ADVICE FOR SMALL BUSINESSES
ADVICE FOR SMALL BUSINESS OWNERS

Entrepreneurship comes with a host of challenges. Rewarding challenges, but difficult challenges nonetheless. This is especially true if you’re venturing into an unfamiliar industry or designing the next generation of products. For new entrepreneurs there’s little to no training and sometimes no mentors to guide and support you through the process. This is why it’s so important to gather as much information before you start your new business venture. Here’s what you need to do:

  1. GATHER YOUR TOOLS

The journey of a thousand miles begins with a step; make sure you’re wearing the right shoes. Before starting your business. You should gather as much information about the industry you plan on delving into. How are the thriving businesses structured? How big is the market and who should you target first? What marketing techniques work for the industry?

Speak to other business owners and find out how they operate and what success have they’ve had. Look for the potential and predicted shifts the sector is facing and how your business could respond.

Before you even begin hiring employees, you need to do the job you need them for. This means you’ll be familiar with role and its requirements and can therefore properly recruit for it.  Preserve your cash flow by avoiding unnecessary spending like unqualified employees.

  1. SET SPECIFIC AND REALISTIC GOALs

When starting a business, it is absolutely important that you set specific goals. Goals help you stay on track with your vision and inform all the decisions you make. Setting specific goals enables you to prioritise actions instead of taking random shots in the dark. While it is essential to set goals, it is also vital that you remain realistic about them as well.

In the initial stages of your business, you should set short term goals that are easy to achieve. For instance, having a five-year growth plan that is both specific and realistic will guide your efforts and ensure your actions are focused. Realistic goals are important because they are achievable. Setting unrealistic goals will only serve to demotivate you in the event you don’t achieve them.

  1. BE PATIENT

Rome was not built in a day. When you start your business, you may focus on growth and expansion. This is completely reasonable because this is the point of starting a business in the first place. However, don’t rush yourself remember that any progress, no matter how small is still progress.

In its initial stages, progress may be slow. In the pursuit of growth, you may neglect your focus on improvement. Check your systems and processes, is your business a well-oiled machine? In order for your business to achieve the success you’re working for, all the elements that make it up must be properly maintained. Be patient and persistent and you will begin to see results.

  1. GET THE WORD OUT

Marketing plays a huge role in the success of your business. Now is the time to invest in a content marketing strategy. This will get the word out on your business and draw customers in. Take advantage of social media which has grown to be one of the most powerful marketing tools available. There are many benefits to this marketing strategy such as free traffic and continuous growth as people engage with your content. Keep an eye out for all the new apps and websites that are coming up and use them to your advantage. Your business is only as big as the people who know about it.

  1. KNOW THE LAW

As tedious as it may seem, it is absolutely important that you know the law when starting a business. It is important to know the laws surrounding your industry in order to avoid penalties and legal hurdles. It is also important to ensure that you are in compliance with the legal requirements of running a small business. These include financial regulations, tax obligations and employment laws. Ensure that your new company complies with all its legal responsibilities so you can get back to focusing on growing your business.

“Success is not final; failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.”

Winston Churchill

https://www.success.com/11-game-changing-tips-for-small-business-owners/

https://www.forbes.com/sites/mikekappel/2017/07/12/10-tips-for-starting-a-small-business-that-you-havent-heard-a-thousand-times-already/?sh=7a360d416e19

Saving Money
SAVING MONEY

For most of our lives, we invest a lot of money on acquiring formal education in order to become proficient enough to succeed in our various career paths. Unfortunately, this formal education doesn’t teach us enough on how to handle money. This then results in many hardworking individuals who are stuck in a metaphorical rat race of constant spending and very little to no savings. We can all agree that sometimes, spending money is more exciting than saving it because we want to enjoy the various pleasures of life. However, saving money is the foundation of your financial success and your future self will thank you for it. In this article, we’ll look at some of the ways you can save your money.

1. MANAGE OR ELIMINATE YOUR DEBT[1]

Debt is a particularly daunting subject for anyone who has it. But if managed properly, you can still live a comfortable life and save for a rainy day. Firstly, identify your debt and interest rates and how the principal payments vary with interest. If you have high interest rate loans you need to consider putting as much as you can afford into paying them off. Reducing your owed balance will give you a bigger financial break than what you could’ve saved or earned from investments.

