(A Business Development Manager’s Point of View)So you want to develop a business, huh? Well, you’re just in luck. This article will help you whether you are planning to start up new or have an existing business that you would like to expand. This is a step by step guide on how to start, improve, and expand a business while minimizing loss on your part. If you are starting new, please read this article carefully from the very beginning. For those, who already have an existing business and would like to improve or expand, the latter part of the article will be more useful.Every business starts with an idea. You will find that throughout the article, I have emphasized the mental aspects of people rather than physical or financial aspects. Call me philosophical, but the mind is where everything happens. I have seen and experienced it time and time. When your mind is fully committed, there is literally nothing that you cannot do. Let’s begin.Step 01: Find Your PassionTo start a business, you need to find out what it is that you are truly passionate about. “Why is that important”, you say? The answer is simple. You really do not want to get yourself stuck into a kind of work that you hate. There are plenty of planning and executing involved in a brand new business and if you are passionate about it, they would not feel like work at all compared to a kind of business you do not care for. After all, happiness is the end result of anything that we do in life. Why not choose a business that would make you happy while doing it?”When your vacation becomes your vocation, you have succeeded in life”.Step 02: How to Sell ItNow that you have found your passion, let us figure out how to use it to bill people who are in need of the kind of service you can provide. Even though yours is the most ridiculous passion ever, believe me, there are millions of people who would be glad to have your services. As a matter of fact the stranger and more unique your passion is, the more likely you are to succeed simply because that type of business doesn’t exist yet. That also doesn’t mean that if your passion is something common or usual, you shouldn’t do it. Even if it is something common, if you really love it, you will always find ways to do things differently than the others and that itself is the winner.Let’s say that you are passionate about cars. You are more likely to succeed in an auto shop, auto parts shop, or a repair and modification shop. Sure, there are plenty of those out there, but if you love it, it is going to be one of a kind. Maybe your shop has a nice waiting area where your customers can have a seat and a free beverage when they come to drop off or pick up a car, or you may have free stickers complementary to having their breaks fixed. Once you’re in the business, you’ll figure that out.Step 03: The PlanningWrite down your unique ideas and prepare a presentation. Take some time to do it. You should not rush this part. If a new idea comes while you are in the middle of the planning stage, do not hesitate to change. Edit and modify until you are fully satisfied and you can see a clear mental picture of your business. I cannot emphasize how important this is. You have to be absolutely clear and certain. If there are parts that are hazy, leave for a while, do something else, and come back to the planning table again when your mind is clear. You will see later how we will reuse this step over and over again.A thing to remember here is that I am not talking about the “Hows”. At this point, you’re not thinking how you will start the business. That will come later. Your focus at this stage is the “Whats”. If you start thinking about the “Hows”, you will ruin your plan because you will start to think about things such as “How do I get the capital”, “How am I going to find an ideal place” etc. The “Hows” will show up later when you are clear about the “Whats”.Step 04: Visualize Your SuccessNow that you have had the clear picture of your business, visualize how it would look and feel when it is fully operational and successful. You must be able to taste the success. This again is another important stage. Why-you ask? There will be obstacles on your way to success. This is the picture that will keep you going. It will also help keep your team motivated in the future should you need to inspire them in times of hardship. You, the leader, must have that picture of success handy at all times.Step 05: The NeedsYou are clear about what your business will be and you have a clear picture of success. By now, you are mentally ready, so let’s get physical. The physical needs of the business include 3 things: infrastructure, personnel, and finance.Infrastructure: If your business is local such as an auto repair shop, you will need a space, an office, a storage area, and some furniture. If your business is virtual, you will need a website or other computer based applications. In any case, you have the clear picture (Step 03), so you can create a list of infrastructural needs.Personnel: If it is a kind of business that you can do totally on your own, then you are it. If not, you are going to need assistance. Use Step 03, and find out how many people you will need and what their jobs and qualifications should be. You may also look among your friends, relatives and acquaintances that may have those qualifications and would be happy to help you in the beginning. Having a good friend or partner at this stage is very helpful. If you have a friend who shares almost the same vision as you, you have hit the jackpot. Things