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An eco-friendly business offers plenty of advantages: lower costs, increased profitability, marketing opportunities and the biggest one of all, a better environment for everyone.

Long gone are the days when businesses who actively chose recycled photocopy paper were ‘different.’ Today’s businesses are striving to become greener, and they are proud to show it. We take a look at some of the ways you can do to also become an eco-friendly business.

What is an Eco-Friendly Business?

An environmentally sustainable or eco-friendly business is one which focuses on using resources more efficiently and reduces waste. Often a business is seen as being green if it sells products made from recycled materials. But there’s more too it that simply the products they sell. Every business can improve their level of eco-friendliness regardless of what they sell or where they are located.

Like with everything, going green is something best done from a place where you know where everything stands. This requires you to identify what your business’ current environmental practices are, such as:

  • waste – what is recycled, reused, composted or sent to the landfill?
  • consumables – how many do you use, can you reduce their usage, is there a better viable option?
  • workplace – what strategies are in place to reduce waste, electricity and water usage?
  • promotion – how are eco-friendly practices encouraged by your team members? Does this work? Where are the areas for improvement?
  • policies – are there any workplace or business policies in place regarding being a green business? Do they need revision?

Once you’ve identified areas for improvement, you can begin making real changes.

Easy Ways to Operate an Eco-Friendly Business

Keeping in mind the areas you’ve identified where you can improve your business’ eco-friendly practices, consider which ones of these suggestions would fit:

  • use natural light where possible – not only does is save electricity usage, and therefore save you money, but natural light is also kinder on our eyes. Position desks and workstations near windows.
  • go paperless – invest in some cloud storage to keep your documents in rather than printing out and putting in a filing cabinet. This also refers to invoices, where Xero for instance, can invoice digitally.
  • work from home – thanks to COVID-19, many businesses had their employees working from home where possible. Why not continue this trend at least part time, cutting down on commutes and resources used to get to work.
  • meet digitally – virtual meetings have been around for a while but are on the increase. Instead of driving to meet at someone’s office, meet digitally instead.
  • choose reusable products – single use products are costly in resources and price. Invest in reusable products such as mugs, refillable hand sanitiser containers and printer inks.
  • buy sustainable – this means identifying suppliers which are committed to practicing sustainability and using their products or services.

Here at MBP Advisors + Accountants, we strongly believe we are an eco-friendly business, we even won the ICNZB Award for Most Sustainable Bookkeeping Business in New Zealand. . That’s because we are dedicated to being paperless, efficient and environmentally conscious. We plant a tree for every single ream of paper we use and we actively fund environmental initiatives in our local communities. However, we’re always looking for ways we can do better. We’d be keen on learning what your business does too, so let us know in the comments below.

Bootstrapping is figuring out how to reduce the cash you need to start or run your business, by eliminating any unnecessary overheads while finding out who will give you a hand.

If for whatever reason you’re not able to raise enough capital to start-up you might be able to get what you need by ‘bootstrapping’ (finding what you need through unconventional or low-cost methods).

Some Options to Consider When Bootstrapping

Can others lend you what you need?

You don’t have to purchase new equipment to start your business. Think about what items you might be able to borrow over the short term or do without until the business grows.

Draw up a list of your asset needs and make a determined effort to borrow from others what you can while searching online for second-hand items that will save your business money. Are there people you know that are already in business who could lend you what you need?

Call in favours

Time to talk to friends, other business owners’ and family to see which assets, time or money they can help with. It’s a common bootstrapping technique to save money and chances are there is more help out there than you realise.

Reduce your set up costs and overheads

Look at the bare minimum you’ll need for your own living expenses and cut your salary or work for no pay for a time. It’s quite common for business founders to put in this unpaid ‘sweat’ equity to start with.

Look around your home and decide what you can sell to raise the cash you need. If your business is that important to you then sell everything you can.

Harness free

Search online for what’s happening in your industry to see if there is any specific support in your industry.

Find willing volunteers

Tap into any family and friends that are willing to help which could be cash or just a helping hand setting up and spreading the word you’re in business. You’ll be surprised who in your circle of friends will help.

