4 mistakes to avoid when starting a business

Owning and running a company is one of the most difficult tasks you can undertake in life. Besides stumbling and falling along the way, usually due to a range of factors beyond your control, there is one aspect that can ensure the company fails: you.

Firstly, you will never get everything right the first time, and that needs to be taken into account. Secondly, by not listening to others and only relying on yourself, you can very well doom the company. This isn’t the case for each and every business person, but it’s still a large possibility.

Below are a few points you should consider when starting your company, and if you’re already incorporating them, into how your business is run.

Not listening to your customers

Your product may be the greatest invention ever, with the perfect price-point, and enough functionality to keep any user satisfied. Well, that’s what you may think. In truth, customers have a range of individual needs when it comes to products. It’s true that consumers don’t always know what they want out of a product, though listening to them will help.

If customers are happy or unsatisfied with a product, they will often speak up about it. Though this may not be directly to your company and you may need to comb social media channels. Regardless, taking note of concerns and praises will help to develop your product and improve its overall quality, such as including additional features, or streamlining the way it is developed.

Doing everything on your own

Starting a business can be an expensive endeavour, whether you’re looking at asset finance solutions, or raising the money yourself. This means you’ll want to run a company that is as lean as possible, which in turn means you’ll be doing a lot of, if not all of, the work yourself. You may think this is the right way, but it’s not, and will lead to a range of problems.

Besides leading to fatigue and sickness from being overworked, running the business on your own is not an ideal solution. When you can, begin employing staff even if it’s at a slower than ideal rate. These employees will be able to handle menial tasks that take up too much of your time, which enables you to focus on the core of the business. Companies that have staff also give off a better image than a one-man/woman operation as it shows the entity is successful

Being too tight with cash

In following on from the previous point, while bootstrapping and running a lean startup can lead to a better business, being too cautious with money can lead to its own set of problems. Certain business assets, such as staff and machinery, are expensive, but not having the tools you need will slow down your business venture.

For example, you won’t need to have a full-time on-site accountant to manage the business finances, but at least outsource that function to another company. Doing it yourself when you’re too busy will lead to costly mistakes. The same goes for having a personal assistant, when virtual assistants will also suffice, depending on your needs.

If you have a delivery company and the vehicles need to be serviced, make sure it’s done. In doing so, you will not put your staff of vehicles at risk of breakdowns.

Pretending to know everything

There’s no harm in asking for help, whether you’re picking the brain of an employee or a third party for your company. You’re not going to know each and every detail of any business or the industry you are in and that’s okay. There are those who will pretend to know everything about every decision in order to not seem foolish, which follows along the “fake it until you break it” mentality.

In reality, faking knowledge can be very dangerous for your company. This could lead to hiring the wrong person for a position, taking on the wrong partners, investing in a marketing campaign that isn’t ideal for you, as well as the mismanagement of money. You could soon see the company around you crumble away.

One way around this is to hold regular brainstorming meetings with staff and people who you trust. While they may not be part of the company or have deep knowledge of your day-to-day tasks, they can bring some much needed outside voices and suggestions.

To sum everything up, don’t keep to yourself. Make sure that the company has room to grow and that you’re not limiting it with your decisions, otherwise the business may just fail.

How to be a better manager before hiring staff

You may have recently started your own business, or have been promoted to a higher position. One of the biggest challenges you’ll face is managing staff members, those people who help the gears of a company keep churning. As a new manager, what should you know before taking on the role?

There’s a lot more to managing staff than just dishing out work and signing off paychecks or leave. For one, you’re going to have to treat your staff as people and not machines, but besides that, here are a few things to take note of.

Adjustment periods take time

Not all of your staff members will understand the company and its processes when they join, regardless of long they’ve been in ‘the industry’. Each and every new staff member will need time to get used to and understand the products, work environment, and their fellow colleagues.

Typically, employment contracts are carried out for three months while testing if the new hire is right for the company or not. It can take between three to six months for a new employee to adjust to the job, and a further few months to integrate into it. Don’t push this learning period, but rather nurture it.

