Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Top10's - rules for effective employee relationships in small business

Finding and keeping the right team is fast becoming the most crucial element for
running and definitely growing your small business. But why is it that some owners simply have the knack for this and others simply have the knack for de-motivating and ultimately ruining their own business ventures?

The biggest answer here is simply that if you as an entrepreneur are not constantly staying aware of how you treat people and forget to put them first rather than your own agenda then your drive, ego and I can do everything better myself attitude will simply get the better of bot them and your business efforts. Here are a few general rules to remember when it comes to creating a win-win with your employees.

1. Hire wisely.

Most businesses hire bodies for particular jobs rather than people to help build a future. Your business is only as good as each individual employee's contribution to its functioning. Therefore, look for the three i's when you hire: intelligence, initiative, and integrity. For every position, from receptionist to packing clerk, hire only the best you can find. Conversely, if you have current employees who are not performing well, consider whether they are a wise investment of your money.

2. Build a team, not your ego.

Many employers let their egos monopolize their interactions with their employees. Stop the pattern. Instead, trust your employees to do their jobs. Make each employee feel that they are an invaluable member of the company team. Let each employee know they are an integral part of the company's end product. Set the example for positive interaction at all times between members of the team even when ideas or performance must be corrected.

3. Reward well.

When you get good employees, reward them financially and emotionally. Be sure their pay is at least at market rate. Take time often to acknowledge each employee's contribution. The two biggest loyalty builders are two simple words -- thank you.

4. Be hands on.

Know each employee's job and how to do it. This not only gives you an automatic reserve employee and trainer (yourself), but has an added bonus. If you show an employee that you are willing to learn or have learned his/her job, you are communicating that you believe their work has value. Every employee needs to know that whether they are emptying trash cans, setting the presses, or selling the large accounts, their work is worthwhile and valuable.

5. Make your employees versatile.

In a small company, every employee should know how to do at least two jobs, particularly on the technical and service sides. For critical tasks, at least three employees should know how to do each job. Thus, you always have an on-the-premises reserve who can step in when needed.

6. Give away tasks, but not ultimate leadership.

What is it you do best? Are you the idea man, the best salesman in your company, the organizer? Find your best talent and then delegate all other tasks to your employees. Train them appropriately to do their job, let them know you have confidence in their ability to perform well, and then let them do their jobs. Adding responsibility with confidence will increase your employee's willingness to work and their pride in the company's end result. At the same time, you must maintain ultimate leadership. In any well run ship, the captain makes final decisions and you are still the captain, albeit a benign one.

7. Communicate, communicate, communicate.

You must talk with your employees, solicit their suggestions, and positively correct their mistakes. Conversely, you must create an atmosphere where employees are willing and able to talk with you. The two best sources of information on how your business is doing and how to improve it are your employees and your customers. Pay attention to both.

8. Give your best and always and encourage the same in your employees.

Pride in the company and its product or service always begins at the top. If you give a half effort or let a sloppily produced product go out the door to a client, you are sending a message to your employees that you do not respect your clients or your work. Your employees will adopt that view as well. If you set the example of giving the extra effort, pitching in when needed, caring about your fellow team members, working as a unit to be the best in your particular business, and taking care of the bottom line, your employees worth having and keeping will follow suit.

9. Encourage innovation and creation.

Give your employees a stake in the future. Once a month, have a meeting where the employees make suggestions on how to improve your product, service, efficiency, or bottom line. Give monetary rewards when the ideas produce increases to the bottom line. Give positive encouragement for the process.

10. Have a second in command.

No general goes into battle without a major who can take over if he is felled by a bullet. You are your business' general and must act accordingly. Find someone you trust within your company who has the same goals, ideals, and a similar business style. Train him/her appropriately. Let others know he/she has your confidence and authority when you are gone. When that is done, leave on vacation and test the theory out. If you have implemented steps 1-9 above, your business will run easily and well and you will have regained a healthy balance in your life.

Weekly humor: a bit of truth

Darren Anderson sends me some of the best one-liners and these just came in today and I wanted to pass them along because these are actually new, at least to me. Most of the jokes and quips I get have been around for a while, but I haven't seen these and they made me chuckle. I hope you enjoy them!

Marriage changes passion. Suddenly you're in bed with a relative.

I don't do drugs. I get the same effect just standing up real fast.

I live in my own little world. But it's OK. They know me here.

I don't approve of political jokes. I've seen too many of them get elected.

I love being married. It's great to find that one special person you want to annoy for the rest of your life.

Every time I walk into a singles bar I can hear Mom's wise words: "Don't pick that up, you don't know where it's been!"

