Introduction to Accolade Business Academy

Discover our very own e-learning platform: Accolade Business Academy. Discover our flexible membership options to suit all your business training needs.

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Emmanuel 8 May 2018 0 Comments

Webinar: How to Start a Home Business

I brought my wife together in this webinar to share how we both start our own business and the challenges we face to grow the business while keeping the family life balance.

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Emmanuel 3 March 2015 0 Comments

3 Scenarios Your Business Doesn’t Need a Niche Market (or does it?)

For most small business, it is important to define a niche market, or some say target market. However, from time to time, I found businesses that never define a target market and still succeed. So below are some scenarios in my opinion you can get away without defining a niche market and still build a successful business.

 

High Demand, Low Competitions

There are occasions where high demand occurs for a particular products or service but no one has yet to serve this need. The business that decided to go into this sort of market can skyrocket in a relatively short amount of time. As an example, I have known personally a businessman who started a scrap metal business during the time when they were considered trash and no one wants anything to do with it. The business eventually cost next to nothing to build and the outcome is huge. It’s not long before the business becomes a multimillion dollar company.

Word of the wise, be careful with the danger of complacency. It is so easy for us to sit back, relax and enjoy our successes. Remember, just like any good business, a lot of people would want to piece for themselves. Before you know it, you will see competitions started to move in and your business no longer enjoy the easy success that comes with it when you first start it. Use this opportunity to build momentum for your business and grow it to something bigger.

 

You Sell Low End Products

By this, I don’t mean cheap. But consider this, which one is easier to sell: a cupcake, or a penthouse suite? The example sounds extreme, but you got the gist. Many people selling low end products tend to get immediate success. They are able to generate cash flow relatively quick compared to high end businesses. This is why sometimes if your dream is to start a financial investment firm, you need to factor in the time it will require for this kind of business to build momentum. And don’t feel sad when your neighbour make a killing selling cupcakes.

Selling low end products can be very beneficial and I would recommend that all business have some sort of a low end product to sell. This is for 2 reasons:

  1. Keep Cash Flowing: cash flow is the oxygen for your business. Without it, your business will run out of air and eventually die.
  2. Help you sell your higher end products: I constantly advised client in having an up-sell and down-sell strategy. No one takes comfort in parting with a large sum of money. So if you sell expensive products, low end products help build trust and relationship and convince your customers to get involved in bigger transactions.

This is all good, however overusing the low end selling strategy can sometimes put strain to your business Because this kind of model can only works through high volume success. More volume means more works and this can potentially hazardous for both your business and your life (health, family, etc). Eventually, all business should aim for a business that can run by itself or at least with minimum amount of the owner’s involvement. In addition to that, where there are competitions around doing the same thing, your best bet is to lower your price even more, making it more difficult to be profitable.

 

Piggy Backing Someone Else’s Business

Though you can argue that this is not the case of not having a niche market, the essence of this point is that you leverage other people’s successes to grow your business. This is the reason why franchisors charge a lot of money upfront before you can use their names. You save on the time and effort to establish yourself in the market. Other ways includes joint venturing, collaborative strategy, etc.

This approach also has its pitfall. Once we become complacent with this system, we are at the mercy of whoever we are piggy backing. If you are a franchisee for example, you have very little control on what the franchisor strategic direction that will determine the future of your business. I recently found some well known video stores are closed down because of franchisors make strategic decisions that bad for the business and doesn’t help them win the already saturated market. Hence they’re losing customers and eventually the business had to close.

 

Conclusion

In summary, this article is to say that IT IS indeed possible for you not to have a niche market for your business. However, there are only a few scenarios where this can happen. The mentality of business that you “Sell to everybody” is not applicable in most times. If you don’t define a target market, soon or later competitions will come in and take over your market. Because you don’t have any specialities, they will win.

Customers want to know that they are doing business with the right company that speaks to their needs. If they can’t see your business as specific to them, then it will all come down to the choice of which one cheaper.

Do you think there are other scenarios where your business doesn’t need to target a niche? Tell me your thought in the comment box below.

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Emmanuel 6 August 2014 0 Comments

What to do when your business is in a slump?

Your business has a life, just like you. From time to time, our body get sick; we don’t feel in the mood and sometimes just feeling more emotional than usual. It is a mistake to think of a slump as the end of your business.

I don’t really know anyone who is thinking of killing themselves when they get flu. Likewise, you shouldn’t decide to quickly to end your business if you’re experiencing a downturn. You do need to make sure that this downturn is temporary and doesn’t kill you.

 

Symptoms vs. Root Cause

The first thing that you need to consider when your business in a slump is to realise that what you’re experience could be a symptom of another problem. Sometimes it’s a big problem, sometimes it’s small. A declining profit might indicate a problem with your marketing rather than operation. Low website traffic might indicate poor design rather than performance issue.

