Friday, July 25, 2008

Different Types of Business Opportunities

When searching for business opportunities, one should be open-minded about the different types of business opportunities available. This article takes a look at the various options to consider before launching into the world of entrepreneurship.

Business for Sale
Buying an existing business is a great way to enter the world of business ownership because a lot of the risk has been eliminated. If it is an established business and is being sold for legitimate reasons, you can be confident knowing that you will be dealing with an established customer base and proven business systems.

Although buying a business and finding the right one can take some time, it’s something you cannot and should not rush.

Buying a franchise is also a relatively low risk entry into the world of business ownership, especially if it is a well known franchise. Most franchise packages provide ongoing support as well training of franchisees. It’s also usually a lot easier to secure financing for a franchise than a new business concept because of its proven business success.

Becoming an agent for a particular product or a series of products can be quite lucrative especially if:

You can secure a particular area / location

You are good at sales.

Your product is unique, imported or difficult to find

Direct Selling
This is a little more difficult than owning an agency because usually there are no exclusive area rights so there could be a lot of people in one area selling the same thing. This however can be a great business opportunity if you are passionate about the product and can network well. In order to start up in Direct Selling, one usually purchases a starter-kit with a couple of products which could be topped up once sales start to increase. Direct Sellers that order a lot of stock would usually qualify for a discount and therefore make a higher profit margin. Direct selling is something that one could do part time or full time.

Sometimes business owners look for a partner to join their existing business, be it to help them manage and grow the business, to share the work load and responsibility or to inject capital. Although becoming a partner in a business is a great opportunity, it’s not the type of thing that is publicly advertised but rather an opportunity that comes looking for you, through word of mouth, friends, family or previous colleagues.

Start your Own Business
The fact that anyone can start a business is an opportunity in itself. Business tools and guides are freely available and opportunities are everywhere (you just need to be receptive to them!). People often generate business ideas through identifying a need, hence the saying "necessity breeds invention". Sometimes this can take ages to come about naturally but entrepreneurs are also known to brainstorm in order to generate novel ideas. Once you have identified a business idea, research it and develop a business plan. You will need business savvy, motivation and drive to get your concept off the ground but it could land up being the best decision you have ever made. This is definitely a business option that can have one of the biggest risks but also one of the biggest pay-offs, not only financially but also in terms of self-fulfillment.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Entrepreneurs: How to Keep Your Motivation Alive

You had the most amazing business idea, you conceptualized it, researched it, developed it, spent hours dreaming about it, analyzing it, calculating how much profit you would make and then when you finally started the business you found that your interest waned faster than you could say “one fell swoop”! Why? You didn’t get the response you had expected? You didn’t make the profit you thought you were going to make? Or, you simply got bored with the idea?

Owning your own business has many advantages but one of the keys to a successful start-up and business venture is to maintain your motivation as the business grows and to stay positive through the tough times, which most businesses will face at some point or another. Here are a few points to help you remain positive and motivated as a business owner:

Keep things fresh.
Coming up with new challenges, projects, ideas and strategies are bound to keep you on your toes and to keep your motivation alive. Make a point of having regular brainstorming sessions with your staff and try to encourage everyone to tap into their creative side. This often leaves people feeling inspired and energized.

Keep your staff motivated with incentives or rewards.
It is difficult to stay motivated if your employees and those around you are unexcited and uninterested in work in general. Cash incentives and rewards are a great way to get staff feeling passionate about their work as is giving your staff enough autonomy in the workplace – no one wants to be micro-managed. Encourage people to generate new business ideas and make sure to give credit to those people when and if those ideas are implemented. Making your employees feel as though they are an integral part of the business is a sure fire way to keep them motivated.

Visualise growth and think positive.
Try and maintain positive thought processes and a positive business outlook. Thinking negatively and doubting yourself can be draining, unproductive and can rub off onto your employees (which ultimately affects your business). Concentrate on channeling your thoughts in a positive light and visualize your success and the things that motivate you.

Alternate your routine.
Most business people have a routine, for some it is a structured one and for others it’s a haphazard one but a routine nonetheless! Doing the same thing day in and day out is like starring in your own real-life version of Groundhog Day and what a sad thought that is! So whatever your routine, perhaps try and change it slightly so that you can still look forward to something different each day. If for example you always schedule meetings for the afternoons, perhaps schedule some for the mornings on certain days of the week and take care of admin in the afternoons. Leave work early one day a week, this can be one or two hours earlier than you would usually leave and schedule that as “me” time.

