How can data drive decision-making in small businesses?

How can data drive decision-making in small businesses?

What can data mean for your business?

As a small business there isn’t a lot of room for wasted effort, and yet running a business is fraught with uncertainty. How do you make good decisions? As a business owner, you know that any edge you can get can help. In today’s digital age almost everyone and everything is a potential source of data. Turning that data into insight and then into action can provide you with a valuable decision-making tool.

But what is “data” and how can you get it, and use it? It isn’t magical, and it’s not that mysterious. You may have heard of data being used in big companies such as Google and Microsoft, and you may also have heard about others using your own personal data. It has become a buzzword, and can very quickly lose meaning when everyone is doing something different with it and calling it the same thing.

For a small company that data might be as simple as knowing more about:

  • Who your customers are
  • Where the costs are
  • Tracking the performance of marketing efforts.

Where to start?

 Using data (or information) is basically getting evidence for your assumptions, and can be used as a tool to ensure your business is on the right track. The task of getting your company into the digital age and solidifying your position can be daunting. Where previously, certain decisions might have been driven by intuition and experience, it can now be more difficult to find traction without getting bogged down by the latest trends. Laurie McCabe says that, “The place to start is to ask yourself what you need to know about your business that you don’t know already. What questions do you have that you can’t get answers to today? Everything should be driven from that.”

Don’t waste your time

 You need to figure out what is valuable for your business. It doesn’t help collecting all the data possible, especially if you are a small business where those resources could be better used in other areas. Not everything may be relevant or useful to your business. Whatever data you are going to be looking at it has to be able to influence your decision-making, or be actionable in some way. If you are only collecting data for the sake of it you are only wasting your time. Collecting everything just in case is a lot more stressful than collecting, and measuring, something to answer specific questions.

It is a process of trial and error to find the data that can drive your decision-making. The most commonly used data is that surrounding customers and company processes.

What metrics are important for your business?

 When your business has some information or data to work with (perhaps in an Excel spreadsheet, Google sheet, or in a database) the next best thing you can do is to start tracking key metrics specific to your business. These metrics are often called KPIs (key performance indicators). If you don’t know how your business was doing in the past, you won’t know if you are doing better or worse at present. Data can help you see if the decisions you make are effective, or ineffective.

A simple example might be a delivery service that suddenly has a much further average travel distance. Looking at the data could help you answer important business questions, and help you to respond effectively. Some questions in this example may be as follows:

  • Is this because there is a new cluster of customers further away?
  • What routes are the drivers taking?
  • What times are the peak times for deliveries?
  • Do you need to open up a base of operations in that area to better service these clients?

You wouldn’t know if you weren’t tracking who your customers were over time. Responding to business needs, being aware of changes and trends, and recognising where things should change to be more efficient are all areas where data can help you make informed decisions.

Using data in your company isn’t the answer – but it will help you to ask the most important questions and find some answers along the way. It’s important to remember that the data you are looking for, or choose to use, has to add value to your decision making processes.

Lulalend takes a data-driven approach to ensure that we are meeting the needs of SMEs. This helps us to drive efficiency internally and externally for our clients. Because time is a huge asset for small business owners we ensure that our data-driven approach makes the application process and response time quick and easy. Because of this Lulalend is a leader in the alternative lending space, and often the reasons why small businesses prefer our products and services.

If you haven’t yet applied for funding with Lulalend you can do so by visiting our website and completing our online application form. It takes 10 minutes and you can expect a response within 24 hours or less. If you need to see it to believe it, simply apply here: www.lulalend.co.za

 

Are you asking the right questions when refinancing a small business loan?

Are you asking the right questions when refinancing a small business loan?

The Reader’s Digest has an article with a long list of things you probably aren’t replacing often enough. Their list includes things like your toothbrush – that according to oral hygienists needs replacing every 3 months. Apparently, bedding is another one on the list. With its tendency to harbor dust mites, replacing bedding every two years is considered good practice, especially if it’s used nightly. Not surprising, also on the list is your car insurance. With the constant changes in premiums and pricing, and the devaluation of your car on an annual basis, it’s good to check your options again each year to make sure you’re getting the best deal.

Things need to be replaced over time, it’s not strange or uncommon. There are just better offers out there that can help you save or maintain better health. It’s not that different when it comes to business loans or financing.