A good friend will come and bail you out of jail, but a true friend will be sitting next to you saying, "Whoa! That was fun!"

I signed up for an exercise class and was told to wear loose-fitting clothing. If I HAD any loose-fitting clothing, I wouldn't have signed up in the first place!

When I was young we used to go "skinny dipping," now I just "chunky dunk."

Don't argue with an idiot; people watching may not be able to tell the difference.

Just remember...if the world didn't suck, we'd all fall off.

Why is it that our children can't read a Bible in school, but they can in prison?

If raising children was going to be easy, it never would have started with something called LABOR!

Brain cells come and brain cells go, but FAT cells live forever.

I saw a woman wearing a sweat shirt with "Guess" on it. So I said "Implants?" She hit me.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Business idea of the week - Wine by SMS

This week we consider a great new way to sell wine without owning your own bottle store, winery or wine farm.

After encountering a great wine in a restaurant or at a friend's house, instead of vowing to remember the name and vintage, Dutch consumers can now dash off an sms to The online wine seller will then get back to them with a price and delivery details.

In the US, WineZap offers a similar service. If someone emails or texts them the vintage and wine name, WineZap will email or text them the current low, high and average prices for that wine. If a user adds their postcode, WineZap includes a list of the nearest retailers that stock the wine, as well as their prices.

Both companies are currently offering the service at no charge. Another example of catering to people's insatiable desire for relevant information, when and where they want it. Wine-by-text is a great little add-on both for merchants like BuyYourWine, and for intermediaries like WineZap, and it could of course be expanded with such obvious options as letting customers send in camera phone pictures of wine labels or barcodes.

Upside: Low cost to start, quick uptake as most of us use mobile phones and text messaging now and with such a great variety of wine already available in South Africa, sourcing the product should not be a problem.

Downside: Its difficult to see the downside on this one but marketing and advertising cost could be fairly high if you want people to remember your service while enjoying a good bottle of wine.

Verdict: Easy to start, unique in South Africa, get there first and you have a winner.

Please contact me should you need any support with setting this up.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Entrepreneurs tip of the week

This week I offer my thoughts on simplifying business planing.

As long-time readers know, I am a believer in the value of planning. I am convinced that any plan is better than no plan, and that most small businesses do not spend enough time deciding where they want to go, or grow.

Sometimes, I am told that people "don't know how" to write a business plan! And, from a banker's perspective, that might be true, but these same people know how to plan a vacation, a celebration or a party. You can do this!

If you have not done so already begin planning for this year by reviewing last year. Start with what you earned, and how many customers you served. Examine your data for patterns and ask questions. The data may be in your accounting program, in your files, or in your appointment book, but you do have what you need to begin planning for next year. Use that data!

Next, dream a little. How much money would you like to make this year? How much do you want to work? Considering your clients last year, do you want more of the same, or do you want to make some changes? Simply decide what you want for the rest of this year.

Then, the part that terrifies most of us. Decide how you will make it happen. Do you need to raise your fees, do more marketing, or learn new skills? Do you need to hire an assistant, or up-grade equipment? Do you need a coach to mentor you?

Planning is a three-part exercise. Start with what you have, choose some targets for next year, and devise a plan for getting there. Yes, you'll make mistakes, and of course nothing will go exactly as you planned. That's called life. It is NOT an excuse to avoid planning.

A plan will focus your time and energy. Any plan, even notes on a scrap of paper, will give you a sense of direction. Before the year gets away from you, write a plan! A year from now, you'll be glad you did.

Take the time. Make the investment. Hire the experts. Take the initiative. Get away from the daily details to see the big picture and create the future you want.

News from SABusinessHub

As most of you know, I'm heavily involved with South African Business Hubs at the moment.

Here is a bit of a catchup in case you have not been following.

We've seen tremendous growth to the usage of both the SABusinessHub website, subscriptions to the newsletter and the use of our services over the last year. This newsletter now goes out to more than 14 500 entrepreneurs, small business owners and people interested in this industry. Our website will for the first time this month attract half a million hits from all of you visiting on a regular basis.

I'm looking forward to growing this business in an event bigger way in 2007.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Shuttleworth entrepreneur conferences relaunch with new organisers

I'm so excited about this one I just had to blog it. The official press release anouncing our deal this week.


Cape Town, January 15, 2007: One of South Africa’s most successful entrepreneurial networking platforms, The Big Idea, will be resurrected in February 2007 with a series of events across the country. The Big Idea – which was originally the brainchild of HBD Venture Capital and enjoyed a strong following from 2003 to 2005 – took a breather in 2006 and is being brought back by, a fast-growing portal for small SA businesses.