Training always helps

Be sure to make sure staff receive adequate training in whatever position they’ve been employed, as well as other parts of the company. There’s no use in letting a new employee try to figure out things for themselves when there are a number of processes in place.

If the staff member has shown to be exceptional, be sure to invest in their future, even if it’s just a sales and marketing course. By the company paying for the staff member to study further, it can benefit from the additional knowledge and tertiary education. This gives your team a greater edge in the business world. Be sure to compensate employees accordingly.

Each ‘person’ is actually a person and not a machine

Humans work at their own pace. They are flesh and bone and not cold machines. Be aware of how many hours a staff member is working, and how many hours you expect out of them as well. Very few people can work every single full hour from 8am to 5pm for five days a week.

Encourage staff members to take breaks, chatter, and surf non-work related websites in order to destress themselves. While this may not seem productive, it will go a long way to ensuring they are happy in the company.

Similarly, not all staff members will be eager to work after-hours as they have families and their personal time should be respected. Don’t praise those who work until midnight each morning as it sets unrealistic standards.

Let staff be staff

You may like to work in silence, but not everyone does. Humans need to be able to talk about their lives, what’s going on in the company, as well as joke amongst themselves. Keeping them chained up in absolute silence or under incredibly strict rules won’t get you anywhere.

Those under you may begin to resent the authority, which in turn leads to a less productive workforce. Respect is earned, not given.

You aren’t always right

There’s a good chance you’ve been in ‘the industry’ for a number of years, whether it be financing, agriculture, or retail. Over that time you’ve amassed a wealth of knowledge from the different roles you’ve taken on and the people you’ve dealt with. Thing is, it’s time to accept that you aren’t always right.

When it comes to managing staff members, be sure to always hear out their ideas on long and short-term problems and improvements. Those with an outside perspective may have a different solution to someone who has 10-years’ worth of experience. You don’t know everything and you need to understand that.

Take a chance

The ideal candidate for a junior position may be someone who has a degree and over a decade of work experience, but that’s not realistic. Your fantasy of the perfect employee is a fallacy. Take a chance on someone who is enthusiastic, willing to learn, or is self-taught. This is an age where not everyone can afford to have a tertiary education, and where experience means more than credentials.

Be sure to always be fully aware of your staff and those around you. Putting your nose to the grindstone may be your prerogative, but it may not be theirs.

Is there business potential beyond Facebook and Twitter?

As a small business owner, you’ve probably been told many times that you need to have at least a Facebook page for your company. You probably have a Twitter account as well that’s updated at least once a week. What about all of the other social platforms that are thrown around? Should you really be snapping pics for Instagram or short videos for Snapchat?

There are far more social media platforms out there than you might know about. Hey, MySpace is still around, sort of. Should you even expand beyond the norms and try out some of the lesser known or used platforms in order to expand your business?

Though using these platforms may seem easy, such as sending out funky tweets or captivating Facebook posts, there’s a lot more to it than though. You may want to look at getting into a marketing course to iron out the finer details of reaching your customers.

Below are some of the social media platforms to look out for when marketing your business.

Instagram

Much like WhatsApp, Instagram wasn’t created by Facebook, but the social media giant did purchase them a few years ago. Basically, Instagram is a platform dedicated to images and videos by allowing users to upload their own and share statuses.

According to a 2016 article from Sprout Social, Instagram has over 500-million active users, 1.7 out of 10 hashtags are branded (with #BWM being the most popular), and users engage more on Mondays and Thursdays. Additionally, 65% of the top posts on Instagram feature products.

It seems as though the pic-snapping platform may just be ripe for marketers and advertising. Though, the top brands are all consumers products, such as food, consumer electronics, and cars. This means that B2B businesses may not do as well as their B2C counterparts.

Snapchat

You may consider yourself to be too old for Snapchat, but what about your target audience? With over 158-million daily users and 2.5-billion snaps per day, this may not be a marketing avenue you want to miss out on.

