As a business owner you may find my five top business tips useful.
We have hit the shortest day of the year which means from now until the end of the year you are going to have more daylight hours to work on your business.
To help you get more success with your business you can continue doing what you are doing, or make some changes. Of course in today’s fast moving world many say if you do not change and improve then you’re going backwards anyway.
In my business as a New Zealand mortgage broker the environment we work in seems to be in a state of constant change and therefore we must change and change quickly if we are to remain relevant to our customers.
First A Word Of Wisdom
I recently read a saying that rang true with many small businesses that we see – and particularly with franchises.
“Remember, you’re either building your own dream or you’re building somebody else’s”
Now I do not mind who’s dream you are building, but it is worth remembering.
In many cases it is a lot easier to step into a business where somebody else has created the framework and systems and therefore you will share some of your income with them. That’s okay as it means you can stay focused and in many cases will make more money and have a more robust business to sell. MacDonald’s is a classic ‘turn key’ business where the systems are very much embedded within the business model, but it works and most owners are very happy and do very well financially.
Other people will prefer to build their business from scratch.
Sometimes it depends on how passionate you are about your concept, and if there is anything else like it out there. Some businesses are very much based on the owner or owners ideas and are therefore harder to build systems for, while other businesses follow a pattern and can be easily replicated.
Whatever your business, there is room to improve.
My Five Top Business Tips
Here are my five top business tips for 2017;
1: Define what product or service you offer – in many businesses we try to provide a wide range of products or services as we do not want to miss out on potential profits. While being a generalist is okay and has been a business model that has worked in the past, these days people can research general information online so are often looking for more detailed advice which they are prepared to pay extra for. It doesn’t mean turning away business, but means having a real focus in just one or two areas.
In my business as a mortgage broker I could fight with the masses of other mortgage brokers or I could specialise – and I decided to specialise in new build finance as this is something that I know a lot about having recently built a new home, many other mortgage brokers and bank staff are not very good at, is something where people value good advise and our business is located in an area that is the largest growth of new builds in New Zealand.
2: Become an expert at something – once you have defined the product or service that you plan to specialise in, then you need to become an expert on that particular thing. You need to research that product or service and make sure you are knowledgeable and an expert.
A person who is very knowledgeable about or skilful in a particular area.
Having or involving a great deal of knowledge or skill in a particular area.
3: Tell people that you are the expert – it’s all very good being an expert, but unless you can let people know that you are an expert then you will not reap the benefits of all that training and research. More importantly many people that you may have been able to help are getting pretty average advice from other people within your industry who are not experts. Of course traditional adverting is expensive for small business and therefore we need to be smarter.
In our business I have focused on three ways to tell people that we’re experts;
Of course, like this post I am using the internet and specifically posts on my blogs and websites to share what I know in various ways. Because I’ve been doing this for a while now when people search on Google my name often pops up on a post that I have written and therefore I’m seen as the expert. I also often get contacted by people within the media for information and sometimes are quoted as the ‘expert’ in large publications like the NZ Herald and this adds to the credibility.
I then use social media to spread the posts. Specifically I use Facebook where I have created some pages for business and some groups to support those. The main pages are my business page for Mortgage Supply Company – Hobsonville and my more specialist page for New Build Finance. I also have groups for Kiwi First Home Buyers and Kiwi Property Investors.
One of the best ways to spread the word about me being an expert is though business networking groups and I have found that Business Network International (BNI) is the most professional and successful.
4: Streamline your systems – people expect to get answers immediately or at least more quickly than ever before. Many of the old systems (and by old we could mean a year old) have been superseded with new online systems and Apps and as business owners we need to ensure that we have efficient systems. It could be as simple as having a phone system that is smarter, having virtual office support or it may be a system that you use every day in your business.
We have struggled over the years with people completing paper based finance applications which means we then have to data entry the information into our systems so we can then work with that before submitting to a lender (bank or non-bank lender) for an approval. This was typically taking 2-3 hours per application and was frustrating and causing delays, so we have worked on an online finance application that now loads directly into our systems so this time consuming task has been removed. This means we can process the applications faster and therefore do more of them.
5: Measure your business – we’re all in business to make a profit and provide us the lifestyle that we believe we deserve. While the best measurement for a business is really the bank balance, in many businesses you need to be able to measure the activity to ensure that you are doing what is needed to help get the profit that you desire.
In addition to the immediate profit for a business we should all be aiming to de-risk the business by creating an ongoing income. This is easier to do in some businesses, but in others may need you to think outside the square are create something additional that you can sell or creating a passive income from advertising or affiliate marketing via your website.
In our business we use OnePage CRM to manage and report on our activity. This is a simple CRM that contains customers contact details and details of every deal we are working on. It also helps monitor the deals and prioritise what we should be working on.
There are many business coaches and consultants that might give you a larger list, but these are my five top business tips for 2017 and things that you should review within your business.
But there is another thing to consider.
Diversify Your Income
Your income is your biggest asset and you therefore need to look after it.
Too often people leave their income at risk and should something happen there is nothing to fall back on.
Of course in business it is important to put 100% effort into building your business, but you should also put some measures in place to ensure that you can never loose too much.
In 2007 the GFC hit, and as mortgage brokers our income ground to a halt. We “luckily” had built some reoccurring income and most of that continued (some stopped when those businesses failed) and that helped us to get through; albeit with some massive changes. Over the past 10-years we have been focused in ensuring that we can never be affected like that again, and in some ways we are lucky with our business that there is some ability to build a passive income.
Other people I know have focused on building home businesses through network marketing or creating online businesses to supplement what they do in their own business. One of those is to create an online business using e-Bay and an online store – this has been great do to the low entry cost.
So those are my top business tips for 2017, and remember to at least change one thing you do if you want better results.