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If you have ever looked for online advice about life as an entrepreneur, you will have noticed a trend— almost all of the advice tells you what you should be doing. You can find endless articles about managing your time more efficiently; learning to pitch to clients; expanding into new markets… and so on and so forth.

However, what about the things you shouldn’t do? It’s all well and good to know what you should be doing, but sometimes, you need to know the things you avoid; the things that you absolutely need to stop doing.

So, let’s dig into those right now; the behaviours, habits, and ways of doing business that all entrepreneurs should stop doing as soon as possible…

#1 – Taking your work home with you

As an entrepreneur, you’re likely far more committed to your business than you were ever committed to any standard job you performed. However, that doesn’t mean you should completely sacrifice your independence and your downtime. Taking work home with you — or continuing to work outside of normal business hours, if you work from home — is guaranteed to raise your stress levels and could potentially even edge you towards burnout. It’s fine to do this on occasion, when you’re working on a big project or to a tight deadline, but don’t let it become a habit.

#2 – Performing non-essential tasks yourself

Replying to customer emails; dealing with enquiries from potential B2B partners; going through order details; constantly updating your schedule… these kinds of administrative tasks will truly clog your schedule as an entrepreneur. As soon as you possibly can, hire yourself a PA to take care of these kinds of tasks for you, or hire a virtual assistant who works out of virtual headquarters to support you. Your mind needs to be focused on achieving all you can with your business, so outsource the management of admin tasks as soon as your budget allows you to do so.

#3 – Comparing yourself to your competitors

You have probably heard the saying that comparison is the thief of joy, and this is particularly true when you’re an entrepreneur. While you cannot ignore what your competitors are doing — you have to keep an eye on your competition for the good of your business, after all — you shouldn’t spend too much of your time on this task. If you start to compare your own business to your competitors, then you run a very real risk of become disenchanted with your own efforts.

So don’t do that to yourself. Check in with your competitors, but then move on, and focus on your own business. Constant comparison is not beneficial, nor is it necessary, so don’t fall into a trap of endless, unfavourable comparisons.

#4 – Neglecting your mental and physical health

Struggling with a mental health problem such as anxiety or depression is relatively common for entrepreneurs, while many business owners work so hard they neglect their own physical health. While it’s great that you are focused and dedicated to improving your business and meet your entrepreneurial dreams, there’s little point in doing so if you’re not going to be well enough to enjoy your success.

We touched a little on how to prevent burnout in the first point of this post, but realistically, avoiding burnout is the bare minimum you should be doing to protect your health. Make sure you take time off from your business every so often, and fill your working week with time that is specifically set aside for self-care. You might want to work hard, but you have to see that hard work must be balanced with taking care of yourself— if it isn’t, you run the risk of working so hard, you eventually can’t actually work at all.

#5 – Focusing too far in the future

Of course, entrepreneurs have to focus on the future in some regards. You have to be able to see what might happen in your industry, and to plan effectively for the potential for business growth.

However, looking into the future constantly is a bad idea. Sometimes, you need to draw your focus back to the present; to the here and now that is influencing the everyday running of your business. Having plans for the future is good — essential, in fact — but not to the point where it distracts you from what’s happening in the present.

In conclusion

By ensuring you stop doing the five things as listed above, your life as an entrepreneur — and the success of your business — should be able to flourish.

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In case you have just started a business and would like to get the word out about what you have to offer and how it can benefit customers, you might want to get creative and start planning your branding campaign carefully. From raising awareness about your company and offers to allowing your potential customers to interact with you, there are plenty of ways you can start connecting with your market. Find out more below.

Branded Clothing

You have to present your logo and main messages in every channel. This means that you and your employees might want to wear clothing that displays your logo and your headline. If you have a company car or van, you might also get it branded, so people know that you are there. Make sure that you choose a slogan that sticks and display all the important information, such as website address, physical address, email, and phone number.

Gifts

Sending out corporate gifts can also be a successful way of branding your new company. You will have to find some creative ideas that will represent your business or industry, and will be used by your potential customers. Check out www.fancyinc.co.za for some great ideas for corporate gifts, including pens, calendars, and other items that will help you brand your company.

YouTube

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If you already have a brand but it doesn’t stand out, you will have to do more than sending out some leaflets. To overhaul a bland brand, you could create your own YouTube channel and create videos for your potential customers. Intro videos are great to communicate what your brand is about and what your unique selling proposition is. Branding videos or “behind-the-scene” funny content can go viral and get shared hundreds of times, giving you free exposure in your local community.

