finance

How To Expand Your Business Into Overseas Markets

By Jennifer Robson

Going global is a significant undertaking for any business but can be even more significant for small businesses.  So getting it right is vital.  Undoubtedly going global will disrupt your existing business activities in some way; your resources and team will be affected. So its crucial that business owners determine the full impact of an international move before jumping in feet first.  You need to determine if the rewards outweigh the risks. 

Taking your small business global is a complex process, which requires planning and research. Before you begin you need to gain a better understanding of your target markets.  It is useful to conduct market analysis and comparative market analysis to help you to understand the pros and cons of your strategy.  You also need to understand your best route to market and analyze different approaches to understand which is the best fit for your company.  You may find that you need to take a different route to market in each new target country. 

Before going global, it is critical to understand what the full impact on your business will be.  Due diligence is critical.  Think about the impact of the new venture on your whole business.  If you suddenly get an increase in sales can your manufacturing processes cope? Do you have an internationally focused sales team? Will you need to change your office hours to accommodate new time zones? How will you deliver customer service across borders?

Planning tips

  • Prepare a market segmentation analysis to determine if your product will sell in the local market.
  • Prepare a product gap analysis against local products. Is there a demand that is not satisfied by a local company?
  • Your product will likely be higher priced than local products. Will the market buy your product
  • Consider market opportunity/sizing. How big is the market and how long will it take you to capture your targeted sales?

Each market has its own nuances due to economic, cultural, governmental, and market conditions.  Before you begin working in a new market create a business plan.  The business plan should integrate with your existing business plan and outline the impacts and how you intend to mitigate against any threats.

One of the major factors to consider is your team.  Who is going to run the new business venture for you? How will they work with your existing team? What skill sets do you need? Do you need to recruit locally? How will you do this?

During your research you should have analyzed your products fit for the market.  Now’s the time to make any necessary adjustments. Be sure to review government and industry-specific regulations to ensure that your product or service is compliant.  You may need to obtain country specific certifications. Pay close attention to the translation of the name of your product in the local language. Do you need to make adjustments to your branding and packaging? Consider a local logistics and distribution network. Who will sell your product and how will it get to them?

Next you need to determine how you will sell your product or service in the new market.  What’s the optimum sales model? What’s the best marketing channel? Do you need an Omni channel approach?

As part of your country business plan you should also develop a finance strategy and predict your profit and loss.  Develop key performance indicators, which can be owned by your local team.  Also develop KPIs for your existing team to encourage the two to work together and support one another. 

Expanding your business overseas is not for the fainthearted, but for most businesses it offers far greater opportunities for growth than limiting yourself to your domestic market. With the right strategy “going global” can produce great results.

For more information about how Routes and Branches Limited can help your business go global please contact Jennifer Jennifer@routesandbranches.com.

What Is Bright Shiny Object Syndrome & How Can You Beat It?

By Jenni Syrjala

Your Facebook feed is full of them, as is Twitter, and don’t even get me started on Pinterest. As online business owners, we are surrounded by bright, shiny objects day in, day out. Everyone is selling the latest “must-have” gadget, software or program, and sometimes it’s just impossible to resist… Enter: Bright Shiny Object Syndrome. 

Bombarded by bright shiny objects – you don’t stand a chance!

You know that feeling when you are first starting your business, and there are so many things to learn? Too many to count, in fact! The sheer number of things you need to know to get started is mind-boggling, and you probably haven’t even discovered half of them yet!

In the world of the modern entrepreneur you spend your days being bombarded with Bright Shiny Objects. One post is talking about the Must Have software to take your business off the ground, while the next outlines the benefits of a program that will help you reach seven figures in seven weeks, and a third tells sells you a brand new gadget which you can’t live without if you want your business to be taken seriously.

You can’t seem to focus on what matters – doing the work to grow your business – as all your attention is taken up by all these bright shiny objects promising you a shortcut to financial success and glory. You get bogged down by what ifs and fear of missing out – “what if this is the person or product who will teach me the secret? What if this time I will learn what I need to get my business off the ground?”

Bright Shiny Object Syndrome kicks in, and you find yourself unable to resist. You get sucked in, and you end up spending more money than you are currently making on courses you don’t complete, software you don’t know how to use, and entry to Facebook groups you don’t even like.