When it comes to fixed-payment loans like a mortgage, decide what period is feasible enough for your debt and how that would impact your savings plan. If you can manage to pay it off in 5 years or less, then consider placing 10-15% of your operating budget in a savings account for a rainy day. If your repayment terms are 5+ years, your monthly payments are likely lower which allows for a bigger operating budget. In this case consider placing 10-20%  of it towards a savings plan or investment portfolio. Otherwise all that stand between you and a financial crisis is a credit card. Debt shouldn’t take away your financial security, with sufficient planning you can have it all.

2. SET AN OPERATING BUDGET[2]

Think of a budget as a monthly spending plan. This will in turn help you to keep track of your spending habits and reduce spending on irrelevant/ non-essential things. When you begin to budget you quickly realise that you’ve been spending loads of money on things like food i.e. eating out and entertainment which can be reduced.

Budgeting doesn’t have to be complicated. All you need to do is write out your bills, bank statements and pay-check amounts and then find out how much you’ve been spending each month compared to how much money you earn. You can then create a budget that includes predictable spending on bills like your rent, groceries etc. the rest of the money can then go into your savings.

3. TAKE ADVANTAGE OF DISCOUNTS AND SALES[3]

Who doesn’t love a good discount or sale? You get to buy things you want at a reduced cost for the same quality and you save some cash. Keep in mind that these can be slippery slope because the low prices may cause you to spend more than you need to buying more things just because the prices are lower. Be sure to only get what you need from discounts and sale and nothing more.

4. REDUCE UTILITY BILLS[4]

 Great way to save money is to reduce your utility bills. You can do this by reducing your electricity usage. Use energy sufficient light bulbs or solar panels to conserve energy and reduce your power bills. You can also conserve power by switching off and unplugging unused electronics around the house. You can also save up on your water bill by turning off taps and using water efficiently to avoid running up the water bill.

5. OPEN A SAVINGS ACCOUNT[5]

A savings account exists for the purpose of enabling you to save a certain amount of money month/ pay period. A saving account is not like a checking account where you can take money out every day or whenever you feel like it. It is there in order for you to save money over a period of time.

Investing in your future should be a priority whatever position you’re in financially. A bird in hand is better than two in the bush.

Also see:

Whether you’re offering a product, service or information, getting the word out about your venture can be quite burdensome. Without the right marketing strategies, your company may have a difficult time staying afloat.

[1] https://www.regions.com/Insights/Personal/Personal-Finances/budgeting-and-saving/10-Best-Ways-to-Save-Money

[2] https://www.thebalance.com/how-to-budget-and-save-money-in-5-easy-steps-4056838

[3] https://www.definefinancial.com/blog/ways-save-money/

[4] https://www.incharge.org/financial-literacy/budgeting-saving/how-to-save-money-on-electric-gas-water-bill/

[5] https://www.thebalance.com/savings-accounts-4073268

Effective Marketing Strategies
EFFECTIVE MARKETING STRATEGIES

Growing a business is not an easy feat. To begin with, you need to have a concrete idea. You’ll then have to find your niche, decide on your target demographic and have a valuable commodity to sell them. Whether you’re offering a product, service or information, getting the word out about your venture can be quite burdensome. Without the right marketing strategies, your company may have a difficult time staying afloat. A marketing strategy refers to the approach a business takes in order to reach its desired customers.[1] It is a highly important component of business growth because it enables businesses to create products and services best suited for specific demographics in order to maximise profit. In this article we’ll look at some of these marketing strategies.

1.DIGITAL MARKETING (SOCIAL MEDIA)[2]

Social media has quickly become one of the defining pillars of the digital age. It therefore goes without saying that this is one of the best resources to use when marketing your business. Many brands have achieved massive success solely due to social media marketing.

Platforms such as Instagram and Twitter can be used to post about your business in order to get the word out. You can also reach out to other successful businesses and even communicate with potential customers. LinkedIn is a social media platform designed specifically to cater to professionals looking to network.

The most important thing when using social media as a marketing tool is authenticity. Post relevant content that you think will be useful to your audience in learning more about you and your business. You can also hire a social media manager to help you manage these accounts.

With all these benefits to social media marketing, it is important to note that there are some challenges involved. For instance, managing social media accounts can be time consuming as consumer engagement increases. Additionally, there is a lot of competition as there are loads of marketers looing to promote their brands on social media. You’ll have to invest time, money and effort in order to keep up with the competition.

2. POSTING BLOG CONTENT[3]

Blog marketing is the process of using blog content to reach your target consumer audience. Today, business owners can easily integrate blogging and marketing to make it for easier management as well convenient visitor access.

WordPress is a blogging platform that has contributed to the massive growth and success of many businesses. In fact, many business owners use the platform for both their blog and website.

