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Monthly Archives: March 2018

Hiring a Good Accountant

Ask the right questions

Not every accountant will be the ideal candidate for you. Therefore, prepare a list of questions to get to the bottom of exactly what they are offering to avoid any surprises. Do they provide monthly bookkeeping as well as business taxes? What exactly can you expect to pay for their services?

Get a referral from a personal contact

Like a good hairdresser, finding a professional that ‘gets’ you can be a challenge. Ask around and see if there is an accountant that somebody near and dear to you recommends. Find out what they like about them. Ask them what services they are given and at what price.

Double check their qualifications and experience

Don’t be swayed by the promise of a large check following your tax return submission. Always confirm their qualifications and experience thoroughly. If in doubt, ask them for a reference so you can verify they are as good as they say they are.

Understand what they need from you

Make sure you know what is expected of you up front. Can you do everything that is required from your perspective? Do you need to visit their office and supply them with physical paperwork, or will electronic copies sent through email be suitable? Does the way they operate meet your expectations?

Gauge their availability

Accountants may not be known for their customer service skills, but it is still an important and real aspect of their job. If you don’t hear from them for days, perhaps they are not the one for you. You need to know that you can get a hold of them when you need them the most.

Starting a Business Overseas

1. Local Culture

The local culture and habits are extremely important for any entrepreneur who’s looking to start a business in another country. It is essential to know the ins- and outs of the local environment and how to get around. As hard as it might be, try to find a local investor or a business advisor who can inform and explain key factors of doing business in a specific area. Depending on your business and target market, get to know local consumer behavior. It’s key for your potential business to have local partners who are trustworthy; this key point can make or break your business.

Local business events are a great way to meet new people in the area. In case you are looking to build a network before flying out, which is a smart thing to do, use your current network to see if you can connect to someone doing business in that area. Another possibility would be to join expat communities and ask questions there. Join Facebook groups! They are surprisingly effective.

2. Language

Studying a new language is hard and very time-consuming. It may even present a bigger barrier for you than running an actual business. However, learning the local language will prove to be a huge advantage when doing business with local people. Especially in Asian countries, people will show you more respect and trust when you speak the language. Besides the fact that communication will be easier, it’s easier to meet new people and you’ll most likely get better deals.

3. Way of Life

Integrate with the local community and neighbors through events and other get-togethers. This is a great way to meet new people, potential clients, potential business partners and besides that, a great way to learn more about the country and its culture. It’s an awesome experience to see, understand and feel how the local people live their life. Learn about their values and vision in life. Study the local market and local economy and how that knowledge can profit your business.

Growing a Small Business

Maintain detailed records

Any successful business will keep and maintain detailed records. A major benefit of record keeping is the ability to constantly know the financial position of a business and make it easier to see potential growth options or challenges in the future. Also, if things do start to look bad, there is more time to start creating strategies to overcome those hurdles.

Analyze the competition

Healthy competition has the potential to breed the best possible results. To grow the successful business it is always worth checking the local competition to see if there is anything to learn that could help improve your business.

Be creative

Try to be creative in the process of setting up your business and think up ideas that could potentially make your business stand out from the rest. It is worth remembering that you won’t have the complete business knowledge when starting out, so you should always be open to new approaches and ideas to expand the business.

Stay focused

Even with a lot of time spent on the planning stage, there is no guarantee the business will start to earn money straightaway. It can take a little time and marketing to get a new business recognized, so it is essential to stay focused and continue to work on the short-term goals.

Small Businesses Fail at Marketing

1. Their definition of marketing is wrong

When business owners tell me that marketing doesn’t matter, they usually have a totally different understanding of what marketing is than those who recognise how marketing contributes to business goals where it enables you to charge the most money you can for your services and products.

Marketing is first about spending time building a solid foundation based on strategy before proposing a series of tactics aimed at lifting sales. Until the business finds a way to change the context of how their ideal customer views what they do, and then becomes become the obvious choice provider, they’ll find that their marketing efforts never seem to build momentum or gain any return on investment.

You must be able to enter the conversation taking place in the head of your customers. Or, to look at it in a different way, to be able to address the number one question on your customer’s mind at exactly the right time.

So, how do you do this? The conversation that is taking place in every prospective customer’s mind revolves around two major points. There is a problem they have, and that they don’t want… and there is a result that they want, and they don’t have.

Those who often misunderstand marketing believe that it is only about advertising campaigns, brochures, flyers, website, email marketing, SEO, tradeshows, social media, copy, etc. These are the tactics – the way you implement your marketing. I’d argue that marketing is essentially the core of business strategy because it is about understanding the current customer, tapping into their fears, their goals and their aspirations and then creating products and services that the ideal customer is willing to buy from a brand they now they know, like and trust.

2. They believe either they or their co-worker can do it

Sometimes in the “do it all yourself” world of small business (or even big business when it comes to it), it’s difficult to identify the areas that require outside help. A business may be able to set up their newsletter, add plugins to WordPress, write a Facebook or LinkedIn post, and clumsily create header graphics, but you need somebody who is trained, practiced, and skilled at looking strategically and holistically at the marketplace, understanding the customer, and then creating unique opportunities based on this understanding.

Just think about it for a minute; just because you have a calculator and excel does that mean you are an accountant? If you have a ruler, pencil and have watched some episodes of Grand Designs – does that make you an architect? If you post regularly to your friends on Facebook and Instagram – does that mean you are a social media expert?

So why do small businesses believe that by buying a Mac and some software they will become a designer, marketer and communications expert?

It needs to be led by a strategic marketer who can then develop an integrated marketing approach. Can you or your co-worker do this? In some cases, you can. But those who can are most likely to either come from marketing or consulting backgrounds where they have transferable skills and experience defining AND delivering against a growth strategy.

If you are a small business, you need somebody who will have a very solid, process, streamlined, consistent, repeatable approach. First, they will research and learn about your company in great depth, the dynamics of the marketplace and identify shifts, trends, and changes. From there, the strategic marketer will be able to present the different elements of your marketing plan in logical order of how you should construct them, update them, or revise them; and identify the key areas you should be focusing on – be it generating leads, converting leads, increasing transactions right down to changing prices.