How not to succumb to the lure of BSO

Your bank balance is suffering, your nerves are suffering and your business is suffering. This has to stop. So here are my 4 tips on how to beat BSO Syndrome:

1.  Why are you doing it?

The first step to recovery is acknowledging that you have a problem, so well done for taking this first step! Now you should try to figure out where this problem comes from. Are you just spending your days shopping for BSOs as a way of procrastinating (procrastaspending) to avoid doing the things you should be doing? Maybe you’re new to business, and it’s a whole new, unfamiliar world for you, and you’re just wanting to be as equipped as possible before you “head out there for real”? Or maybe you’re feeling insecure and experiencing impostor syndrome, and your mind keeps telling you that you have to keep taking courses and signing up for programs and getting certified in all sorts of things before you can really call yourself a writer or a social media expert or a coach, and before you can start charging people for your services.

If this is you, I want to say this: no one is ever ready, so you have to start before you’re ready – otherwise you will never start at all. Oprah wasn’t always Oprah, and the first 100 blog posts or videos or other types of creations you put out there won’t be that great anyway, but if you let your BSO Syndrome stop you from getting started, you will never get there. In at the deep end, I say! That’s where you learn.

2.  Analyse your situation

Sit down and take inventory of where BSO Syndrome has gotten you so far. Write down all the courses you bought and didn’t access, all the books you never read, all the software you never learned how to use – basically anything you regret spending money on or that you can see now you didn’t make the most of. Calculate how much BSO Syndrome has already cost you. Maybe even put the list somewhere visible, so that you can refer to it next time you get close to spending money you shouldn’t be spending.

Next, write a list of all the things you need to learn – they will feel a lot less overwhelming once you get them down on paper. And then go and find free online resources that will teach you how to do those things. The world is full of free webinars, blog posts and newsletters that will teach you pretty much anything from podcasting to website building – all you have to do is go out and find them.

3.  Get a proper overview of your business finances

How much money is coming in? How much of that is going out? Are you making a profit? It is also super important that you keep your personal and business finances separate. Make sure you have a business account (often this can just be a normal account, unless you live in a country with specific regulations regarding business accounts, so avoid expensive accounts when you can!) where all your business income goes and that you charge all business spending to, and pay yourself a salary out of this account. This will help you get a proper overview of how much money is coming in, how much is going out, and what sort of things you are actually spending your money on.

4.  Plan

This is key to keep BSO Syndrome at bay – plan for the things you really want or have to spend money on, and stick to the plan! This is basically a budget for your business. If you know there’s a big conference coming up that you really want to go to, you have to figure out how much that is going to cost you, and how much you have to set aside each month to get that money together – and then check your figures to see if you can really afford it. Remember – having the money and being able to afford something is not always the same thing!

By planning, budgeting and saving up for your purchases ahead of time you can enjoy that business retreat to the Bahamas or that swanky new laptop without having to feel guilty and getting into loads of debt. You can enjoy the experience or purchase so much more, because you know you’ve earned it!

In the shiny world of online businesses the battle against BSO will never end. But if you take these steps to become aware of the problem and prepare for it, the constant assault of shiny must-haves won’t seem as distracting.

Now, over to you: what is the craziest thing you have spent money on when you succumbed to Bright Shiny Object Syndrome? Designer clothes for a photo shoot? A $100 planner? Let’s confess and get it off our chests! Leave a comment below :)

Jenni Syrjala is completely obsessed with personal finance. When her friends stopped returning her calls, she took the hint and decided to stop pestering them with unwanted money advice, and instead become a money coach and speaker.

Jenni specialises in helping female entrepreneurs who have been hit by Bright Shiny Object Syndrome to steer clear of all the temptations that are thrown at us every single day, and to learn how to manage their money in a way that lets them focus on their business and achieve the freedom they so desperately want. She is passionate about teaching women to take control of their finances instead of hiding from them, and to help them see that money doesn’t have to be stressful – it can’t be exciting, too! Connect with her on her site, on Facebook and on Twitter.

5 Money Lessons For Creative Entrepreneurs

By Lauren at Becoming Wellthy

Being a creative entrepreneur can be an incredibly time consuming undertaking. We spend many hours creating a product or service and building a brand, all so we can get paid and work for ourselves. Sometimes we get so overwhelmed with the process, we sweep something as simple as money under the rug. Are you guilty of this?