The main advantages of this marketing strategy is that it is inexpensive. It is also fairly easy to use and builds traffic to your website due to the fact that people are interested in the new content you offer. As your blog grows in popularity, other brands may reach out to post ads on your website. This can be another source of revenue as well.

3. PUBLIC RELATIONS MARKETING (PR)

This strategy is highly effective in ensuring the success of a business. Most of the big and small brands that are doing so well usually collaborate with influencers i.e. individuals who are popular or well known in society to promote their brands.

It pays, to have someone who has influence in the society tell other people why they love your brand. This form of marketing is especially popular among prominent YouTubers who get paid/ sponsored by businesses to promote their brands to their audiences.

The advantage pf this marketing strategy is that your brand is exposed to a new and wide audience and this therefore generates more customers for your business. Not to mention the fact that it saves on time and resources as well due to the fact that someone else is marketing your brand for you and all you have to do is pay them a sum of money.

4. HOSTING WEBINARS[4]

This is essentially a seminar that takes place online. These are great for marketing because they are especially engaging compared to regular videos. Here, potential customers are able to engage with you directly, in real time. They are able to ask questions about your company and you can administer various presentations and seek feedback as well.

Mshimba Michelle


[1] https://www.investopedia.com/terms/m/marketing-strategy.asp

[2] https://www.lyfemarketing.com/blog/types-of-marketing-strategies/

[3] https://en.ryte.com/wiki/Blog_Marketing

[4] https://buildfire.com/marketing-strategies-for-small-businesses/

failure
FAILURE

Failure is the instance of falling short of success. It is both a universal truth and an inevitable part of the human experience. No matter what time or place in history everyone has known failure.

“To err is human…”

Alexander Pope

Despite the fact that each and every person; at some point in their lives has and will experience failure, we’re all afraid to fail. We must then ask ourselves why this is so.

In my exploration, I’ve found that people are afraid to fail because of the understanding that time is a very important and limited resource. The thought of investing loads of time, money and resources into something and then have it not work out is terrifying. Frequently, this bars people from actually pursuing their dreams or venturing out into new directions.

The ancient Stoics firmly believed that the pain and disappointment brought on by failure was an opportunity for self-improvement; that failure presents lessons. The philosopher Epictetus said;

Epipectus - FAILURE

It is worth noting Epictetus was a man who had all the odds stacked against him. Epictetus wasn’t even his real name. ‘Epiktētos’ is a Greek word meaning ‘acquired’. Epictetus was a slave. He wasn’t regarded important enough to be given a name. Yet despite the many obstacles in his life he chose to push through and is now revered as one of the many great philosophers.[1]

When I think of the reasons why I am afraid to fail, I think about my understanding of the concept of opportunity and cost. I think about all the things that I will miss out on because I devoted myself to a particular cause. What the cost of being involved in this undertaking will be and all the sacrifices I would have to make. I fear failure because this one life is surely not enough to accomplish everything I set out to do. I especially fear failure because each time I am unsuccessful; I have to take a long walk back to my comfort zone. Is it worth it?

I believe that failure to life is what gravity is to our bones. It is a constant stressor that forces our activity and strength in our bodies. Failure breaks down the muscles of our inner processes in order to regenerate them.

Failure is what helps us toughen our minds for the challenges that lay ahead. We may fear failure and do all we can to avoid it. However, when it occurs, we should not be ashamed or bow our heads in defeat. Failure is a gift that allows us to constantly evolve and improve. Much like gravity, failure is a hard habit to shake off.

Mshimba Michelle

Also See:

Rebranding is really an emotional shift. It is a shift in business direction, a change in customer experience and a change in the type of services you are offering. It is actually a restructuring of your actual business.



[1] https://dailystoic.com/epictetus/

mobile-friendly
BENEFITS OF MAKING RECRUITMENT MOBILE-FRIENDLY

In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, many things have to shift in the work place in order to better cope and adjust. A simple yet transformative change is the shift from traditional to a more mobile-friendly recruitment process to fit with growing smartphone usage.  This advancement has already been apparent in recent years following the advent and continued growth of technology. However, its importance has been made all the more stark by current changes wrought by the pandemic. Thus, a mobile-friendly recruitment process like a website, texting and video- conferencing, is becoming one of the most crucial HR trends to follow. It needs to be easy to read, quick and user- friendly. If it is hard to read, slow and difficult to use on the phone, then it increases the risk of losing out on qualified candidates who abandon the process (Snook, 2020). So as an HR department, ensure that candidates can go on their phones or tablets and be able to search for the perfect job on your company’s platform (Krumrie, 2020).