If you’re struggling with a high-interest rate or monthly payments on a business loan, you may be able to replace the existing business debt with a new, more affordable loan. Refinancing is used to consolidate several business loans into a single monthly payment and avoid high payments on these commercial loans.  Refinancing may seem like a bad option, but it can turn out to be a money saver. Consider this: Refinancing can give you a lower interest rate than what you currently have.

What is the purpose of refinancing?

Paying off current business loans with a new loan consolidating your debt at a lower cost can help increase cash flow, which can be especially helpful in an uncertain economy or if your business is financially tight each month. Improving your business’ cash flow means that you will have more money to see to the important things in your business like purchasing the inventory you need.

How do I determine if I need refinancing?

Figuring this part out might be tricky, but asking a few simple questions might help ease the process.

It’s necessary to assess what your refinancing goals are. Do you need to improve cash flow? Perhaps you need to purchase new equipment or pay staff. Make sure that any refinancing plan will help you achieve your end goal and not put you in a worse off position. Check that the interest rates really do benefit you, and calculate the costs you can save on current loans. Refinancing isn’t always the solution. Along with upfront charges loan holders are often responsible for appraisal, application or early settlement fees, as well as closing costs, so be sure to check for these in the small print.

Luckily businesses like Lulalend don’t charge any appraisal or application fee. When you apply through our website, you receive an obligation free quote and there are no hidden or early settlement fees involved.

Lending the smart way

Once you’ve concluded that your business will benefit from refinancing, you should look at the available options. When it comes to getting approved from traditional lenders there is a tedious process that needs to be followed. But with Lulalend you can apply quickly and easily on our website. This means no never-ending paperwork or waiting months for a decision.

Do your maths and double check that you are able to afford the refinancing to be sure that it won’t put your business under strain. Refinancing can help lower the amount of your repayment every month, but you need to be sure that this is the best strategy you should be adopting. Make sure that borrowing more money will indeed do this for your business. Be sure that you don’t overborrow. You want to be able to use refinancing to manage debt, not add to it.

Sustaining a business with a lack of funds can prove to be quite a struggle. F unding with Lulalend can help you secure extra funds for your business. If you’ve been with us before, you know that we are dedicated to giving the best customer service possible, and we care about the success and growth of your business. Another advantage of taking out business funding with us is that we focus on building real relationships with our clients, because we care about small businesses and are committed to helping them reach their potential.

 

The value of internships and how it can help your business

The value of internships and how it can help your business

Entering the working world for the first time can be quite scary. It feels like you’re a little chick taking its first steps in the world. Everything is new and you feel quite out of place. But like any new experience, you begin to adapt, gain insight and learn from the ups and downs. My experience as an intern at Lulalend is something that I would not trade for anything. In the short time that I’ve been here, I have learned many new things. I now have a firm grasp of the digital and FinTech space, and my digital marketing skills have been taken to new heights.

 What I took out of it
Time management is a big deal when you start working. Gone are the days when there was a teacher or lecturer to remind you of looming due dates and to hold your hand when you didn’t understand something.

Even as an intern, I was given a lot of responsibility and I realized that I had to take it seriously. In the beginning, I felt like I was losing track of all the deadlines. It took me some time to plan properly. This meant creating sub-tasks for bigger tasks and giving each sub-task a due date. I also noted important due dates in my Google Calendar so I would get reminders the day before something was due. I learned that if I need help, all I have to do is ask. My manager was very forthcoming and made it very clear from the get-go that I shouldn’t be afraid to ask for assistance and that if I wanted to learn a new skill, she could teach me. She always explained things well and in detail if I needed some elaboration. Before I started this internship, I didn’t know how to use online tools like WordPress, Hootsuite and Leadsquared, and now I can use their functions effectively to get my message across.

Many companies view interns as someone who’s just there to do menial tasks like make coffee and print out documents, but Lulalend took the meaning of an intern and turned it into something quite valuable: a learning intensive internship designed to teach the individual important skills that they can apply directly to their job. I was treated as a normal employee and not someone that’s way down the bottom of the hierarchy. Lulalend gave me the flexibility to find my way on my own, while my manager still offered constructive criticism that helped me improve my writing and digital marketing abilities.

Internships can aid career growth

As a young person, I believe that internships can be a good stepping stone to get to where you really want to be some day. The advantage of an internship, is that you get to learn on the job, and you are not expected to know anything high level; all that should be taught to you during the internship and you should also use the time to work on developing your own skills according to the career path that you have chosen.

