3 Indispensable Things to Know When Starting a Business

I’ve been speaking to people, and I don’t know if it’s because we’re in the first quarter of a new year or if there’s more confidence in the economy, but I’ve realized that many more people are looking to start their own businesses. As a business owner and social entrepreneur, I think that’s a great thing.

I’m often asked about my thoughts about starting a new venture, and candidly, I love the adrenaline rush, vision driving and strategy development of a new business opportunity. If you’ve been thinking about beginning a new company, there’s no time like the present to start to get yourself into the entrepreneurial mindset to consider if it makes sense for you.

If I were speaking to someone right now starting off as a new business owner for the first time, there are three essential things I would suggest they keep in mind:

Do You Really Want to Be an Entrepreneur?
The first question is the toughest, but you’ve got to sit with it for a while. I’ve spoken to many people along the way who have started a business, and then have fallen flat on their face and returned to the safe embrace of a 9 to 5 job. Being a business owner is not as “glamorous” as it may appear.
Sure, you’ll have a flexible schedule (on occasion) and are the final decision maker on large and small decisions, but being an entrepreneur is not for everyone. The truth is you will never work as hard as you do than when you’re a business owner, particularly in the early years. Twelve hour plus days, including weekends, is not uncommon.

Being a business owner means it’s all on you. You may have other people working with you. You may be one of those leaders who allows his team of professionals to be the professionals they are, but as an entrepreneur, your responsibility is to understand every area of your business: sales, marketing, legal, finance and accounting, administrative, marketing, research and development, product development, etc. It takes a great deal of time to know all areas of your business and make sure they are working correctly. It’s an endless process.

Do You Really Want to go into Business with Your Friends and Family?
Many times, particularly with small businesses, you’ll have friends or family members decide to go into business together. It makes sense to want to go into business with people you know and trust, but do you want to do that? If there is anything that comes up your relationships can be affected.
A great scenario is this one: you’re working 12 hour days and doing great in your areas of responsibility. Your business partner, and good buddy, perhaps is not as hard working and as disciplined as you are and so resentment begins to build. That’s a recipe for conflict and the likelihood that your business will survive with internal friction exponentially decreases with the increase in tension.

Another possibility is that you don’t go into business with any friend or family as your partner, but perhaps you decide to hire that same good buddy to be one of your first employees because you trust him. Again, what happens if he’s not putting in the hours or work that you think is essential for business success? There have been countless examples of business owners who partnered or hired friends or family only to be in a situation where the business has suffered (as well as the relationship) because of anything from work styles to fraud. It’s very tough to separate your business from your relationships without potentially ruining them.

Decide if You’re the Cupcake Baker or the Business Owner
Many people have a passion for something in their lives, and that’s great. Perhaps they love making cupcakes, or they love music and want to sell instruments. Whatever is your passion or interest, if you have one, you will not be only doing that work. As the business owner, the most crucial part of your business is a vision, sales, etc. and the path the company as laid out in your business plan.
If you love painting and you decide to open up a paint shop, you will not be spending your day painting. You will spend your day selling paint, dealing with customers and managing the books. Same goes for cupcakes or even widgets. The business owner that wants to grow his or her company is not going to be baking cupcakes exclusively but also running the business.

If you’re looking to grow, you’ve got to focus on the total “business.” As a business owner, the cupcake making, painting, music or widget making will be only one element, but it’s certainly not the “business.” The business is the promotion of your product, the price point, finances, customers, cash register, accounts receivables and payables, and payroll, etc.

In conclusion, don’t get me wrong. For me, I wouldn’t change anything in the world for my life as an entrepreneur. I love being a business owner and digging into all elements of my companies and brands. It’s invigorating, exciting and no day is the same. Any business owner will tell you, however, that the points mentioned earlier are essential for seeing if the entrepreneurial path is genuinely what you want.

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The Importance of Business Analyst Tools and Benefits of Hiring an IT Business Analyst

Do you want to know the importance of Business Analyst Tools? When it comes to workflow management, you need to use all the tools and processes that streamline and optimize the operations of your business. For instance, you need to utilize software systems that enable you to get improved productivity. These systems include content management systems, document management systems and business process management (BPM) tools.

