Friday, 29 October 2010

Go with social media to further your business

I have just been speaking to an acquaintance of mine who runs his own Events Planning business. He told me that business has been slower than usual, and more customers than normal are leaving bookings until the last minute. He also said that other people in the industry are experiencing exactly the same thing.

I guess it's not a surprise, is it? In times of economic hardship, the frills have to give first as people strive to pay for the essentials.

Paul went on to say that he had set up a facebook group and a twitter page for his business and, lo, within hours he had had an enquiry from these.

It demonstrates the importance of social media in modern times. If you don't go with that flow, you'll be left washed up by the tide.

Thursday, 28 October 2010

Wellworths to rebrand as Wellchester

The former Woolworths store in Dorchester which re-opened as Wellworths is going to be forced to change its name. Wellworths was launched by former Woolworths manager Claire Robertson in March 2009 after the old chain closed down. The company has been given two years to change its branding.

Shop Direct bought the Woolworths brand out of administration. It said a legal settlement had been agreed with the Wellworths store in Dorchester, Dorset.

The new Wellworths name will beWellchester. It had sought to agree terms that would have let it keep the name but restrict its expansion.

After the 815 UK-wide Woolworths stores closed in late 2008, Ms Robertson reopened the store, re-employed about 20 colleagues and saw the business make a profit in its first year. It's one of those feel-good success stories.

It's a shame for Wellworths that they have to change their name, but I hope they continue to succeed.

As for Shop Direct, what exactly are they doing with the Woolworths name?

Wednesday, 27 October 2010

If business is slow, don't be inactive

When you run a small business there is no guarantee of work. One good month for income does not necessarily mean that the next month will be good for business.

But a slow month is no excuse for inactivity.

Instead, consider what you can do to improve your business. There are plenty of areas you could look at. Here are a few ideas.

Can you do more? Can you target it better? Do you need to cut spending? Or is better to increase spending?

Are your exisiting campaigns working? Can you introduce a new campaign? Is it time to re-assess to target market? Is there room to cut your prices to gain new clients?

Are you getting from (and giving to) the best to your existing clients? Can you prompt them to buy more services from you?

Your Organisation
Is it running smoothly? Do you have procedures for all processes? Could a new employee come in and take over any of your processes? Examine your business and see if can make it run more effectively.

There is always something to do in business. If things are slow, then take that chance to re-look at the way you run your operation.

Monday, 25 October 2010

Get a clear spec from your client

One of the biggest problems I have found in business is that the customer's requirements are usually very unspecific.

Although I learnt this soon after I'd started out on my own (six years ago), it remains a problem, and no matter how hard you try to get clear instructions from your clients, more often than not, they can't do it.

I don't believe it is wilful on their part. I believe that they have brought me in to deliver a service and, despite the fact it's their business and I need to know (for an example of creating a website for them) how their business works, what they do, what their logo is, whether they want photographs ... all the rest of it, they want me to "just do it".

Having such an open sepcification may allow for creativity, but it also leaves an awful lot of holes to fill!

It's a journey to get from a blank spec to a website that gives the customer what they want (even though they had no idea what they wanted!).

In truth, life is so much easier when the client knows what they want, but just doesn't know how to do it!

Friday, 22 October 2010

Realism required on state pension age

The news in the Government's Spending Review that the age of receiving the state pension is to rise to 66 by 2020 did not comer as particular surprise to me.

I am of an age where this relates directly to me, but I don't feel it is a problem.
  • We are all living longer, so it is logical that we should work longer.
  • The country is in dire financial straits, so it is logical that the state can't afford to pay our pensions so readily.
  • The are more older people now than ever before, so it is logical that the stae can't afford to pay our pensions so readily.
  • We are all fitter and healthier in our 50s and 60s now than ever before, so it is logical to work longer.
It probably depends on what work you do.

Personally I feel that I will be more than happy to continue my current work beyond when I turn 66, but I can understand that some manual workers may not feel the same way.

Apparently in France they are disgusted by the idea that the state pension age there will rise from 60 to 62.

