Voltaire wrote that “God is on the side of the big battalions,” but I wonder if the Almighty would want to be associated with some competitive practices of large and predatory organisations. Entrepreneurs starting new ventures in competition with powerful organisations often face the kind of threats experienced by this questioner.
The competition may be price-based, as in this case, or it could be massive increases in marketing spend, cornering the raw materials supply, buying key staff from the start-up and others. Many believe that free competition and entrepreneurship are the best routes to more employment, but sadly practices on the ground are often very different.
How can this entrepreneur compete? First off, the entrepreneur needs to examine the competitive attack honestly. If it is free and fair competition the entrepreneur must compete on his merits. Business is a hard school and kindness to competitors is rare. But if the attack appears to contravene the Competition Act, which specifically prohibits abuse of a dominant position, then the Competition Commission should be called in.
Competing right now
Whether or not the Competition Commission is involved, the entrepreneur needs to compete right now. He must examine the competitor for weaknesses. In this case the big brother has to deliver orders from another city. This leaves a gap for immediate deliveries, small quantities, just-in-time supply and similar customer services.
There may be other weaknesses typical of large organisations: bureaucracy, slow response to complaints, reluctance to open accounts and long decision cycles. The entrepreneur must offer the opposite of these, and then make that fact known widely.
Customers are the key in this battle. In the face of a price war customers will always say that price matters, which is true, especially at the operational level where short-term rewards are measured. But those same customers should be aware that if this entrepreneurial factory is forced to close, prices are likely to go back to, or above, those reigning before because the large supplier may want to recover costs of the price war.
The entrepreneur needs to keep reminding his prospective and current customers of this likelihood. Preference should be given to CEO discussions to promote strategic long-term thinking, even if there are some short-term disadvantages of supporting the local factory.
Another tactic the entrepreneur can use is author Tony Manning’s ‘flurry of blows’. The entrepreneur could involve the trade unions, the local councillors and the city business development office, because they should be concerned about the potential loss of local jobs.
The company should use the advantage of local production to gain tender preferences for municipal work. It could do some creative bundling of prices, see if a local journalist will take up the cause, and ask experts for their advice. It may be worthwhile to communicate with the CEOs or holding companies of the large competitors to ask if they are aware of, and approve the practices of their operation in the local region.
Clock is ticking
The entrepreneur will be acutely aware that the clock is ticking; he cannot forever fight off prices set below his costs. But he should also be aware that a clock may well also be ticking in the large company. Monthly and quarterly reporting will be showing reduced or absent profits, and someone will be asking how long this is likely to continue.
The more the entrepreneur can make this look like a long and uncomfortable battle for the large competitor the more likely a discrete return to normality becomes.
A small concrete pipe manufacturer with great customer service opened a factory in East London to support the local demand from local contractors and government. This reduced the cost and delays in transporting pipes and was an immediate success; turnover increased rapidly. The large and powerful manufacturers in this industry lost market share and reacted by slashing prices dramatically, absorbing reduced or negative margins with their substantial resources to attack the upstart. The new factory cannot match these prices and there is no product differentiation. Their question: how do they compete?
(Infographic)The Do’s And Don’ts Of Naming Your Business
There’s a lot that goes into a company’s name.
Finding the right name for your business can be crucial to its success. If you’ve got a boring, vague name, then you might repel potential customers.
When it comes down to it, there are some major do’s and don’ts that go along with naming your company. For starters, keep things simple and short – a long name can confuse potential customers and won’t make a lasting impression on them.
Your name should also tell your story. Not only will this help people recognise your company but you’ll build the brand’s character.
Something a lot of people don’t think about is how their company’s name will sound in another language. Even if you’re in the early stages of building your company, who knows what could happen in the future. So create a name that sounds good and has a positive translation in any country. Next, always test your ideas before setting them in stone.
Ask potential customers to take a survey and compare your name with other companies in the same industry. Of course, you also must ensure that the name you came up is even available.
To learn how you can create the best name for your business, check out Business Backer‘s infographic below.
This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.
Fuel Your Hustle
These two practical goal posts will keep your start-up on track, even when things get tough and you start to lose traction.