Remember the best workflow management systems can be costly and challenging to implement. However, by seeking the services of an IT Business Analyst, your company will benefit from them, which means you will get the best returns on your investments. In this informative article, we’ll look at five benefits of these tools.

1. Improved Accountability

The best Business Analyst Tools enable your company to experience improved productivity. Keep in mind many employees don’t respond well to micromanagement, which means you need to use the latest tools to check their productivity. By using the best tools and software, you can know which tasks need to be done, the best team member to carry them out and the specific period the work should be completed.

When you know which tasks and goals need to be met, you won’t need to intervene now and then, that’s unless it’s necessary. That improves the relations between the staff and management by removing personal opinions and considerations from any issue. Databases can store records of what occurred in the system, which gives the administration the ability to audit behavior if necessary.

2. Reduces the Need for Manual Labor

The best business analyst tools provide your team members with the chance to work on non-repetitive tasks. It means they can expand their skills, for example, by working on aspects that require more human input such as in the production process. The best work management tools ensure that work is done faster and without common human errors. Instead of using these tools to replace employees, you should use them to make the workplace more productive and exciting, which improves the firm’s overall morale.

3. Better Communication

The best business analyst tools eliminate the need for paper chasing and use of telephones. That makes the office more efficient and greener, which in turn reduces the firm’s turnover rates. Among the reasons for quitting jobs is poor or inadequate communication in offices. By using tracking software, you can provide employees with a better way of finding out what needs to be done right now and in the future. For you to ensure smooth day to day running of the business, you need to make sure your communication is honest and clear to employees.

4. Streamlines the Business Operation Processes

Workflow or business analyst tools enable you to have valuable insight in the day to day running of your business. For example, by using automation software, you can determine which tasks can be done simultaneously instead of being completed sequentially. You can know which steps are unnecessary; which means you will make informed choices and decisions. For example, you will know which employees perform specific tasks at their best, rather than who happens to be free at that particular time.

5. Faster Completion of Projects

The best business analyst tools enable you to shorten the duration of projects. For example, you can use them to reduce the period between starting a project and having it approved. As the management, you can set these tools to notify team members when the deadline is approaching or if they have missed it. The team leaders can let employees know of any new projects, changes in scheduling and guideline updates. Remember that in the long run, the time taken to determine these issues can prove to be a lot, meaning you need to use the latest tools to move on to new profitable projects.

What to Do

When switching over to using the best Business Analyst Tools, you may encounter several challenges. That means you should evaluate your office or business needs before deciding to make the switch. If you regularly meet your goals or surpass them, you may choose to leave it as it is. However, if you think you need a general overhaul of your operating systems and routines, you should consider moving your company to the next level.

Before implementing drastic changes, you should open up and consult with your team members about the impending changes. You should then consider hiring an expert IT Business Analyst to help in the process. Below we look at benefits of hiring them.

Benefits of Hiring an IT Business Analyst

One common question on online business forums is; what are the benefits of hiring an Information Technology (IT) Business Analyst? For some businesses, business analysts provide them with many benefits. However, others may not know these benefits, which mean they fail to get the many positive results that analysts bring to companies. In today’s business environment, business analysis can be the glue that holds a company or business together.

What’s The Role of a Business Analyst?

Breaks Down Work into Manageable and Small Bits

The primary function of an IT Business Analyst is to help make work more manageable by breaking it into smaller pieces. Developing and testing are also made simpler by business analysts. These professionals ensure all projects are on track by documenting their progress. That means the best returns on your investments.

Enhances Communication

IT Business Analysts ensures the communication lines are kept open, that’s by filling any gaps in the case of breakdowns. They eliminate any confusion in the case of requirements, scope and testing by explaining the processes in a way that team members can understand. It means that the workplace efficiency is improved and tasks completed faster.

Provides Support

In the course of carrying out challenging tasks, the project managers may be overwhelmed by budgets, reports, schedules and other issues. Business analysts can step in and help by providing them with professional support to the team members, project managers and sponsors. The result will be improved returns and faster completion of projects.