Julia Long, CEO of HBD Venture Capital, the VC firm started in 2000 by Mark Shuttleworth, said that a change of focus at HBD meant that it was a good time for someone else to take over The Big Idea reigns. “We have changed our funding model and this means that the conferences are no longer a natural fit for us. We were very pleased to transfer the concept and logistics to SABusinessHub, a company which has the drive and passion needed to make these great platforms a success.”

Luther Diedericks, CEO of SABusinessHub said The Big Idea events were a series of practical and interactive networking events and focused workshops aimed at assisting entrepreneurs and potential entrepreneurs with the development, growth and marketing of their businesses. “The Big Idea was very success in the past so it is a brand which we are very excited to nurture and build upon.”

He said that networking platforms at this level in South Africa were currently limited. “We are a country full of great ideas and new businesses and yet it is often hard for us to get businesses off the ground because the more traditional ‘9-to-5’ forms of commerce are viewed as less risky. We hope these events will fill a gap and allow entrepreneurs to network, form business relationships and find ways to work together and compliment each other’s successes.”

Speakers at the first series will include Scott Cundill, Pat Grove, Lanon Prigge, Wesley Boshoff, Junior Burger, Rachelle Bricout, Godfrey Parkin and Shirelda Mitas.

The February Big Idea conferences will take place as follows:
Bellville 1 February 2007
Stellenbosch 6 February 2007
Durban 9 February 2007
Johannesburg 12 February 2007
Claremont 15 February 2007
East London 20 February 2007
Port Elizabeth 22 February 2007

Each conference will feature a breakfast and cocktail networking event and a workshop. The registration cost for all three is R590. Registration can be done online on the following website: For more information contact Luther Diedericks on 0861BUSHUB or 084 8080 200.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Why it pays to be fanatical about measurement?

This powerful little quote from Edward Deming sums up one of the most important distinctions between high achievers and the also-rans in life.

Far too many of us dream big dreams and work hard every
day, without taking time to see if we are making any
progress! Think about that! Logically, if you are
building a business, saving for retirement, trying to lose
weight or achieve any other goal in life, you NEED to know
if what you're doing is working!

Of course you do! And yet, many professionals and business
owners forget this key step. They "try" an advertising
campaign or "try" a new sales person. They "try" changing
their hours or raising (or lowering) their prices, but
without adequate records and good testing, they don't
really KNOW what works and what doesn't. As a result, too
often they keep on working hard, but are spinning their
wheels, wasting time and going nowhere.

It is well known that entrepreneurs such as Jeff Bezos, the founder of is simply fanatical about making sure everything is measured and improved on a continual basis. The key to making progress is to get very, very good at
measuring what works (so you can do more of it) and
measuring what does not work (so you can stop it!).
Successful people track daily performance. They use charts
and graphs to visualize their results. They compare
results from one year to the next, and measure their
productivity with that of their colleagues (and

One of the biggest advantages of small business is its flexibility and responsive to customer needs and new market demands. But focussing this flexibility is the real secret of successful small business and this focus is a result of continuous measurement and action to do more of what works and less of what does not.

Here's something that can help. If you have not reserved your seat for the next Big Idea event near you, do so today and find out how measuring your marketing efforts will help you grow exponentially.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

New questions for small business support in SA

Recent research into small smmes and specifically the difference between the formal and informal sectors of small business has resulted in even bigger questions now being asked by those of us who support these sectors.

Questions from the government may be how to distribute the funding and resources being made available to the small business sector? How regulate and tax the informal sector? - and if the formal sector is seen as producing more in terms of tax but the informal sector contributes more towars the GDP then where should the government be focussing its resources. Although the easy answer to this is probably on the both these sectors, the practical aspect of how this is done may be much more daunting.

From a business support perspective this also leaves organisations like ours with some serious questions to ask ourselves, not only in terms of services provided but also as far as market demands, marketing and the delivery of our services.

If you are a B2B organisation then by now you may be realising that its not only the government and business support organisations like SABusinessHub who is challenged with this problem but every organisation, formal or informal who is looking to increase its market share.

Let us know what your views are on this.

The research report here

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Weekly humor - the language of English

Every few months someone sends me a collection of these absurdities from our mother tongue. I don't know who has the time (and talent) to collect these things, but they always entertain me. Barbara Moore sent this particular collection and I hope you are as bemused by it as I was. Thanks, Barbara!

There is no egg in eggplant nor ham in hamburger .... Neither apple nor pine in pineapple.

English muffins weren't invented in England or French fries in France.

Sweetmeats are candies while sweetbreads, which aren't sweet, are meat.

We take English for granted. But if we explore its paradoxes, we find that quicksand can work slowly, boxing rings are square and a guinea pig is neither a pig nor from Guinea.