Work from home

Depending on the type of business you’re beginning, you may be able to work from home or use a workspace that costs little or even nothing. There are lots of shared office options and some businesses with spare capacity may rent out their spaces or equipment to save you signing up to long leases or buying equipment.

Harness social media

You don’t need a large marketing budget to build a customer base. The Internet can help you develop a strong presence for free.

Whether you decide to create a presence on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or Instagram, regular interactions and postings are the keys to gaining customer awareness.

Use crowd funding to raise cash

Having gained popularity over the last few years, crowdfunding lets you receive donations on the Internet to help get your business idea off the ground. You can offer people incentives to encourage them to get behind your business.

Some examples include:

Each of these sites has great case studies and examples you can view.

Delay payment

Possibly you can negotiate with suppliers a much longer payment cycle, free trials or a number of months’ rent free in a new lease agreement.

Low cost marketing

Effective marketing can be creative rather than costly. Some ways you can get your brand in front of potential customers include:

  • Email campaigns – as you begin to sell to consumers’ you’ll want to get them coming back for repeat purchases. This is where building an email contact list and sending out regular deals with calls to action can keep your business going.
  • YouTube videos – images can speak louder than words, and video even more so. Whether you’re explaining what your business does or showing how a product works, videos are a cost-effective medium for getting your messages across to your target market.
  • If you sell direct to other businesses then use up some leather and go visit (walk, drive, call, fly). Face to face meetings don’t require an advertising budget.
  • Build word of mouth referrals by actively asking new customers to refer you. Don’t wait for word of mouth to build over time as it tends to be too slow.

In summary outline all the ways that you can save money by first reducing what you need and then from what you can borrow. Spend your time like a currency and do as much as you can yourself (with friends) before you start paying others.

Your next steps

Research your local industry to see if there is any specific start-up grants, subsidies or support that you may be able to tap into and talk to your trusted advisors (like your accountant) if you’re looking to fund from the crowd to make sure you’re doing the right thing.

List everything you need and brainstorm with others how you can get access without paying for it and be confident you’ve accumulated more goodwill than you think; if you don’t ask you won’t get.

Book in a chat with us to discuss your next steps. The chat is free, so is the coffee. We also have access to a range of 50% and 100% funded business services.

If you’re a small business owner whose company hasn’t gone through hard times, that’s great but it’s likely to happen at some point. As much as we dream about being brilliant enough at business that we’ll never face slow times, there are many things beyond our control that can negatively affect our business. How you go about managing the impacts of unexpected events and getting your business through tough times will set you and your business up for success for years to come.

Here are our top four tips for getting your business through tough times.

Focus on your Existing Customers

When companies go through tough times, many owners turn their focus to bringing in new business. The downside is that existing customers are often forgotten, but those are the most efficient people to make sales to. You don’t need to stop marketing yourself to new customers, but make sure you give extra focus to the customers you already have, to ensure they remain loyal. Find out what their current needs are, how successful you are at meeting them, and what you can do to maintain an ongoing relationship. Communicate with them, and always provide exceptional customer service.

Reach out to Others

Chances are, you aren’t the first person in your industry to experience tough times. Talk to other people who have been in similar situations to learn how they navigated those challenges. Ask them what did and didn’t work for them, and what they learned from the experience. Some—if not all—of their answers could be applicable to your business, or could at least inspire a solution.

If you need a chat, a sounding board or someone to run through ideas in tough times, reach out to the team at MBP. Regardless of whether you’re a client or not, you can book a free 30 minute chat with one of our team here.

Examine your Marketing Plan

Your marketing plan brings in new customers. Now is the time to consider fresh marketing ideas to bring in new revenue. Is there an area of your business you haven’t promoted before but could bring in clients? Is there a new way to market yourself you haven’t tried?

Examine previous marketing efforts to determine how successful they were. If they weren’t successful, stop wasting your valuable time and money on them. Use your efforts on something new.

Improve your Cashflow

Assess your company’s financial health to see if there are ways to improve cash flow. Can you charge clients a deposit or encourage payment up front to increase cashflow? Are there products you sell or services you provide that bring in revenue more quickly than others? Are there ways to save money that won’t hurt your business in the long run?