Increases the Business Returns

Professional IT Business Analysts know how to increase the company’s potential benefits and returns. For example, they know how to uncover or discover new business needs and ensure that your business priorities are focused on bringing the best value. Remember that they use the best Business Analyst Tools to arrive at their decisions.

What 2018 Holds For IT Business Analysts

As far as the role of Business Analysts is concerned, the year 2018 offers them new predictions. That’s because new Business Analysts Tools provide them with more chances to improve the operating systems of companies.

These professionals will be tasked with many projects that include project and testing management. Many will offer their services on a specialist basis, for example, cost-benefit analysis, scoping and other project requirements.

For those with business analysis backgrounds, they will continue their migration towards critical and influential positions in different areas of the organization. The result may be a change in their titles, which may result in disagreement or confusion over their exact job description and responsibilities.

How to Hire the Best IT Business Analyst

• If you’re asking yourself whether you need to hire a Business Analyst or a project manager, you need to consider the value that each of them brings to your organization or project. In some instances, the project manager may have vast expertise.

• On the other hand, the business analyst may have experience and knowledge in examining information and other facts, which means they can provide your company with the right questions and carry out thorough research.

• The primary factors for hiring an IT Business Analyst is that he or she can be able to break down information into several parts, document and workflows.

• You need to ensure the business analyst you’re hiring has the best experience in the IT field which you need. It may seem like an obvious consideration, but you should remember that IT fields are different.

• Other qualities you should consider are their industry knowledge, problem-solving skills and effective documenting. They will ensure you get the best results. Remember that any professional should be self-directed and motivated.

• The business analyst should also have the best working skills and communication abilities. They will ensure that he or she works with your team to solve problems. Remember that it’s only through effective communication with your team members that the professional will able to bring you the best results.

• When hiring them, make sure you have written agreements on how fast you should expect results, the processes involved and how much they will charge you. That will enable you to plan your budget estimates to ensure that no payment disputes occur during the work or after completion of the project. Compare quotes from different professionals before settling on the best one, who should have experience and provide you with competitive rates.

Conclusion

The best IT Business Analyst should be able to use the latest Business Analyst Tools to ensure that your business improves its efficiency and profits. Consider hiring those who use the most recent software and have experience in your particular field.

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How Business Succession Planning Can Protect Business Owners

What if something happens to you, and you can no longer manage your business anymore? Who will then take over your business, and will it be managed the way you want?

Establishing a sound business succession plan helps ensure that your business gets handed over more smoothly.

Business succession planning, also known as business continuation planning, is about planning for the continuation of the business after the departure of a business owner. A clearly articulated business succession plan specifies what happens upon events such as the retirement, death or disability of the owner.

A good business succession plans typically include, but not limited to:

·Goal articulation, such as who will be authorized to own and run the business;

The business owner’s retirement planning, disability planning and estate planning;

·Process articulation, such as whom to transfer shares to, and how to do it, and how the transferee is to fund the transfer;

·Analysing if existing life insurance and investments are in place to provide funds to facilitate ownership transfer. If no, how are the gaps to be filled;

·Analysing shareholder agreements; and

·Assessing the business environment and strategy, management capabilities and shortfalls, corporate structure.

Why should business owners consider business succession planning?

·The business can be transferred more smoothly as possible obstacles have been anticipated and addressed

·Income for the business owner through insurance policies, e.g. ongoing income for disabled or critically ill business owner, or income source for family of deceased business owner

·Reduced probability of forced liquidation of the business due to sudden death or permanent disability of business owner

For certain components of a good business succession plan to work, funding is required. Some common ways of funding a succession plan include investments, internal reserves and bank loans.

However, insurance is generally preferred as it is the most effective solution and the least expensive one compared to the other options.

Life and disability insurance on each owner ensure that some financial risk is transferred to an insurance company in the event that one of the owners passes on. The proceeds will be used to buy out the deceased owner’s business share.

Owners may choose their preferred ownership of the insurance policies via any of the two arrangements, “cross-purchase agreement” or “entity-purchase agreement”.