Attracts a wider pool of candidates

Working with statistics, not only has it been found that 70% of job seekers use their smartphones to search for jobs, but also, for nearly every 1 in 5 U.S adults, the smartphone is the single source of internet at home (Hedreen, 2019). Extrapolating the cost of internet and technologies to access it, this number is likely higher here in Kenya. Furthermore, it is estimated that 75% of the world will have access to the internet exclusively via smartphone by 2025 (Hedreen, 2019). Mobile technology, therefore, is increasingly becoming an essential in people’s everyday lives and subsequently a sure way to reach out to potential candidates as a significant portion of talent can be found on the phone. More candidates also means higher chances of drawing in top talent.

Saves time and money

Owing to its simplicity as compared to the traditional methods of recruitment such as physical interviews, mobile-friendly methods speed up the recruiting process because candidates are able to respond quickly to both job advertisements and recruiter questions at any time of the day. This saves time as there is no need for scheduling specific times for interviews, looking for appropriate venues to cater for all the potential candidates and spending hours on hours looking for the best hire: “An overlong recruitment cycle will result in the loss of talent from your pipeline.” says Paul Beard, Skywater Search founding partner (Krumrie, 2020). Additionally, it can be done from anywhere, even when travelling or moving in between meetings in the workplace. So it saves time and money for the company, recruiters and the candidate while, increasing the chances of both parties finding what they want.

Improves candidate experience

It makes the recruitment process more convenient for the candidates. Phones are always on the person or near them and so are not difficult to reach at any given moment as compared to computers. It is precisely this aspect of flexibility coupled with the ability to have one’s documents like the resume and certificates just a few clicks away that make smartphones appealing to use for just about anything, including job applications (and recruitment!). Add to that the fact that many people are in careers or industries that require them to be on their feet most of the time, like engineering, medicine and sales, it provides candidates with an easier, cheaper and less stressful way to search and apply for jobs. Moreover, “millennial workers have shown that they want a different application experience, one that brings jobs to them quickly and easily.” according to founder of former CEO of job- matching app Switch, Yarden Tadmor (Hedreen, 2019).

Enhances company’s brand

Mobile-friendly intergrations make the company look modern and up to date which attracts more candidates because it demonstrates the company is willing to adapt and cares about the experience of its candidates and employees. Also, making mobile applications available drives traffic to the careers site, bringing more attention to the company in general. For that reason, the career site should also be mobile-friendly in order to facilitate the process. For instance, it should be easy to navigate and straightforward. Besides, the brand image should be reflected too, to have the most impact.

Brandy Awuor

Also see:

More importantly, because of the great incongruence between the talents that companies are searching for and that which is being offered in the market, social media recruiting provides a platform through which talent can be easily identified and a connection established directly

References

Hedreen, S. (2019, July 04). Top Mobile Recruiting Tips for Small Business. Retrieved from https://www.businessnewsdaily.com/8405-mobile-recruiting-tips.html

Krumrie, M. (2020, September 10). Why You Must Have A Mobile Recruitment Strategy. Retrieved from https://www.ziprecruiter.com/blog/why-you-must-have-a-mobile-recruitment-strategy/

Poirier, J. F. (2020, March 27). Mobile Recruitment: Smart Recruiting Through Smartphones. Retrieved from https://www.talentlyft.com/en/blog/article/330/mobile-recruitment-smart-recruiting-through-smartphones

Snook, A. (2020). 16 HR Trends You Need to Know in 2020 (According to Experts): I-Sight. Retrieved from https://i-sight.com/resources/16-hr-trends-you-need-to-know-in-2020-according-to-experts/#health

American Psychological Association 6th edition formatting by BibMe.org.

Social media recruiting
WHY USE SOCIAL MEDIA TO RECRUIT EMPLOYEES

Also known as social hiring or social recruiting, social media recruiting is now a coveted strategy in attracting both active and passive job candidates.

Firstly, social media recruiting simply refers to the use of social media channels to recruit potential candidates. Different social media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn, as well as websites: like Indeed.com, forums and blogs, can be used to attract, find and hire wanted talent (TalentLyft, n.d.). Case in point, an Adweek report suggests that 92 percent of recruiters use social media to find the best suited candidates for the positions required (Clarke, 2020).

More importantly, because of the great incongruence between the talents that companies are searching for and that which is being offered in the market, social media recruiting provides a platform through which talent can be easily identified and a connection established directly (Clarke, 2020).

