When you set up a business, you invest more than just money; you are investing your ideas, your time, sometimes everything you have.
Last month I highlighted the importance of learning to use a computer and your accounting software, but what else do you need to learn?
Look at the different aspects of your business and check out your skill level. Work out where you want your business to go in the future and what skills you need to make those plans a reality.
Harnessing the power of the web
Are you making the most of the internet and social media? Have you got a website to promote your business? This may be a no-brainer for most of you, but there are still a large number of businesses with little or no web presence.
But when was the last time you picked up a phone book to find a business? Most people locate products and services online.
Businesses need to be accessible on the web. If you are setting up a website or working with a developer on your current site, make sure you can update the content yourself. A good developer will provide this facility and training on how to use it. Effective websites need to be regularly updated to maximise the results. Make changes yourself and you are more likely to experiment and fine-tune your content. If you have to pay for every alteration, you may put it off to save money – a false economy.
Knowledge is power. Understanding how social media works and being able to identify the best approach for your business is important. Social media provides not only free marketing tools but a way to interact with your customers. You need to have a social media plan and learn the skills required to implement it. Not all aspects of social media will be right for your business:
- What is the difference between LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter?
- YouTube is popular, but how can I create videos to promote my business?
- If I set up a blog, how can I use social media to attract followers?
There are now a large number of consultants that provide workshops and can help you to work out the best approach for you. For example, Linda Coles helps businesses with their social media strategy and specialises in LinkedIn. See her latest column on page 60.
Fiona Powell, founder of the Her Business magazine, is passionate about business blogging as well as social media in general (www.ferbmedia.co.nz).
- Check out other similar businesses and see how they use the web to promote their business
- Attend seminars and workshops on social media
- Read the articles in your Start-Up magazine
- Develop a social media strategy
- Learn how to use your chosen media
- Watch for updates, as things change frequently.
There are amazing opportunities in the use of social media, and there are also enormous risks for businesses that ignore the power of the internet. Don’t miss out.
As your business grows, you need to understand how to manage the changes. Do you have the skills to do this? Part of becoming a successful business owner is identifying your strengths and weaknesses. Use this information to find the training that will fill in the gaps and build on your strengths.
Talk to your accountant, business mentor or local Economic Development Agency. They will have seen businesses succeed and fail. Learn from their experiences and advice.
Courses range from free online training provided by banks via their websites, to qualifications in small business management. Check out www.business.govt.nz
Until recently there has been a range of fully funded training courses offered through NZ
Trade and Enterprise aimed at developing management capability. However this has now changed to a voucher system where eligible businesses will receive a voucher for half the cost of approved courses up to a value of $250 (see www.nzte.govt.nz).
Check out www.whkbusinessgrowth.co.nz to see the new Activate training package that has been created to ensure that businesses still have regular access to cost-effective training.
Key points to remember
- Ignorance is not bliss
- Learning builds confidence
- Online learning offers flexible options for business
- Training is an investment in your future
- Training is tax deductable.