16th October, 2015 No Comments
How does everyone else make it look so easy?
Setting up a retail business often means significant regular costs that can make you feel like a cloud is permanently overhead – just waiting to open up and drench you!
This burden puts a great deal of pressure on cash flow and the ability to maintain morale. The following tips will help you focus on the values and benefits offered by your business.
Be extraordinary in your visual presence. Your ability to trigger peoples imagination long enough to stop in their tracks is often enough to get them to step inside.
Make a feature of the window space or free standing signage but ensure to change it regularly with interesting new ideas or attractions relevant to your service/ product.
Get interactive and step outside and greet people. Hand out info packs, free tasters, special offers, setup mini stalls in high profile locations. You could also consider hosting an event to bring people to you.
Call to action and be distinctive in your brand communication. Your audience should understand clearly – and simply – what you stand for and how they can benefit from your offer. Brand and message confusion can cause uncertainty that often results as a repellent. The client journey starts well before they enter your outlet.
Be convenient and make sure people know you exist, have a launch or re-launch. Offer multiple ways to access your offer e.g. mail order; ecommerce; afterhours and weekend opening; trial offers; pre-orders notifications; telephone bookings; delivery; parking for visitors and the list goes on…
Make it easy to buy from you. Provide your clients with payment options to incentivise the purchase and become a closer match to the preferred buying pattern/choice of the consumer.
Try new things and be relevant to the desired audience. Sometimes the most unusual tactics get the desired results but you may need to go through a variety before identifying what works for you.
Select a high traffic location. It sounds obvious but location is king. However the costs can be prohibitive so a creative approach may be needed. For example: a collaborative relationship with other businesses to co-habit a particularly well located shop (temporarily, permanently or even mobile) to retail complimentary products or services, spreading the risk/costs and direct people to your main outlet.
and finally ……
Learn from the best and gain some ideas. You do not need to reinvent the wheel or innovate to succeed. For example, supermarkets and department stores often make use of smell or organics to motivate purchase by triggering a positive emotional reaction. This is done by placing the fruit and veg on entry in a supermarket or perfume and cosmetics stalls near entry doorways in a department store.
Written by Fardad Amirsaeedi, NBV Enterprise Solutions
5th October, 2015 No Comments
It is a dream to be perfect, where the sales are consistent, predictable, customers are pleasant and offer endless amounts of praise for your service/products and your working environment is a joy. Unfortunately there are a few points in every individual’s perfection list which are hard if not impossible to achieve, especially all at once.
Being perfect is subjective, fraught with complexities and challenges which can include difficult personal circumstances, unrealistic set of expectations, poor understanding of the market place, insufficient knowledge of the demand for your work, incomplete assessment of your competitors and a poorly judged pricing policy.
So what can we do about it? Well, being perfect is actually not a very helpful way to gauge business success so let’s turn it into something more business-like as a more practical way to measure it e.g. becoming profitable, resource efficient, gaining a high level of customer satisfaction and a workspace that is fit for purpose.
Becoming a Profitable Business
Usually being profitable means achieving financial gain. This remains true but it is not the full picture. Being profitable can also be measured by broader factors which contribute to feeling successful and happy, these can include achieving emotional satisfaction, improving brand worth, doing social good or achieving intellectual growth. There are also many other indicators which can be seen as gain. These additional indicators can be vital for some people e.g. who have given up on a corporate life to be self-employed or may have been looking for a more rewarding outcome, maybe looking for a balanced lifestyle, achieve their potential or simply to make more money . Measuring profitability properly is key if you hope to achieve perfection and know when you have achieved it. So start by making your own list.
Achieve Resource Efficiency
Yes, resource efficiency. It sounds very serious and probably more appropriate if you were a manufacturing business or big business. Nothing could be further from the truth. Managing and being careful with your resources could make all the difference in achieving business success. Let me explain. If you are unable to charge more for your work or talent because the market place will not pay more, then a significant factor which can help is to keep your resource costs down so you can afford to offer your goods and services in a commercially viable manner. This means ensuring your suppliers are competitively priced themselves and that your use of the supplies is fit for purpose. Clever management of resources or staff goes a long way to achieving profitability and a step closer to your ideal.
Keeping your customers satisfied
As a business you will have to have customers and as such they will wish to be kept happy. I am stating the obvious, however this is something which can be extremely difficult to consistently achieve. Being nearly perfect for most is the best they will ever achieve and they should not feel bad about it as long as a serious attempt is made to do well.
So what is customer satisfaction? Simply put; it is how well you have helped your customer as they journey through your business. It is NOT just related to the purchase/s made. This can include; the manner which customers were engaged, your ability to listen and understand and answer queries, your sincerity and honesty when engaging with you, your knowledge of the topic and product or service, speed which you resolve issues or respond, efficiency of purchasing and delivery or transaction. These may vary from business to business but are the usual suspects. It is important to know what your customers think of you because it is the easiest and cheapest way to improve your business, increase profitability and a total winner for a sustainable business.
Happiness within the workspace
How important is it to be happy in the workplace anyway? Stupid question, it is crucial obviously. However not many achieve it. As an employed person it is a trade-off for a regular and reliable pay cheque which for many is an acceptable reality. Being unsatisfied with the workplace is also one of the top reasons people become self-employed with a view of being in greater control. But all too often this is also compromised by the sentiment that it is the price you pay for doing what you love, but it doesn’t have to be.
So what do we mean by a workspace? It is the place you spend much of your life. It needs to meet your needs but must also meet your customer s needs.
If you are home based then it is important to be physically comfortable, have access to necessary resources and a space you can be productive in. If in commercial premises then the above applies with the addition of being accessible to visitors or deliveries, have a good location to attract footfall if retail, manufacturing or distribution and ensure you are legally compliant e.g. health and safety and insurance. You must have suitable facilities for staff and visitors, styling that has curb appeal and achieves a pleasant client experience and affordable.