are a lot easier with a good friend beside.Finance: This part is slightly uncomfortable for a lot of people. For this reason, a lot of great ideas never see the light of the day. Many would give up at this sector because they believe there is no money. If you feel that, please remember that the financial industry was built on great ideas. It is their purpose to invest. How else do you think the Empire State Building was built? One person didn’t put all his money into it. The idea was great and was simply backed by several financial institutions. The truth is there are numerous banks, lending agencies, and investors who are looking for a great idea to invest in.However, ideally you, as the owner of the business, should have at least half the initial capital you need. If you are currently in a job, you can start saving up. If you already have the money, begin at once. If you do not have anything, use your Step 03 presentation to attract a wealthy relative, friend or an investor.I have mentioned in the beginning of the article how important the mental aspects of the people are. I would like to elaborate on this a little bit more since finance is a huge issue. Fear is your only true enemy here. This is the only one thing that you have to overcome, and you have to face it no matter what. I will help you with a few tips on how to do it, but you have to walk this path.First of all, it is okay to be afraid. It is a part of who we are. Just remember that “Courage is not the absence of fear. It is having fear and still doing the thing you are afraid of”. In other words, FACE IT. After all, “At the end of our lives, we only regret things we haven’t done or chances we haven’t taken”. What is the worst that could happen? We all die, and it is better to die quickly doing something we love than live a long boring life doing things that are safe and comfortable. Use Step 04 and have that taste of success, and get out there. Here are a few types of fear that you may have and how to overcome them:Fear of Rejection: Yes, you will be rejected. Not a lot of people would understand what it is you are trying to do, so do not take it personally, and move on to the next. When you do your presentation, prepare your best and do it with passion. People invest in sincerity. I know I would. I would invest my own money if I saw a person who was genuinely passionate about a project even though I didn’t understand the business. Why? Because he would not give up on this until successful, so it pays to have your Step 01.Fear of Loss: There is always a possibility of loss. After all, it is a new business and you do not know all the pits and falls. Trust in yourself that if you make a mistake and have a loss, you will also know how to get out of it. It is your idea, and you know best. Loss will happen when it happens, and you will know what to do then- no need to worry now.Fear of Embarrassment: Yes, there are those who would always have something to say especially when you are having a hard time. You will be ridiculed and laughed at. However, wouldn’t that be sweeter when you come around triumphant? How could you win if you have never been defeated? Prepare to take the embarrassment and defeat, use Step 04 through these times, and come back a winner. People remember a hero- not an average person.I hope the tips on fear would help you overcome it. Now that you have found the capital provider/s, there is one thing you should consider. Find an investor who is willing to wait for the business to properly run, which is ideally 6 to 8 months. There are investors, banks or lending agencies that would loan you the money but would want their interests or return of investment (ROI) almost immediately. This is short sighted. A wise investor knows that if the business isn’t fully operational and he starts to claim his money, neither will the business succeed nor will he get his money back. Therefore, choose someone who will wait. That way, the business is safe and the investor gets his full ROI.Step 06: StartFind your place, find your personnel, and go for it. Use your partner as a right hand man and divide jobs. One can find a place and buy the furniture and the other can do the hiring. Hire the best quality people you can. Keep in mind that the first set of employees will be your core team, and you must be comfortable working with them. Remember Step 03, so you will know how many people you need and what qualifications they must have.Step 07: EmployeesMake sure everyone knows clearly what they are doing. Create a fair employment policy where good jobs are rewarded. Also, make sure that employees that are not really up to the job are given chances and training before you let them go. It sometimes helps to pair up one good employee with another bad one so that the bad one can learn from the good. You may also create a profit sharing plan. This makes employees take care of your business as if it is their own.Step 08: MarketMarket your business and do it professionally. Once you have established your business, you must reach as many customers as possible. You may ask a professional photographer to take pictures of your facility, and ask a graphic designer to create brochures.Online presence is also important. Create a good website. It is easy nowadays, but if you have the means, give it to an IT professional. See if you can create an app for smartphones for the services you provide. Offer promotions and discounts on your brochures and website.Regularly meet your core team to discuss how to improve services or reach more