It can be tempting to eliminate staff, but when things are good you’ll just need to hire employees again. Doing so costs time and money. See if you can find small ways to save money that won’t negatively affect your business when it starts booming. Cutting overtime, for example, can save you money without losing staff.

Make sure you can account for every dollar your business spends. Don’t hide from creditors, communicate with them to find out if you can restructure your debt or extend your terms. Free up as much money as you can without setting yourself up for failure when things turn around.

Final Thoughts

Chances are your business will go through tough times at least once. It’s important you take action to help get you through it, rather than crossing your fingers and hoping the difficulties pass.

The steps you take during these challenging periods will help you, but they can also help set you up for increased success in later years.

Got a question? Please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

Employees at businesses both large and small are now telecommuting/ working from home. Many companies around the world are restructuring their management practices to meet the challenges and opportunities of managing remote teams.

Now with the spread of the COVID-19 and workers being asked to work-from-home the need for managing remote teams is higher than it’s ever been.

Because they tend to be more agile and open to change, small businesses are particularly well positioned to adapt to telecommuting. Increased productivity and happier employees who appreciate the added flexibility are just a few benefits winning over small business owners.

But telecommuting also presents some challenges – in particular, two core issues: keeping track of what remote workers are doing and ensuring that remote and in-house teams form a cohesive unit.

These tips can help you effectively manage and support your remote employees and ensue the ongoing success of a remote business.

Promote Communication and Accountability when Managing Remote Teams

Defining expectations and setting up methods to track results are essential elements of remote team management. Here are a few ways to make sure your remote workers understand what is expected of them:

  • Set up a shareable daily work log your remote workers can use to report their progress on ongoing projects (Google Drive offers some good options).
  • Utilize a project management system to exchange messages, assign tasks and monitor projects rather than relying solely on email.
  • Determine key indicators for success for each remote worker and share these indicators with your employees (these might be daily, weekly or monthly goals).
  • Conduct regular reviews with remote workers to assess their performance.

Include Remote Workers in Office Culture

Positive work culture and employee engagement are quickly becoming top priorities for business managers who want to retain top talent. These tips will help your remote workers feel just as valued and validated as your in-house team.

  • If your in-house workers enjoy a monthly pizza party, don’t forget to include your remote workers. Invite them to attend, have a meal delivered to them or offer a gift certificate to a favorite restaurant.
  • Get to know and spend time with your remote workers, just as you would with in-house staff. Set aside a few moments each day to inquire about their families, personal interests, recent challenges and successes.
  • Consider pairing up remote workers to complete complex tasks. You’ll improve efficiency while helping remote workers feel like part of the team.

Ready to Enjoy the Benefits of Managing Remote Teams?

If the benefits of  managing remote teams outweighs the risks in your view, try offering your staff a work day from home a week – then, if it works out, you can try hiring remote employees. Some small business owners hire a remote employee in another region – a great way to expand their market.

If you trust your employees to work hard no matter where they’re located, the main thing to remember is fostering teamwork. A monthly meeting that everyone is required to attend can encourage stronger relationships, allow opportunities to clear the air or discuss any challenges – and improve a sense of teamwork and camaraderie.

Got a question about your business? Get in touch with the team at MBP. We can help you develop a remote working tech stack, implement HR policies for remote working and health & safety as well as work with you on your business culture and performance.

A business mentor can help you take your business to new heights: but only if you choose the right one. From offering advice, support and a listening ear, business mentors understand and really ‘get it’ when it comes to the struggles a business owner faces. Like everything though, all business mentors are different, with varying strengths, experiences and interests. Therefore, choosing the right business mentor becomes your first task in your search for business support.

What is a Business Mentor?

Business mentors are experienced business professionals who have made the decision to give back to newbie (or relatively new) business owners. They’ve been where you are now, understand the ups and downs of business life and want to help you develop your business.

A great business mentor will aim to:

  • Build a longterm relationship
  • Share their experience and knowledge
  • Support you
  • Offer new ways of doing and looking at things
  • Introduce you to their business network
  • Analyse where your business is now and identify where you want it to be
  • Help you clarify your business goals and objectives
  • Assist with business planning
  • Offer solutions to solve business-related problems
  • Provide constructive feedback

Many people have heard of Business Mentors New Zealand, which are a not-for-profit organisation which pairs up volunteer mentors with mentees. They work with clients throughout the country and it’s fair to say are the most well-known mentoring organisation. Many new or developing business owners have used their service with great success, but there are other options which can provide a service which is as good or even better.