Social Media

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No business can survive today’s competitive market conditions without using social media for branding. As a minimum, you will have to create a business page on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter. However, if you are in the creative business, you might want to take advantage of Instagram and Pinterest marketing as well. Video and image content and straight-to-the-point messages will do better than long-winded content on social media.

Review Sites

To boost your reputation and image, you will need to be present on more than one social media sites and review sites. To make people trust you, it is important that you allow them to find out more about how you work and what other people think about your product or services. Whenever you get a new customer, ask them for a feedback, and get them to vote for you. A five-star review on a local business directory can increase your brand’s exposure.

New companies often struggle with creating a buzz about their brand. Today, thanks to social media, it is possible to get the message out without having a huge branding budget. Create a powerful message, and use every channel available to connect with your target market on a personal level.

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As I previously blogged, coming up with a great business name is not easy. Especially now that we have to deal with other businesses from around the world that might be using the name. With the Internet, we need to think globally instead of locally.

I followed up my originally blog aeticle with a 9-point checklist of branding blunders you want to avoid when choosing a business name. It was published on the Internet’s #1 domain registrar, GoDaddy.com.

GoDaddy.com is a great resource for checking and buying domain names (URLs) for your company’s online presence. I’ll blog about that soon, how you need to protect your online corporate identity and branding, but for now, let’s stick to avoiding the most common mistakes to finding a great business name!

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As I previously blogged, coming up with a great business name is not easy. Especially now that we have to deal with other businesses from around the world that might be using the name. With the Internet, we need to think globally instead of locally.

I followed up my originally blog aeticle with a 9-point checklist of branding blunders you want to avoid when choosing a business name. It was published on the Internet’s #1 domain registrar, GoDaddy.com.

GoDaddy.com is a great resource for checking and buying domain names (URLs) for your company’s online presence. I’ll blog about that soon, how you need to protect your online corporate identity and branding, but for now, let’s stick to avoiding the most common mistakes to finding a great business name!

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If you are a subscriber to this blog, you know that I have covered how to go from Bland To Brand by creating A Persona That Precedes You with ample real case studies and successful amples.

I just recently published an extensive article on the Internet’s #1 registrar GoDaddy.com. GoDaddy is a great service I have used right from the very early days of the Internet, more than 20 years ago.

Click on the URL -> to learn how to come up with business naming ideas that stick!

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‘Customisation’ is a word that gets used a lot in businesses of today. It almost feels like every company is trying to find as many ways as possible to customise themselves. There’s custom this and custom that, but why is this idea so important for business success?

In many ways, it’s the key to setting up a successful business. When you off customised experiences, you’re tailoring them for your customers. People can choose specific things based on their needs, and this leads to increased customer happiness. Everyone ends up with exactly what they wanted, not the same thing as a load of other people. Not only that, but customisation can help you and your employees as well. In reality, the best way to illustrate all the benefits of customisation is to talk about some of the main areas of your company you should customise, and the effect this has.

Let consumers decide what they want. Image

Custom Services

Firstly, we start off with something that’s already been mentioned; custom services. By offering a service that’s fully customisable, your customers have greater control over what they purchase. You don’t need to be an expert to figure out that this is a highly positive thing. Customers like being in control as it helps them know they’re making a good decision. No one enjoys spending money that they end up regretting. Immediately, you build trust with your customers because you give them the ability to take control. Furthermore, the chances of someone being dissatisfied are now lower than before. After all, if someone has customised a service to suit their needs, then it generally means they’ve got what they want. You’ll deal with fewer issues, fewer refunds, and complete more sales.

Use software that’s tailormade for your business. Credit

Custom Software

Stepping inside your company, and you’ll undoubtedly have ways of doing your general work. Orders have to be logged somewhere, employees have to be managed, and finances need to be worked out. Now, you can make life easier for yourself if you create custom software for some of these processes. All you need to do is find the best software development companies around, and talk to them about your idea. With custom software, you can use something that’s specifically designed for your company, and your company only. This has a massive impact on how your employees work, as they use something that’s tailormade. With a lot of business software, you end up with a big package of things that you rarely use. You might only need one feature, and the rest is there as a distraction. When you have custom software, it’s all relevant, and should be easier to use. As a result, you can boost productivity and improve your work output.