customers. Have an open mind, take all their ideas and pick the ones that best suit you, and execute. These are several ways to market your business: Door to Door Marketing, Telemarketing, SEO, API (Create an app), Advertising.On my next article, I will solely focus on Marketing Strategies.Step 09: ExpandExpand your business. You already have one business model now, so all you have to do is copy and paste, so do not refuse a chance to expand. If it is a local business that serves only the local customers, open another branch or start franchising it to other cities. At this point, financing should not be a problem. Plenty of investors and financers will gladly give you the money. If it is an online business, expand your SEO or Customer Support team, and the whole world will be your market.Step 10: BalanceLast but not least, create balance in everything you do. From the very first step to the last, balance is the key. The lesson on balance is huge, but I will discuss it briefly.Too much of anything is bad. Do not work so hard that you lose your family, friends or health. After all, money is no good if you cannot share it with people you love, or if you have to spend most of your money in the hospitals. You have to keep the balance between your business and personal life. Also, no good idea can come out of you if you are overworked and tired all the times. When you feel stuck, get away for a while and come back later. You will find a solution.There are ups and downs in life as well as in business. The lesson on balance also tells us that you should be cautious when you are succeeding and patient when you are failing. When you are succeeding, do not spend money unnecessarily on things you don’t need. Also, when you are failing, do not give up because success is just around the corner. It is the darkest before dawn, so “This too shall pass”.You must also create a balance between you and your employees. You are their leader. If you are too hard on them, they will quit or even worse sabotage the business. If you are too soft, they will play more than work.At the end, all businesses are about people. From your employees to your investors to your customers, balance all relationships. Share and enjoy your success.ConclusionI have gathered the information for this article from different life coaches, motivational speakers, and my own life experiences as a business developer. I hope it helps. Dream big and go for it.
In my career I have been fortunate enough to work for two of the best companies on earth: Accenture and Microsoft. In my eleven years at Accenture I got a tremendous education on systems development, project management, strategic planning, and client service. In my nine years at Microsoft, I took most of what I learned at Accenture and learned how to apply it in a very practical and effective manner. Both experiences were key to my growth as a professional.When I left Accenture to go to Microsoft, I found myself moving from the consultant’s side of the desk to the client’s side of the desk. At Microsoft I had the opportunity to work with a large number of consulting firms in my various jobs managing IT projects, heading up Corporate Procurement, and managing Corporate Planning & Budgeting. In working with many of these firms, I had ample opportunity to reflect on my own career as a consultant and think about how much better a consultant I would have been had I viewed things more from the client’s perspective. It is this client-based, or pragmatic consulting that dramatically increases a consultant’s effectiveness and builds long-term win-win relationships with clients.The “Ah-ha’s”In moving from the consultant to the client role, I was able to clearly articulate some principles, or “Ah-has,” that many consultants either don’t understand or don’t practice on a regular basis, as follows:Consulting is more about listening than speaking – Being an active listener and asking a lot of questions of the client is crucial to getting a deep understanding of the client’s issues and hot buttons. Too frequently I’ve seen consultants rush in with their perspectives on theories or problems without truly taking the time to listen to what is important to the client. Sometimes things worked out OK, but there were times where the consultant’s perceived understanding of the problem didn’t represent the client’s true problems. The end result was is a ticked-off client who viewed the consultant as a pompous jerk.A consultant needs to resist the urge to present solutions before the client has a chance to fully explain the problems. It could be that the consultant understands the problem very well, but to develop a connection with the client, you need to let the client articulate their issues and concerns. That connect time with the client is important to building the trust and credibility that both the consultant and client need to work effectively together.True credibility is achieved fastest by demonstrating a thoughtful understanding of the client’s problem – A consultant may have a strong understanding of industry or functional issues that other companies face, but that doesn’t mean that those problems apply to the client. When a consultant assumes that problems other companies face apply at the client, they take a definite risk in establishing credibility with the client. Even worse is when the client explains their problem and the consultant either doesn’t acknowledge the problem or doesn’t get it after repeated explanations. The longer it takes for a consultant to grasp the client’s