How do companies benefit from hiring interns?

A business can reap a lot of benefits from having an internship program. If you’re a small business, chances are that you cannot necessarily afford to hire full-time employees. Hiring interns allows you to take advantage of short-term support around your office or business. This extra set of hands can help your other employees to be more productive and prevent them from experiencing a burnout. Internships are also helpful when you have a temporary high backlog of work coming in. After the internship ends, you can decide whether you have enough resources to keep the individual on permanently and whether they would add value to your organization in the long term. I feel that my writing skills have added value to Lulalend, in the same way that working at Lulalend has benefited me. For instance, I wrote informative blogs for the restaurant, manufacturing and beauty industries. I also marketed effectively through our social media platform.

What was it like working at Lulalend?

Lulalend is a great place to work. The open space, relaxed environment is conducive to productivity and creativity and gives you the freedom to do your job without anyone looking over your shoulder. Of course, it’s still important that you are aware of what’s expected of you and realise that you need to fulfill all your duties and adhere to deadlines, and above all, produce quality work that will help the growth of the organization. I found that everyone at Lulalend was friendly and so easy to talk to and I made some long-lasting friendships and connections.  The capabilities that I learned as a digital marketer will hopefully play a big role in helping me build my career step by step.

Lessons learned

You have to work hard to achieve desired results. If you want to be successful, it won’t fall into your lap. You need to put in the effort and learn from your mistakes in order get to a place where you feel like you have gained value from your internship. My experience at Lulalend has allowed me to tune into my strengths and weaknesses, and find out what I needed to improve on to take my career to the next level.

 

Women in business: Part 1

Women in business: Part 1

Woman have come a long way in the business world and have proven that they can stand right beside men and make big waves. Inspiring women in South Africa are all around us and there are so many lessons that we can learn from them. We take a look at 3 women who are taking the business world by storm with their innovative and forward thinking business ideas.

Zizipho Nyanga- CEO of Old Mutual‘s Masisizane Fund

 Many women share a great passion for giving back to the community, and Zizipho Nyanga is no different. Zizipho is currently CEO of the Old Mutual‘s Masisizane Fund, which is a fund created in 2007 with the aim of funding majority black-owned small businesses. Originating from Mthatha in the Eastern Cape, Zizipho has come a long way to get to where she is today. She studied towards a BCom Accounting degree from the former University of Transkei and a post graduate diploma from Wits University. Her first graduate job was as a finance trainee at Ernst and Young. In 2014, she joined Old Mutual, as head of Post Investment Monitoring and Business Support of the Masisizane Fund. Just two years later she was appointed as CEO​. Zizipho is highly passionate about her job and helping small business owners achieve success. “An organisation like Masisizane is a necessity in South Africa because we need to develop entrepreneurs”, says Zizipho.

 

Sarah Collins: Founder of the Wonderbag

 Sarah has done what many entrepreneurs struggle to do: She took a simple idea and turned it into a hit. Her product: the ever popular Wonderbag. It’s a non-electric bag made up of re-purposed chipped foam that comes in colourful, African-inspired printed fabrics with a drawstring at the top to retain the heat. Food is brought to the boil by conventional cooking methods and once put into the Wonderbag will continue to cook for up to 12 hours. This concept has been used for centuries, but Sarah has managed to market it very well. It’s sold worldwide and Sarah has formed partnerships with major brands like Unilever and Amazon. You might be asking, how did Sarah achieve such success? Her tips for creating a strong business is to think big, accept risk, be realistic, find a partner, do some good, and find other markets.

 

 

Jerusha Govender: Founder of Data Innovation

 Some people choose to be entrepreneurs, while others start businesses because they are thrown in the deep end. Jerusha Govender suddenly found herself unemployed one day, and she had to choose whether to sink or swim. She chose to turn this adversity into an opportunity by creating a business called Data Innovator. Data Innovator combines strong graphic design, storytelling and analytics, underpinned by monitoring and evaluation (M&E) principles to create a creative data offering that social organisations desperately need. It was tough in the beginning. She had to use her existing network to get word out about her new business. This meant that she had to start off doing projects for free. She also used her experience to spot a gap in the South African market. She tackled social development organisations like NGOs and NPO’s that needed creative data to demonstrate the need for funding to their donors. One key piece of advice that Jerusha has for small business owners is to never stop networking. “Networking is important to source new business and skills. People often don’t realise what they don’t know, so talk to people and find your own new opportunities”, says Jerusha.

