Friday, 29 June 2012

Your Money and Time

To SME Owners.

We are now moving into the second six months of 2012, January to June are history now or not!

Ask yourself what great achievments did you accomplish in the first six months relative to,
                    Your Money and Time.

Did you address the two, three key opportunities you identified in January, relative to your capacity, your team's capacity, your businesses capacity.

Did you get closer to your Key Clients, remember the 80/20 rule.

Did you try to master your time, remembering, most things are about time and timing.

Did your team adjust to change, how flexible has your team been when it comes to their time,
did they put your time under pressure.

Did you get closer to your Key suppliers, they are one critical area that help you succeed.

                                           Simple stuff, right!

Till next time may the Force be with you, I am your silent partner helping you work on your business.

Thursday, 28 June 2012

Have Fun in your Business

To SME Owners.

What do you put in place to have fun in your business for you and for your team.

What type of Rituals do you have in place for you and your team.

How do celebrate a great month,

Most of your staff want to go to work and feel, yes feel part of something good, something moving forward.

Staff work better and have more fun when you involve them in having fun. So many people are to serious today, they complain about the economy, go work hard and play hard.

        Simple Stuff not all the heavy stuff, sure you will make the odd mistake and take risks, go do it.


Is it a mistake or risk! My blog career has only been going for about six weeks, so to those of you who view my posts THANK YOU, I hope you find my business stuff of practical help, keep on enjoying.
Till next time may the Force be with you, I am your silent partner helping you work on your business.

Wednesday, 27 June 2012

Is it good having Competitors.

To SME Owners.

Wheather we like it or not we have competitors(opposition) what sounds better! It is good that we have to compete, but why-

        Competitors help educate the market,     
        Competitors come and go(don't be one of those that go!)
        Competitors help you to be on your game, always looking at new ways to service clients.
        Remember there are always Winners, Losers, and Marginal Competitors.

In most instances when a new competitor comes along, what do they do, yep, under cut price(with a view of increasing their margin overtime! right !)

So does this test your Relationship with your client, is your Service and Quality part of why the client deals with you! that word Loyilty comes into play, does it!

Very few b2b competitors can maintain under cutting prices for long periods, remember they will also lose clients.

I had a client, worked with them for three years, the sales director hating losing a client on price, so with a certain client we let him go to the oppostions, why, we knew the client would be back with us in the next three months, (on our new terms)
          The client was already getting a margin 2% below our benchmark, plus was a bad payer. 
I needed us to remember " that the business objective was to attract clients that are Profitable and who are Good Payers.(otherwise your cash flow and profits will be a problem)

If the competitor wanted to take on a problem account good luck to them.(makes you think)
                           Do you get the picture with this simple example.
Till next time may the Force be with you, I am your silent partner helping you work on your business.

Tuesday, 26 June 2012

YOU and YOUR SME Business

To SME Owners.

Starting up your business, did you ever imagine, the great highs and lows you would go through, over the three, five, ten, fifteen years.I admire many of you, running your business can be a lonely endeavour.
What keeps you going?
    Are you driven by a desire to prove yourself,
    Is it an ego thing,
    Is it doing the next big deal,
    You want to build something, to be remembered,
    You want to be seen as a winner.

Then why does it all go wrong?-could it be due to.
     Poor decisions
     Not seeing the risks,
     Lack of relevant management and leadership style,
     Trying to take on to many opportunities, etc etc.
So is there anything you can do about it, sure-
    Be realistic,( yes do reality checks from time to time)
    Work on getting a balance,
    Look at what is important in running a sustainable business,
    Do you really know yourself,
    Get help so you can work on your business, not in it,( believe me this is a key issue)
    Keep Learning, are you improving your skills set, etc etc.

South Africa needs strong, sustainable SME businesses, do not allow yourself to fail, always see the big picture, yep it is hard doing business in SA, you can and must succeed.

Till next time may the Force be with you, I am you silent partner helping you work on your business.
You may wish to view, and
Two sites I enjoy.



Saturday, 23 June 2012

Can You Implement Rapid Change.

To SME Owners.

As a sme owner you should be able to implement rapid change in your business, yes where ever we go the word CHANGE comes up, painful sometimes to keep hearing it, but that's the reality check!

Have you asked your team-
   what do they like about change,
   what do they hate about change,
   what do they believe needs to be changed.

Is there sometimes when you do not know HOW to change, are you scared, have you looked at the possible risks.

Do you make the TOUGH calls, yes day in day out, plus if you are working IN your business, your business life will be even more than hectic.

Why does change fail, possibly due to-
    lack of information,
    lack of follow through,
    the why,when, how, all of this is simple stuff, right, what is your view.

And the BIG barrier, good old fashion COMMUNICATION!

Yep, their are always exception to the rule, so I really do hope you can implement rapid and positive change, it is your business, it is your wealth vehicle, the market place does not slow down.
I am in the trenches every day helping businesses handle the key issue of change.

Till next time may the Force be with you, I am your silent partner helping you work on you business.  

Friday, 22 June 2012

My Top Social Media "advice" Blogs

To SME Owners.