If you/ your staff are happy then it will have a positive impact on productivity and quality of output. If your clients are happy it will have a positive impact on your sales, profitability and customer satisfaction. Your workspace needs should be planned carefully and well in advance.
With these actions you are well on your way towards being the perfect business you deserve to be.
Written by Fardad Amirsaeedi, NBV Enterprise Solutions
Starting your business can seem daunting and this article opens the way to understanding the features, benefits and the process. You can access further support for more in-depth information; training and personalised consultation by contacting the Cavendish Consortium partner covering your region.
3rd June, 2015 No Comments
The making of a business begins with getting the recipe for success right and in the correct measure. In the set-up stages of making an omelette you need to plan the meal, ensure you have all the ingredients, the quantities required and know the order in which they should be mixed and cooked. Starting a business works in the same way which also requires a similar plan of action and in many cases supported with advice from someone more experienced who can help to avoid the newbie pitfalls.
1 The recipe
The first thing to consider is the formula for your particular business omelette and if it has been done before. If it has, the information gained can be invaluable to help refine your recipe and speed up your version.
If your omelette is unique or sprinkled with your particular style of creativity then you will greatly benefit from testing the market and seek consumer opinion of your product or service recipe, solicit opinion, gauge reactions and even offer samples for consumption in order to get the most reliable results before using your expensive ingredients and valuable time in the exercise.
With the evidence and confidence of market demand you will be ready to document the perfect recipe and execute the grand master plan.
2 Good dose of operational management
Off course to make a great omelette you need the necessary tools and resources in order to produce the business delights we now know people want. This will include having good suppliers that offer ingredients that are affordable, that you have the necessary people, skills, equipment and premises to achieve the scale and quality of craft or service you are aiming to deliver.
3 Liberal shot of sales & marketing
Now that you have produced your lovely new omelette you will need to spread the word as liberally as possible and make sure the people who will potentially buy your omelette become aware of how wonderful it is and that it is worth every penny. The variety of promotional tools and methods at your disposal are vast e.g. social media, internet, leaflets, advertising, word of mouth, recommendations etc. This is a good time to look at similar successful businesses or people again and see how they have done it successfully. Also to critically review your own skill levels, the need for further training and tap into available advice & professional support.
4 Level cup of budget control
It is great that you are now selling lots of omelettes at the standard your customers expect and is accessible when they become peckish. Hopefully the potentially award winning recipe is costing you a lot less to produce than it is selling for. If not, something is going wrong.
To head off any problems and loss of control of your finances it is a good idea to have a clear and organised system for keeping track of your expenses and accurate records of income stream to avoid cash flow problems. This should help you to stay in profit, legally compliant and most importantly in control of your budget.
5 How to start your business?
Starting your business omelette doesn’t always come with a recipe for success and this article opens the way to understanding the benefits of planning yours. You can also access further support for more in-depth information; training and most importantly 1-2-1 consultations with a business adviser who will help you to get the mix right when starting your own business.
Written by Fardad Amirsaeedi, NBV Enterprise Solutions
15th January, 2015 No Comments
Through the Ready for Business programme, many budding new entrepreneurs are making their dreams a reality and starting their own business. Maria Harris from Chesterfield is one such entrepreneur, who started her business with the help of NBV Enterprise Solutions Ltd (NBV), based in the East Midlands.
Maria has a background in music retail, working for big names like Beggars Banquet and Virgin Retail, plus a degree in Radio, Film & Television Studies, and made the decision to play her part in the vinyl revolution by setting up Tallbird Records.
Maria explained “I started my own business because, quite frankly, I was a bored housewife who had a dream of owning and running a record shop.” This led to Maria doing some internet research on setting up a business, where she found NBV. “I only attended a one-day seminar about starting a business, but it was there that I was introduced to my NBV Business Adviser, Anna Sywyj, who became such a support to me” said Maria. “She was the one person I could discuss my business planning concerns with; she was also someone to kick ideas around with and an invaluable source of advice about the logistics of starting a new business.”
Maria opened her shop in October 2013.
“My claim to fame is that Tallbird Records is currently the only record shop in Chesterfield!”
“I’m proud to offer a great range of products, alongside first-rate customer service. I also make a profit, which of course is the really important bit!”
There have of course been the inevitable highs and lows to navigate. Maria said “The high point of opening the business for me has been the incredible positivity and genuine warmth from those who have visited the shop, some of whom have become regular customers. I have had days when my takings have been down, but on the whole, there have been many more highs than lows.”
NBV Business Adviser, Anna, added, “Maria had a sound business plan when we met; she just needed a steer in the right direction. She has now developed a successful enterprise, which is based on her passion for music. It has been such a joy to see her confidence grow as a direct result of opening and growing her business. When you visit the shop, it’s clear to see that customers really value Maria’s knowledge and the excellent customer service that she provides. I am also really pleased that the business is exceeding its initial financial projections. Maria has adapted and tweaked the business to meet the demands of her record-buying public; she’s also added to her new product ranges to ensure she stays one step ahead of the game.”
The future is bright for Maria and Tallbird Records. Summarising her experience of Ready for Business with NBV, Maria concluded “I would advise anyone wanting to move on from business start-up, to contact NBV and make the most of the services and support on offer. I’ve just taken on a part time member of staff and am looking forward to offering the same great service, on a slightly grander scale. I’m also exploring setting up an online shop, further marketing of the business and long-term, even a move to slightly larger premises. My turnover is also growing; who knows where I’ll be in another year’s time!”
If you would like to follow in Maria’s footsteps and start your own business, contact your local enterprise agency within the Cavendish Consortium partnership.