Just like a doctor, you need to have a set of metrics to measure your business activities and its performance. These are your indicator of the real problem. What is your process chain? A problem in one of the chain could be caused by a problem in the previous chain.

Fix The Problem, Not The Symptoms

 

Analyse the Market

At the core of your business you should know your target market, your product and how you deliver the value to your market. Shifts in market demand can and will entirely change the core functions of your business.

As an example, in 2010 research indicates US adults consumed on average over 40% of media time with TV and just under 30% digitally (online, mobile). That figure however changed significantly In 2014, showing only less than 37% is spent on TV and over 47% now consumed digitally (click here to see source). Despite past successes with your current strategy, you should adjust to your market demand.

 

I do not like to repeat successes; I like to go on to other things.

-Walt Disney

Don’t ever live by your past successes, create a better future. What works in the past may not work now. I’ve seen many businesses promote themselves as having a system that works. One begs the question “Which system”, “When”. I doubt there’s any business that survives now without changing their strategy along the way and adapt to this changing world.

 

“The Only Thing That Is Constant Is Change”

-Heraclitus

 

Pareto Principle

If you’ve never heard about this before the Pareto principle or sometimes called 80/20 rule simply state that the “roughly 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes”. To put this in business term, only top 20% of your activities generate 80% of the results.

Now this doesn’t mean you don’t need to do the other 80% of the activities, but more to encourage you to focus more on the top 20% that actually gives you the biggest outcome. For example, if your business is strongly driven by your online or technology presence, the worst thing you can do in a slump is to reduce your technology resources (staff, hardware investment, maintenance, etc).

What activities driving your sales? Focus on them.

Does your best performing staffs cost you a lot of money? Think twice before firing them.

What marketing channel giving you best returns? Boost them.

 

Conclusion

Now, these are general advice. As I mentioned at the start, businesses are like people. They are different and hence have to be treated differently. There are occasions where your business is in a slump due to factors outside your control. Regulations, natural disasters, etc. Before deciding what to do, you should first see an expert specialising in business growth. Whether that’s an accountant, a consultant or a coach, these are people that can analyse your situation and recommend the best way to move forward.

If your business has been in a slump, I would like to know what you think about it, how did you get out of it and which of the above points you feel the need to be applied the most (or if you have a new point altogether).

Use the comment box below to tell share your story. Please feel free to contact me should you have any questions.

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Emmanuel 22 July 2014 0 Comments

Start a business: Which one comes first, money or network?

Depend where you’re coming from, there are usually 2 schools of thoughts on what you need to have before starting a business:

  1. You need a lot of money (capital)
  2. You need to know a lot of people (the right people)

The choice is usually driven by the culture you grew up with, people you hang around and if you’re in an environment (country) where business start-ups are encouraged or not. I found a lot of people with great business ideas were put down by the lack of one or the other. For me, this is similar to asking the questions that you’re all too familiar with:

Which one comes first? The chicken or the egg?

 

Money Matters

Having a lot of capital can be of huge benefits. That is if they are used wisely. Too many businesses I’ve noticed have the mentality of “To get big, you have to spend big”. This is not always true. I can give you examples after examples where businesses with big capitals disappear. The lack of strategy and planning can really make a big impact what become of those investments. To me, this is almost the same as gambling. You are betting your business on the odds of the money you invested will give you the return you expected.

Many gamblers often find themselves get some big wins only to lose it again from expectation of getting bigger win. If you are in this category, good for you! But don’t let the amount of available resources fools you. What separate a businessman and a seasoned gambler is that a businessman has realistic goals and strategy how to achieve those goals. Investing your money in the right place coupled with the right strategy can have a massive impact. But gone are the days where you can only get big when you spend big.

 

Money Options

There are many alternatives to get capital if you don’t have a lot of money yourself. One thing I would say though is that you need to at least figure out how you can survive. If you don’t have enough money in the bank just to survive, don’t quit your job yet. Keep saving money until you have enough to support you for at least a full year.

After that, anything you need to start your business can be obtained with outside help. Here’s some idea on how to get your start up capital:

  • Investors (Venture Capitalist, Angel Investors)
  • Crowd Funding
  • Government Grants
  • Bank Loan

Your start up capital should only go to the essentials, for example: websites, business cards, business registrations, etc. Depend on your type of business, most of the time you don’t even need an office space. But don’t let the availability of these financial facilities fools you. The majority of your start up activities should be focused around planning, researching and crafting your products.

 

Relationship Matters

I personally have always been fond of networking. I could never grow tired of meeting people and network with the right crowds. I have personally benefitted and grow my business more through this approach more than others. However, I too will say that going crazy with meetings and networking without purpose and understanding of your target market can be mentally draining. This has been my personal experience as well.

Back when I started my business, I attended every networking event I can find on a daily basis. Although those periods have been a great learning experience (and I do get a few clients), it is not without consequence to myself and my family. More important than working hard is working smart. Be smart who you network with. There are a lot of people who would like to know you, but there’s only a handful that make good business clients or partners. Always evaluate the quality of networking and meeting you attended.

