start is with yourself. As the title track to a Uriah Keep rock song went “Take a look at yourself”. As the driver and main performer in your small business you need to make sure that you are as productive as you could be. All it might mean is getting a full night’s rest, eating food that keeps you focused and alert and working in an environment where your temperature is controlled to the correct level. You may also want to watch noise. Some people like to crank up the music but others like a quiet environment where they are at their best. Continue reading “How do you make your small business more productive?”

Ignore your pie-in-the-sky thinking if you want but don’t cry when your competitors steal a scrumptious slice of your market

Why has pie-in-the-sky thinking got such a bad rap?
Why has pie-in-the-sky thinking got such a bad rap?

Last night while driving to a jazz club I was listening to a new Johannesburg radio station and I heard a business consultant interviewing entrepreneurs who have taken a second-hand car sounds business and through innovative ideas have made it super successful.

What stood out for me was a remark made by the wife of the husband-and-wife business partnership. She said her husband was the “pie-in-the-sky” thinker. He was the one who had come up with ideas such as to showcase a classic car from the 60s in their car sound audio fitment centre. Continue reading “Ignore your pie-in-the-sky thinking if you want but don’t cry when your competitors steal a scrumptious slice of your market”

Finding time to create # 1: Why it matters

Image by wwarby via Flickr

You want to increase the impact of your work but it’s almost impossible most of the time to raise your game. You believe you should be more creative in your work but can’t find the time to sit down and think. You must start a new project but you don’t want to outline your thoughts at your desk because it just doesn’t feel creative. You try to find the time to get started but you just can’t.

What’s going on here? What’s preventing you from being more creative in your work? Do you need to be more disciplined? Is it because you haven’t established a routine and you are all over the place? Could it be a psychological block? Is it really about not having time?

It’s got harder to find the time to be creative because of the growing number of distractions in the workplace. Some studies say we get interrupted at work every eight minutes. Distractions make it much harder to focus and concentrate on important work, the work you get recognised and rewarded for and which gives you the greatest satisfaction. It’s a lot easier to turn to lighter tasks and amusements. No matter how much you convince yourself that social media will be significant in the future, your important work remains the core of your value to yourself and the marketplace.

So where do we look? Time management. This could be the panacea we’ve been looking for. But wait. We remember all those times we tried time management programmes and what happened? We found that it’s almost impossible to control our time despite keeping detailed time-planners when so many other things demand our attention – e-mails, follow-up work on projects, proposals, projects, people calling us on our landlines and then on our cell phones when our landlines are engaged, sms’s, BlackBerry messages and even tweets to get our attention. Do we really control our time or do interruptions control us?

We know we are smart – we can get a grip on this time thing and take charge of our lives. Our next search takes us into the whole personal qualities trap. We are out of control because we need more self-discipline. We’ll work ourselves out of our trap with better personal qualities. Soon we begin to realise that self-discipline is not enough. The onslaught of distractions, the demands, the deadlines, keep coming. We begin to feel overwhelmed. There must be a better way, we say to ourselves.

If you doubt the need for creativity just consider the challenges of modern living and working. Creative thinking is required more than ever in the past. Economic decline and stagnation means the need for better products and services, more cost-effective marketing with better results. Natural resources under threat requires new thinking for cars, homes, architectural design, consumer appliances and industrial processes. Sustainable products need to be made with less and be functionally superior. Design becomes far more important in a marketplace with many similar products vying for attention. Media and entertainment requires innovation to new forms of pleasurable distraction such as computer games, social media, downloading music, podcasts and videos.

In the next blog post, part of a series on “The secret to finding time to create”, we will further explore what prevents us from making the creative process part of our personal and work lives.

Idea prompt

Below are some questions that may help you to understand better your existing beliefs, processes and habits. Think through the questions that intrigue you and write down the answer to the question that most affects your life right now:

  • What associations do you have with being creative? Does the word “creative” disturb you?
  • What does being creative mean to you – wild thoughts and ideas or coming up with something fresh and amazing that can be put to use?
  • How important is it to you to be more creative in your personal and business life?
  • Where and when do you come up with your best ideas?
  • Where could you benefit most from being creative in your personal and professional life?
  • How well do you control distractions?
  • What controls your time?
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