problems, the shakier their credibility becomes.A consultant needs to put themselves in the client’s shoes, understand the client’s problem from their perspective, and not make generation assumptions about the complexity or urgency of the problem. Show an “I feel your pain” perspective of the client’s problem and you’ll quickly get over the credibility hump and get the client to where they want to listen to you.”Concise” is more important than “more” – I personally fell victim to this as a younger consultant. Many of my presentations were measured in part by how many slides and how much information I could cram into a presentation. It was commonplace for me to create 100+ slide PowerPoint presentations which would take several hours to go through. When I joined Microsoft, I was thoroughly thrashed the first time I created a pass-the-weight-test presentation. I learned quickly to focus on concise, tight, treat-every-word-like-you’re-spending-a-dollar presentations.A consultant needs to shelve the urge to cram as many pretty slides into a presentation as they can. The client doesn’t necessarily need to see all of the gory details. I’ve learned to focus many of my presentations into a core deck and an appendix. The core deck focuses on three core components: a concise articulation of the problem, the proposed solution to the problem, and how the solution will be implemented. The appendix contains other supporting pieces of information that the consultant only reviews with the client if necessary. I’ve been able to get my point across to my client in a very crisp, concise manner and was able to deep-dive on questions as necessary. True, you may only need a small portion of your appendix and much of your hard work may never see the light of day, but if you’re solving the client’s problem, who cares?The client generally knows the theory, what they may not know is how to practically apply it – I’ve been through one-too-many presentations as a client where a consulting firm brings in their industry expert to talk about the problems that face my industry. After they go on for about fifteen minutes telling me theory I already know, I would ask, “So how did you fix it?” More often than not, the industry expert only knew vague details about how someone else dealt with the problem, if the problem was dealt with at all. Knowing the theory only gets you through the first mile in a 26-mile marathon; knowing how to apply the theory in a very practical and effective manner gets you through the rest of the race.Clients want to hear about how their problems can be solved in a practical, straightforward, effective manner, not about lofty theory. If your theories don’t solve problems, save them for late-night philosophical discussions over a favorite beverage.Relationships are more important than short-term fee goals – True, consultants are in business to generate fees and make money. There’s nothing wrong with a profit motive and a goal to make money. Where it does become a problem, though, is when short-term fee goals cause a consultant to do something that is not in the client’s best interest. Those consultants that seemed to always have one hand in my pocket weren’t the consultants that survived in the long term.The consultants I respected the most are those who told me things like “I really don’t think you need me on this,” or “You could probably do this yourself and save some money.” When a consultant puts my best business interests over their own fees, my trust in them goes up exponentially. True, the consultant may have a short-term fee hit because they didn’t sell a job, but the long-term potential for win-win between the client and consultant was more attainable and far more lucrative.Saying “I don’t know” is OK at times – Being a consultant doesn’t mean that the omniscience fairy came to you one night, waved her magic wand, and deemed you the all-knowledgeable one. Sometimes issues will come up that the consultant can’t answer. Some of the ugliest situations I’ve seen were when the consultant tried to fake his way through a topic he had no business addressing. A simple “I don’t know” would have been far better than throwing up a smoke screen and hoping no one asks questions.Having said this, there are two caveats to note: first, whenever a consultant says “I don’t know” they need to follow it up with “but I’ll find out and give you an answer by x date.” Second, a consultant only gets a few “I don’t knows” before they’re labeled as an incompetent doofus who doesn’t know their subject matter. Having a strong understanding of the subject matter the consultant professes to be expert in is mandatory; having a shaky understanding will get you voted off the island in the first round.True effectiveness as a consultant means the consultant listens to the client, understands their pain, presents practical solutions in a concise manner, and demonstrates the utmost in honesty and integrity. Keep these things in focus, and you’ll earn and keep the best clients. You will establish yourself as a pragmatic consultant who sees things from the only perspective that matters — that of the client.
