10 Informative websites that can help fast-track your business

10 Informative websites that can help fast-track your business

Owning and managing a business isn’t easy. It takes hard work, long hours and sacrifice. You probably find yourself second guessing whether it’s worth it, or if you are even doing it right. Sometimes stepping back and getting a fresh perspective, hearing from like-minded individuals that face similar challenges, reading about those that have succeeded or learning from those that have failed, is what you need to stay inspired and remind yourself that you’ve got this.

To help you with the resources, support, inspiration and advice you need to keep doing what you’re doing as you grow your business step-by-step, here are some of our favourite websites that are worth adding to your reading list:

SME South Africa

A well put together site is usually a sign that the content will be excellent; this is the case with SME South Africa. Dealing with the challenges SMEs face in Africa, it provides business owners with important advice that can be applied to running a small business.  It covers relevant topics such as business finance, SME laws and regulations, marketing, technology, human resources, technology and leadership and alternative ways to fund your business. With all this valuable information at your fingertips, you will be able to get the information you require to make a business breakthrough.

Ventureburn

Ventureburn tells fascinating success stories of entrepreneurs and gives valuable tips to new businesses. They aim to “showcase and celebrate entrepreneurship in emerging markets, from Africa to Asia”. What’s great about the site is that it offers insight into how people have started their businesses from scratch and gives you an idea of how they carried out their business. Check out one of our articles on Ventureburn: Lulalend CEO on fairer finance opportunities for small businesses’ for ideas on how to fund your business.

Kickstart

With both a print magazine and online platform, Kickstart remains an asset for up-and-coming businesses. Published by Tuming Lee Studios, the publication notes that it’s suitable for the modern-day entrepreneur. But there’s good news for you tech savvy individuals out there; they have an online publication which has business news and advice. The site includes blogs on sales, HR, business strategies and compliance. With useful topics like ‘How to get that sale in 6 steps’, this site is bound to grab your attention.

Ideate

What makes ideate special is that it’s a blog written for entrepreneurs by entrepreneurs. The obvious advantage – content is created by people who have faced common business challenges. Containing a vast range of categories to choose from, you can rest assured that all your bases are covered. Featuring content that is fresh, current and at times taking a tongue-in-cheek approach, this blog will spark your interest and inspire you to face your business challenges head-on.

Small Business Forum

This professional forum encourages the growth and development of small businesses. There is also a library filled with resources which will assist you to market, manage and grow a successful business. SBF is passionate about supporting small businesses in their development. It’s a useful place to discuss issues with other business owners and gather practical advice. Since membership is free, you would be silly to not sign up.

National Small Business Chamber (NSBC)

This non-profit membership organisation fosters the sustainability and growth of small businesses. They host the popular NSBC Summit yearly as well as other events that will aid in helping your business. These events are a powerful way to network and increase leads, so it is worthwhile to keep up with their latest offerings. The real gem though is the content on their sister site: the small business site. It includes articles in a wide range of topics that will give you the help you need to take your business up a notch.

SME Toolkit South Africa

The Toolkit, a joint initiative between Business Partners, the International Finance Corporation (IFC) and IBM offers easy access to information, resources and online training relevant to SMEs across industries and business sectors. They have practical tools like the Return on Assets Ratio Calculator. There is also a monthly newsletter on offer with SME news updates when you register on the site.

Entrepreneur magazine

If you’re looking for a ‘how-to guide’ for running your business, then this site is the way to go. What’s nifty is that they offer solutions for entrepreneurs and managers and they cover topics on the latest trends in management, sales, marketing, technology and finance so that you can improve your existing business.

Entrepreneurship in a Box

If you are relatively new to the business world you can use all the free tools you can find. Entrepreneurship in a Box caters for those who need help in terms of building their business, by offering key tools that will aid them. There are various templates to download for free, including a marketing plan, a SWOT analysis template, sales forecast templates and competitor analysis templates.

Forbes

Well known for its rankings of the richest people in the world, Forbes has been added to many a reading lists. Focusing on South African websites is vital but it also helps to get an international perspective on business news. Use the site to catch up on the latest business news or simply gather the motivation to make your business a force to be reckoned with. The editor’s pick, in particular, offers constructive advice on how to manage your business.