Whether you’re starting out small, or want to go big, you can learn many lessons from these top business women. All of them worked hard and created key strategies that were in line with their business goals. It’s also important to have a strong team who understands the business’s ideals and works towards fulfilling their roles to the best of their ability. Women know how important it is to take a step back and listen. They listen to their employees, listen to what the market wants, listen to the needs of their customers, and this trait serves one well in the business world where intuitiveness is highly important.

Even thriving businesses need a helping hand when it comes to business funding. Lulalend can offer some relief when it comes to financing requirements for your small business such as inventory, new hires or remodeling your premises. We offer up to R500 000 to assist small businesses– this can give your business the push it needs to grow, reach new markets and increase sales.

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Top business hashtags you should follow

Top business hashtags you should follow

Once better known as the pound sign or being synonymous with a game of tic tac toe, the hashtag has caused a buzz in the online world. The power and status of the mighty hashtag in recent times cannot be denied. Twitter and Instagram, in particular, have become the popular place to use, or abuse, hashtags and garner attention for them. But for the small business owner hashtags can be a great way to search for information on relevant topics and business news. Gathering information that can help you learn more about business practices is a good way to gain experience and learn from others.

Finding the right hashtags can be tricky so we’ve made a list of the ones worth following or adding to your lists and scroll through on a daily basis.

Hashtags to follow:

 

#Smallbusiness #smallbiz

These two might seem like an obvious choice, but the simplest place is sometimes the best place to start. You won’t go wrong by following these hashtags, they offer useful links to all kinds of resources for small businesses. The hashtag also includes things like SEO tips for small businesses, tools, and apps SMEs can take advantage of, and some motivational quotes to keep you fired up.

#business

Similar to the hashtags mentioned above, this one gives an all-inclusive view of what it really means to be in business. Though this tackles topics for all business sizes, from enterprise to a one-man show, you’ll still find relevant tips from how to create a responsive business website to more general topics on how to grow your business.

#businessowner

 Like-minded individuals will understand what you are experiencing as a business owner because they are experiencing it themselves. This hashtag includes content from a community with common interests and concerns around how to turn their business into a successful company.

#Biztips

We all need a push now and then to get our business off the ground. With links to helpful articles this hashtag also offers bite-size information on the best business practices, decision making and more.

#SMEs #SME #SMB

If you have a small business then it only makes sense to stay in touch with what other small businesses are doing. These hashtags can help you do exactly that. Useful titbits like “Things you may not know about accepting card payment” will get you well on your way to becoming a force to be reckoned with in the business world.

#sales

An important part of any business is to bring in new customers, whether you’re product or service focused. If you’re looking for tips on how to attract new customer or retain existing ones, this hashtag highlights sales advice to fine-tune your sales cycle, use content to drive sales or strategies to help convert customers.

#entrepreneurs

This is a hashtag dedicated to people seeking to strike out on their own. It addresses everything from the habits of successful entrepreneurs, what to do with failure, and how to make strategic business decisions. With useful articles like “The 3 Rules of Successful Business as Taught by Seth Godin (and Your Mother)” by Inc, you will get helpful advice to guide you in your entrepreneurial journey.

#management

At some point in your business journey you are going to wind up managing people. This hashtag rounds up tweets on best management practices, advice, and resources.  Sound management skills are precisely what you need to build a lasting and successful relationship with employees and a strong business. This is a good place to brush up on your management skills and learn more about what makes a good manager.

Hashtags have become such a game changer in the digital arena. As a business owner, you need to both use these hashtags in your Twitter campaigns and follow them for some much-needed business advice. It’s always good to know what other entrepreneurs out there are doing to make their business a success, and it gives you an upper hand because you can also get a crash course in ‘what not to do’ as an entrepreneur.

While these hashtags are useful and can help you make better business decisions, sometimes what a business needs is easy access to funding for cash flow or working capital, marketing campaigns, renovations, inventory purchases or a host of other needs. Lulalend can help you access this funding quickly and easily. We provide SMEs with the funds they need to assist their business and the application process is done entirely online in a matter of minutes. With hundreds of businesses using us as the alternative lender, maybe it’s time you checked us out.