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It is 9pm on a Monday and it is raining.  Lots.  The roof in our new house starts to leak. My husband and I look at each other and decide to get onto this right away.  First stop Google – searching for “roofers Whangarei”.  There are a few websites, most built years ago, some that do not respond to the screen on my mobile phone so we have to zoom in to read it.  Next stop – local Facebook group for recommendations.  Top two recommended companies have no website.  I don’t know anything about them, who they are, or how to contact them.  I now need to go searching directories for phone numbers and cold call them tomorrow.  Roll on Tuesday, I am running around with kids and work – and I forget to call during business hours… It is frustrating that I couldn’t just make contact last night and get things underway.

I get a lot of people tell me that they don’t need a website – they are run off their feet, and all their business is word-of-mouth.  Here is the thing… you do.

Why do I need a website when my business is word-of-mouth?

When someone is referred to use another business, many people will still want to pre-check that they offer suitable products or services before making contact.  If you don’t have a website, it makes this process very difficult.  It looks unprofessional – are you not established enough to have a website?  Do you not care enough about your business?

In the past, people may have given someone a business card when referring you. More and more they share links to websites via social media.  If they can’t find your contact details, how will they put their friends in touch with you?

Even if it is a basic website that is a couple of pages explaining what products or services you offer, who you are, and how to get in contact – this is plenty.  Think of it as your online business card or store front.  This is your opportunity to make a great first impression to those people who have already heard you are worth talking to.  Make it EASY for them to see that you are awesome and get your most up-to-date contact details.  If you have a contact form or appointment booking function and they can get themselves into your sales funnel at 9pm on a Monday night – even better! Capture those word-of-mouth leads when they are hot!

But I have an ad in the Yellow Pages…

I don’t know if you have noticed, but these books are getting smaller and smaller… that is because people have moved on.  The number of these books that get delivered in my neighbourhood and get left by the letterbox or go straight in the recycling bin reflects the relevance and usefulness to many.

The number of my friends, family and clients who no longer even have a landline at all is also worth considering here.

I am sure that some people do still use them, but do you want to ignore the huge majority of the population who turn to Google instead?

The opportunity to have YOUR say

In a world of social media – there are a lot of opportunities for people to spread the word about your business.  Good and bad.  Your website is the one piece of the online world that you can take ownership of.  Your website is a true business asset and you should ensure that it reflects the level of professionalism that your business has, rather than relying on the word of others.

It is your opportunity to put forward the best view of your business.  To say what you are about, give the truth about what you do or sell.

I have a website already

Great!  A few basic things to check to make sure it is doing what it needs to do…

  • Does it reflect the branding of the rest of your company still?
  • Is it mobile-friendly?
  • Are the contact details up to date?
  • Does the contact form work?
  • Are the photos recent?
  • Do all of the links go to pages that still exist?

Old, dated and broken websites can be a poor reflection on the quality of your services or products.  Take care of this as you would other public-facing brand assets (such as signage, vehicles or staff uniforms).

Once the basics are covered, then steps can be made to help your website rank higher than your competitors too.

Ensure that you make engaging with you as easy as possible

Basically, yes you are busy, and that is awesome – but if you put your best foot forward online and make contacting you easy, imagine the quality of clients you could be attracting.  Are you busy with the second tier ones, when you could be attracting even better customers?

About the Author

Leah Harold runs Little Biz Online – a web design business that focuses on ensuring that small business owners get to put their best foot forward online.  Professional, modern websites at an affordable price.  Leah also has a strong focus on training clients (young and old) to manage their websites for more simple tasks – so that they stay current and relevant, without huge maintenance costs.

 

Note: MBP will only be responsible for the terms and conditions for an engagement undertaken directly with MBP. If you undertake a new engagement with a separate firm or a related entity you will need to enter into your own contractual arrangements directly with that firm or entity. We will not accept any liability in respect to any work they may undertake for you.

New business owners are a special breed of people. Motivated, idea-driven and entrepreneurial, they enjoy a challenge and are not afraid to step outside of their comfort zone. Yet with around a 40% chance of a business with five or fewer employees surviving the first four years, the statistics are against them.

Here at MBP, we’re focused on helping our clients last the distance and push through any barriers they may face. One of the many ways to do this is by arming you with the knowledge of good business practices. So, we’re sharing nine common mistakes new business owners make, so you can avoid making them too!

9 Common Mistakes New Business Owners Make

Forewarned is forearmed and in business, there’s nothing better than learning from the mistakes of others. Of course, you’ll still make mistakes: we all do! However, if you go into your decision making with as much knowledge as possible, starting up a business may not be as challenging as it seems.