And why is it that writers write but fingers don't fing, grocers don't groce and hammers don't ham?

If the plural of tooth is teeth, why isn't the plural of booth, beeth? One goose, 2 geese. So one moose, 2 meese? One index, 2 indices?

If you have a bunch of odds and ends and get rid of all but one of them, what do you call it ? (Answer- Is it odd that you have just one?)

If teachers taught, why don't preachers praught?

If a vegetarian eats vegetables, what does a humanitarian eat?

Sometimes I think all the English speakers should be committed to an asylum for the verbally insane. In what language do people recite at a play and play at a recital?

Ship by truck and send cargo by ship?

Have noses that run and feet that smell?

How can a slim chance and a fat chance be the same, while a wise man and a wise guy are opposites?

You have to marvel at a language in which your house can burn up as it burns down, in which you fill in a form by filling it out and in which, an alarm goes off by going on.

English was invented by people, not computers, and it reflects the creativity of the human race, which, of course, is not a race at all.

That is why, when the stars are out, they are visible, but when the lights are out, they are invisible.

And finally, why doesn't "Buick" rhyme with "Quick"?

Friday, January 12, 2007

Maximizing your business potential in 2007

This week I offer my thoughts on maximizing your business potential in 2007.

Every living thing is either growing or dying. Every plant, every animal and every business is either becoming more powerful, more creative, more vibrant and dynamic, or it is shrinking and preparing to die.

How is it with your business, right now?

In the coming year, thousands of businesses will close their doors. In 2007, thousands of professionals will see their income decline, and some will give up, change careers and move on. But not you!

Let others become frustrated or stuck, but NOT YOU!

In 2007, I want your business to grow! I want you to add new products or services. In 2007, I want your business to capture new markets, improve your services, raise prices, and increase profits. I want 2005 to be your best year ever!

And, only you can make it happen. As a business owner or leader, it is your responsibility to look ahead, analyze the situation, develop and execute strategies to grow your business. Whatever other daily tasks or small jobs you do, your PRIMARY responsibility is to grow the business and now is the time to figure out exactly how you will do that in 2007.

There are goal-setting programs and exercises. I recommend using a large at-a-glance calendar, and matching outcomes with specific deadlines. In the past year I worked with many businesses of all sizes, and if a one-day retreat or consultation will help you clarify your goals and create more effective strategies, please contact me! I want your business to thrive in 2007! Let me know how I can help!

Take the time. Make the investment. Hire the experts. Take the initiative. Get away from the daily details to see the big picture and create the future you want.

The best part is that we are hosting a whole series of Big Idea workshops in February. Wy will 2007 be diffrent for you is you don't start taking action now. Give us a call on 084 908 9131 or book your seat click here.

Business idea of the week: Serve entrepreneurs and small business owners in your area

This week we consider the exiting and rapidly growing field of business support and coaching of small business owners and entrepreneurs.

Now I realize that I may be considered as biased on this occasion but with recent developments within SABusinessHub hub and a huge surge in the numbers of small businesses starting up, looking for support and resources and going to business coaches and consultants to find the answers, there has never been a better time than now to join this national business network.

For more details on this click here

Upside: Growing market, endless opportunities, government support and grants available and a good nights sleep every night knowing you are making a real difference.

Downside: As this organisation provides full training you must be willing to acquire new knowledge and skills.

Verdict: An absolute winner no matter how you look at it.

Friday, January 05, 2007

SABusinessHub acquires The Big Idea

As many of you are subscribers to this blog and regular readers, I thought it only fair that you get the great news first. In the last week South African Business Hubs which I co-found in 2005 secured the acquisition of The Big Idea events company, a company created by Mark Shuttleworth in 2002 for the purpose of supporting entrepreneurship and small business in South Africa. A formal press relase will be published next week.

Big Idea Conferences have, since 2003, been held in Cape Town, Port Elizabeth, Durban, East London, Johannesburg and Bloemfontein and have trained over 2000 delegates.

This is exciting development for us in our mission to Release South Africa’s Entrepreneurial Revolution. A recent global entrepreneurship monitor ranked entrepreneurship in South Africa amongst the lowest of all developing countries, a travesty that needs to be addressed not only by the government but by every entrepreneur and support body in the country.

Our first series of workshops and networking events is coming to a city near you in February 2007. THE BIG IDEA is a series of practical and interactive conferences and focused workshops sessions that assist existing and potential entrepreneurs in developing and growing your businesses by providing practical advice and support.

I look forward to meeting every single one of you at an Big Idea event in 2007. For details of the events commencing in February this year, click here to view the calendar.