Make your business stand out with a unique website design. Source

Custom Website

Everyone knows how important a website is for businesses these days. It forms the basis of your whole online marketing strategy. However, there are different approaches to website design and development. You’ll find website building tools online that offer a quick way of creating your business site. Many companies choose this route because it’s cheap, provides a professional looking site, and doesn’t take a long time. But, there’s one major downside; your website can look very similar to other sites. It may have the same template, use similar design elements, and so on. This is one of the reasons I believe a custom website is the better option for businesses. With a custom site, you automatically set your company apart from everyone else. You use a unique design that doesn’t copy other templates, and this helps strengthen your brand. There’ll be no confusion between your site and similar business websites. Everyone will know the site belongs to you! As well as this, you can customise every element of the site to properly reflect your brand values. No stone is left unturned, and you can full align your site with your brand.

In summary; every business should try and offer a service that’s customisable in some way. Even if you sell products on an online store, you can offer custom delivery slots or a choice to customise designs, etc. Alongside this, your business needs to use custom software to help speed up processes and streamline your work. Finally, a custom website is beneficial when it comes to solidifying your brand and standing out from the rest.

When you combine all of the benefits of customisation, you start to see how great it truly is for your company. You end up with happier customers, employees that can do their work to a higher standard, and a thriving brand that people will recognise. So, if you run a business and are looking for new ways of improving your success, then think about customising certain elements of it.

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The trouble with any business is that people only see the window dressing. If you run a restaurant for example, they only see the pristine table cloth, the napkins and the glittering silverware. They don’t see the turmoil going on in the kitchen, the care attention and effort that goes into each and every dish or the years of hard work and personal sacrifice from all parties that went into making the business what it is today. A good business is like a swan. It must be elegant, graceful and beautiful on the surface while a striving mass of activity beneath the surface. The trouble is that even the most elegant of swans can flounder every once in a while, or encounter something above the surface that ruffles its feathers.

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If you own a small business, you know that your reputation is everything. It’s what brings customers to your establishment rather than your competitors and what keeps them coming back to you again and again at the expense of all others. Every day in business, entrepreneurs face challenges that can damage their reputation from disgruntled customers to angry ex employees to tardy suppliers. If you’re to effectively manage your reputation, especially in your early years when your small business is vulnerable, you need to be proactive and assemble the infrastructure that will enable your business to keep its head held high at all times.

Lawyer up!

It’s important that your legal interests are protected should someone make a claim against your business. This will help to settle matters quickly and decisively without impinging on your business’ reputation. Thus you should have numerous attorneys on standby to protect your business in the key areas in which they often find themselves vulnerable. These include asn employee law firm like Ogletree Deakins, a business transaction lawyer and a tax attorney. By investing in the right legal representation you are well placed to protect your business’ reputation.

Always be training

Outstanding customer service is the key to ensuring that your reputation isn’t damaged by angry tirades from disgruntled customers on social media. While you can mitigate the damage caused by this (which we’ll get into shortly) your first line of defence is your customer facing employees. As such you need to invest in regular training and incentivize outstanding customer service with challenges, competitions and rewards.

Keep that cash flow healthy

Nothing will derail your business more than insufficient stock or cracks in the veneer of our physical store that just scream “underinvestment”. As such you need to ensure that your business maintains a healthy cash flow so that you can pay your debtors on time and ensure that you never experience lapses in normal service. Of course this is easier said than done but here are some pointers on maintaining healthy cash flow.

Be responsive and decisive on social media

Social media is a great tool for consumers to hold businesses accountable to them, but it’s important to manage interactions with customers on social media effectively. Ensure that someone is responsible for monitoring social media platforms for comments that could be damaging to your reputation. Deal with them openly and responsively on those platforms and demonstrate your willingness to make things right. Most customers can be turned around if you give them a platform to let you know what you can do to repair that relationship.

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Starting a restaurant is one of the most popular business ideas for budding entrepreneurs, but it is also a field in which it is very difficult to make a profit. You need to have a watertight business model, put in a lot of hard work, and have food that gets people talking about you. Don’t expect to be an instant success as it takes a long time to build up the reputation that you are looking for. However, once you establish yourself in the restaurant sector, it is an area that provides rewards both financial and professional. Here are just a few rules for restaurant success that you can follow yourself.

