WORKING ON YOUR BUSINESS
A NOTE FROM OUR BUSINESS ADVISOR:
If you’ve been to any business networking meetings, you may have come across the phrases ‘Think outside the box’ and ‘Blue Sky Thinking’, when people are trying to come up with good business ideas.
I was reminded of this in one of my 1 to 1 sessions, where we were talking about what makes a good business idea.
WHAT MAKES A GOOD BUSINESS IDEA?
Good businesses do not arrive out of the Blue Sky, they come from passion, determination, a bit of luck and a good idea. The Good Idea can be anything, but what they all have in common is the connection to you, as the entrepreneur and business woman. And those Good Ideas are thought of because they solve a problem that you have or have observed.
SO, HERE IS A TIN OPENER!
What came first, the tin or the tin opener? The tin can was invented in the early 1800’s, and originally, they were so thick they had to be hammered open. The tin can was patented in 1810 as a way to preserve food (solving a problem). It wasn’t until 1858 that the tin opener was invented. This solved the problem of opening cans safely and easily while keeping all the contents inside the tin! You may have seen old films where cans are opened by sticking a knife through the lid? The tin opener uses that idea to run a blade around the edge of the can and originally were a blade which would puncture the can and then using a lever action against the rim, cut around the lid
Over the years, entrepreneurs have improved on the basic tin opener, making them easier and more comfortable to use or combining other features such as bottle and jar openers, or making them electric.
But now, tins are becoming almost always ring pull, doing away with the need for the tin opener. So what is the future for this kitchen gadget and the company that makes them?
This reminds me of yet another conversation about spotting trends. A good business owner will have seen the development in tin cans and will be making another product for the kitchen instead of tin openers! Maybe an easy way to pull the ring without stopping the contents and an emergency cutter for when the ring pull fails. None of this is Thinking Outside the Box. This is all about thinking about what can be changed, substituted, added too or combined with something else to make a better product.
And the same works for all entrepreneurs and is what gives your product or service it’s unique selling point.
YOUR BUSINESS IDEA
Have a close look at your business idea. What problem does it solve? What have you done and what can you do to give your business a unique selling point. And as your business starts to trade, keep looking for those changes you can make to be ahead of trends.
Don’t make tin openers, even though they are still useful 🙂
If you would like support with developing your business ideas further, please get in touch and we can arrange a one-to-one business advice appointment.
Back next time with some more tips for great businesses! Janet x
This week I want to talk about connections and impact. As many of you are in the process of setting up your business, or have new businesses, you will know that The Millin Charity promotes plans. Business Plans in particular are essential tools to help you understand all aspects of your business.
Business Plans help to break down all the functions and elements that make up your business into ‘bite sized’ chunks. However, they are all connected.
How you set your pricing policy depends on your understanding of your customers and your market place. It also depends on your marketing strategy and how you position your business in that market place. You also need to know all your costs, both the direct costs (materials, time) and the indirect ones (rent, utility bills, insurance), and you need to make money for yourself. And you need to understand how these change across the year, and when you might want to offer incentives and deals to persuade people to buy from you or to clear old stock. So your pricing policy may also change with the seasons.
So if your customers want a cheap solution to their problem, but you want to charge a higher amount, then your marketing strategy needs to emphasise other benefits of buying from you. If this is because your product or service is of a high quality, your marketing and branding need to say this, or that you can be faster, or there are other benefits like supporting the community, whatever it is that will persuade customers to spend that little bit more with you.
When starting a new business, having the confidence to say “This is my price because it’s worth it”, comes from writing a good business plan, and as you develop your business, the plan needs to be revised and refined. In this way you can better understand the impact of different situations and which part of your business you need to adapt to take best advantage of a changing world.
Personal connections are also crucial when developing and running your business. This is why building good networks is important. And these networks can be virtual through social media or real. Actively participating in networks can sometimes feel like a waste of your time, but remember, every time you make a personal connection with someone, they may have the answer to your question, and sometimes answers to questions you hadn’t thought to ask. And networks also include the most important people to your business – potential customers.
So, keep networking, talking, connecting – it’s good for you and good for your business!
If you would like support with developing your business ideas further, please get in touch and we can arrange a one-to-one business advice appointment.Back next time with some more tips for great businesses! Janet x
Today I’m going to ask you to think about risk. We face risk in everything we do. In our personal lives, at work as well as when running a business.
Having a risk strategy can help you move your business forward in a way that feels comfortable to you. We all have different attitudes to risk. Some people leap first and then consider the consequences, others like to weigh up the situation carefully before proceeding, and you will be the same when running your business.
WHAT IS RISK?
So, what is risk? Risk is an uncertain event where the outcome, if different from what is predicted, affects your business.
Your business will face many risks. What if costs go up by more than predicted, or the number of customers and the amount they spend is less? Or you suffer a burglary, or your premises flood? Or a customer complains on social media? So many things can go wrong that if you sit and think about them all, they will overwhelm you and you’d never start a business. This is where risk management and having a risk strategy is important.
In deciding how to manage risk, you will need to asses the risk and its importance to your business. You will need to understand who is responsible for that risk and who will be affected by it.
You can then respond in one of four ways:
Avoid. Eliminate exposure to the risk altogether. This often means a major change in your business planning. For example, if you thought you would make soft toys, but then came across the regulations on the safety testing requirements, you might decide that the risk of making toys is too great and make dresses instead.
Reduce. Gather more information so you understand the risk better. So, to make soft toys, find our what you need to do to get the CE mark and be able to make and sell toys safely and legally
Transfer. Pass the impact of the risk onto someone else. Take out an insurance policy. If your soft toy falls apart and you have product liability insurance, as long as you followed your standard method for making the toy, the insurance will cover any claim made against you.
Manage. Put plans in place, so that you have alternatives if the risk occurs. For example, using your soft toys as home decoration instead of toys. Or, in the current situation, being able to work from home when I can’t work at The Millin Charity’s office!
Having thought about your business risks, assessed them and how you deal with them, you can then think about the positive steps you’ll take to give your business, and yourself, every chance of success.
If you would like support with risk assessing your business and products, please get in touch and we can arrange a one-to-one business advice appointment or put you in touch with one of our volunteer experts.
Back next time with some more tips for great businesses! Janet x
B Collective is The Millin Charity’s exciting social business, developed from the Women’s Trading Collective project, which aims to create collective support and trading experiences for local women.
B Collective offers ethically produced, environmentally friendly, design-led products and provides opportunities for women to gain enterprise experience & skills through participating in the running of the business. All profits are invested back into our projects to support local women. We are thrilled to have been working with Corinne Lewis-Ward of Powder Butterfly who has designed the fantastic new range, Same Difference. The range includes organic cotton t-shirts and bags and fully recyclable coffee travel cups. Click here to read more and to read about the story behind the designs.
The new range of products are available to be purchased online and from our base at The Millin Charity’s base at The Beacon, Westgate Road.