As a business owner, using social media is vital in helping your business get noticed and be remembered by your customers. Long gone are the days when print, TV and radio advertising was your only option to market your products or services. Nowadays, most people are active on at least one social media platform and it’s your job to reach them. If you’re a total novice at using social media, relax because we’ve written this guide just for you.

Using Social Media to Promote Your Business

Social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn have changed the way businesses can market to their customers. It allows us the opportunity to reach large numbers of people with minimum effort and at a low cost. Social media can help:

  • Build your brand
  • Send traffic to your website
  • Increase your online presence
  • Connect and engage with your target market
  • Make sales
  • Establish your expertise amongst your audience

Are you ready to get started? Let’s go!

How to Get Started Using Social Media

Your first step in using social media for your business is to choose the platforms you are going to be active on. This means finding out where your target audience spending their time. Often this depends on their demographic and interests. In New Zealand, the most popular social media platforms are Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn and Snapchat, so check these ones out first.

Next, establish your business presence on your chosen platforms. It’s best if you are active on a regular basis, so factor the number of accounts you’ll have verses the time it will take you to keep them up to date. Information to include on your account profiles are your business name, website, contact details and a blurb about what your business does.

Your third step is to decide what you want to achieve from social media. Are you using it as a way of engaging with customers, sending them to your website, recruit new staff, create a fan base or build an email list?

Once you know your goals, then your fourth step is to create a plan of how you are going to achieve them. This involves detailing:

  • When will you post?
  • How often will you post?
  • What content will you post?
  • How much time you do have to post?
  • When will you handle comments and messages?

Once you’ve been posting for a while, make sure you take the time to analyse where you had success with and where you need to do some tweaking to meet your goals.

Creating Social Media Content

One of the most common questions business owners ask, is what type of content should they post? Here’s a list of some ideas to get you started:

  • Testimonials
  • Photos of your office and staff
  • Contests
  • Surveys
  • Memes
  • Giveaways
  • Videos
  • Blogs
  • Product reviews
  • Motivational quotes

For more great ideas on using social media, join an active online business networking group! Business Network NZ have both a Facebook networking group, plus a free business directory where you can list your business and receive a great SEO friendly backlink.

Why new businesses fail is a tough question to answer, almost as difficult as explaining why the lucky ones succeed. Every single business is unique, even those in the same industry have different factors effecting their success. The following issues are a few that we have witnessed but you need to critically think about your business, your risks and what your road to success is.

Two Heads are Better Than One

Most successful new businesses have more than one person as a founder. It is almost always better to start a new venture with someone that you trust rather than trying to go it alone. The old adage is correct, two heads really are better than one.

When making the life changing decision to jump into business, most new business owners simply underestimate the sheer volume of work and stress associated with getting a new business off the ground. For many, the stress will likely be too much to handle and even a promising business may fail due to founder fatigue. Having a trusted co-founder will help to spread the work load, offer a sounding board for ideas and help to mitigate a lot of the risks associated with having everything resting on a single persons shoulders.

Location, Location, Location

A business may thrive in one location and fail in another. Not all locations are created equal. Some communities are hubs for new small businesses with lots of local support and a thriving small business community. Other communities aren’t as supportive of new businesses and you will have bigger hurdles to overcome. Picking the right location can help you avoid these hurdles in the first place.

Know your target market and ensure that any location you settle in has a ready and waiting supply of potential customers. Also look out for your competitors locations and take those into consideration. Don’t write off a location because there is a competitor just down the street. If the location is working for them, it will probably work for you too. That is where you want to be and where you will likely have a greater chance at success than completely uncharted territory.

Tiny Target Market

Most new business owners look at an industry they like or see an opportunity in and highlight a niche market in that industry that they think they could serve. One of the biggest mistakes is targeting a niche market that is way too small, especially if you have chosen a niche for no reason other than your competitors aren’t focusing on it. You don’t want to completely avoid any competition, especially not by narrowing your vision too much. You need to accept that competition is a healthy part of being in business and is a major driver of growth and business success. Some of the best business ideas and local success stories in recent memory have come from the most competitive markets.

Originality is Key

It is really hard to come up with a new idea, something that no one has ever though of before. Every new business owner struggles with this and many fall into the trap of imitating the competition. Imitation may be the sincerest form of flattery, but it may be the nail in your business coffin. You competition can be a great source of ideas and inspiration but you should avoid imitation and look to create your own, original business. Focus on what you can offer and how you can serve your target market. By making sure that you are offing something original and not easily or readily imitable, you can increase your chances of success and reduce the likelihood of someone else witnessing your success, imitating you and pushing you out of your own market.

Change is Good

Having a clear business plan and a vision for what you want to create is the foundation for all successful new businesses. However, new business owners that refuse to look critically at their business as it evolves and do not adapt their original plans will likely falter and fail. All new businesses will run into problems and challenges that you haven’t planned for. Your ability to change and adapt to these challenges will be the key to your success. You need to be open to new ideas, responsive to challenges and welcoming of results that may not be exactly what you had in mind when you wrote your business plan at the kitchen table all those months ago.