Hmmm, where is "Brussels" when you need a bit of European harmony? The French need to take a dose of realism.

Thursday, 21 October 2010

We need understanding from banks as the cuts bite

The government spending review or "The Cuts" were outlined by Chancellor George Osborne yesterday. They will undoubtedly mean big changes for the way many people run their lives, and it will be several years (at least) before the good times are back.

This is not the place to try and apportion blame, but maybe we all got used to too much of the good times - borrowing and spending money on the never never ... and then the never never came to an end. It easy to blame bankers, and say we should never have bailed them out, but modern society cannot exist without banks and the services they provide. When the good times were good, we didn't try and rein them in. That only happened when things went bad.

Now they are back in profit, however, I do think it is time for the banks to give something back to the people who bailed them out. How about these for starters:
  • better, cheaper service
  • reasonable loan terms
  • better interest rates on our savings
  • In general: an understanding that times are bad for us, and they might like to help us this time.

Wednesday, 20 October 2010

Furniture retail software

If you’re a furniture retailer then consider furniture retail software from Myriad Software, which for more than 20 years has been a furniture retail solution. The package offers a completely integrated business solution.

The total business management product from Myriad offers modules for inventory, merchandising, purchasing, Executive Management reports and much more. The integrated product will cut down on data entry for furniture retailers.

The company’s product, EclickticTM has been designed with mid-sized home furnishings retailers ($1m to $60m) in mind, to enable them to boost their profits.

Running on a local server or as a web-based solution, the software includes support such as training, consulting and technical and application support.

For the furniture retailer, Myriad Software has everything you need.

Wage freeze and flexibility on the cards?

Chancellor George Osborne is due to announce the long-awaited (dreaded), already much-maligned spending cuts today (Wednesday).

Apparently a photographer snapped up a preview yesterday when Chief Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander was carrying the Spending Review - two pages of which were visible to photographers.

Part of what it said was that a wage freeze and flexibility over hours would help minimise redundancies, but it also suggested that there would be 490,000 fewer public sector workers by 2014-15.

"Wage freeze and flexibility would help minimise redundancies". This should please those left wing union leaders, who surely would like to spread what wealth there is around their members and members of other unions, rather than campaign for higher wages for their members alone.

Thus, I'm sure we can expect some generous offers of how that will happen so that we can avoid redundancies and the misery that goes with that. (I think this is where I put a wink emoticon to show that I'm joking.)

Tuesday, 19 October 2010

Have faith: put trust in your fellow businesses

Even in these days of difficult economic conditions, and supposedly hard-nosed business people, I still think there is room for trust.

In six years of running my own businesses, I have employed a basic trust in my dealings with clients. Thus, if I have had to make an outlay of money to buy a service on behalf of a client who has yet to furnish me with a penny, I have done so on many occasions.

Only once has theis resulted in a problem with delayed payment from the client that took so long, it resulted in my having to go to the online claims court to recover the money (successfully, I would add).

Now I know that many of the harder-edged business folk will say that I am foolish to pay out money before getting any in; even if the trust has only been breached once, it does not make good cash flow sense. That is, of course, true. Most of the outlay amounts have been small - two or three figures - so there has been little risk.

Despite any "loss of interest" I still feel it is good to act in good faith, and I hope to continue to do so.

Remember that trust works two ways in the end.

Monday, 18 October 2010

Lack of optimism for business growth

Context is an organisation which analyses distribution sales and pricing in 35 countries. Its chief executive, Jeremy Davies, reckons the "jury is out" in the UK over the government's proposed cuts, CRN reports.

"In terms of overall UK business," he said, "we are not back to pre-crisis levels; in fact, we are still down from pre-crisis levels." He said that, although there had been a pick up at the start of the year when the recession was techincally over. the effect of cuts on the well-being and morale of UK businesses should not be underestimated.

Mr Davies thinks it is likely that businesses will look at budgets and go into "lockdown mode". How wider consumers will react is also unknown, but Christmas may see a boost (as it usually does), as people take advantage before VAT rises to 20% in January.

Sectors showing growth include telecomms, PC components, printer consumables, computers and storage.