This post follows on from a earlier post about Free online information overload! A quick overview, in the past six months I have spent nearly 600 hundred hours researching social media. It has been part of my communication plan, given I am totally new to the online stuff.(I made the time/ found the time to do the research, If you are committed to something you action it, if you are interested, you do it whenever, right!)and then you wonder why you have been left behind?

As we know there are tons of blogs, so why these Three-
Objective in identifying which blogs I wanted as Favourites,
     My ROE(return on effort)
     Perceived expert
     Easy to read and digest
     Actionable information
     Blogger activity

Here are the three- ( this is more a Macro look at SME business in South Africa)

I do have a few other blogs that I follow, these are in different markets relative to the services I provide to SME Owners.

Till next time may the Force be with you, I am your silent partner helping you work on your business.

Thursday, 21 June 2012

Is Your SME business Stressed

To SME Owners,

Are you to much of a control freak, are you overworking, trying to make all the decisions, are you frustrated, relax, understand the following(it does depend on where your business is in it's life cycle)

Your plans and strategies are worthless if they are not achievable in a tight time frame, yes speed is more important than perfection I came across a business that was ahead of the game and then fell way back due to the market catching up with them and then racing passed them, to slow to change to the shift that took place, Yep, problem business.

Your cash is king, yep we all know this, but do really know where your money is in your business and the money time movements?

Are you managing by objectives, or managing by hope, start to empower your staff( back in the day it was called,delegation) Please free up the spirit in your team and business.

Always ask yourself, Why did you START your business, profits, wealth are by products of doing everything else right, right!

Till next time, may the Force be with you, I am your silent partner helping you work on your business.

Saturday, 16 June 2012

Online Knowledge vs Information Overload

To SME Owners.

I was chatting recently with other business executives regarding the above relating to sme owners finding time to keep up to speed with all the FREE knowledge that is available online at the push of a button.
We covered the following areas-
     Does all this free information help sme's be more successful?
     Is there to many different portals, so there is information overload?
     What information can you TRUST?
     How to gather all the relevant information, to make better decisions and to move with speed?

If we factor in the TEN THOUSAND rule, where does that leave you the sme owner, especially if you have been running your business for three to five years( you have not qualified yet in terms of the above rule, yes there are exceptions to all rules.)

To solve the above there are a few options, one of the best,is to out source,( we have heard this before) have a team around you, whether it includes all or some of these experts-
                     - bookkeeping
                     - social media
                     - business consulting
                     - etc,etc
These experts do have the time to research those vital areas relative to your needs, let them get to understand you and your business.They should also bring to the table outside objective views and ideas, many an idea has been worth millions!

It is an investment, not a cost, take into account, that forty thousand sme's closed their doors in 2012 in SA. and that many sme owners work more in their business than on it. More businesses will close this year, what are you doing not to be one of them!

Till next time may the Force be with you, I am your silent partner helping you work on your business.  

Friday, 15 June 2012

Different types of SME Owners

To SME Owners.

 Here's what I have come across working with Sme's since 1997 in South Africa, Sme fall into two classes.
      Those who started their business with a technical background,
      Those who started their business with a sales background.
This comes with different challenges-
       The approach to the business, staff, clients, suppliers, the market in general.

The technical approach is attention to detail, many hours spent working in the business, struggles to understand the sales mentality, focuses on features of the product, makes things to complicated, so the team become frustrated.

The sales approach is all about just get the sale at( nearly) all costs, business just focuses on sales and more sale, sales systems are put in place, but are broken regularly, no other systems are in place, the team plays hard and works hard, A Sales mentality has set in, not a Business mentality.

Yes there are exception to the rule, as always, one also needs to factor in where the business is, in the Business Life Cycle.
Tell next time may the Force be with you, I am your Silent partner helping you work on your business.

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

Do your staff know your business

To SME Owners.

I am working with a young dynamic company(b2b) that does sales between R5million-R10million pa. they have been in the game for three years.

Everything is not just about getting sales, (yes sales is important) but it is more important for your team to get to grips very quickly with understanding BUSINESS.What makes a your business tick.
There are many ways to do this, with the above client, I am working on few areas that I believe is critical for improved performance for them. I have listed three below-

Area number one-Business culture ie how things are done in the business, the values set by the Bossman and the example set each and every day to instill the culture.This also includes the business language, what language does your sme business use/ speak.( could be using these words a lot)      
         whats the objectives, are you results driven, do you talk opportunities and challengers
         instead of we have this problem, is the business solution driven or excuses driven.

 A key advantage is your unique businesses culture, Why, no other sme can copy it.

Area number two-Maximise the value of the contact with their clients.
Area number three- Focusing on the key numbers in the business.
            Not just sale and gp%, but other numbers, you know what they are.

Tell next time may the Force be with you, I am your silent partner helping you work on your business.

Guy Daines

Tuesday, 12 June 2012

SME Owners and Social Media

To SME Owners.

Let me try and not be to controversial, as owners of sme businesses that are b2b selling product or services and do annual sales of R3m-R20m , you may wish to take note of the following.

Think hard of which Social Media channel to use, ie Linkedin, facebook,twitter, relative to management of your time?

