StrategyDriven Entrepreneurship Article

Understanding Industry: Where We’ve Been And Where We’re Going

When starting your business, the chances are that you did some research. Nobody entering into an enterprise does so blind. In fact, the months and years leading up to product release are heavy-going. As well as developing your product, you have to find the best materials, study what the competition is doing, and try to find a price bracket which works. It’s no easy task, and by the end of it, your research skills were probably pretty good.

But, most startups fail to consider one thing – the history of business. And, why should they? What does it matter what’s come before? Though few people realize, it matters a lot. Everything, including business, evolves. Nothing in this world is permanent, and the business world is no different. If you fail to consider what’s come before, you have no way of foreseeing what will come in the future.

To get an idea of how much things have changed, you only need to take a trip to the past. Four leading industrial moments are worth your consideration. We’re going to take a brief look at them here.

Late Eighteenth – Early 19th Century saw the first industrial revolution. When people speak industrial revolution, this is most often what they’re referring to. Before this date, production mostly took place in people’s homes. Businesses were small and local, and everything was produced by hand. But, why did things change so drastically?

Late in the eighteenth century, mechanization was, and arguably still is, the greatest game changer. Here, industry was born. Instead of small-scale operations, factories took charge of the market. People could produce more, and they could do it faster than ever.

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1870 brought with it the next remarkable changes in the industry. A variety of different inventions meant good news for business. For one, telephones were an option. People could speak long distance, and the new communication made business much easier. Automobiles were also coming into use. Business owners could travel vast distances for the first time. And, most notably for the industrial field, gas and oil were now an option when it came to electricity. As such, even larger factories were a possibility.

1970 onwards, things started to change in significant ways which should be recognizable to you. During these years, electricity became part of everyday culture. Televisions became staples in every home. A little later down the line, computers and mobile phones changed the way we communicate forever. And, in 1983, researchers started to consider how they could produce a worldwide network,  later known as the internet.

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The present day sees us in midst of Industry 4.0, the fourth, and ever developing revolution. Digitalization is changing business. Though we have yet to see the results, social media, cloud computing, and the Internet of Things are sure to take things further than ever. In the same way that telephones once changed the game, the technology of today promises to do the same. With the use of these technologies, your business reach is broader than has ever been possible. You’re operating during a time which promises to go down in the history books, so make the most of everything that’s available to you.

So, where do we go now, and what does it mean for your business?

As you can see, things change fast. Inventions have the ability to alter the face of business as we know it. And, each time things change, companies which fail to keep up go under. During that first revolution, many small business had to close. They couldn’t keep up with the production of factories. And, the same could happen to your enterprise if you aren’t careful. Things are changing at a faster rate now than ever before. The development of the Internet of Things means we will soon have smart homes. As such, successful business is no longer just about keeping up. You also need to be one step ahead of the game. Here’s how.

Forward thinking

Now that you’ve taken the time to look back set your eyes firmly forward. You need to always think forward with everything you do in business. Never settle for a method, because it could go out of date in no time at all. Always look for better ways to operate. Never be afraid of trying new things. Software developments and new technologies should be top of your agenda. Sure, they may be untested now, but they could be the next big thing. And, if you’re using them when that happens, you’ll get big too. Just remember; the internet was untested once upon a time.

Keep up with news

Back during the above-mentioned revolutions, signs of what was to come were in the news all the time. And, some smart business owners will have noticed that. But, the ones who failed to pay attention won’t have made it past the big inventions.

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Don’t make that mistake. Keep an eye on world news, and in particular, tech news. That way, you’ll be well aware of the latest big things. If any major game changers are on their way, you’ll know about them. Get into the habit of checking the news each morning. To save time, download a news app onto your phone. Most of these include a few different sections, including technology, and business. You should be reading both. It’s also worth making a note of anything that catches your eye. Then, you can do your own research into the issue.

Watch your competition

Watching your competition is, of course, always important in business. But, it’s even more so if you want to stay at the front of your game. While none of us like to admit it, the competition sometimes does things right. And, when they do, you want to be hot on their heels.

They too will be doing everything possible to stay on trend. And, they may spot things you don’t. Take note of any sudden popularity heading their way, and get to work determining what they’ve done right.

StrategyDriven Risk Management Article

Emergencies That Can Bring Your Business To A Halt

It is a terrifying moment when you realise that your business is about to suffer some kind of a problem. Businesses face all sorts of problems every day, and most of them are dealt with pretty easily and swiftly. But then there are those larger problems, the ones which can bring everything to a sudden stop. When you run the risk of this happening, it can be remarkably worrying. To avoid this, you need to feel protected – and the best way to do that is to be prepared for all eventualities. To that end, let’s take a look at some of the most common and most worrying emergencies that any business might well face in the future.