In most countries, purchasing an investment property continues to be one of the most popular ways to invest. The goal of this investment should be to provide you financial freedom and enhance wealth. The problem is many believe that once they get into the venture, it will be a guaranteed, easy success.It is vital you learn how to effectively manage your investment as this will determine whether or not the investment can help you achieve your financial goals. Below are a few tips when buying an investment property:1. Choosing the ideal property at the right pricePurchasing an investment property at the right price is highly critical. It is all about the capital growth when it comes to investing in a property so make sure to choose a property that has a high potential of increasing in value.Always do research. Find out as much as you can about what is selling in a certain area. The more you learn, the more you become skilled in determining the property that is worth investing on. In other words, you will know a bargain when you see it.If you want to acquire valuable data on various locations and properties, get information from lenders and insurers as they have data that can help you avoid selecting the wrong investment property.2. Do Your ComputationsYou should consider property investment as a means of long term type of investment. As this is the case, you need to ensure that you have the budget to maintain your mortgage repayments over the long-term. It is not right to sell your investment property when you are not good and ready since if you are to encounter any financial problems then you might be forced to dispose of the property at the wrong time.It is less expensive to keep an investment property and service the loan once you already own the property. This is because you can get rental payments as well as tax deductions on several of the expenses connected with property ownership. Things will become easier along the way especially that as rent tend to increase over time so will your income.Learn the taxes involved in property investment and include this in your budget. Seek advice from your accountant and learn about stamp duty, capital gains tax and land tax. While interest rates can change over time, as the owner, you can always increase the rental fee to cope with the expenses.3. Get a Reliable Property ManagerUsually, a property manager is a licensed real estate agent whose job is to make sure that things are in order for you and your renter. Your agent can provide you advice, assist you in managing your tenants and help you get the best value for your property.Your agent should be able to teach you about property law as well as the rights and responsibilities of both you and your tenants. The agent can also handle maintenance problems. Except for other emergency repairs, the maintenance costs should get your approval first in advance. Your agent can also assist in finding the right tenants, do background checks as well as make sure tenants pay rent on time.4. Understand the market and the dynamics where you are buying.Search for other properties available in your current area and talk with as many real estate agents and locals as you can. Only get advice from professionals you can trust and make sure to do the leg work. You can use the information in this site to view demographics, average rents, property values, and suburb reports.It will be to your advantage to know about the changes that are planned or are happening in your suburb. For example, knowing about the planned by-pass may quickly enhance the value of your property as this means traffic in the area may reduce.5. Pick the right type of mortgage to suit you.There are a lot of financing options for an investment property. Seek advice in this area to find the option that will be in favour to your financial status.While the interest on an investment property loan is usually deductible, some borrowing costs are not easily deductible. Appropriately structuring your loan is vital and it is best that you seek help from a trustworthy financial advisor about this.When choosing between a fixed rate loan and a variable rate loan, go with the loan that is in favour with your circumstance. Carefully consider both options before you decide. For example, as a variable rate loan can become cheaper overtime, choosing a fixed rate loan at the appropriate time can really be beneficial.Rather than principal and interest, a majority of the investment loans should be created as ‘interest only’ as it can enhance the effectiveness of the tax of your investment especially for a home loan. An ‘interest only’ loan is better compared to principal and interest loan when it comes to investment property since it causes your negative gearing benefit to decrease as you pay down your loan.6. Examine the age and condition of the property and facilities.The condition of your property and facilities can highly affect the profit of your investment. It is vital, that before making a purchase, you hire a professional property inspector to perform comprehensive inspection of the property in order to detect potential issues earlier.7. Make the property attractive to tenantsChoose neutral tones and make sure that your property’s kitchen and bathroom is in good condition. An attractive property can attract better quality tenants. When it comes to purchasing a property, do not only consider what you think is attractive to you. What is attractive to you may not be attractive to some. Remember, that the investment property will be the home of your tenant and not your own.8. Take a long-term view and manage your risksThink of property investment as a long term investment and understand that property prices do not rise right away. The longer you can commit to a property, the better. When you build up equity then you can decide to purchase your second investment property. Avoid being greedy and balance your goal of financial stability and in enjoying your current life.