I recently watched "Make More Money and Discover Your Worth" on Creative Live. If you have a chance to purchase this lesson or catch it when it is on air for free, I highly recommend it. Amazing glamour portrait photographer Sue Bryce and money guru Tiffany Angeles teach you about money blocks, and how to give and receive money in your life. I guarantee you have a block or two, and you don't even know it.

Below are five money lessons that I think are important as creative professionals. 

LESSON #1

Budget - As a creative entrepreneur, it is so important to have a realistic budget. You don't have a recurring paycheck to pay bills, so you have to learn to live within your means. One month you can be rolling in the dough, and the next there isn't anything come in. 

I have been using the "budget to zero" plan, and it has been perfect. Budgeting to zero means you give every dollar a job. Every last penny. Even if that job is "carryover to next month" you assign every dollar to do something. A great program for this is You Need A Budget (YNAB, for short). YNAB is amazing. First, they start you off with a 34 day trial. This gives you plenty of time to truly get familiar with the software and try it out. After that, its $5 a month. That's one latte, people. It's worth it.  

This has been so great, because once I have spent the money in my budget for each item, I'm done. Oh no, you spent $20 out of your $20 budget on coffee this month? Looks like you are making your own until next month!

Make sure you are realistic. Enter all your monthly bills first, and assign your dollars to them. Then if there is something leftover, give it a job. Your dollars are dying for a job! If it's spoken for, you won't use it carelessly.

LESSON #2

Don't Chase Money - When you chase money, it runs away. You can decide, "OK, this month I just need $2000 to cover my bills" and think that's enough. It's not! You need to factor in what YOU are actually going to pay yourself. They say that realistically you end up with 20% of whatever your business makes. 20% people! But, it makes sense. There is the tax man (more on that below), the bill people, the business expenses, the things you need to pay for yourself since you don't have an employer to do this for you (health insurance, retirement accounts, etc.) If you choose to chase an amount of money, you are going to push it away. Decide what you want to make that month. Then, decide what you are worth and calculate how many clients it will take to get to that number. It's less daunting to say "I need 10 clients this month" than to say "I need $10,000."

LESSON #3

Don't Avoid Money (or your responsibilities) - Do not avoid money, or it will bite you in the end. If you owe money for expenses, you need to pay your bills. If you are making money, then you need to pay taxes. And it's simple. Once you get paid, calculate your tax that would be taken and move that money aside. It's not your money, so move it immediately. The IRS is not going away anytime soon, so get to them before they get to you. Otherwise when it’s time to pay your taxes, and all you have left in your savings is enough to pay your tax bill you are going to be standing there saying "Well, where is my money?"

And at the same time, don't avoid asking for money! You did a service, or provided a product - you deserve to get paid. There is no shame in asking for money when it is owed to you. Don't block yourself from something you are entitled to.

LESSON #4

Money Honesty - Find someone to be honest with about money. Because people lie about money. Trust me, in the past I was a huge liar about my money. I covered it up, and made excuses and never had an honest conversation with anyone about my money issues. I needed to have that honest conversation with someone and say hey - I am making some good money, but I have nothing at the end of the day. Where is it going? What am I doing wrong?

These days I am filled with joy managing my money. I get a slight thrill seeing money come in, money going out and money staying put. I have chosen not to lie, I now post my income online every month. You guys are my accountability. You get to see my trials and tribulations. When you put it out there with someone, you are more likely to make the right decisions. 

LESSON #5

Get Creative - "You are a creative. Get creative with income." Diversify it. As a self-employed person, you need to think about having a few income streams. Some people offer a service, why not thing of a product to go along with it? Some people offer products, think about maybe investing some of your income as well? And speaking of investment, after you have paid the bills, and set aside money for savings don't be afraid to take some of your leftover money and invest in you. Invest in your business. Educate yourself even more about your trade or niche, because most services are constantly growing. 

I am sure there are so many more lessons we can learn about being a creative entrepreneur but this is a good easy start! Don't forget, value yourself and your service or product. Own it, and show people that you believe in what you do or sell. And watch the dollars come rolling in! And don't forget, Creative Live has a TON of great classes to watch for all kinds of creative niches. Go check them out!

Can your business finances be rainbows and sunshine?

By Katie Marshall

For many of us making the decision of going into business ourselves was not a decision we made lightly. I know for myself I constantly told anyone who would listen I would never work for myself even though I had a small side business whilst working full time in a corporate financial planning role. Over the years I have had and still have a number of family and friends who worked for themselves and whilst they did have more freedom than I had in my 9 to 5 role they did have enormous amounts more stress than I would ever have. 