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System Downtime

If you have been in business for longer than a week, you will know first-hand how important it is to keep your systems going strong. You probably rely quite heavily on technology – most businesses do these days. Clearly, if anything happens on that front, it can spell disaster for the near future of your business. You could be facing data loss, which might in turn mean a sudden downturn of business. Or perhaps some of your automated systems will fail, resulting in lost profits and disappointed customers. Whatever the result, having network downtime is never going to be something you invite.

If this happens, try not to panic. It helps if you have set up some kind of a back-up system beforehand. But if you haven’t, get the professionals in and you should be up and running again in no time. This can be worrying and damaging, but it is always fixable.

Failed Utilities

The workplace itself can often be home to a number of worrying and dramatic emergencies. These are often possible to prevent by following certain regulations, but even then you never quite know what will happen or when. Utilities in particular can be a worrying source of danger, and you will want to make sure you pay close attention to them in your office. These dangers can come in a number of forms. It might be that a plumbing problem has led to a severe leak, in which case calling the likes of ABC Home & Commercial Services is going to be a good move. Or maybe you need to call an electrician to fix a faulty fuse box which has blown out some of your computers. Whatever it is, these are all situations which you want to fix the moment they arise. Nothing good will come of leaving such problems to worsen, so get on it as soon as possible.

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Fire

If you have ever been in a workplace when a fire breaks out, you will know well that it can be truly terrifying. At such a time, your most important thought will not be the business itself, but the people. And that’s just how it should be – if a fire breaks out in your office, you need to evacuate everyone first and foremost. However, you will also be well aware that a fire can cause your business a lot of damage too. Clearly, it is best to do everything you can to prevent it happening in the first place.

This is why standard fire safety practices are so important. Following them will drastically reduce the likelihood of a fire breaking out in your workplace. But as well as that, you need to know what you should do if it happens anyway. Training your employees is the number one matter of concern here. They need to be able to get to safety as quickly as possible, so make sure that they have the necessary skills to do so. It is then a matter of practicing routinely, with fire drills at different and random times of the year. This ensures that everyone will act as well as possible if it should actually occur – and that will mean a greater peace of mind.

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Fire is by far one of the most worrisome emergencies that any business can face. Nonetheless, it is surprisingly common, and you absolutely cannot run the risk of not preparing for it. The more you know about what to do in case of a fire, the more likely it is that you can properly prepare and protect your business should it ever happen.

Keeping your business safe and secure means knowing the worst that can happen and being prepared for it, while still hoping for the best. Get this balance right, and you are on track for a bright future.

StrategyDriven Customer Relationship Management Article

Why Your Clients Won’t Pay Up On Time, And What To Do About It

One of the most frustrating things in business are clients who won’t pay on time. Your accounts receivable might be making your balance sheet look healthy, but if the money doesn’t actually arrive in your account, it’s no use to you whatsoever.

How Slow And Non Paying Clients Put Your Business At Risk

Slow paying clients aren’t just a nuisance. They can cause your business serious financial harm. First, customers who pay late can cause serious cash flow problems. You may have made decisions in advance, such as taking on a new employee or signing a new contract, banking on the fact that you would get paid by a specified date. But when clients don’t pay up, you can experience a cash flow shortfall, even if your underlying business is healthy. Not having cash on hand in the present can lead to serious relationship problems with your staff and suppliers, especially when they go unpaid.

The second issue is the extra administrative burden non-paying clients place on your business. Not only do you not have the money you’re owed in your account, but you also have to pay out extra administrative costs to chase people up. What’s more, the repercussions of non-payment can affect people at the senior level – the very people who should be focusing on moving the business forward. Wondering whether you might get paid takes your mind off other tasks, reducing your creativity and causing additional stress.

If you find that late invoice payments are a perennial problem for your business, then it might be time to revamp your payment collection process. The good news is that there is a lot you can do to remedy the problem of late-paying clients. Here’s what to do.

Make Invoicing More Convenient

One of the reasons why your clients might not be paying you on time is that your invoicing process is complicated or antiquated. In a world of instant gratification like ours, people don’t want to have to jump through hurdles to do something as simple as making a payment. What they want is to be able to quickly and easily pay you the money you’re owed and move on. Thus, friction in the payment process can be a real problem.