Another platform that’s not quite geared towards B2B companies, it is better suited to consumer-focused brands. The platform can be used for product reveals, launches, and advertising concerts. Be aware that videos on Snapchat aren’t about being corporate, but rather open and honest with the audience, and colourful as well.

Be aware that videos on Snapchat are deleted automatically after a short amount of time, which means you’ll need to constantly be creating content for it.

YouTube

Google’s video platform, and one of the most popular websites on the planet. According to stats, YouTube has a subscriber base of over 1.3-billion users, more than double that of Instagram, and receives over 30-million visitors per day on average.

YouTube is an interesting beast, because your company doesn’t need to be directly involved with marketing your brand. One of the primary ways of advertising on the platform, and in fact several others as well, is to send products you those making videos to review. Of course, you’ll want to send products that you know will do well as bad publicity will be featured as well.

The more traditional way of advertising on YouTube includes having a channel for your business and creating content for it, which you can pay to play before other videos. You’re creating adverts that need to be punchy. Though, the cost of creating professional videos can set you back more than just advertising on Facebook.

There is a current argument around adverts appearing before videos that don’t suit the brand, with many corporates having pulled out of YouTube. The platform has said they are working to fix the problem, which will benefit both users and creators.

LinkedIn

To the general public, LinkedIn is seen as an annoying and uncool version of Facebook, and a platform that will let you know that someone has changed jobs, regardless of where you are. It’s also ripe for the B2B market when it comes to advertising.

While it may have one of the lowest engagement rates per post, users are more likely to click through to a website’s homepage, as well as having over 400-million registered users. Those are some hefty stats for an ‘uncool’ social media platform.

The platform can be considered similar to the likes of Facebook, but has received criticism for a difficult user interface and analytics that aren’t always correct. If you have a B2B product or solution, this may just be the way to go.

Of course, these aren’t the only social media platforms out there with the likes of Google+, Pinterest, and even popular forums available. When it comes to advertising on a platform, it’s about what not only fits your business, but customers as well.

Reasons to break up with your business partner

 

There comes a time in every relationship when you have to make the decision to try and work issues out or break things off with your partner. If the spark has fizzled, every conversation turns into a fight and spending time with them isn’t fun anymore, it may be time to reconsider your relationship. The same goes for your relationship with your business partner.

When you first started out, you may have spent endless hours bouncing ideas off each other, but now it’s hard to spend even two seconds in the same room with them. The relationship may have reached a point of no return and you want to quit because you and your partner are no longer on the same page.

Here are some common reasons people break up with their business partners.

Vision

Two people cannot work together unless they agree on a vision. You and your partner should want to head in the same direction. In the beginning, both of you may have had the same goals on where to take the business, but people change over the course of time. And your partner may want to take another route in terms of the business. If you and your partner have different views on how to run the business and the strategic direction of the company, it may be time to call it quits.  

No respect

If discussions with your partner end up in screaming matches more often than not, it might be time to evaluate your partnership.

When you’re in disagreement with your partner, you shouldn’t raise your voice. Even though you and your partner may not see eye to eye on certain issues, there should always be a level of mutual respect.

Judge, jury and executioner

Sometimes things can get out of hand to the point where you and your business partner end up taking each other to court. It’s better to try to settle outside of court, than spend large sums of money on lawyer fees. Going to court will be time consuming, financially draining and stressful.   

Work harder

They say two is always better than one because they can share in the failures and challenges of the business and come up with solutions together. If one falls down, the other can pick the other one up. But sometimes this isn’t the case. In some partnerships, you only get one partner doing all the work.

If you wear multiple hats in your business, while your partner wears none, it could create friction. In order to have a successful relationship, each person has to contribute. If you’re the only one working and you put in more effort than your partner or you contribute more skills, it may lead to conflict and you may feel taken advantage of. For example, if you put in 65 hours a week while your partner only puts in 30 hours, it could breed resentment.

You could have a talk with your partner to explain how their lack of work ethic is affecting the partnership and tell them that if they don’t pull up their socks, you may quit. Because the whole point of a partnership is to help each other carry the load and make things easier for the both of you.