Our team of business advisors can also provide business mentoring services. The benefit of choosing us is that we can provide a more in-depth and overarching service, including:

  • Working with you to write and assess your business plan
  • Help you to create your businesses core values
  • Improve your bookkeeping and accounting practices
  • Assist with an organisational review
  • KPI coaching
  • Business coaching services

Let’s now take a look at the reasons why you should work with a business mentor this year.

Why Should I Work With a Business Mentor?

A business mentor will not do the work for you. They’re not going to tell you what to do either, but rather make suggestions based upon their experiences and knowledge. This offers you plenty of benefits, including:

  • Reducing the level of risk you face when making decisions
  • Helping you focus your attention on the details which really matter
  • Challenging you to step outside of your comfort zone
  • Holding you accountable for your decisions by setting and following up on goals and milestones
  • Support you to leverage a range of networking opportunities
  • Being a sounding board for new and rehashed ideas
  • Helping you to step back and take another view of your business
  • Assist with understanding the legal and tax obligations of running a business
  • Providing a fresh perspective
  • Helping to implement business changes
  • Support with marketing ideas and implementation

A business mentor helps to stimulate new ideas and support you as you implement them. They are someone who really ‘gets’ what you are going through, having been there and done that themselves. Providing a service which cannot be offered by well-meaning friends and family, they are highly valuable business professionals – if you choose the right one.

Key Questions to Ask When Choosing a Business Mentor

When using the Business Mentors New Zealand service, you are matched with a mentor of their choosing, not yours. While this can and has worked successfully in the past, it doesn’t always. Other than the application fee, their service is free though, which is a big plus.

On the other hand, when you have the option to choose between different mentors or different companies which offer mentoring services, you hold the power. You are able to pick a mentor who has the specific skills needed within your industry and has a personality you feel comfortable working with.  You’ll also have more say in what areas you receive help with, when and where you meet, as well as choosing the level of support and assistance you require.

Therefore choosing a mentor can be a bit like holding an interview. You want to do enough research before you approach them to ensure they will potentially meet your needs, as well as ask questions to them directly. Some of the key questions to ask a potential business mentor include:

  • What is something you wish you should have done differently? Why?
  • What used to be your biggest weakness?
  • What are you most proud of?
  • How do you stay connected within your industry?
  • What could you offer me and my business?
  • What type of communication would you prefer we used?
  • How would you move my business to the next level?
  • How do you rebound from failure?
  • What did you like best when you were just starting out in business?
  • Where do you find inspiration from?
  • How do you balance work and home life?
  • What key values do you hold close?

The answers to these questions will help you gauge more of an understanding of who they are and what they can offer. That way you can pick the mentor who is the best fit for you and your business.

Tips On Finding the Best Business Mentor for You & Your Business

A great business mentor will be around for a while, making spending time picking the right one well worth your time. To help you select the best possible mentor, here are some tips to help you:

  • Be sure you understand the role of a business mentor – know that they will be able to support and provide direction to you, but will not do the work for you.
  • Take time to find the right one – it is well worth spending time researching and then interviewing prospective mentors. Feeling comfortable with your decision is vital, as you will relying on their advice and skills. Make sure you feel you can trust them.
  • Choose a compatible person – this will be someone with similar values to you, who you are happy to work with, find their personality works well with yours and is totally committed to building a positive working relationship to help your business succeed.

Then let’s talk money. If you are paying for the services of a business mentor or advisor, understand what the costs will be. Are you charged per hour, meeting, month or each time you contact them? If you are signing a contract, be sure to check out the clauses regarding the cessation of services too.

Our team provides business development services to people like you all throughout New Zealand. Whether you want to visit our Taupo office, fill up our email inboxes or meet regularly online, we’ll work in whatever ways suit you best.  Get in touch with us now and together we’ll help you move your business to where you want it to be.