Make sure you have a clear vision and a plan — something to chase and celebrate when targets are achieved.
When you start a new business, everything is exciting. You have a dream, something to work for. Once the business takes off, it’s easy to fall into a rat race of just going to work and reacting to challenges as they happen. Many established business owners get to a place where they wonder if it’s all worth the effort. Whenever I talk to entrepreneurs feeling this way, I always ask them what they are working towards.
Most times, they don’t have an answer.
No, I’m not going to give a motivational talk on how important goals are, but I do believe it’s important to work towards something. To chase something worthwhile. Is it a vision and mission statement? Maybe that fuels your energy, but there are two practical things that I can suggest to any entrepreneur to keep you on track, and keep you motivated with a reason to wake up in the morning.
1. A one-page business plan
The logic behind a business plan is great. It’s a plotted journey, with marked goals and targets. It gives you something to work on, and work towards. And you’ll definitely need one if you’re looking for financing. But very seldom does it actually become a real working document for the small business owner; business plans are too long-winded and rigid and don’t allow for the fast changes and flexibility you’re going to need when you’re running a business.
So, gut instinct is how most survive, and the plan goes into the middle drawer.
That doesn’t mean you don’t need a plan. It just means you need a different kind of plan — one that works for you at the stage you’re at. A one-pager plan that acts as a dynamic working document is where it’s at. The keyword here is dynamic.
Try to compile a one-pager of what you aim to achieve in the next year. Break it down per month and list the small steps that you will be taking to reach your bigger vision at the end of the year. This plan could include anything, but you should know that it will be your guide to what is important and what isn’t.
Work on it weekly, review it monthly and ensure that you are moving in the right direction. At the start of every month, review your plan and list your priorities for the month. If you hit a snag, stop, re-evaluate your plan, make changes and move on. It is not set in concrete. It is dynamic.
Too many entrepreneurs go to work each day and solve issues as they arise without planning proactively for what they want. Others view their business plan — all 100 pages of it — like it’s the Bible. Neither approach will get you very far.
The one-pager will be your plan, your guide. Keep it with you at all times so it can be as flexible as you need to be.
2. Your break-even figure
For most entrepreneurs, numbers are one of those complicated matters best left to others, although it needn’t be that way. And when it comes to one particular number, it cannot be that way: That number is the break-even figure. It’s the one number every entrepreneur must know. If you don’t have a break-even figure, how will you know if you’re succeeding or failing?
A break-even figure is the amount of sales you need to make in a month to cover all expenses and to make a target profit. If you can calculate this, then you have a number that you can chase every day — something that is measurable and understandable for the entrepreneur.
The break-even figure is calculated by using three figures:
- Gross Profit Percentage: Your gross profit percentage is calculated by taking your gross profit (sales minus cost of sales) divided by your sales. Let’s say you sell a product for R200 and the cost of that product is R150, then your gross profit will be R50. Your gross profit percentage therefore is 25% (gross profit (R50) divided by sales (R200).
- Overheads: Overheads are the total of all your fixed expenses each month. Examples include rent, salaries, Internet, fuel and all other costs that you need to pay, e.g. R100 000.
- Profit Target: This is the profit you would like to achieve in a month, e.g. R20 000.
Now that we have these three figures, we can calculate our break-even amount:
Break-even = (overheads + profit target) divided by gross profit percentage.
So, continuing the above example:
Break-even = (R100 000 + R20 000) / 25% = R480 000
This means that you must make sales of R480 000 per month to cover all your overheads and achieve your profit target.
If you have this figure you can now plan how to achieve this target and go out every day chasing a goal, rather than just crossing your fingers. One can take this number and divide it by the number of working days in a month to get to a daily target of sales. Also, make sure it’s on your one-page dynamic plan.
Sometimes, we just need basic things to give our journey meaning again. Something to chase and something to celebrate once we’ve achieved it (yes, make sure you celebrate). To have goals, a clear vision and a one-pager plan might sound like petty things when you run a business — but you might soon realise that you need these things to keep you going.
Insurances To Consider If You Are Starting Your Own Business
Below are just some of the insurances you need to consider if you are starting your own business.