Cross-Purchase Agreement

In a cross-purchase agreement, co-owners will buy and own a policy on each other. When an owner dies, their policy proceeds would be paid out to the surviving owners, who will use the proceeds to buy the departing owner’s business share at a previously agreed-on price.

However, this type of agreement has its limitations. A key one is, in a business with a large number of co-owners (10 or more), it is somewhat impractical for each owner to maintain separate policies on each other. The cost of each policy may differ due to a huge disparity between owners’ age, resulting in inequity.

In this instance, an entity-purchase agreement is often preferred.

Entity-Purchase Agreement

In an entity-purchase agreement, the business itself purchases a single policy on each owner, becoming both the policy owner and beneficiary. When an owner dies, the business will use the policy proceeds to buy the deceased owner’s business share. All costs are absorbed by the business and equity is maintained among the co-owners.

What Happens Without a Business Succession Plan?

Your business may suffer grave consequences without a proper business succession plan in the event of an unexpected death or a permanent disability.

Without a business succession plan in place, these scenarios might happen.

If the business is shared among business owners, then the remaining owners may fight over the shares of the departing business owner or over the percentage of the business.

There could also be a potential dispute between the sellers and buyers of the business. For e.g., the buyer may insist on a lower price against the seller’s higher price.

In the event of the permanent disability or critical illness of the business owner, the operations of the company could be affected as they might not be able to work. This could affect clients’ faith, revenue and morale in the company as well.

The stream of income to the owner’s family will be cut off if the business owner, being the sole breadwinner of the family, unexpectedly passes away.

Don’t let all the business you have built up collapse the moment you are not there. Planning ahead with a proper business succession plan before an unexpected or premature event happens can help secure your business legacy, ensuring that you and your family’s future will be well taken care of.

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Small Business Owners: The Building Blocks to Increase Profits

The foundational building blocks of every business are Processes (procedures/policy), People (employees), Customers and Resources (ideas/capital). Leaders, who strengthen and understand each of these blocks, build their business. Those who weaken or neglect these building blocks, find themselves with declines in both their top and bottom lines.

Believe it or not, organizations can sometimes forget that creating and delivering top quality products and providing excellent services is their main objective. Organizations keep ineffective processes in effect because it is comfortable, safe and familiar. Leaders must regularly set aside time to define and redefine their processes, track defects and poor service, and make improvements to solidify these (5) major building blocks.

Owner Mindset

You’ve got to make the mental shift from running your businesses as a self-employed job/good employee to building a business you can one day sell, scale or own passively to fund your retirement.

This means consistently reminding yourself that you are just a temporary producer, and that your business must eventually replace you from its day to day operations.

Be Clear in Your Mission

There’s a reason you started a business and left your job (or didn’t try to find a new one). Why are you doing this? Keep in mind that your personal mission and your company’s mission can be different, as long as they’re aligned and can co-exist. You did the mission statement in the business plan and it’s on the bookshelf collecting dust.

Network and Get a Mentor

Get a business advisor or coach. It doesn’t have to be someone professional, just someone who can share experiences to bounce ideas off of and tell you when you are losing teams, money and the mindset.

Get your Business off the Road to Nowhere

When the money gets tight and the momentum fades, you are left with day to day work of the business, this is when you learn how to make your business run. It can become grinding because sales are slow and you are learning how the business actually operates, to acquire customers, market products, understand how changing processes and products affect your financials, and every idea you have does not automatically work as you envision it to increase profits.

At some point while running a business, your likely to experience that burned out or uninspired feeling. Work-life balance is important; there is a truth, in working hard and playing hard to unwind. Reading a daily devotion and taking a daily 30 minute walk can assist in relaxing the mind, etc.

Customer

Customer acquisition is expensive in order to acquire new customers, companies must effectively target, market to and convince customers to try their product or service.

Many business owners do not take time to figure out who is their target customer. What are their target customers’ likes, dislikes, needs and wants? Which types of media do they consume? What is the cheapest way to reach them? How much is the target customer willing to pay for their products or services? Where and how should we sell our products?

Remember, it is cheaper to keep a customer than it is to acquire new ones.

