eCommerce Business Coaching

eCommerce Business Coaching

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7 April -Please join us for our monthly business workshop. We can help local businesses learn best practices to ensure that you get all the help you need in building your unique eCommerce business strategy so you can have business growth.   Early start with Breakfast and Lunch provided. We will provide you with the materials you require, Register Now! 

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Map your Business Growth Strategy

Map your Business Growth Strategy

Microsoft Map your Business Strategy

It is always necessary to re-evaluate and refocus your business growth plans. Refresh your business model and increase your profit margin – and you’ll want to do this with as little cost as possible.

We sometimes forget that our businesses are affected by external factors – things that are out of our control. It’s a good idea to prepare, with these factors in mind, as you start to grow your business – and a good approach is the PESTLE approach. Continue reading

The Fallacy of Entrepreneurship

accountantEntrepreneurship is often portrayed as a cavalier lunge through to success and depicted as the ONE person/individual overcoming the odds! So what are the real chances of success?  There is a dismal record of business failure within the first three years in the Small Business sector and in my professional practice I have also seen first-hand, a similar track record for project management in Large Corporates.

So what to do?

It is about building and thriving in a network and collaboration, which could be informal. How to thrive is building key partnerships and using knowledge share.  Continue reading

We make eCommerce business both practical and profitable

We make eCommerce business both practical and profitable

Setting up and management of an eCommerce platform can be a full time occupation which hinders you from running your core business. Also the attempt to actually outsource and manage this platform can equally be costly.

If you are the sole business owner, without a team, you will incur man-hours, which cannot be billed to the customer and, can also impact the quality time spent running your business. It would be essential to understand the basis on which you work out a budget. What outcomes do you want?

We can provide a the best solution, which would be to take a project-centric approach which should start with a business case, outlined here. We will help you surmount the hurdles and obstacles to business growth.

Customer Focus
If you are running a going concern, you will need to put in place a robust “Customer Development” process to avoid changing direction and endless reiterations to arrive at your end goal. This can result in missing time deadlines, cost overruns and an inferior product.

Project Focus
A lot of emphasis is put on finding the “right” web developer and what is often missed is the step process that takes the user requirements to identify the right eCommerce platform.

We can help on producing the initial draft and iterations for your eCommerce site. This will help establish a realistic deadline and disclose your budget upfront. It’s very important to have a good job specification and follow the recruitment process and communicate diligently to the platform development team.

Main Benefit
Our rigorous approach will ensure you have a solid proposal should you want to engage with a Digital creative agency. Best applicable where the need for branding and strategy with product design, is imperative. Preferable where you are at high-end of the market or with specific niche.

Delivery
As a small business owner, an eCommerce platform can be a cost-effective and efficient channel to deliver your products. Let us help you meet your business objectives!!

Why I need to Coach

Rodin the Thinker2

There is a Coach living (deep) within every-one of us, affirming our purpose though often-times, the voice is strained, drained and muffled by the daily struggles we encounter. We often strive to overcome obstacles, and in my case this was done through achievements in qualifications, certifications and trainings.

I have stumbled and fumbled to find myself, being stiff necked and proud, refused to bend my knees and became a prisoner to logic.  A wise man said “And I set my heart to know wisdom and to know madness and folly. I perceived that this is also is grasping for the wind.” Continue reading

6 Ways to Prepare for Business Growth in 2016

6 Ways to Prepare for Business Growth in 2016

clock pic

As you prepare for the New Year, it’s a good time to re-evaluate and refocus your business growth plans. It’s time to refresh your business model and increase your profit margin – and you’ll want to do this with as little cost as possible.

We sometimes forget that our businesses are affected by external factors – things that are out of our control. It’s a good idea to prepare, with these factors in mind, as you start to grow your business – and a good approach is the PESTLE approach.

PESTLE approach

1. Political

It’s important to take an overview of how Government policy affects your business by looking at the sector you operate in. The current Government has put an emphasis on the ‘Big Society’ with a budget provision for this too. They’re also working with business clubs to assist small businesses with procurement in the public sector. Look at opportunities here and elsewhere.

2. Economics

Government department BIS is the engine of the Government’s commitment to small businesses, with the Small Business: GREAT Ambition report a framework for business growth. For example, take a look at the Start Up Loans scheme and the British Business Bank initiative.

The Chancellor’s recent Autumn Statement may affect your business, so do look out for the summary, and talk with your accountant about next steps.

3. Social

Take a step back and look at your social media strategy and try to connect this with your business benefits. For instance, let’s say you’ve made a new LinkedIn connection – try to meet that person at some forum or event they have an interest in. And vice-versa – at networking (offline) events always ask which social network is appropriate for a connection, e.g. Facebook. Twitter, etc.

4. Technical

Aside from using the ‘Cloud’ to work in virtual teams, it’s essential that you realise the business benefits of ensuring your services work across various platforms. Take out an IT audit and ensure you can actually benchmark and measure cost benefits. Also look at how an e-commerce platform can help your business grow and Go Global.

5. Legal

Since you’re either a sole trader or a limited company, you’ll need to look at the issue of business liability and insurance cover. Some companies, after having disruptions, found they were under-insured, which forced the close of business. Do an asset/stock take and review your insurance cover.