I have spent about 400 hours in the last 5months doing research on the above.

Sure there are exceptions to the rule!

Here's what I have based my assumptions on, a lot of sme owners work more in their businesses than on, most people are busy being busy and love telling others how busy they are( who cares, just get the result),6 to 8 people out of 10 manage time poorly, alot of businesses allow to many of their clients to manage them. So we get the picture, do we?(I have spent 30 years studying peoples time management habits)

So on top of all the above, you now have to find time to communicate via social media platforms, it would appear that you have to be in the game, so use only one of the above three, you as the owner will have to spend time on social media, given the size of your business, you have to be that resource, can not afford a full time SM person, plus you will want to control the input, agree!

We all remember when the world wide web hit the market, most businesses just to stay in the game had to have a website, no different now.
I prefer to use linkedin, gives opportunity to join different groups, access to different discussions on a variety of markets and industries,etc,etc.

Till next time may the Force be with you, I am your silent partner helping you work on your business.
Guy Daines

Friday, 8 June 2012

Business Optimism vs Business Pessimism

Hi SME Owners.

Whether we as business owners find ourselves in different types of business climates,we will always come across two types of mindsets, optimism or pessimism, why is this.
Pessimism focuses on too many negatives, focuses on uncontrolables, loss of confidence, fear, panic sets in. Emotional decision making sets in, there is more internal focus.

Optimism focuses on, what is going right, what is going well, see that there is business deals being done every day the market place is alive, there is activity, focus on your client.

 Sure you, we must do a reality check from time to time, it's how we go about it? 

No business has ever shrunk to greatness (maybe a few, but exception to the rule)

So as the sme owner it is up to us to set the tone, for our teams, we must take the lead, yep not that easy, but we have two choices,

Till next time may the Force be with you, I am your silent partner helping you work on your business.
Guy Daines

Thursday, 7 June 2012

The Big Payoff for building Your business

To SME Owners,

Your good name, your reputation equals the way you conduct your business dealings.

Your character as a business person is always on view, please never underestimate this, be transparent, yep even when in deal negotiations, also the old saying never knock your opposition.

Business in many ways is simple, focus on RSQP, relationship depth, service, quality of product relative to its price(I covered this in one of my earlier blogs, really an important point RSQP)

But all the above must come with TRUST,

   Trust in the relationship
   Trust in the service
   Trust in the quality of product
   Trust that there are no hidden costs in your pricing.

The big payoff comes when you want to sell your business, and the above are not in place, simple, no big fancy strategies etc etc.

Work On your business, not IN your business.

Till next time may the Force be with you, I am your silent partner helping you work on your business.

Guy Daines

Saturday, 2 June 2012

What is meant by the word STRATEGY

To SME Owners in SA

The word strategy is used in different context all the time, here's how to keep it simple in your business.
I have been working with SME businesses for 15 years, this is my take on strategy.

Strategic discussions/conversations.
- on issues affecting your business, ie, probing into the following,
           -customer service
           -performance measurement
           -where are the key opportunities
           -brand building
           -social media marketing
Strategic thinking,             
-We have 60000 thoughts a day, so thinking never stops, it is continuous, but you need to share thoughts, most times two minds are better than one.
- no immediate answers, combination of gut feel, intuition and facts, deal in facts not fiction.
- by it's nature it is informal.

Strategic planning,
-structured time with key focus areas
-do a C.O.S.T. analysis
-action plans
-control with financial data

Strategy is then about learning-seeing your business through different eyes( this is one of the key
benefits of contracting my services)
-being alert to change
-dreaming up new ways of doing things
doing it consistently-this a key trick, it is not just once a year for us SME businesses
Tell next time may the Force be with you.I am your silent partner helping you work on your business.

Guy Daines                                             you may wish to join SME Owners in SA group on linkedin

Friday, 1 June 2012

Winners, Losers, and Marginal businesses

To the TEAM SME Owners in SA.

We all want to be a winner, so how much of a player is your business, even being a marginal player could be worth while.
There are always exceptions to the rule when it comes to the following, in every market there are four main players, then there are many smaller players, fighting the day to day battle not to be a loser.

One good way to try and get a handle on how you play the game, is to have a feel for the rand size of your market, you obviously did some form of research. So if you are a b2b business and need to quote for business, the volume of quotes in rand will give you a good indicator. You may need to reposition your business, your market won't stand still, to keep playing you, we, need to be flexible, more innovative(within the business) and more creative.The secret is how quickly you move, the leader sets the pace,as Kahlil Gibran said"it is when you are pursued that you become swift".

So always reposition, reposition, reposition, change, get through to your team they must move with the times.

We all know that the business world is growing more complicated each day, new techniques, new competitors, new regulations( this is a pain in the-----) a new generation of workers, but try to keep it simple if you can, many of us need certain levels of support.

Your leadership style, skills are critical, whether you micro manage or not.

But you might say, your business is profitable, good, but is it enough to create wealth for you and a good standard ol living.

Till next time may the Force be with you,I am your silent partner helping you work on your business

Guy Daines                you may wish to join-SME owners in SA group via Linkedin