Master the Art of Engagement

Being engaging is important in every part of your business, whether its communicating through email marketing, social media, blogs, videos and other commercial formats

Grab social Media Attention

Social media marketing plan should include Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and the company website to communicate with your customer. Use the same theme, pictures (banner pages) and similar products.

Understand importance of Business Logos

It is the first thing potential customers will notice about your brand, make sure it is presentable, professional and polished. Make sure the Logo connects with your customer needs and wants.

Create an experience for your Brand

Create fun and informative environment to solve your customer problems

The Right Clients are more Important than the Most clients

Most business strategy is get the cash in the door by any means necessary to get most clients in the door. Problem is you achieve all of this at the expense of quality, profit and sanity. The right clients will allow your company to do better work, build a better reputation, generate more profits and retain better employees.

Focus on Your Goal, Objectives, Theme but most of all Profitability

Don’t try to be all things to all customers. Specialize in solving your ‘target audience’ problems and have fun doing it. Even the largest companies do their best when they focus on keeping the ‘main thing the main thing’.

Operations

Processes

Are the actions and applications that executives and teams put in place to achieve desired results.

Leaders need to take a step back to review their processes-individually or in a cross-functional groupings— to eliminate inefficiencies and optimize performance, annually or as the market changes.

Systems

Systems are the reliable processes and procedures that empower your business to consistently produce an excellent result for your client and profitability for you.

Documenting automated processes can increase your company’s efficiency and reduce costly mistakes; the checklists your employees follow to ensure that all orders are shipped correctly; the orientation process for all new clients when you begin working together; and the standardized contracts you use with all your new hires and vendors.

Controls/Standards

Controls are the processes, procedures and safeguards that protect your company form uninformed or inappropriate decisions or actions by any team member. They also are your business’s way of making sure that key work is getting done on time and the right way.

There are (4) main types of business controls:

Checklists/Visual Business Process Controls
Scorecards/ Business Performance Measurements Metrics by Function (KPI)
Embedded Internal Quality Controls— product/process quality checks
Policy and Procedures— written/measured
Scalable Solutions
Systems(using excel and quickbooks), Processes and Procedures that worked for a $1million dollar a year business, are not sufficient for $10 million dollar business or a $25 million dollar business.

Scaling your business requires building it in such a way that your business model and systems can be rolled out and replicated on a much bigger playing field, based on increased product ordered/processed sales volume.

Example, choosing a database solution or a 3rd party fulfillment should be based on actual growth rates, not potential or forecasted projected sales.

Financials

Cash flow and Financial Statements are your ‘life line’.

Learn how you are making and losing money. Understand profit and loss statements and what processes and procedures link to improving the ‘profits’ of your business.
Resources
The company’s financial wherewithal additionally, the measurement tools necessary to manage and track finances and assets. Do you have the knowledge, competencies and skills necessary to use those tools to increase your profits?

Small and mid-size businesses must master the ability to manage their working capital and cash flow. Every company has access to profit and loss, balance sheet and cash flow statements. Management is either using accounting software or someone is preparing the reports for management.

How well does senior management understand the company’s financials and it correlation to their strategy? Do these managers understand which parts of the company need investment, where cuts can be made on why?

Managers must take the time to learn the relationships and interdependencies between their tools and the reports they use to maximize their resources.

Teamwork makes DreamWorks

You can’t do it by yourself. It is critical to ensure that your business doesn’t rely on the presence of any one individual.

Even Steve Jobs and Bill Gates, needed a great team to help them execute, deliver and do everything behind the scenes to deliver their vision to customers.

Surround yourself with the best people you can find. Hire people who are smarter than you, then step back and let them do their jobs. Remember championships are won by teams, not athletes. Employees are hired either to increase revenue or to decrease expenses in order to improve profits, no other reason.

People

People are not your greatest asset; the right people are. The wrong people are your greatest catastrophe. Mediocre people are your greatest drain on resources.

Leaders must strive to create learning organizations where the organization is always pushing to improve. A organization where employees feel valued and are contributing according to their abilities.

Effective management will create an organization where personal growth is expected and rewarded and employees are both challenged and satisfied.

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