Have breaks from the office.
If you are at your office or in front of a computer for most of the day then make sure to have regular breaks. Go out for lunch, have a cup of coffee and read the newspaper, go for a 30min massage, read your book, get some fresh air, you get the drift! After a break, you’ll be able to concentrate a lot better and will be significantly more productive, not to mention happier.

Take Leave.
Owning your own business doesn’t mean that you should be a prisoner of your own office! Schedule time off at least twice a year and enjoy a good holiday. After some time off you’ll feel refreshed and motivated for another 6 months of hard work. Even just taking a week off can do you the world of good. Your office can still contact you if they desperately need you but try and avoid this if possible and leave a manager to take care of queries. Leave an auto-responder on your email so that people are aware that you are away and that you are not just ignoring them.

Keep decent working hours, especially if you work from home.
This is really important and something that often needs self-discipline. It is so easy to quickly nip into the office to “just check some emails” but the next thing you know, you’re writing proposal letters and doing admin. Lock the office if you can after staff have left and only open it again the next morning when work starts. Being strict with this will ensure that you have a balance between work and play and that your mind can also rest.

Define what motivates you.
Be clear as to what gets you out of bed in the morning and what motivates you to run your own business. Is it the money, the control, the independence, a new challenge, the flexibility or a combination of factors? Identifying what makes you tick means that you can focus more of your energy on those factors. If the idea of a new challenge or concept motivates you, then spend more time brainstorming and developing the idea. If money motivates you then concentrate on how to improve your profit margins or creating new profit centres.

Make time for exercise, friends, family or social events.
Monday to Friday is a typical working week for most companies so try and keep it that way. Let your weekends be a time for family and friends, events or sporting activities. After all providing for your family, enjoying overseas holidays and local trips is often a huge motivating factor for business success so try and make the time to actually enjoy these things!

Set realistic goals and targets. Setting too many goals at once can be a little overwhelming if they are not structured in any way. Rather try and break the goals down into short and long term goals, ones that you would like to achieve this month, next month, by the end of this year and by the end of the following year. Distributing all of this into smaller chunks will help to keep you motivated and focused on one thing at a time.

So in essence staying motivated is really about identifying what motivates you and your staff, thinking positive, achieving a balance between work and play and setting realistic goals for yourself and your company. Staying motivated in business is an integral part of your success and being able to identify when your motivation is dropping, is crucial. Remember that there are ways and means to motivate yourself but sometimes it can take a little effort, thought and discipline!

Franchise Finder, Online Directory of Franchises and Business Opportunities in South Africa

Friday, July 4, 2008

Franchise Success Story: Active English

Antoinette Slabbert is the founder and owner of Active English, a South African franchise that promotes intellectual, social and cultural development by using the English language as an extra-mural activity. This exciting and popular franchise was born out of Antoinettes desire to teach her children a second language. Unable to find someone who gave these lessons, she decided to teach them herself and set about studying for a Montessori Diploma.

Antoinette developed a teaching programme that was not only educationally sound but something that was also entertaining for children. Starting off with a class of just 10 pre-schoolers, Active English has now grown into a thriving business with over 215 students and 10 franchisees countrywide!

Active English is a great work from home business opportunity and offers flexible working hours. The minimum investment for a franchise is R80 000.

What is Antoinettes advice to other people wanting to open their own business?
  • Use a reputable auditor
  • Register your business, logo and trademarks with lawyers who specialise in franchise registrations
  • Become a member of FASA (Franchise Association of South Africa)
  • Be organized, resilient, and be prepared to continually adapt and absorb new ideas and methods.
Antionettes motto is " Work hard, go the extra mile, offer something special. Deliver on your promises and do each task with energy and perfection. Remember that actions do speak louder than words.'

Well done Antoinette, an amazing success story which I'm sure will inspire many other women to open their own businesses!

Franchise Expo in Durban

Well hallelujah, Durban will be having a Franchise and Business Opportunities expo after all!

Citex Exhibitions are organising and Promoting BUSINESS EXPO 2008, in Durban from 15 to 16 August 2008, at the Durban Exhibition Centre. BUSINESS EXPO 2008 is a multi-dimensional Business event promoting Franchising and Business Opportunities together with Business Products and Office Equipment.

Visit their website or call Cedric on 082 898 3039 or e-mail for more information, whether you wish to be an Exhibitor or Visitor. S