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Building Your Business With A Purpose

Building my business has been a fun yet challenging journey. My Business journey began in 1998 and 15 years later, I have discovered that the only way to build a successful business is with a Purpose. In fact, I believe that a business without a purpose is a business that is destined to fail.

When I wrote my business plan, it was written with my purpose in mind and that was, “To provide High Quality Childcare.” In fact, my purpose was the glue that held the business plan together. Moreover, as I completed each section of the business plan, it was completed with my purpose in mind.

Building a Business on purpose, takes lot of planning, lots of energy and lots of focus. Most importantly, you must be willing to persevere… no matter what comes your way. Adversity seems to attach itself to every business with a purpose; however, you must stay focused and stay the course.

I must say, it is an awesome feeling to write the purpose for your business and see it in action! Are you ready to build to discover how to build a business with a Purpose? Today I am going to share with you some of the strategies that I used to build my business on purpose.

A business without a purpose is like playing basket ball without a ‘Rim”… it’s pointless!

  1. Master Your Time. You must take some time at the beginning of every week and make a list of your business priorities. Be sure to add your most important duties at the top of the list. Delegate time wasters. As you do this… You will develop a sense of accomplishment for every week. Moreover you will become a master of your time.
  2. Personal Development. If you are not growing as an individual, your business will suffer or if you have character flaws, it will show and could even destroy your business. I recommend that you read a personal development book 2-3 times a year, so that you are able to develop a mindset that will sustain not destroy your success.
  3. Master Your Money. You must have a plan for how you will spend the money that comes into and leaves your business! Money is the life line of your business and you must learn how to manage it well. Only buy what you need, invest in your business on a regular basis and keep a close eye on your money.
  4. Business Associates. Hang around other successful business owners. In fact, get an Accountability partner; someone who will hold you accountable for your business success. If you are hanging around millionaires… you will begin to think like, talk like, look like and eventually become, “A Millionaire.”
  5. Evaluation system. Be sure to create an evaluation system for your business, to evaluate if you are really operating based on your purpose or if you are even accomplishing your business “mission.” As you evaluate your business, keep this in mind; Only use methods and systems that are working for you and stop doing what is not working.
  6. Take some time for you! After working 5-6 days a week on building your business; take some time for you. I find that, the more rest that I get; the more productive I am on Monday morning. Also, plan to travel! I believe that travel is a great way to spark your creativity and give you new ideas for your business!

I challenge you to take a moment to reflect on the purpose of your business? Your purpose is your “why”; it is the reason you are in business, so be sure to never stop building your business with a purpose. In fact, as you focus on building your business with a purpose; you will attract to you what you need for your business and what you need for the business will come to you sooner than you think it will!

How to Start a Coffee Shop or Coffee Business

So you’ve decided to get into the World of Coffee! Coffee can provide a multitude of opportunities and can also apply to anyone wanting to start up a Sandwich Bar, Cafe or Deli. Infact anyone wanting to open any business that features Coffee. Many types of business serve coffee these days, with either a Traditional Espresso Machine or automatic Bean to Cup Machine. Bookshops, Bicycle Shops, Motor Cycle Dealers to name but a few. Any business that attracts like minded people who share common interests is a great place to start a Coffee Shop. It gives people the chance to socialise and talk about their shared interests. This business diversification also provides an additional income for these businesses that are not “out and out” Coffee Shops.

Like any business that people want to start up, it’s usually because they have an interest in some element of their chosen business idea. It’s always a good idea to do something you like doing or have a skill at, otherwise what’s the point? However, just because you have a “passion” and a dream of setting up your own Coffee Shop doesn’t mean that it will be automatically successful. The same rules apply for any business – Doesn’t matter how good your idea is, you need to make sure there is a “need” in your town or geographic area. This research will form part of your “Business Plan”. A business plan is more than just putting a few figures together to get finance. “Your Business Plan” is just that. It’s about getting your thoughts and ideas down on paper and creating a plan of action for business research, marketing research, project managing and forecasts for getting your business open. It should also be business planning for the future to make sure you stay open! There is an old saying in business; “If You Fail to Plan You Plan to Fail”. It’s a known fact that a large proportion of new businesses fail within the first 3 Years.