What social media recruiting looks like:

LinkedIn is one of the top social networks when it comes to finding skilled candidates as 87 percent of recruiters report using it. This is because it is a platform specially made for professional networking so people share their resumes and companies can post jobs. It is followed closely by Facebook with 55 percent and then Twitter with 47 percent. However, more platforms are being used like Instagram (Clarke, 2020).

The process involves activities such as (SmartRecruiters, n.d.):

Tweeting links to available positions and also using appropriate and relevant hashtags; industry-specific hashtags

Contacting ideal candidate using direct messaging on Instagram or Facebook

Sharing videos on YouTube that best showcase the company’s culture and core values

Benefits of social media recruiting:

  1. Enables you to reach a wider audience

Job seekers, particularly the young ones, otherwise known as millennials, are fans of social media platforms and can easily be reached in such platforms. They are also the group that is looking for online information and so to find the best talent among them, social media is fundamental in establishing an online reputation and advertising the jobs as well as presenting corporate values (Clarke, 2020).

Along with members of large social media sites, such as Facebook and Instagram, there are talented people who are more engaged on sites that fill both social media and professional needs. As such, in order to have a prominent and effective recruitment presence online, you must be active online and then establish yourself as an authority in your respective field (Clarke, 2020).

  1. Helps in reaching passive candidates

Passive candidates are not actively seeking new positions or applying for new jobs but make up 70% of the global workforce (Kappel, 2018). They are usually more qualified than the active candidates and as such already have jobs. This makes it difficult to find them as you will not find them on job boards but social media provides a way to reach them (Kappel, 2018). For instance, referrals through social media are a great tool that expand the candidate pool; employees already know about other talented individuals and so can directly reach out to them on social media or post something they know will attract other top talent.

  1. Crucial for targeting the perfect candidates

Owing to the diversity of social media users, these platforms are filled with people with a myriad of distinctions: different backgrounds, diligences and genders. This then provides the perfect environment for finding any type of talent or candidate (TalentLyft, n.d.).

Moreover, in a case where the candidate persona you are looking for is very particular and narrowly defined, then advanced search filters can be used for more specificity.

  1. Establish a more personal connection with potential candidates

Social recruiting is considered to be effective when it mimics or carries out like a conversation. Because of its nature, social media allows candidates to connect with your company in a low-key, low- pressure environment which makes for a more personal and authentic communication and connection with the candidates (TalentLyft, n.d.). Additionally, millennials want emotional connection and to feel like they are working for the right company, without having to make a compromise with their beliefs and ethics (Clarke, 2020). As such, there are many companies that are changing their work environments to make it so that the employees feel empowered and “that they can show up to work and be themselves, as the lines between work and life continues to blend together,” according to the President of workplace communication training company Fierce, Stacey Engle (Snook, 2020). This process can be easily facilitated and accelerated through social media recruiting.

  1. Gather more referrals

This method makes it easier for employees to refer candidates (TalentLyft, n.d.). For instance, they can share information widely and faster by just clicking once to ‘share’ certain information like a video that highlights and outlines the company’s core values and culture, or a link stating positions that are available. The information is shared with their family members, colleagues and friends.

  1. Saves money

The process of finding candidates through social media is very cost effective in comparison to the traditional methods of recruitment like TV, newspapers, specialised publications, paid websites and radio ads (TalentLyft, n.d.). Posting videos showcasing the company’s culture, sharing links for open positions are actions that cost nothing yet reach a large number of people in a short amount of time making social recruiting very beneficial and efficient.

Brandy Awuor

Also See:

References

Clarke, A. (2020, April 27). The Best Social Media Recruitment Strategies in 2020. Retrieved from https://www.timedoctor.com/blog/social-media-recruitment-strategies/

Kappel, M. (2018, October 4). For Hard-To-Fill Positions, Try Finding Passive Candidates. Retrieved from https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.forbes.com/sites/mikekappel/2018/10/04/for-hard-to-fill-positions-try-finding-passive-candidates/amp/

SmartRecruiters. (n.d.). What is Social Recruiting?: Tips & FAQs: SmartRecruiters. Retrieved from https://www.smartrecruiters.com/resources/glossary/social-recruiting/

Snook, A. (2020). 16 HR Trends You Need to Know in 2020 (According to Experts): I-Sight. Retrieved from https://i-sight.com/resources/16-hr-trends-you-need-to-know-in-2020-according-to-experts/#health

TalentLyft. (n.d.). What is Social Recruiting? Retrieved from https://www.talentlyft.com/en/resources/what-is-social-recruiting

American Psychological Association 6th edition formatting by BibMe.org.

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