With all these websites available to you, it is easy to find the assistance you need to drive positive change in your business. But even with all these important tools, you may still battle to find access to funding your business. There are many expenses to consider such as paying staff, purchasing inventory and implementing marketing strategies.

Lulalend offers quick and easy access to short term business funding, so all you need to worry about is paying full attention to the aspects of your business that drive expansion, new business development and customer satisfaction (with the help of all these brilliant websites of course). If you would like to find out how Lulalend can help your business flourish, DOWNLOAD OUR CASE STUDY with Cape Coffee Beans.

What role does marketing play in growing your business?

What role does marketing play in growing your business?

As a business grows, so does the workload and you will often find yourself juggling several balls and doing the work that is usually managed by different departments or specialists. For small businesses, the onus is often on the business owner to not only provide direction and a business strategy but to manage payroll and business finances, take care of logistics and admin tasks, hire new employees, manage stock and liaise with suppliers as well as a host of other tasks. That is a lot to take on and we haven’t even gotten to marketing your business. This is something that often falls by the wayside – not only because of time but because this isn’t necessarily your area of expertise.

But here’s the problem when marketing your business isn’t a priority, especially when you want to grow your business: you will struggle to build brand awareness and generating sales will taper off eventually. While marketing is a necessity for your business, finding the time to develop key marketing strategies and run campaigns can be difficult, especially when you already have your hands full with the day-to-day running of the business. If you can’t market your business yourself because of time constraints, then other options are available, like outsourcing services or hiring staff internally.

  1. Hire someone with a marketing background and the necessary experience

Marketing skills are one thing, understanding your business and industry sector is another. If you’re thinking of making a marketing hire, ensure that they understand your business and customer needs. Being able to apply their skills to your business and show how that can add value will give you a better understanding of whether they meet your business needs. The benefit of an internal hire is that they also grow with your business and will be able to continue providing key insights into how best to reach your prospects and convert them into customers. Another benefit is that as your business pivots and grows they can make changes to the marketing strategy as and when needed. Working with outsourced agencies or freelancers doesn’t always offer this luxury and any immediate updates or quick changes that need to be made aren’t always possible and can slow things down.

  1. Outsource this function to a marketing agency

That said, your business might find an agency relationship beneficial as it frees you up to run the business and leave the marketing to trusted experts. That is if you can find an agency that is worth their salt. The advantages of a niche marketing agency are that they cater for specific industry needs. This will be particularly beneficial for small businesses as they tend to have a niche product or service categories. For example, a company that specializes in broad advertising for a massive franchise like Nandos may not be able to tailor a marketing strategy fit for a small family owned restaurant. It may also be a good idea to test their knowledge of your industry to find out how much they really know.

Furthermore, take a quick look at their website and online presence to give you an idea of how they brand their own business. These can give you an indication that they understand how to successfully market a brand their own products or services. Over and above this try and source some client reviews or referrals to see what other clients are saying about their services.

  1. Run and plan your own marketing campaigns

If an internal or external hire isn’t something that you can invest in right now it doesn’t mean there is nothing you can do. Running some basic marketing campaigns on Facebook, if that’s where your audience is, or AdWords throughout the year can help you promote your business. Ensuring that you have a business website can help give you visibility online and help you direct your clients to further information about your services or product offerings. Even using offline tactics like attending relevant business events, distributing flyers or making sure that your office space has signage that is visible and well branded can help you get in front of potential clients.

At the end of the day, you need to weigh-up what your business needs are and what the most cost effective way is to meet those needs and bring in sales. Not every business will have working capital for this, staggering marketing campaigns throughout the year may not be in your budget and the cost of developing a website or even just purchasing the template to do it yourself in a more cost effective way may be something you know you need to do but can’t afford right now.

This doesn’t have to be the case. Lulalend can help you get fast, easy access to the money you need to market your business in the right way. You don’t have to forgo this important aspect of your business. At Lulalend, we are passionate about helping you achieve your business goals, and we realise that finding the capital needed to grow your business can be quite challenging. This is why we provide funding for small businesses; we want to give you a helping hand when it comes to bringing in more sales and achieving financial freedom.