The good news is that technology has made it easier than ever to pay. Paying for your business services needn’t be any more difficult than ordering a new pair of shoes online. So long as your business has a merchant account, many accounting software packages now come with the option of sending a card payment option along with digital invoices, meaning that your customers don’t even have to do a bank transfer. If you use a cloud solution, you can make the process even easier by allowing people to pay using mobile devices.

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Use Spot Factoring

Small and medium-sized businesses regularly find themselves in the following situation. They’ve just completed a large order and used a significant amount of their capital in the process. They get another large order in from a different client, but they’re unable to fulfill it because they still haven’t been paid for the first. In short, they have nothing in the bank to pay their suppliers and vendors.

In situations like this, companies need advice on slow paying clients. One of the best pieces of advice out there is to use spot factoring, a process where a third party company buys up the invoice and immediately pays out a cash value for it. This process provides your company with immediate funding and passes on the hassle of chasing up late payments from a client onto somebody else.

Create A Better Relationship With Your Client

Another reason why clients don’t pay up on time could be to do with your relationship with them. They might not be conscious of your existence, or worse, they might not like you. Customers will find all sorts of reasons not to pay on time, or at all, including what they think about you personally.

To really get clients on your side, you need to create personal relationships with them. Ideally, you’d generate a creating great business partnerships tips, empathy, and understanding which would make it uncomfortable for the client to make a late payment. Having a close relationship with a client also makes it easier to broach the issue, should they fail to pay on time. Being able to call them up and discuss it over is often a lot more productive than simply sending them a threatening letter in the post.

Ask For Money Up Front

In some industries, the sellers of a new product or service have the luxury of asking for payment up front. But even if that isn’t how your industry typically operates, there are still options open to you.

One idea is to break up a project into chunks. Get clients to pay for small chunks of the project as you go along. This way, you have the security of getting regularly paid before spending resources to carry out work, and your client can test the waters, rather than paying for everything up front before knowing whether you’re going to do a good job or not.

Some clients might actually prefer to pay up front. By paying up front, they know that they’re not going to get smacked with a big bill later on.

Settle Payments Terms In Writing Before Carrying Out Work

Late payments or non-payments can sometimes arise out of confusion. Often, clients simply don’t know when they’re supposed to pay, and so they wait and wait until something happens. If your company is relying on good cash flow to pay staff and suppliers, then you want to avoid this situation at all costs.

When you get down to the matter of payment, establish a payment timetable with your client in writing. Although formal relationships like this might seem a little extreme, they can actually be very effective at building trust. Your customers will take the arrangement more seriously if it is in writing and will get the impression that you’re not messing around. You run a tight ship, and you expect them to pay on time.

StrategyDriven Entrepreneurship Article

Streamlining Your Business To Save Time And Money

Running your own business is no walk in the park. There are a lot of things to think about, and if you have sole responsibility for many business areas, things can start to get messy. Having too many tasks and processes can start to make things complicated, and could be costing you valuable time and money. If you think that your business could do with some efficiency, read on for tips on how to streamline your business.

Cut down your paperwork

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Paperwork is the bane of many office environments, whether it’s a home office or an actual office. It builds up quickly, has to be filed and quite often it’s unnecessary. Having a lot of paper around means that it’s likely that important documents get lost, while also slowing down your ability to carry out tasks while hunting around through various bits of paperwork. Assess the paperwork that you have and ask how much of it is really necessary and how long it needs to be kept. If you can combine some forms and do away with others entirely, you might find that you can reduce your paperwork (and workload) easily without having to sacrifice on the quality or output of your work.

Use software to simplify

There is a lot of great software out there that can help make your processes simpler and automate many tasks, saving you time and money. Some good examples include contract management software from this website, accounting software and people management portals. Investing in software may have some initial cost to your business, but having it can free up your time to do other tasks as well as limiting the room for error and inconsistencies between documents.

Join the Cloud

Everyone is moving to the cloud. There are many advantages for those who embrace cloud computing, including more flexible working and overall cheaper running costs for your technology. Cloud computing enables people to work seamlessly on documents, which can save a lot of the time spent going back and forth amongst other benefits. Cloud computing is also better for the environment and reduces how much energy and paper you use around the office and can make your company run more efficiently. It’s also a secure system with backs up your data constantly to prevent any loss of data which could come from a regular server.