Trust

Just like in any other relationship, trust is important. If you no longer trust your business partner, it may cause friction. For example, the trust could have been broken because they promised they’d do something but always came up with excuses about why they couldn’t. Your word is your bond and If you can’t depend on your business partner, it could lead to frustration.

Stress

People deal with stress differently. Some people use stress to motivate them to work harder and others crack under pressure. Starting a business can be stressful because there are many ups and downs, and you may feel like you’re on a roller-coaster. If your partner becomes negative and despondent about the business, it may be time to reevaluate your relationship. Attitudes are contagious and if your partner is always stressed out, it may affect your spirit and end up weighing the business down.

Inflated ego

If your partner thinks they’re all that and a bag of chips, you could have a hard time building a long-lasting relationship. There’s a fine line between confidence and arrogance. And if they always have to get their way and can’t compromise, your relationship could be headed for trouble.

Irresponsible

If your partner is irresponsible, this could be detrimental to the business. For example, if they use the company’s money for personal use, you may end up in debt. You could end up seeking means to get corporate finance to fund your business and pay off business debts to keep your company afloat.  

It’s normal to have differences of opinion with your partner and to view the world differently. In fact, your strengths can help cancel out your partner’s weaknesses. But if your partnership is a constant battle, it may be time to throw in the towel.

 

Tips for aspiring entrepreneurs

You may dream of being the next Bill Gates and have a desire to build a thriving, successful business. You’ve visualised your corner office, a fat bank balance, and coming to work at noon. And all that’s left for you to move from being a “wantrepreneur to an “entrepreneur” is making a few bold moves and taking action.

So, to help you out, here are key ways to help you start your business.

Make the move

If you don’t build your dreams someone will end up hiring you to build theirs. Nike’s famous slogan – “Just do it” – may have been based on a murderer’s last words but it should be applied to every wantrepreneur who dreams of making it big but is too scared to take the leap of faith. Life’s a gamble and you’ll never get anywhere or start anything if you don’t take the chance.

Vision and mission

Your business needs to have a vision and mission so you know where you are going as a business. When you’re driving to an unknown destination, you need to enter coordinates in your GPS in order for it to guide you. The same goes for your business. You need to write down your vision so you always have something to refer to and to show you that you’re on the right path.

Reputation

It takes years to build a good reputation and one second to destroy it. Which is why you should make sure you provide quality products and services so your business can have a good reputation. If you provide a product or service which meets customers expectations every time, you’ll be able to gain customer loyalty and your customers might recommend your brand to other people.

When you make a promise to a customer, follow through on it. Otherwise you may lose a customer. And if they rant about your brand on social media, it could damage your reputation. Word of mouth can build or destroy a business. Many people have boycotted products because of a negative reputation, which causes the business to fail and never recovers because of one mistake.

Perseverance

When you read many entrepreneurs stories, it seems like they were an overnight success. But that’s never the case. Blood, sweat and tears usually go into building a successful brand. Entrepreneurs should know the climb to success is filled with obstacles and challenges and the key to succeeding is perseverance.

Target market

Who is your target audience? You need to define who you’ll be targeting your product or service to. For example, if you’re selling pantyhose and your market is women, you need to find out what they like and where they buy it? What do your customers value and what do they desire in a product? Finding out about your target market is important because you’ll be able to create a product which caters to your customer’s needs.

It’s important to find out whether your target market will actually buy your product. Just because you want to sell a product and you think it’s a great idea, that doesn’t mean there’s actually a need. Many companies fail because they don’t do enough market research. It’s important to put yourself in your customer’s shoes and see things from their perspective.

SWOT analysis

You need to do a SWOT analysis on your business in order to be successful. What are your strengths and weaknesses, and what opportunities and threats are you faced with? It‘s important to assess your business and find out aspects which will make you thrive as a business. What can you do better than anyone else? What separates you from the rest and what are the things you can improve on? If you don’t do research, your competitors might.