Get a clear vision of what you would like your business to be. Try and picture it in your mind. Where would you like it to be? What does it look like? What’s the decor and style? Who are your customers? Apart from Coffee what other offering will you have? What is your USP (Unique Selling Point)? Basically, you have to identify how you can be a bit different from any competition that will also appeal to your potential customers. The most important thing to find out from as many people as possible within your “market place” is; Do they agree with your “vision”? and; Are they prepared to become a customer and pay for it? Put a questionnaire together and go and talk to as many people as you can to find out if your coffee business idea is what they would spend their money on. Also ask open questions about what “they” would like to see in their area. They might suggest some things you never thought of. They may also criticise some of your ideas, don’t take it personally. If their criticism is valid learn by it. Remember, it’s not about what you want. Give them what they want and they will spend their money with you rather than someone else. Check out other Coffee Shops to see how they do it. Not only your local “competition” but further a field. Make several visits at different times of the day if possible. Also, try and look at them from a customers point of view. Make notes of not only the things they seem to do right, but what you think they do wrong. Do they have a steady stream of customers all day or just at lunchtimes? Make a note of prices. Once you are aware of the costs of products then you can guess their “mark up”. Do you think they have the customers they need to make a good return from their prices? Of course, this is not the whole profit story. You have to consider overheads and staff wages etc. You will have a better idea once you “cost out” your own business which we will come to shortly. Correlate all of the “plus” points you have found in the competition and combine them with your USP and VISION for your business and see if you think you can do things a bit better.

Once you have a clear picture about your business then apply what is known as the “Four P’s of Marketing”. Product, Price, Place and Promotion. This can expand to the seven P’s for the service industry. There’s lots of information online but basically all the P’s have to match to get the right “Marketing Mix” for the product and/or service. For example: A high cost perfume couldn’t be sold on a market stall. It’s unlikely that the correct pricing could be achieved and there’s a good chance that shoppers wouldn’t believe the perfume to be the “real” thing anyway. The “marketing mix” is all wrong. If you consider the four P’s when seeing how an expensive perfume is sold you will see what I mean. The Product (a top brand), Place (where – high class perfumeries and shops in some of the worlds most exclusive Cities). Promotion (TV, Cinema, Product placement and the Worlds most exclusive media magazines). Therefore the Price is set according to the social and financial level of the customer being promoted to. Basically, it’s that old saying that “If you have to ask the price then you can’t afford it”. The fours P’s match and you have the right marketing mix. Decide what market sector you want your Coffee business to fit in to. If you want your business to be “classy” with a “stylish” decor and serving a range of “top quality” goodies served by immaculate, polite and efficient staff (Product) then to get the “Price” you need or want then you will have to ensure you are in the right upmarket area or Town (Place) that has an upmarket level of customers. The way your business looks on the High Street and your high level of service that would be expected by your upmarket clientele is the correct Promotion in itself. People tend to mix in the same circles as themselves thereby promoting your business by “word of mouth” within an exclusive group of people. These days this process is strengthened with “social media”.

So where do you find all this information if you don’t really know the area where you want to set up? Within the UK, County Councils will have a wealth of information available within the NATIONAL CENSUS reports for the area. For example it can tell you property values and where they are. Socio Economic Groups (A, B, C1 etc). What their Income levels are and where they live in the area. It can tell you the age groups, how many in each group and where they live. All this information and more can be used to find out where to locate your business for the market sector you are looking for.

Time to look at yourself and any partners there might be. You need to determine everybody’s “Strengths and Weaknesses”. Make a list under each heading. A strength doesn’t have to be a fully fledged “Barista” at this stage. You can be trained in that area – more on Barista Training later. However, for now, coffee making skills might be a weakness until you receive training. For example; a strength is any quality or skill you may already have that can be applied to your new coffee shop business. You might naturally be a good organiser and have great “people skills”. These are great for managing your business and staff. People skills are pretty important in a “hospitality” business! The same theory applies to your “Weaknesses” list. If you are a disorganised person then you need to be able to delegate to someone who is a good organiser or learn the skills required to discipline yourself into the everyday management of your business. “People skills” is a skill that can be learnt. There are many courses and books available in this are of personal and business communications, customer service and hospitality industry courses. In general, analyse yourself and partners to determine if there are any qualities, knowledge or skills that are lacking to run your business then get the training you need. Don’t forget Accounting skills. This seems an obvious skill that a business needs but can easily get brushed aside in the midst of excitement about starting a new business. No matter how big your dream is of being part of the “Cafe Culture” you need to know how to look after the “pennies” and control your “Cashflow Forecasts” and “Profit + Loss” Accounts. Continue building your list of Strengths and Weaknesses with anything you can think of that will be required to run your business. If you’re not sure how to think about, and compile your list, then once again guidance is available in many business books etc.