For that reason, we’ve collated a list of the top nine mistakes start-up business owners make in the hope we can prevent you from making them too.

  1. Failing to research a business idea
  2. Mixing personal and business finances together
  3. Not setting any goals
  4. Failing to save for future tax payments
  5. Having no budget
  6. Not identifying their target market
  7. Expanding too quickly
  8. Making expensive purchases early on
  9. Trying to do it all

Now you’ve read this list, go back and read it again. We’ll explain the reasons why these are mistakes you won’t want to make, and how you can avoid them next.

Business Mistake 1: Not Researching Your Business Idea

There’s no denying that people who start up a business do so because they have an idea. They’ve thought of a product or service, or a way of doing something, which they believe will be successful. The key thing here though, is that they believe it will be successful. When you run a business, you must remember that you are not the one who will be buying your products or services. You may love your idea and think it will be a huge success, but your target audience may hate it.

Take the time to do some market research regarding your idea. Find out if people would pay for what you offer, what features they would like it to have, how much they would pay and their suggestions on how it could be improved.

New Business Mistake 2: Using One Bank Account

When you run a business, it must have separate bank accounts from your personal accounts. Yes, we know that you are the business owner, and that using the same account makes sense. The problem is, it’s almost impossible to keep accurate tabs on what you personally are spending and receiving, and what your business is spending and receiving. In other words, combining finances makes a huge mess and one which will cost you more in time and money to fix.

Separate accounts let your bookkeeping and accounts team see exactly where your business sits financially. There is no confusion about whether a purchase was made for personal or business usage. It also ensures you don’t pay more tax than you need to.

New Business Mistake 3: Not Setting Goals

When you set goals, you know what you’re aiming to achieve. Goals keep you on task and motivated. They help guide your business decisions and focus you on what’s important. Goals also save you money, because you spend wisely as you know what you’re working for, avoiding paying money on time wasting resources and opportunities.

When setting goals, SMART goals are important. This means you need to make each goal Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-based.

New Business Mistake 4: Not Saving for Tax

It’s a fallacy that you do not have to pay tax in your first year of business. What’s true is that you won’t pay tax until you file a tax return at the end of the financial year. Money can be tight when starting a business, with income quickly being used to pay wages, buy stock and pay the never-ending stream of business expenses. That’s one of the reasons why new business owners ‘forget’ to put money aside for their tax obligations.

We say ‘forget’ because some do genuinely believe they won’t have to pay any tax in their first year of business. Others think they won’t be making a profit, so don’t need to save for tax. Then there’s those who have no idea that they could potentially be facing a bill come to the end of the financial year. It’s best here if you chat with us, and we’ll help you identify how much money you should be putting aside for your tax.

New Business Mistake 5: No Budget

A budget ensures you don’t spend more than you earn. Yes, we appreciate that as a start-up business, you don’t really know what income you’ll receive during your first year. However, what you should be doing is creating a realistic budget which estimates both the income and expenses you’ll be facing.

By allocating money through your budget, you know how much you have left. This lets you prioritise how it will be spent, and help you make a profit! Once again, we can help you create a workable budget.

New Business Mistake 6: Not Having a Clear Target Market

Your products or services won’t suit everyone. By trying to please everyone, you are in a sense-pleasing no one. Being indiscriminate about your customers may sound like a good idea, but it won’t bring you any rewards.

Be concise about the exact type of person you are targeting. Their gender, age, likes, dislikes and financial circumstances are all things you need to nail down. You also need to identify the ways in which they’ll best engage with you and your business, be it via social media, phone or email.

New Business Mistake 7: Growing Too Fast

Just like you, we want your business to grow! We want it to become so successful that you have many employees doing the work, tons of new leads every day and a huge profit. But now is not the time to force it to happen.

During your first year, move slowly in growing your business. Avoid making decisions which will cost you large amounts of money when you haven’t got that money coming in. This means not taking on employees until you know that their wages will be fully covered and then some. It means not expanding out by taking on new loans to purchase equipment, unless you’ve already received orders for it and your existing machinery doesn’t meet your requirements anymore. It also means not moving to larger premises unless you know you can continually meet the increased rent.

Just sit tight and wait. We’d be happy to chat with you about your plans for expansion, and help you identify exactly when the right time is to take that next step.

New Business Mistake 8: Spending Big Early On

It would be awesome to buy a new car for your business. Likewise that new vinyl cutting machine and heat press! Surely, you must get some unique artwork for your office walls to impress your clients?