Word of mouth

You need to make sure the word gets out about your product. If only a few people know about your business, you won’t make a profit. Technology has made it easier for companies to make their brands known. You can use social media to get people talking about your product. Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are great tools to create hype and buzz around your product.

Cut down on costs

When you’re starting your business, you might have a tight budget. So, you need to find ways to cut down on costs. For example leasing a car for business use or buying secondhand equipment could help you keep more money in your pockets. It’s imperative that as a business you save money and eliminate any unnecessary expenditures.

A running your own business isn’t an easy feat and it will take a lot of determination and persistence in order for you to succeed. Understanding your business and market is central to building a successful business.

 

What are the most common types of mining equipment?

Despite a slowdown in some sectors in the mining industry, there are still plenty of well paid jobs on offer. You don’t necessarily have to be an engineer to work in the mining industry, there are opportunities for tradesmen such as electricians, mechanics, miners, machine operators, boilermakers and the list goes on.

If you don’t know how the industry operates, it can turn out to be a dangerous environment in which to work. It’s important to have regular training and an understanding of the machines you’re working with. And the way you operate the machines also plays an important role in all aspects of the industry.

There are different types of mining equipment and each one comes with its own set of mining activities. The most common equipment vary, depending on whether the work is being carried out above or below the ground. Or whether you’re mining for gold, metal and sand. From crushing and grinding equipment, this industry comes with all the right tools.

Are you new to the industry and want to find out what it all means? Here are a few of the most common types of equipment used in the mining industry.

Mining drills

This is one of the most common pieces of mining equipment as it’s an important part of the underground mining operation. Underground mining takes place when rocks or minerals are located at a fair distance beneath the ground. They will have to be brought to the surface. Underground specialised mining equipment such as trucks and diggers are used to dig the material. And it’s usually pulled to the surface with skips or lifts for further processing. Drilling is usually required to place explosive charges to release the minerals from the overburden material. Underground mining operations have progressed over the years and they now make use of remote-controlled machinery.

If miners are required to work underground, drills are also likely to be used to ensure the holes are large enough to serve as a portal for miners to enter.

Blasting tools

Blasting tools are an important part of the mining industry and are used to break down and fracture materials. They’re also used to remove pockets of the unwanted material found with the actual mineral of interest. This tool is used for both underground and open pit mining operations. It’s known to be one of the most dangerous aspects of the job. Good blast designs are essential for mining operations to be successful. Poor practices and excessive explosives could result in damage to rock structures and that can cause unwanted caving.

Earth movers

If you’re mining above the ground, earth movers are utilised to carry loose soil on the ground from one place to another. Earth movers play an important role in the mining industry because the equipment is designed to work on big mining projects for a faster and more practical process. It’s usually used for digging, pushing and transporting the earth. You must have a specific skill set to work with an earth mover if you’re an operator.

Earth movers are heavy mining equipment that the industry would struggle to survive without. And they usually work hand-in-hand with bulldozers. It’s usually used for removing overburden of waste material, which enables the excavators to remove the material of interest. The bulldozers, on the other hand, are used to move this overburden material around to create a working surface for other equipment.

Crushing equipment

This equipment is used to crush rock and stone. It’s designed to achieve maximum productivity and a high reduction rate. Mining crushing equipment comes in a variety of different types for a range of jobs.

This equipment is specially configured to break down hard rocks or gravel to a manageable size for transportation or conveying. It’s a valuable piece of equipment in the industry because it reduces the cost associated with the handling of larger sized material. It also ensures efficient liberation of elements in downstream processing materials. In the case of a strip mining operation, the run of mine material is usually transported to the primary crusher. And in underground mining operations it’s conveyed to the primary crusher. This equipment is important to the mining industry because it reduces the use of precious excavated resources and eliminates the amount of material on the site.

These are just some of the equipment needed in the industry. And it’s important to know how acquire finance for this mining equipment. All these common mining tools are important to the industry and will help to get the job done efficiently and cost effectively.