Before discussing Barista Coffee Skills; an area which you need to explore depending upon your location and the nature of products that you may sell is food hygiene. Check out the relevant Food Standard Authority in your geographic location. In the UK it’s the Food Standards Agency. See http://www.food.gov.uk You need to consider Food Hygiene training and learn about the regulations in this area. Back to making coffee; You don’t need to be a fully qualified Barista before you can make excellent Espresso based coffees and have customers flocking back for more. However, if you have no previous experience, you will need some training and time for some practice before you open your door to customers. With my business, you would be taught some basic skills at the time of your Espresso machine installation. This would involve training on the machine and coffee bean grinder; how to operate them and “best practice” use of the equipment. Day to day maintenance and cleaning schedules will be explained to ensure trouble free use of the equipment. The next step is to show how to prepare a range of the most popular speciality coffees I.e. Lattes, Cappuccinos, Espressos, Latte Macchiato, Mochas etc. including Steaming and Stretching the milk to obtain the perfect micro-foam. Once you get some work experience and have an understanding of the processes then you can take advantage of more advanced Barista Training if you feel the need.

I’ve already suggested you visit other Coffee businesses in your area for market research and gathering vital intelligence on the competition. At the same time decide if you need other “Coffee Shop Skills” by being a “customer”. If it’s a good Coffee Shop then observe the general skills that the staff have and how they attend to customers. Now we come to the cost!

So you now have a clear vision of your business. You can now see your “dream” more vividly in your minds eye but can you afford it? Your initial SET UP costs are going to be for “Premises” – Lease costs. Rent will be a “Fixed Cost”. Property renovations and fixtures, fittings and equipment and potentially uniforms with be “Set Up” costs. Make a list of ALL the equipment you are going to need. Not to mention a Coffee Machine and all related coffee equipment. If your business is to be a Coffee Shop, Coffee Lounge or any business dedicated to the excellence of coffee then you will require a Traditional Espresso Machine set up. If it’s going to be Fast Food, Takeaway etc where staff are doing several jobs at once. McDonalds staff for example, then a Bean to Cup machine would be a better choice because of operational needs. See my article on How to Choose Commercial Coffee Machines – Espresso Machines, Bean to Cup, Bulk Brew . If you are starting from absolute scratch you are going to need counters, chilled display cabinets and serve over counters. Food prep equipment (Stainless Steel tables etc.) Grills, Ovens, Refridgerators, Water Boilers, Dishwashers; the list goes on and will be specific for your business. All will have to be “commercial” specification as opposed to domestic equipment. FIXED COSTS, surprise, surprise, are those costs that will hopefully not change too much and are not related to sales. The “cost” of sales is a “variable cost”. Fixed costs are Shop Rent, Business Rates, Insurance, Electric and Gas services if arranged on a fixed monthly plan, Staff Wages, National Insurance (check out all costs relating to employment). Don’t forget your own wages! Telephone Rental, Broadband tariff, WiFi costs – you get the idea. VARIABLE COSTS are related to the cost of producing and providing anything that you sell. For example: Coffee beans, milk, sugar, coffee syrups and sauces, disposable cups. Crockery cups would be a fixed cost but that would depend upon if you and staff have “butter fingers”. All other drinks, food and any other consumables that are used as a result of you making “sales”. Other variables that are not quite as obvious are Advertising and Promotion. It may not be something you do all the time therefore it is “variable”. Please note that any advertising and promotion should be monitored to establish success of campaign and cost per customer. Over time you will have an idea of your customers average spend. Relate that to the average cost of getting a customer and will be able to evaluate if your “campaigns” are worthwhile. All these “variable” costs need to be built in to your Financial Projections which should be for at least 12mths and beyond. Financial Projections should be in the form of a “Profit + Loss” spreadsheet. This is important in assessing the viability of the business. A “Cashflow” Forecast is also very important in the real world, not only for your initial projections but also as a working “day to day” document once you get your business open. There is plenty of information available in business books and online on how to put these projections together. If you have an Accountant, discuss all things financial with them. There is an old business saying that “Turnover is Vanity”. Make sure you are always looking at the “bottom line” of Profit in any financial figures you put together. As mentioned; your Business Plan should extend into the future. A 5 year plan is a good idea. Outline your ideas and vision for future growth. Set business goals and evaluate if you achieved them. Your Business Plan should be a “dynamic document” to respond to the “marketplace” and your ideas. If you you don’t know where your going how will you ever get there!

For those just starting out in any business, I hope this article has given you some insights. Good luck with your future ventures and please feel free to contact me.