Making large and unnecessary purchases when you are setting up your business are usually unnecessary. We’re not saying that you won’t need to buy things, but we are saying you should consider choosing lower cost items.

A good rule to follow is that if something you buy isn’t going to pay for itself and continually make you a profit, then look for something cheaper which will. Going into debt isn’t the way to move forward and create a successful business. Saving up and then paying cash for necessary items is.

New Business Mistake 9: Doing Everything

New business owners are great multi-taskers. Sometimes you have to be, as you can’t afford to pay anyone to do something for you. The issue with this is that you’re not necessarily good at doing everything that has to be done.

When you do outsource some of your tasks though, you free up your time to do the things which you are good at and bring you income.

The team at MBP are here to make a real difference to your business. Our business planning, performance and coaching services are ideal for both start-up and existing businesses. We welcome new clients and look forward to hearing from you shortly.

Most good accountants are great at reading the data and giving implementable advice to their customers to help improve that bottom line. They are worth their weight in gold if they can tell you at a glance about seasonal fluctuations, government policies that may affect you and areas where you can streamline or invest to get the most productivity. But all of this great insight and advice is worth very little if actions aren’t taken. That is where your accountability coach comes in.

“Professional Nag”

When you became self-employed or bought/took-over your business, I bet you thought that having someone on your case (like a boss), was in the past.

As humans, we’re very good at putting things off. That dental appointment, getting Xero reconciled and taking steps to improve your business, get moved to the end of the list in favour of instant gratification tasks (and the social media rabbit hole – don’t pretend that you don’t know what I’m talking about).

An accountability coach becomes your secret weapon of productivity;

Need to spend time getting your website built? Everyday you get to check in with your accountability coach that you’ve done half hour and that equates to a fully functioning website that can make you more sales without having to employ more sales staff.

You know a quite period is coming up so need to set up a marketing plan now. Your accountability coach can make sure you’ve scheduled posts, set up an onboarding system and are putting your best foot forward to reach your target market.

An accountability coach can save you from burn out. They can tell you when you need a break, when you’ve done enough, and you just need to trust the process. This is one of the hardest things for driven business owners to do, but it is vital to avoid a crash, that could wipe you out. Reducing your time out of the game.

You’ll build a trusted working relationship with your Accountability Coach

They’ll be someone you can reach out to when the unexpected happens, when you just can’t see the start point. You will be able to discuss the whole experience of being your own boss including all the ups and downs of being a human (health, dependents, confrontations, anxiety, personal barriers and financial realities). Because a good Accountability Coach knows from experience that being the boss means that the business needs you to be able to make clear decisions and life doesn’t hit pause just because you’re in work mode.

Like your Accountant and/or Bookkeeper, an Accountability Coach can be part of your team. The team that supports You as the business owner. Just because you’re self-employed doesn’t mean you have to go it alone.

Want to talk to an Accountability Coach, see if the service is right for you & your business? Talk to AJ The Business Owners Accountability Coach W: aj-pipe.com  T: 021 246 4244 E: ajpipe@ajpipe.com

 

Note: MBP will only be responsible for the terms and conditions for an engagement undertaken directly with MBP. If you undertake a new engagement with a separate firm or a related entity you will need to enter into your own contractual arrangements directly with that firm or entity. We will not accept any liability in respect to any work they may undertake for you.

There are a huge number of benefits to running a business with an abundance mentality, but what is it.

What is an Abundance Mentality

In short, an abundance mentality is an acknowledgement that there is enough demand in the market to support many businesses. Its essentially the business version of the old ‘more fish in the sea’ approach to dating. This allows you to be less desperate to compete and more open to collaboration and developing a community of success.

How Can an Abundance Mentality Help My Business

Co-opetition

When you aren’t focused on every single business in your industry as competition, you develop a much more symbiotic relationship with your industry. This opens up or highlights opportunities for co-operation with your competition, something we like to call co-opetition.

Co-opetition is really at the core of the abundance mentality. With increasingly more businesses across all industries developing services and products tailored to very specific niches, there is growing room for cooperation between businesses with complimentary products or services.

These strategic partnerships allow businesses to focus on delivering the best they can to their customers in their niche. However, they acknowledge that they cant do everything. So they partner with strategic competitors who offer specialised services to a different niche. This way, no matter what the needs of  client or customer, the business is able to help get them sorted.