Is your security system infrastructure in place?

security-265130_960_720Security is not always the first thing new business owners think about. In fact, it’s often the last thing they think of but it’s good plan to have in place from the beginning. When you create your workspace there is a lot of administration to take care of. You’ll need to begin setting up your phone lines, internet connection, choosing your furnishings and having the workspace branded. During this time you should begin considering the various security methods you’d like in place. Of course, these differ depending on where you are based.

 

If you decide to rent an office in a building filled with other companies, the security and internet connection will probably be up and running already. If you decide to find an office that is freestanding then you’ll need to set up these things, and more, yourself. This requires you having many long winded talks with your rental agent or landlord. So if you’re thinking about security but you don’t know where to start then here are the basics you’ll need to consider.

 

CCTV

 

Video surveillance cameras are important. They will protect you against crimes such as theft and vandalism, but they also deter prospecting criminals from even attempting to enter the premises. If you install surveillance cameras then you should invest in a video wall controller and recording system so that you may view activities happening throughout your workspace. It can also help to resolve serious employee conflicts and helps to make employees who are working after hours feel safer.

 

Access control

 

Access control systems should be installed at your entrances and exits. These may be in the form of an access tag system, a fingerprint installation or even a simple turnstile. You need to create safety barriers. Making sure access control systems are situated at entrances, exits and any other sensitive areas in your workspace aso indicates to passersby that your premises is secured.

 

Alarm system

 

Installing an alarm system that is connected to your neighbourhood watch service is an excellent idea. This is one of the best ways to ensure your property is protected from a burglary, a holdup or any other type of unauthorised entry. You can opt for systems that allow you to remotely monitor your premises if necessary. Also when these systems are triggered the neighbourhood watch is immediately notified, which means someone will address the problem within minutes of it occurring.  

 

Fire and safety

 

Being equipped to handle a fire and to save your employees in the event of an accident is extremely important. You need fire alarms installed throughout your workspace to detect smoke the minute it occurs. Smoke inhalation can be fatal and as dangerous as suffering a burn. You must have the alarms monitored by an inspection service. If you happen to store hazardous materials on site then you should consider a hazmat kit that will help you clean up oil, flammables and other dangerous substances.

 

There are many different types of security systems on the market. You need to do your research to find out what’s most suitable to your business. Also, consider your insurance and what they require in terms of security systems – they won’t cover you in the event of a disaster or criminal activity if you don’t have the correct cover in place.

 

4 video game companies with bad business practices

When it comes to video games, there’s no shortage of evil corporations trying to take over the world. From SinTek Industries in SiN to the Armacham Technology Corporation from F.E.A.R. there’s an evil company around just about every corner.

Of course, it’s only a matter of time before these companies either fail due to the protagonist’s actions, or their own misguided business management. Either way, some of them could have benefitted from a bit of corporate finance and a change of direction, or at least some decent PR people.

Here are a few companies that could have benefitted from a loan or two.

Umbrella Corporation (Resident Evil)

Easily one of the most famous companies in all of the gaming, and maybe even horror history. While traditional zombie media, like Zombies Ate My Babysitter or Night of the Living Dead, focussed on the zombie outbreak, Resident Evil looked at the source of these undead outbreaks. Enter the Umbrella Corporation, bent on world domination with their creation of experimental viruses and bioweapons, the company disguised itself as one that sold and researched pharmaceuticals.

Maybe someone on its board of directors should have mentioned that weapons development will only get you so far. After everyone is dead, then what? Rather stick to pharmaceuticals, curing diseases or finding a cure for the hair that grows out of people’s earlobes. After all, the more customers walking around and living, the more profit you can generate with multivitamins and headache pills.

Abstergo Industries (Assassin’s Creed)

Good ‘ol Abstergo Industries is a weird company that almost begs to be taken down a few pegs. Run by the ancient order of Templars, the sworn enemies of the titular Assassins, this business uses special devices to tap into a user’s DNA and relive the lives of their ancestors. Why? Well, to find ancient relics belonging to a long-lost alien civilisation. Convoluted? Yes. But how much competition do they really have in the DNA-to-memory market?