However, it is smartphones that are the biggest success story of 2010, with a whopping 339.4 % growth.

If you're in the right markets, you can still make it big!

Friday, 15 October 2010

A golden rule for business partners

I went for a haircut this morning and a new, guy, Tony, cut my hair. We talked a bit, as you do, and he told me that he used to be in (haircutting) business with his brother, before he came to work for my barber's.

Things went wrong, Tony told me, and he and his brother fell out over something fairly trivial, which was vaguely business related. It was certainly true to say that if they had not been in business together the falling out would not have happened.

That was a year ago, and they are still pretty cold with each other.

This seems very sad to me, but does remind me a golden rule of my own: Never go into business with friend or family.

I also was in a business with a friend a few years ago, but we had a difference of opinion and have not spoken since.

Sad. I didn't have my golden rule then. I do now.

Thursday, 14 October 2010

Shout out loud to survive The Apprentice

To see those women candidates on The Apprentice on BBC1 last night was astonishing. The cacophonous babble as they argued, shouted and talked over each other in the boardroom made one shudder at the thought of ever trying to work with such people.

Alan Sugar's female sidekick in the show, Karren Brady, voiced her amazement and disappointment with the way the women were behaving and how they were representing females in the workplace (not like this, please!), and there were a few moments of quiet.

It made for good television, of course.

The trouble is that the show is really desgined for the loud-mouths and show-offs. If you don't "put your head above the parapet" or get yourself noticed, you will get outed as doing nothing, not being a winner, making no contribution.

So, sure enough, after all the moaning about the wild behaviour of these crazy women by Sugar and Brady, what did our Lord Sugar do?

He fired the quiet one.

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

Internet advertising is essential

You might have a great business, a great idea, what should be 'the next big thing'. But if nobody knows about it, it will fail and die.

You need to bring it to the attention of your potential customers. You need to advertise in some way.

In these days of the Internet you need to be found there. People may still use their hard copy of Yellow Pages, but more and more they are turning to Internet search engines. Of course, the king of the search engines is Google and their advertising service is Google Ads.

I am in a very competitive line of business (website design: Pierrepont Consulting), but set up a Google Ad recently. The number of enquiries I have had is well above what I was getting before. There is little doubt that Google Ads works (it may not always work, but my experience is positive).

The good thing about Google Ads is that you can turn off your ad at any time, so you're not committed to a large outlay if you find that in fact it's not working for you.

I'd strongly recommend giving it a try

Tuesday, 12 October 2010

In the private sector we just have to get on with it

It's a tough business environment out there at the moment.

No surprises, of course, with everyone cutting back in anticipation of "the cuts" that will undoubtedly affect all of us in one way or another.

In the private sector we just have to get on with it.

Which is why it is very frustrating to hear the unions perking up and threatening strikes and all the rest of it. It won't help the economy. In fact, at times, it sounds like petty politics. Yes, cuts will hit us ALL hard. But, despite what the unions make think, there's no divine right to a job and an income.

In the private sector we have to fight for every sale. We also have to fight to ensure our businesses keep going, hoping to expand them and create employment opportunities for others. Even if we can't do that, then every sale and every purchase we make as part of our business helps to grow the economy.

Strikes do not.

Monday, 11 October 2010

10 Reasons Why SIMMS Inventory Software is the Right Inventory Solution for you

SIMMS Inventory Software gives you so much that once you have it you’ll wonder how you ever managed without it.

Using the latest Microsoft SQL Server technology, SIMMS Inventory Management and Accounting software is assured to provide stability, security and scalability on a worldwide platform.

The software relies on .NET technology from Microsoft, giving your business flexibility, reliability and compatibility for the future.

Software providers KCSI offer flexible financing and are market leaders in inventory software.

SIMMS Inventory Software is easy to implement and is easily customizable.

You will quickly see a return on your investment, as the software offers rapid evolution and easy customization of reports together with export of data.

Finally, you can be sure that SIMMS Inventory Software is right for you as a business owner, because it has been designed by business owners just for people like you.