Specialisation

This focus on delivering to your niche allows you to specialise. This specialisation enables you to become the go-to expert in your field. This not only improves your relationship with existing customers and clients but also increases the likelihood of your industry partners referring to you for things in your niche.

Better Customer Service

Kiwi’s seem to expect a one-stop-shop. However, no business is ever going to be an expert in every single thing a client or customer will ever need. In order to get the best possible outcomes, your clients or customers are going to have to go somewhere else at some point.

Chances are, they’ll ask you before they look around. In a competitive mindset, this is where you say you can help and you inevitably do a sub-par job or just screw it up all together. With an abundance mentality, this is where you refer them to on our your trusted strategic partners.

Our Abundance Mentality in Action

There is no longer a need to look at business as kill or be killed.

Here at MBP, we live by an abundance mentality. We are accountants, but we refer prospective clients to other firms if we think they will be a better fit with them or we don’t think they’ll live into our core values.

Our MBP Bookkeepers are are your expert team of bookkeeping pros, with the backing and support of our team of accountants. However, some clients prefer to have the bookkeeping outsourced. That’s why refer them all to the team at Admin Army.

At MBP, we offer coaching and business development services. However, our coaches aren’t the best fit for everyone. You need to really gel to make it work. That’s why we refer people to the business owners accountability coach, AJ Pipe.

These businesses compete with us on one level or another. However, we acknowledge that we can’t do it all and deliver the same level of consistent expert service, that’s why we need partners.

 

Note: MBP will only be responsible for the terms and conditions for an engagement undertaken directly with MBP. If you undertake a new engagement with a separate firm or a related entity you will need to enter into your own contractual arrangements directly with that firm or entity. We will not accept any liability in respect to any work they may undertake for you.

We all have things we’ve wanted to get done for ages but are no closer to getting them sorted today than we were a year ago. It could be anything from writing a book, a blog, redeveloping your website or putting time aside to develop your business. The list of things we’d like to do but just aren’t doing is often long. If this sounds like you, it might be time you got yourself an accountability coach.

What is Accountability Coaching?

Accountability coaching is your business’ secret weapon.

Your accountability coach is a person who you hold yourself accountable to for achieving the goals you set yourself or that you set with them.

It involves partnering with a coach that will understand your vision, your goals and will discuss with you the steps and tasks that need to be undertaken to get to where you want to be. They take those list of unfinished or not yet begun tasks, they prioritise them and then work with you to develop a timeline to completion. Your accountability coach then holds you responsible for achieving those tasks.

Your accountability coach will get in touch with you regularly for coaching sessions. As you tick off the tasks assigned in the times allocated, you’ll get that instant gratification that everyone craves but that you seldom get when working alone on these small but important tasks. If you don’t deliver, you’ll usually suffer some sort of penalty. This generally varies between coaches and clients. Some pay a penalty fee, others make unique arrangements based on what motivates them the most.

Ongoing failure isn’t an option. Your accountability coach will work with you as much as is needed to get you to develop the new skills and habits to start working through your list. If, however, you are unable to meet any of your deadlines, no matter how much coaching and support, your coach will likely dump you. If you are not benefiting from their services, there is no point in continuing.

How Would An Accountability Coach Help Me?

Your accountability coach helps to end the frustration that’s building up inside you at not being able to get that list of wants and needs ticked off.

They are able to help you with whatever you need. From personal wish-lists to business development. Whether you want to get your books in order, lose some weight or get a novel written, the list of things your accountability coach can help with is endless.

Accountability coaching is all about helping you to achieve your measures of success while simultaneously developing new and more productive habits. These are habits that will serve you well long after you ever finish your coaching.

Finding The Right Accountability Coach

Take your time to find a coach that is a good fit. This needs to be someone that you can open up to. That you don’t mind sharing your hopes, dreams and aspirations with. Someone that you connect with, trust and respect.

At MBP, we offer monthly and quarterly business coaching but we aren’t accountability coaches. We leave that to the experts. One of the best accountability coaches that we have worked with is AJ Pipe. AJ is a specialist business owners accountability coach. She has run her own businesses so understands the obstacles you face to achieving your goals. Her flexibility and the ability to ‘rent her brain’ means that your coaching with her can change with the needs of your business month to month. Reach out to AJ here to start a conversation and see if she is the right fit for you.

 

Note: MBP will only be responsible for the terms and conditions for an engagement undertaken directly with MBP. If you undertake a new engagement with a separate firm or a related entity you will need to enter into your own contractual arrangements directly with that firm or entity. We will not accept any liability in respect to any work they may undertake for you.