Even though it’s pretty much fringe science, the company takes things one step too far. You see, it publishes games based on those past lives and in the process makes the Assassins look better than the Templars. I don’t know about you, but that just sounds like a very bad business strategy. It may be time for them to return to the startup incubator process, get a few mentors on board and some PR people as well.

Then again, is someone at the developer and publisher of the franchise Ubisoft trying to reach out and tell us something about their business practices?

Shin-Ra Electric Power Company (Final Fantasy VII)

Fossil fuels aren’t sustainable. This is because they’re a finite resource. We know that the world will have to switch over to renewable energy one day. It’s a pity that Shin-Ra doesn’t know this, or at least chooses to ignore it. Sure the company is supplying electricity to the city of Midgar, but it’s literally using the life force of the planet as a source of energy, killing the world in the process.

Come on, Shin-Ra, just invest in a few solar panels and hydroelectricity plants. There’s plenty of open space in the world of Final Fantasy VII, and a lot of waterfalls as well. You can keep gouging the general public for power while maintaining your grip of the planet, but at least try to keep it alive a little while longer. Look at investing in a few AgriTech startups or hiring some professionals when it comes to sustainable energy.

Oh and your super-soldier and cloning projects really aren’t winning over any customers, either.

Vault-Tec Corporation (Fallout)

Never mind corporate finance, Vault-Tec Corporation is funded by the US government. Talk about managing to get around red tape. The company simply exists to build large underground vaults where people can live in case of a nuclear holocaust. In the Fallout universe, that day finally comes when tensions grow between the US and China.

Though their cause may sound noble, ensuring that American citizens live on ever after the world as ended, that wasn’t what the vaults were really built for. In reality, these shelters of humanity were experiments with deliberate design flaws as well as places for immoral procedures to take place, such as creating clones or a vault that would never, ever be opened.

All of this was conducted by a shadowy organisation called The Enclave, which is pretty much taken down in each Fallout game. Someone should have recommended The Enclave they look for additional finance to build the 400 000 shelters they would have needed for the entire US population and not just the 122 experimental vaults.

While we can learn from the mistakes of fictional companies (don’t research zombies), there is some realism to each of these. It’s possible to create companies out of more sustainable businesses without having delusions of grandeur, though you might need a bit of funding or corporate finance to get underway.

Tips on improving your business

Why do some businesses fail and others do exceptionally well? Some would blame it on sheer luck and others would blame it on perseverance. The truth is there are many ingredients needed to build a successful company and you need to analyse all sections of your business to see where you fall short and what you can do to improve it. A business isn’t built in a day. It takes effort, hard work, and trial and error to get a business going.

Here are key ways to improve your business.

Help your customers

Author Alan Weiss was quoted as saying, “Ask your customers to be part of the solution and don’t view them as part of the problem.” Listening to your customers is important in building a successful, thriving business. And you can do this by providing your customers with excellent service.

Your business should offer quality service that differentiates it from competitors. The aim should be to offer what customers want and what would benefit them. Don’t just focus on what you want to sell. One way to provide the best service is to put yourself in the customer’s shoes and try to understand things from their perspective.

A key way to find out what your customers need is to create questionnaires to get direct feedback from the customer about the problems they’ve encountered with your product. The questions you ask shouldn’t be complicated. They should be simple questions that could range from, “How easy was it to buy from us?” to “How happy are you with the purchase?”

The questionnaire shouldn’t be long and hard to figure out. Otherwise, the customer won’t fill it out and will feel that it takes too much effort and time.The main objective is to make sure customer expectations are met.

Goals

Setting goals for your business is important because if you don’t set them, your business is likely to fail. Having clear, well-defined goals will make your business grow and improve teamwork at the same time. The goals should be SMART( specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and timely). Smart goals are associated with Peter Drucker’s management by objectives.

Specific – you should be able to clearly define what goals you want to achieve for your business.

Measurable– you should be able to clearly measure the progress of your goal at the end of a specific period.