Why am I so fond of networking? Simply said:

Profit follows relationship

 

I found the more people trust you, the more they are willing to invest in your business. The more they trust you, the more they will send you new business. This will eventually equals more profit for you. So you see if you focus on developing relationship with your market you will find that overtime, your profit will increase. Now, there’s no magic pills here, you still need the right target market, the right product and the right delivery mechanism.

This is what I call “The Core” of your business with clients. If you don’t know your target market (or you targeted the wrong market), your networking won’t be effective. If you don’t have a good product, I don’t have to say it twice that you won’t have a good business. Likewise, how you deliver your value to your target market also matters (you’re not likely to run a good pizza business if your delivery takes 2 hours to get to customers).

 

Conclusion

Use what’s in your hand

The reason I write this post is I don’t want you to let the lack of one of money or network stops you from creating your dream business. In this modern age, there are many ways to get your business up and running. The most important is to form your business core before deciding on spending money or growing your network.

If you have an existing business that’s currently leaking financially or maybe you feel drained by excessive networking activities, don’t lose heart, all is not lost. Take a closer look to your business core and make the necessary adjustment. Feel free to drop me an email if you have questions.

Which school of thoughts are you from? Share your experience below.

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Emmanuel 17 July 2014 0 Comments

Should I Run My Business Part Time or Full Time

In my book, there’s no such thing as a part-time business. Running a business demands more than just your time. It requires energy, passion, focus, and even some financial commitment. You either have a business or a hobby.

Somewhere in between, I’d call it freelancing, and in my book, freelancing is something else. To represent my point further, let me say this:

You can’t be a part time millionaire

Granted, there are those who make a lot of money starting part-time, but eventually at some point in life, they need to make a decision to go full steam ahead.

A good business needs to have a strong vision & mission, a clear positioning on how their offering will deliver value for their customers, as well as some kind of leverage that the business can use to sail forward without having to sell their souls to overwork.

Online Business

A lot of people start an online business because of the freedom that online business promises. They enjoy having their work desk sitting across their beds, being able to finish work and jump straight to bed, skipping traffic, bad weather and sometimes shower altogether.

While all these promises are true, it often hides the real building blocks that made up an online business. Despite what’s being advertised out there no online tycoons made their millions by sleeping all day at home. It takes hard work and determination just like any other business.

Freelancing vs. Business

In legal term, freelancing is a business just like any other. However, in my book, freelancing is still not a business. Freelancing is a job structure where you’re not being bound to any specific employers. There are several components in my opinions are missing from having freelancing to be called a business:

Vision & Mission

Few freelancers started the venture with clear vision and mission or even a simple goal. If any, the goals would be to create as much money as possible, making it no difference than a job. Fact is, the way you conduct your business is strongly driven by your vision and mission statement (if you have a vision/mission statement that doesn’t drive your business, then you have a different problem).

Clear Positioning

Established businesses have a clear target market, understanding of their problems and strategy to bring the business value into the face of their target market. Some call it marketing strategy, I call it positioning. And positioning is what makes convinced your customers/clients to buy from you instead of your competitors. Many freelancers have some ideas about who they market their service to, but few understand how to get to them.

Leverage

A business should be something you can leverage. This means, the more money you make doesn’t have to mean the more time or energy you have to spend. A high leverage business is businesses that can make lots money without the owner have to work like a horse. This is not possible through freelancing since freelancers can only make more money by working more.

On the other side of the coins, I’ve also seen many freelancers evolved to establish a business with clear target market, strong positioning and unique value proposition. These are people that started freelancing with big dream in mind and slowly work their ways towards that dream.

My Point

Why did I say this thing? For me, business is a vehicle for you to achieve your dream. It is a long and hard road to give you financial freedom, all the time you want with your family and even your hobby. It’s a vehicle to allow you to give more to the community without having to worry about meeting your own needs. But all this can only be achieved through perseverance and hard work.

That’s just my views, would like to get yours to see if miss anything. Type in your comments below.

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Emmanuel 8 July 2014 0 Comments

The Key to Getting All The Clients You Want (ANZ Presentation 21-May-14)

Positioning will ensure your business will stand out against all the competitions.

4 Keys to successful positioning:

  1. Focus on Benefits, not Features
  2. Be Authentic
  3. Separate yourself from the competitions
  4. Be Unique

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Emmanuel 21 May 2014 0 Comments

How to Turn Ideas Into Business Workshop (19-Oct-13)

4 Simple Steps:

  • Step 1: Knowing Yourself
  • Step 2: Knowing Your Market
  • Step 3: Knowing Your Market Emotional Need
  • Step 4: Know Your Marketing Weapons

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Emmanuel 19 October 2013 0 Comments