Invest in Your Staff

If your new business needs more than just the founders to run it, you need to ensure that your staff are up to the challenge. Attracting experienced, qualified staff to a new business can be tricky as there is no guarantee of job security for them. Do not be tempted to hire whoever will take the job in the hope that you can train them up in time. To reduce the stress on you at a time when you have more important things to worry about, it is critical that staff are both experienced and share in or understand your vision and path forward.

Hiring inexperienced staff will only add to your workload and stress. You may need to offer higher remuneration or other incentives to attract experienced staff but if they can manage themselves and know exactly what they are doing, you will be in a much better position and your chances of being successful will increase dramatically.

Don’t Fear Your Launch

Starting up and launching a new business is not easy and can at times be a process filled with fear and apprehension. Most new business owners are afraid of failure from the outset and as a result they want to control every little detail in an attempt to minimize their perceived risks. While this is normal, it can be the root of more, serious problems.

When you start setting up your new business you need to set a timeline to launch and stick to it. Chances are that not everything will be perfect by launch but you need to build momentum and ensure that you launch before people in your target market and location lose interest in your new venture before it has even properly started. A slow or delayed launch can kill your new business before you even open the doors.

Don’t Launch Too Early

Don’t be afraid of your impending launch but also don’t be too eager to jump the gun and launch before you are truly ready. You have the business idea that you just know is going to work, the product that people want to buy and the perfect location. It must be time to jump in with both feet and get going, right? Wrong. You need to take the time, pace yourself and ensure that you have a sound business plan and path forward. Far too many new businesses are launched in the heat of the moment.

The vast majority of the tens of thousands of new businesses formed in New Zealand each year are set up in the first few months. The sun is shining, the ideas are flowing, your on holiday so hey, lets just give it a go. Hold on a bit. Launching too fast is just as sure to kill your business as launching too slow.

Find a healthy mid-ground, if you aren’t sure where the middle ground is then speak to a professional. Your local accountant and business advisor will be able to offer you a wealth of knowledge, experience and expertise to guide you through the entire process and offer insight you may never have otherwise considered. Having an impartial outside opinion can also help to create clarity and realistic time frames and expectations.

Avoiding Pitfalls With Planning

New businesses can easily fall into the traps highlighted above and fail. This list is by no means exhaustive and there are a myriad of factors effecting success. In our experience, the lack of any properly defined plan is often the Achilles heel in otherwise stellar businesses.

MBP has developed a business planning process that cuts to the core of your business and sets a strategy for success with clearly defined actions to get you to where you want to be. Although no guarantee, a solid plan and professional support can help to prevent new businesses failing. Talk to your MBP Business Advisor today about the benefits of our business planning workshops. Don’t have an MBP Business Advisor yet? Get in touch with the team to get sorted.

Cloud accounting software has revolutionized how small business owners manage their businesses. This game changing software has had a massive impact not just on small business but on the quality of life of small business owners. By eliminating and reducing many of the time consuming, redundant work of older systems, cloud accounting streamlines processes and makes processing a breeze for business owners, bookkeepers and accountants alike.

You have probably seen or heard of cloud accounting solutions like Xero and MYOB Essentials. These systems have redefined accounting for small businesses. They allow business owners real time access to their financial data and the ability to collaborate from anywhere, at any time with their business advisors and accountants. This is invaluable in enabling these businesses to make well informed decisions based on reliable, timely data.

There are countless benefits of cloud accounting. We have narrowed this down to five and discuss some of these key reasons why cloud accounting is such a benefit for small businesses.

Data Integrity and Backups are a Breeze

With a cloud based solution you no longer need to keep track of which file is the most up to date version. You no longer need to have all your computer storage space consumed with large accounting files. You no longer need to remember to run a time consuming backup. Everything is securely stored online, accessible anywhere, anytime and always up to date with backups taken care of automatically. What could be easier?

Every File Up to Date, All The Time

Multiple users can have access and be working on the same file at the same time from multiple locations, without error. This is a game changing feature of cloud accounting that enables accountants and business owners to collaborate with each other in real time. Any queries you have can be sorted then and there. This allows your financial data to be processed in a timely manner and with the reliability required to inform those big business decisions.

No More Data Entry

Data entry is a major was of time, money and effort for all small business owners. Your bank data is imported into your accounting system direct from your bank. This offers a level of reliability not possible with manual entry. All that is left to do is allocate the bank data to the correct account codes and even most of this can be memorized by the software. What used to be a chore that took all day can now can be done in minutes. Less data entry time means more productive business time, allowing you the opportunity to make more money.

Reliable Data, Reliable Decision Making

Manual data entry and reconciliation is often time consuming and full of errors. Timeliness is increased and errors all but vanished with cloud accounting. This enables real time data to be viewed and better inform you business decisions. With cloud accounting your financial information is no longer lagging behind. It is now able to offer almost real time insight into your operations, enabling effective, well informed business decisions to be made.