6. Environmental

Most bid and tender submissions are now impacted by the need for your company to have a Health & Safety and Environmental policy, which comply with EU directives. Best to get ready and apply for grant-supported training to help you here.

The Fallacy of eCommerce

CraneseCommerce is often portrayed as a glamorous and hands-free (digital) occupation while the backroom (plumbing) is often overlooked at the envisioning (startup) stage by the entrepreneur.

A great deal of emphasis (and rightly so) is often on the website and digital marketing, which needs to be integrated into backroom. However consideration needs to be given to the over-arching structure to find the right balance to ensure business growth. So you how do you find a business model that suits?

Business Model

Real attention needs to be paid to your business model and the core value proposition you offer customers. A crucial element, in my perception, is the question of how you get paid?  There are case studies where this aspect has been overlooked by experienced exporters, some of whom have failed to take export insurance and paid the price. Essential also is how you then maintain the cash-flow in the business.  Best way forward would then be to have a strategy alongside the business model.

Channels

This would be my first stop because this will focus you on building customer relationships and engagement. So understand which of the following sectors you should start with. This guidepost blog will serve to use Channels to explain the niche that should be explored.

Retail (Marketplace)

This is the predominant focus of most eCommerce business and is best served by the (third-party) Marketplace channel which is dominated (in Europe/USA) by Amazon and EBay.

The core advantage here is that they give the business the ability to outsource operational and logistics elements. Equally they have a well-established digital platform with eCommerce platforms that are robust and scalable (say Cloud!).  There is also the option of the single Market – trading using your site only  as platform but this is inefficient and costly for a new entrant, since it will involve establishing a brand , advertising costs and pipelines’.  For great expert help  on this, visit http://www.tamebay.com

Manufacturing

Companies with a manufacturing or production base would be well served by the Alibaba platform which is a China conglomerate that is actually bigger than Amazon. They are very good with provision of outsourcing to China.

Professional Services

Actually served better by Export Clubs since International Trade dwells on trust and reputation and visits on trade missions would be necessary at the growth stages through better collaboration.

Key elements alongside are the following;

Payment Issues:  VAT & Delivery issues, Pricing mechanisms, Foreign exchange fluctuation, Overseas Government regulations 

Build Partnerships:  Support from UKTI, Open To Export, Ensure you get on the right Trade Shows

Market Research:  Get local media on-ground, Use local(overseas) channels, Use multilingual staff in residence country

Intellectual PropertyIssues of Trademark, Domain Name, in foreign countries can be difficult to protect.

Backbone is Logistics:  Use reliable procurement and courier companies. Be wary of issue of returns. Understand your contractual obligations, Ensure fulfilment works and how to use (free) Delivery terms

Moving forward does not need to be a Big Bang approach so don’t feel overwhelmed with this ‘short list’ but do take the small steps to build and grow your eCommerce business. Hasta la Vista!

A Stepwise Approach to building an eCommerce Platform

A Stepwise Approach to building an eCommerce Platform

 

export strategy mapA STEPWISE APPROACH TO BUILDING AN ECOMMERCE PLATFORM 

Setting up and management of an eCommerce platform can be a full time occupation which hinders you from running your business. However, even the attempt to actually outsource and manage this platform can equally be cost prohibitive. The best approach then would be to take a project-centric approach which should start with a business case.

1. Start with the end in mind

If you are the sole business owner, without a team, you will incur man-hours, which cannot be billed to the customer and, can also impact the quality time spent running your business.  It would be essential to understand the basis on which you work out a budget. What outcomes do you want?

2. Take bite-sized chunks

The techie phrase here would be “lean startup” methodology. This refers to setting out the “minimum viable product” (MVP) which could easily be drawn out on a paper napkin, so you are constrained from going over scope! Use a feedback loop and, from your business case, measure your outcomes against projections.

3. Can you afford to Pivot?

This is an approach used by start-ups, which may not be favourable if you are running a going concern. This advocates that you change direction or make reiterations to arrive at your end goal. This can result in missing time deadlines, cost overruns and an inferior product.  This can be avoided by having in place a robust “Customer Development” process.

4. Step forward

A lot of emphasis is put on finding the “right” web developer and what is often missed is the step process that takes the user requirements to identify the right eCommerce platform. “Coding’s easy, deciding what to build isn’t”

5. Options

Enterprise Nation recently held an event, with a speaker panel, on “how to find a web developer”;

A] Use University software graduates through moderated online portal. This helps businesses to source digital talent more affordably. Useful for first iterations and producing a basic MVP.

B] Use an Independent Developer. Core requirement is building up a good relationship (dating) to ensure the assignment is professionally fulfilling. Essential to have a deadline and disclose your budget upfront.

C] Use a Recruitment Agency.  It’s very important to have a good job specification, follow the recruitment process and communicate diligently. Equally good to have negotiation skills. 

D] Use a Digital creative agency. Best applicable where the need for branding and strategy with product design, is imperative. Preferable where you are at high-end of the market or with specific niche.

6. Stand and Deliver

As a small business owner, an eCommerce platform can be a cost-effective and efficient channel to deliver your products. It’s important that this integrates with your branding and social media channels.