Attainable – you should ensure the goals are realistic and attainable. If the goals are impractical, you’ll never be able to achieve them and you’ll waste a lot of money.

Relevant – if the objective isn’t relevant to your customer, it’ll be a failure.

Timely – set a realistic deadline you’ll be able to meet. If the goal is to get new clients for your company, make sure you set a deadline that’ll be attainable.

Know your competition

Social media is a perfect platform to find customer complaints about  products or services offered by your competitor. Customers usually use social media as a place to vent their frustrations. Studying the competition will help you find out who their customers are and you can focus on a whole new demographic.

Find ways to keep costs low

Find ways to cut down on costs. You can buy secondhand equipment, such as smartphones, machinery and office furniture, to keep your expenses low.

You can also lease out equipment instead of buying it. Nowadays anything can be leased. You can lease your company vehicles or computers. This’ll save on costs and you’ll also have the latest model. When you lease assets, you’ll save substantially because your monthly payments will be lower. Sometimes maintenance is included in the lease agreement and this could help you save on future costs. For example, if you own a mining company, you could find it hard to finance machinery because it’s expensive. You could lease your mining equipment to save on costs.

Advertising

Advertising can cost a business a fortune. But technology has made life easier for companies because now they can use social media to advertise their products and be able to reach a huge market in the process.

Clarence Francis once said, “You can buy a person’s time, you can buy their physical presence at a given place, you can even buy a measured number of their skilled muscular motions per hour. But you cannot buy enthusiasm, you cannot buy loyalty… you cannot buy the devotion of hearts, minds or souls. You must earn these.”

And you can earn the loyalty of your customers by providing exceptional service and differentiating yourself from your competitors.

 

How to be the best team leader

Many people dream of managing a team of people one day. And there’ll come a day when you don’t just look after yourself every day. You’ll be hiring a team of people and you’ll have to look after them and keep them happy.

Managing a team of people is one of the most difficult parts of owning your own business. All of those personalities and individual needs can be extremely difficult to manage. Here are some tips on how you can become a better team leader.

Take some time off

As the manager of a team of people, it’s important that you take some time off to keep yourself feeling refreshed and interested in your work. And it’s as important that you encourage your team members to do the same. Because, let’s face it, you team members don’t need to be behind their desks all day, every day. Could you offer flextime? Remember, you’re hiring a team of adults, not children and they can be responsible for managing their own time. If one person is unhappy with their conditions, they’ll start chatting to their colleagues and soon that unhappiness will spread. Says motivational author and blogger Beth Ramsey: “A bad attitude from a chronic complaining employee is like a cancer; it will only spread and infect others. This can take your business down in a nanosecond. You must cut out the cancer and invite them to seek employment elsewhere. Quickly.”

Pay your team members a fair wage

Confucius famously said: “Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.” That’s might have been fine for Confucius but your team members have bills to pay. Make sure they’re paid what they deserve and when you’ve promised to pay them.

Treat them like adults

Remember that your team members are not there just to do exactly what you ask of them. They’re not robots. They have friends and family they need to spend time with. They have homes which need maintenance, groceries which need to be bought, doctor’s appointments which need to be kept and errands which need to be completed. Give them time to complete their tasks and they won’t spend their days at their desks, worried about ticking these items off their to-do-lists. Former Xerox chief executive Anne M. Mulcahy says: “Employees who believe that management is concerned about them as a whole person – not just an employee – are more productive, more satisfied, more fulfilled. Satisfied employees mean satisfied customers, which leads to profitability.” And if your team members tell you they want to go on staff training courses, believe them. Trust that they need and want the training and that it’ll be a good opportunity for them.

Know when to lead and when to step aside

The strongest leaders know they need to give their team members the opportunity to take the lead in their work. This allows them to really learn and push themselves. A good leader will know when it’s time to give their team members space and when to step in and assist. Nelson Mandela, former South African President, said: “It is better to lead from behind and to put others in front, especially when you celebrate victory when nice things occur. You take the front line when there is danger. Then people will appreciate your leadership.”