Anywhere, Anytime

Cloud accounting allows you to see your business account balances, debtors, creditors and your overall financial performance from anywhere, at any time of the day or night, as long as you have an internet connection. This gives you the freedom to run your business from wherever you are. You are no longer chained to a desk in the back room. You are free to move about, visit customers or spend time on the shop floor while your accounting system remains at your fingertips at all times.

Try It Out For Free

Running your own business just got a whole lot easier with cloud accounting. If you are interested in discussing your cloud accounting options, give the team at MBP a call on 0800 86 85 86 or email any queries to mailbox@mbponline.co.nz for a free consultation. We can even set you up on trial version of the most popular options so that you can see the benefits for yourself before making any decisions or spending a cent.

Every day you will make decisions and choices based on your values. Whether you notice it or not, these values are an important part of your identity. They have a profound impact on the way you conduct yourself. Its the same for a business, so having a well defined set of core values is important for every organisation.

The Importance of Values in Business

Values are the essence of a company’s identity. They support the business strategy, vision and are they key drivers of the development of culture within an organisation. Your business values can not be forced upon you or made to fit. To work, they have to be organic. This means they have to be developed from within the organisation in order to be authentic to you and your team.

A clear set of values are the foundation for a great business culture. They make leading and managing your team (and client relations) a lot easier. When you have a team that lives and breathes your values they are far more likely to achieve your business goals. This aligned thinking and acting helps to make everyone (including you) enjoy going to work and deliver their best.

Culture eats strategy for breakfast. – Peter Drucker

Benefits of Developing Core Values

A defined set of core values has a range of positive impacts on a business and can help you to:

  • Build a clear foundation for your business culture because that this is fundamental to your business success,
  • Increase alignment within your team,
  • Clearly communicate what is important to you, your team and the business,
  • Determine the values that will drive your business to achieve its vision,
  • Result in defined values that will guide expected behaviours and how your team members will interact with each other and your customers,
  • Provide a framework and foundation for effective communication and as a result maintain more positive interactions,
  • Reduce workplace stress and tension and build better working relationships,
  • Set-up well defined values that act as ‘decision-making filters‘ for the day to day operation of the business,
  • Differentiate your business from that of your competitors,
  • Use as a primary recruitment and consequently a retention tool, so you obtain and retain the best staff that share those values,
  • Take positive actions because of an aspiration to live into the Core Values you develop together as a team,

Our Core Values

One of the first things we did when we set out on our business journey was to define our own set of core values that would help to guide us along the way.

Enjoyment

Approaching work and life with balance, passion and positivity.

We love what we do at MBP and we look forward to ‘just another day at the office’ because we know it’ll be a fun and rewarding day. We also work to make it as enjoyable as possible for our clients, an uphill battle at time as many people aren’t as passionate about number crunching as we are.

Quality

Providing outcomes that are accurate, usable and understandable.

There is no point in us doing what we do if we don’t make every effort to first get it right. We then make sure that  you, our client, understands what we have done. Understanding ensures that it can be usable information or actionable advice. Many accounting firms end their pursuit of quality at getting the number crunching spot-on. We take it a step further by engaging with our clients to make sure they clients actually understand the numbers. This is why we developed our Financial Awareness Coaching service.

Engagement

Open and friendly communication to inspire positive collaboration.

We firmly believe that your accountant isn’t someone that you should just see once a year. All of our services are designed to lower the barriers between client and accountant. We encourage regular and open lines of contact. This helps us to empower you to make proactive changes. Being proactive allows you to maximise opportunities and minimise threats to your business throughout the year.

Innovation

Leading through a commitment to proactive learning, development and challenging ideas.

We work in an industry that has seen disruptive change over a few short years. Our commitment to not fear but embrace this change has seen us go from strength to strength while many of our legacy colleagues have struggled.

Community

Sustainable commitments to our team, our clients and our greater community and environment.

The team at MBP know that the actions we take have a flow on effect to more than just the people within our four walls. It is armed with this knowledge and understanding that we engage and support the communities that we operate in across the country. From providing man power to local initiatives through to software, advice and support to community groups and charities across the country. We make a concerted effort to leave our communities stronger from our presence there.

Walking The Talk

At MBP we live and breath our values every day. They are what guide or relationships with our clients as well as with our team members, their families and the wider community. If you haven’t already, we recommend you look at identifying and defining your own core values.

Developing Your Core Values

Experience has shown that the most effective way to develop your Core Values is to have a neutral facilitator lead the process for you. This is why we have developed our Core Values Development service to allow you to create a set of core values for your business. These values will provide a great foundation for your business and will offer a guide for the way that you and your team interact with each other and with your customers and the wider community.

Give one of our MBP Business Advisors a call on 0800 86 85 86. Alternatively, flick an email through to mailbox@mbponline.co.nz to discuss how our Core Values Development service can help you and your business.