Stand Out from the Crowd

There are so many restaurants out there these days that you can’t expect to go down the middle of the road, open a generic eatery and get the attention that you are looking for. Instead, you need to aim to create a place that gets people talking. Just like starting any other kind of business, ask what your unique selling point is. Perhaps you are offering a new take on some already established classics. Maybe you are simply serving up some hearty favourites using high-quality local produce. And as well as the food itself, the decor and atmosphere will play a part in the overall impression that you leave your customers with. On top of all this, you also need to put a lot of thought into the branding and marketing. As you can see, there is an awful lot to think about!

Choose Your Location Wisely

Once you have the idea for your restaurant firmly in mind, the next thing which you need to consider closely is the location. Obviously, a place with high foot traffic will allow people to stop and come into your restaurant when they are passing by. However, the price of renting the premises will be higher and you are unlikely to be able to offer parking spots for people coming from further afield. Choose a place outside of the city and you are going to have to work much harder to build a reputation for yourself, but it is likely to be cheaper and you will probably be able to offer parking.

Refine Your Menu

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You are much more likely to achieve success by carving out a particularly niche for yourself rather than trying to please everybody with your menu. Concentrate on doing a limited number of dishes with skill and panache. Customers tend to get overwhelmed when they see a huge menu, and it is also assumed that you can’t possibly do all those dishes fantastically well. When you are trying to stock so many different ingredients, it also becomes extremely difficult to stock fresh ingredients, so you are left cooking food which turns out to the sub-par.

Consider the Layout

Obviously, the more people you serve, the bigger the profit that you will be able to make. But that doesn’t mean that you should just pack as many chairs into the space as you can. Perhaps you are aiming for the kind of big communal atmosphere that you get in German beer halls, but if you are looking to create something that offers a sense of intimacy, you need to think about spacing the tables out properly so people can enjoy their meals with the people who they came with.

Customer Service is Everything

In today’s world of Tripadvisor, Google and the like, a few bad reviews can seriously damage the reputation of your restaurant. And one of the biggest things that people complain about is poor service. So, when you are hiring staff, you need to ensure that they understand the importance of treating customers well. As well as the food, people go to restaurants for the overall experience. If there are any issues, try your best to deal with these at the time in a polite and friendly way. The last thing that you need is for your reputation to suffer online because of something which could have been dealt with at the restaurant.

Plan Out the Logistical Details

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You need to be rigidly organised when you are looking to open your own restaurant, and you should write everything down to ensure that you don’t forget about anything. Just some of the obviously considerations include furniture, decoration, croquery, uniforms, and signage. And then you have the details of partner companies and suppliers that you will be working alongside to provide a full service delivery. These include your food and beverage options as well as waste disposal such as Instant Waste Management professional grease trap services. The more planning you put into the details both big and small, the more likely it will be that you will make a success of your restaurant.

Generate Some Attention

You can’t expect people to simply turn up at your restaurant without generating a buzz about the place. So, you need to ensure that all your traditional marketing activities are done thoroughly. Create and hand out flyers, advertise in the local press etc. But since so much is done online these days, you don’t want to miss out on building a website, creating social media profiles and building up an email marketing list. And once you have that initial excitement, you need to keep this going by hosting events, tying your restaurant in with special occasion, and offering specific promotions. You also need to be attracting attention from online community by inviting bloggers along to build up some attention etc.

As we mentioned at the start, launching a restaurant is always going to be packed with difficulties and a huge number don’t end up keeping their doors open for a long period of time. However, hopefully, this article provides you with some of the basics to give yourself the best chance of achieving the success that you are looking for.

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You’ve been researching and planning everything for months, and are finally ready to launch your business. You’ve got a fantastic product or service that your market research has shown people are willing to buy. You’ve got a smart looking app and website set up, and have hired a fantastic workforce. Everything is perfect and you’re ready to go. But have you made the right decisions when it comes to your office? So much more than just four walls, your office space can be crucial to the success of your business. This is where you and your employees will be spending a huge portion of your day, it’s where customers and clients will visit and gain and impression of your business. When it’s done well, it can help you secure more deals and create a happier and more motivated workforce. Here are some of the things that you need to consider when it comes to your office.