Starting your own business is a brave and bold step. You will be joining many others in the journey of becoming your own boss, and this can be a stressful time. You will need to have a sound business plan in place, as well as other aspects that will secure both your business and your financial future. These include certain insurances that are geared toward insuring your salary, your investments and yourself.
All small business owners should look into taking out funeral insurance so that their family is not burdened and can pay for their funeral, investment insurance so that their money is protected and commercial insurance to protect your business and your property.
Below are just some of the insurances you need to consider if you are starting your own business.
General liability insurance
General liability insurance is important because it will protect you and your business from any possible legal action taken by customers. This insurance protects you in case of any injury to or damage to a customer which happened on your property.
It is also important if you manufacture products, but this would fall under product liability insurance. If a product harms a consumer, then you are legally responsible for expenses which means that having liability insurance will help immensely with costs. If you sell homemade cakes, toys for children or even clothing, liability insurance should be at the top of your list.
Now, you might not think that funeral plans are that important but, in fact, they are. Not only for you but for the employees you might have. Funeral cover pays your family a lump sum within 48 hours of your death so that they can pay for your funeral without having to worry about expenses.
As a small business owner, funeral plans make sense. You will likely be the sole breadwinner, which means that your family will be under considerable strain if you die. The same can be said of your employees. Their families will need to be able to pay for their funerals, and it will also ensure that employees stay loyal to your business.
Funeral cover is a benefit that many companies offer their employees to ensure they’re happy and satisfied in their roles.
If you own property or are leasing a building, property insurance is vital. This insurance covers your office equipment, the signage both inside and outside the building, all office furniture as well as your inventory. These will all be covered for disasters such as fire or a storm as well as in case of theft or damage.
However, it is important to note that if your business is based in your home, your homeowner’s insurance will not cover any business equipment. This means that you will have to take out additional insurance for your business equipment. You will also need to speak to your insurer about disaster coverage, especially if your business is based in an area that is prone to fires and floods. Property insurance is important because it will protect your business from incurring costs it cannot afford.
Commercial auto insurance
If you use a company car or have bought a car specifically for your business, you will need to take out commercial auto insurance. Just as homeowner’s insurance will not cover your business inventory, personal auto insurance will not cover a commercial or business vehicle. This is why commercial auto insurance is so important.
If your employees drive their own vehicles to and from work, you should try to ensure that they have personal auto insurance. And if they use their own vehicles for business reasons, you could ask your insurance provider about covering the risk as part of your general liability insurance. This will keep them safe in case of any accidents that might occur during their trip.
It is a good idea to purchase or hire a company car for your employees to use for any business trips so that your employees are safe and correctly insured.
Look after your staff and business
Along with funeral insurance, workers compensation insurance is important for ensuring your staff is covered for any eventuality. And it will show them that you value them as employees, which will keep them happy and content in their roles.
This insurance will cover medical bills, death and disability benefits if an employee is injured on the job or on your property as well as salary protection. If you offer these as separate packages, you will not have to worry about worker’s compensation insurance but you will need to speak to an insurance broker about this. Protecting your employees is the mark of a true company leader, and happy workers are also more productive.
Types of Businesses to Start3 days ago
(Infographic) 5 Best Online Businesses To Start Before The Year Ends
Company Posts2 weeks ago
Spartan Has Financing That Is Designed For Your Business
Start-up Advice3 days ago
(Infographic)The Do’s And Don’ts Of Naming Your Business
Entrepreneur Today1 week ago
Africa’s Own Aspiring Extraterrestrial Calls On African Innovators To Apply For The #Africa4Future Initiative Before 30 November
Women Entrepreneur Successes1 week ago
Third Prize Winner Of The Workspace/MiWay Competition Shares Top Lessons Learnt
Investing2 weeks ago
Are You Keeping All Your Eggs In One Basket? Here’s Why You Need To Diversify Your Offshore Investments NOW
Entrepreneur Profiles4 days ago
Tim Hogins Started Out As A Security Guard, Today His Has A Turnover Of R150 Million And Has Self-Funded Three Huge Lifestyle Parks
Lessons Learnt7 days ago
How BrightRock Is Disrupting The Insurance Industry With These 2 Pivotal Strategies