Improve your digital offering

If you find that your website is looking a bit lacklustre or isn’t fulfilling its purpose, it might be time for an update. Improving your website of boosting your social media activities could help you to engage better with more customers and give them more of what they want. Think of digital as not only a marketing tool but a listening tool that can help you understand your customers better and build a better relationship with them.

Streamlining your business is easier than you might think. You’ll find many simple changes can reduce workload and costs to make your business easier to run so that you can focus your energies on the more important parts of your business.

StrategyDriven Talent Management Article

Young Business Owners: Gain Respect From Older Employees

When you’re working with a team of people who are older than you, it can be difficult to get them to take you seriously. It doesn’t matter how qualified you are or how much experience you’ve gained in a short amount of time; an older generation will always believe that life experience is more valuable. It’s a tough situation to be in, but you won’t be able to achieve your goals if your team can’t view you as their boss. The fact that youth doesn’t necessarily equal inexperience is something your employees will need to learn. Here’s how you can prove it to them.

Show Your Knowledge

There’s no point walking into a room full of older people with plenty of knowledge and only knowing bits and pieces. You need to demonstrate that your knowledge of the industry is second to none. Make sure you’re doing thorough research and staying abreast of innovative ideas. Subscribe to reading material with the latest trends and make connections with people of influence. Most importantly, focus on doing your job well, instead of showing off. If you’re dedicated to your job and willing to go above and beyond, you’ll gain more respect than if you were to spend your time competing against employees.

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Lead by Example

There’s no doubt that every business owner has to be a leader. If you’re managing a team of employees who are older than you, you need to be the best leader you can be. Perhaps you could benefit on a leadership MBA online to brush up on your skills.  When you want to set a good example, you have to be the first one to arrive at the office and the last one to leave. You have to do your fair share of work, but you also have to have others on your mind. The point of being a leader is guiding people in achieving their goals.

Allow Suggestions

No matter what your age is, no-one likes a boss who thinks they’re better than everyone else. If you’re working with a team of older people, you’re in a prime position to gather valuable advice. Don’t get so preoccupied with proving yourself, that you forget to take advantage of the expertise of your team. No-one knows it all, and trying to demonstrate that you do just because you’re young is a fool’s errand. If you want to be taken seriously, learn to listen. People are far more likely to want to work with you if their suggestions are used.

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Be Determined

One of the barriers to working with an older generation is that they may be used to using different methods in their work. As a young boss, you may have more insight into how to move the business forward. You’ll have a fresh perspective that some of your workers may not agree with. This is when you’ll need to put your foot down and demonstrate the benefits of your ideas and overrule anyone who disagrees with you. However, if there are instances when your ideas prove to be wrong, it’s important that you admit your mistake instead of making excuses. Your staff will respect you more, even if you feel embarrassed.

Stay Calm

There are many times when business doesn’t go to plan. You’ll be faced with difficult decisions and stressful times. You may be under a lot of pressure, but it’s important you remain calm and don’t let the pressure effect your mood or your relationships. As a boss, your staff will be judging you on your behaviour during the most testing times. So, show them you can handle stress as well as they can and you can come up with solutions when they’re needed. Your calm attitude will reassure them in times of high stress.

Dress Appropriately

If your staff members are turning up to work in a suit and tie, well-groomed and ready for anything, and you’re turning up in a t-shirt and jeans, you’ll inadvertently be making the gap between you and your staff even larger. If the older members of your team are putting a huge effort into the way they present themselves, you need to do the same. You won’t necessarily have to wear a suit every day, but it’s important you show up looking smart. You can also try introducing a more relaxed dress code for work so you and your team meet somewhere in the middle.

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Your Business Persona

The way you behave in work may be very different to the way you are outside of work. As a boss to older people, you may not have the luxury of being their best friends. You need to present yourself in the way you want people to see you. So, if you want to be respected leader, you need to act like one. Ask yourself how you want to be viewed in your job role and create a business persona accordingly. Sometimes, it has nothing to do with your natural personality. If you have to act your way through to getting the respect you desire, don’t be afraid to do it.

Expectations

Lastly, start off your new team with an open mind. It isn’t safe to make assumptions because you may have one older person on the team who is determined to find fault in your leadership and one older person who’s determined to help you reach your goals. It’s important that your employees know what you expect of them and you listen to them when they tell you what they expect of a good leader. Always keep the lines of communication open and never forget how much an older person can bring to a team.

At the end of it all, the best way to show your team, no matter what age they are, is to achieve your desired results. It’s only when the business reaches desired outcomes that your employees will see the benefit of working hard and working together. So, as a leader, be patient and let your work speak for itself.