Image from Pexels

The Right Location For Easy Access and Lower Crime Rates

Before considering the building or office itself, you first need to think about the location. A central location is good for many businesses, it’s easy access for customers, clients and employees. However renting or buying in a town or city centre doesn’t come cheap, and so for certain businesses you might be better off going a little further out- especially if you don’t rely on foot traffic to make sales. Just make sure there are good transport links, and that employees who don’t have a car are able to get to the office using public transport. Choosing a secure, well lit location will also help to reduce your chances of being targeted by physical crime. Burglars like office blocks as they’re usually empty after 6pm and contain lots of expensive equipment such as computers, printers and other tech that’s easily sold on. If you’re on a low floor or the ground floor, sliding window shutters can be useful. These can be slid open during the day so it doesn’t feel like you’re working from a prison! Using a safe that’s securely bolted down is another thing implement in your office, although ideally you will have regular cash collections and will never have too much kept on site. Of course you still have to be wary of cyber criminals, which is why it’s worth using a business records management company. That way your records are stored in a secure, off-site location so they’re not vulnerable to criminals, fire or floods. But in terms of your office, it’s important to keep it as secure as possible, and choosing the right location from the get-go can help with this.

A Nice Aesthetic to Make Employees Happier and More Productive

A pleasant aesthetic in the office will benefit both your employees and clients. First of all, providing employees a spacious and calming environment to work from can help to boost productivity and even job satisfaction. Spending eight hours a day sitting in a dingy, old-fashioned and grubby office is never going to allow anyone to do their best work. Even if you’re renting an office, you will be allowed to change and refresh the decor. Go with light, neutral walls to make the space feel bigger and brighter. Ideally, choose an office with large windows since daylight is a natural mood booster, and according to psychologists can promote productivity in the workplace.

Good Quality Equipment to do Tasks Efficiently

There are lots of fantastic business equipment and software out there these days that companies can take advantage of to make their lives easier. Investing in good equipment and technology in your office could mean the difference between success and failure. Modern tech allows you save money since you need to hire fewer workers, with the employees you do have being put to their best use. No need for a human to sit doing manual, tedious work that takes hours when a computer can do it in seconds. There are all kinds of incredible softwares out there these days which allow you to automate areas of your business as well as save time. From accounting software to keep on top of your books, to presentation software to customer relationship management software and much more. In terms of physical items in the office, high quality storage solutions, desks and chairs are also essential on a practical level as well as keeping employees comfortable. Decent chairs which offer proper pelvic and lumbar support will prevent pain and injury. These kinds of strains could lead to decreased productivity or even lead to time being taken off sick.

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When you launch a small business, you can’t possibly expect to know everything. Of course, there is plenty that you can learn over time, but there are some things that are worth getting expert consultation on. There are plenty of agencies out there which you could outsource service to or firms that you could get on board with your company. Here is a list of a few of the most important areas of expertise that businesses need to obtain.

Accounting and Finance

A startling percentage of small businesses are trying to deal with payroll all by themselves. But if you outsource this service or employ someone to handle it for you, you are actually likely to decrease your costs and increase your tax compliance. If you make any mistakes yourself, these could end up being costly for your business in more ways than one, so why take risks when you don’t need to?

Legal Matters

There are all sorts of legal matters involved in running a business, and it is always worth enlisting the support of a professional team such as Ogletree. Staying compliant with the law protects your business from getting sued or battling with employers or other companies, and since it is such a complicated area, it is always going to be worth getting expert advice.

Information Technology (IT)

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All sorts of businesses need to rely heavily on technology these days, and if anything goes wrong, it can be extremely time-consuming and frustrating trying to solve the problem yourself. Having an IT team on hand gives you the peace of mind that you always have someone to call in case anything should go wrong – and when it comes to technology, it is bound to at some point down the line.

Marketing

Without proper marketing, you will struggle to keep attracting new customers and retaining the ones that you have. When you are first starting out, you may find that your budget doesn’t stretch to hiring a member of staff full-time, and you instead prefer to outsource this service. There are all sorts of marketing agencies out there depending on what area you would like to focus on (social media, print etc) as well as the specific company that you are running.

Logistics

As your business starts to grow and develop, all sorts of logistical challenges will start to present themselves. Perhaps you are looking to upscale your operation or move to a new office. There are plenty of business consultants out there who can give you advice on the best way to do this without jeopardising the company that you have worked so hard to build up.

Business is difficult when you try to do everything all by yourself, and though you may be on a limited budget, these are just some of the areas of expertise that it may be worth paying for. Work out what is most valuable to your business based on your individual needs and go from here.

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