Why Small Business Funding Can Be the Answer to Your Problems

Over the past few years, unemployment rates have increased to higher levels than ever before, which has resulted in many people deciding to start up their own small businesses instead. While small business ownership is a good thing, many entrepreneurs can in fact benefit greatly from using small business loans or other types of business funding to help them get ahead.

It Acts as a Safety Net

Many small businesses have not been in operation for long enough to have been able to build up a reasonably-sized company savings account. As a result, they often run into severe financial difficulties if their businesses experience more than one or two quiet months in a row. Being able to secure some sort of funding to cover necessary running expenses during these times will often make all the difference between businesses being able to keep their doors open or having to close up shop permanently.

It Provides Investment Capital

At some time or other, almost every small business owner dreams of the day where he or she will be able to stand head and shoulders above competing businesses in their industry. However, in order to do this, additional funding is required, which most small businesses simply do not have. Funds obtained by means of small business loans can normally be used to improve or enhance any infrastructure and business-related equipment or cover the cost of any training courses that may be required to improve business skills.

It’s a Low-Interest Loan Option

Although numerous smaller businesses desperately require additional funding, many of their owners make the mistake of applying for the first loan option that they can find. This can become extremely costly because of the fact that the business does not yet have any proven financial track record, credit rating or any form of collateral to offer. Dedicated small business loans can sometimes be quite challenging to qualify for; however, business owners who are successful in receiving them will normally find that interest rates and repayment terms tend to be far more favorable than those of standard loans.

An Alternative to Traditional Business Funding

Unlike regular loans where fixed repayments have to be made each month, a business cash advance provides small business owners who use merchant credit card services with additional cash when it is most needed. This is done by enabling business owners to receive a cash lump sum in lieu of future card sales that will be made. The amount that is borrowed can then be repaid as funds become available to the small business owner, and two of the only restrictions to being allowed to apply for this type of funding are that a business needs to have been in operation for 12 months or longer and that it has to have at least one brick and mortar location.

If you are a small business owner that has been operating for longer than a year and you have an excellent credit record, your chances of being approved for a business cash advance are relatively high. At the end of the day, it makes far more sense to use a business cash advance than it does to apply for traditional loans. Before applying for any other type of loan, feel free to contact us to determine whether you will qualify for a business cash advance.

The Benefits of Good Credit Control Procedures in a Small Business

Credit control is important in a business especially for small businesses. This means that every small business should ensure that it collects its outstanding invoices. Some small businesses let their uncollected invoices accumulate which ultimately affects their cash flow and also the performance of the general business. This problem can be attributed to poor credit control and lack of knowledge on the benefits of good credit control procedures in a small business.

One of the primary benefits of good credit procedures in a small business is that there will be sufficient funds to ensure that the business runs smoothly. The outstanding uncollected invoices mean that the business has some money which is deemed to be available but cannot be used in the operations of the business. This is especially a major issue in a small business which might not have enough funds to run the various operations without collecting the outstanding invoices as required. This makes it paramount for a business to ensure that it has set down good procedures of credit control so as to ensure the business runs smoothly with sufficient funds available.

Having good procedures is also important since it enables the business to know its reliable and trustworthy clients. This is because having good procedures in place will enable the business to explain to its various clients when and how the invoices will be collected. The reliable clients will keep to the payment terms and will ensure that the invoices are ready by the time stipulated by the credit control procedure. Through this the business can identify the clients that keep to their payment terms and therefore it becomes easier to extend credit to such clients since they keep their word.

Another major benefit of having a good credit control procedure in place is that the businesses are able to plan properly. This is because a small business with good control procedures will be able to know the money it has and the money to expect. As a result, the business will be able to budget even on the uncollected invoices since the laid down procedure will ensure that the outstanding invoices are collected on time.

A business can even get outsourced providers of credit control services who will ensure that all the outstanding invoices are collected on time. Having outsourced providers will give the business time to concentrate on other issues regarding the growth of the business. Furthermore, some outsourced providers even pay for the uncollected invoices and then go ahead to collect the invoices after the stipulated dates. This gives the small business the assurance that funds will be available on time to run the various operations of the business.

Good credit control procedures that enhance collection of a businesses outstanding invoices are also beneficial because it allows a business to control credit limits. Small businesses should have a limit of the credit to be extended. This means that these businesses should have a limit of the outstanding invoices. When the outstanding invoices surpass the set limit, the business might not be able to extend credit to other clients.

But with good credit control procedures the small businesses will be able to set limits and therefore be able to extend credit to other customers and also to those whose outstanding invoices have been collected. Therefore, it is paramount for a small business to have good credit control procedures in place which will enhance their collection of outstanding invoices.