You see I would have my pay deposited directly into my bank account without fail every Thursday. I didn’t have to worry about working out when I was going to find time to do the all important invoicing, when I was going to chase up those who owed me money and I never had to worry about organising my bills to work out who had to be paid first and who could wait a few weeks until one of my clients finally paid their invoice which was now well overdue. 

So even though the allure of being able to take a few hours off here and there that I didn’t have the luxury of doing in my corporate roll never outweighed the constant stress that I watched my family and friends go through being self-employed.

From experience with my family and friends there was three main problems that stood out and turned me off becoming self employed which included:

1. Long Hours doing paperwork - From invoicing at all hours of the night and weekends, to being behind on their bookkeeping and overrun with receipts, requirements from the ATO such as Business Activity Statement completions not to mention end of year tax returns and the looming notion of an ATO audit at any time.

2. Constant battle to have your invoices paid - They had completed the job, provided the good/s and or service and still had to wait to have their invoice paid. Further time was spent worrying about when the client was going to pay and in many instances if the client was going to pay

3. Constant Stress - Not only from the above two points but also from family and friends who are missing out on quality time with you because you are so stressed.

My world changed when I came across the cloud based accounting program Xero. Whilst there are many cloud based accounting programs, Xero was the one which converted me from being the ‘I’m never working for myself’ type person to the happy and content self employed person I am today. 

Now I understand to many it sounds ridiculous that a cloud based program let alone a accounting program changed my steadfast view on self employment and there are a number of reasons how it did just that. I believed, like my self employed family and friends, that stress free finances was a myth, a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow that small business owners no matter how many hours they worked would never reach. It was the ultimate illusion.

So how can you can you reach that pot of gold?

1. Action: You need to take action, you need to put your finances (both business and personal) as your top priority list as without it your business will not survive or if it does survive chances are your health will suffer due to the stress of your disorganised finances. 

My suggestion is always to decide what stress free finances means to you? 

● Does it mean you outsource your bookkeeping?

● Does it mean you  hire someone in house to fill this role? 

● Does it mean you find solutions which will systemise your receipts, invoicing, reconciliation and follow up of outstanding invoices to name a few so that these tasks are completed and you have more stress free time?

2. Review: You need to review your current process to see how much time you are currently spending on each tasks or are you leaving it till the last minute to get these task completed.

●  receipts

● invoicing

● bank reconciliations 

● chasing outstanding invoices

● Business Activity Statement (BAS)

● End of Year Tax

● Other general duties related to your business finances

3. Engage: You need to engage the services of a cloud bookkeeper who specialises in cloud integration also. Someone who will 

spend time not only asking you about your current bookkeeping processes but also about what your business does and how you currently do it. 

Someone who is knowledgeable in the area of Add-Ons that could help streamline your processes further than you could ever imagine. Someone who is interested in setting your business up for financial success rather than just for compliance to your ATO obligations

As a small business owner I have been able to grow my business far quicker through the use of a number of Add-Ons which without them would have meant I would be working really long hours of I would have had to employ someone to cover some of the administration tasks. 

For example, the Receipt Bank Add-On allows me to update Xero with all the details of all of my expenses without me having to do data entry - at all. Now I know it seems odd that someone who offers bookkeeping services as part of her suite of services doesn’t do data entry but with the click of a button Receipt Bank will take a photo of the receipt, upload the information directly into Xero and attach a copy of the receipt to the transaction so when I am audited by the ATO the receipt is right there for them to view without be having to find the box where I have stored those receipts from years ago. One simple Add-On program can not only remove data entry from my life but can also reduce the chances of a fine from the ATO down the track for not having a legible receipt for them to cross check to my account.

Stress Free Finances for small business owners doesn’t have to be a myth, it can be the norm, you just need to decide which  side you would prefer to be on. 

Founded by Katie Marshall, Efficient Business Services evolved from years of working with small business owners in her corporate role as a Financial Planner and seeing clients make poor decisions in their business because they didn’t have accurate or up to date figures. 

She has chosen the side with the rainbows and sunshine and she's happy to show you how you can too. Feel free to call her on 0481 112 834 or email katie@efficientbusinessservices.com.au to book in your complimentary 30 minute discovery session to discuss your business and your goals. You can also find Katie on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.  

Photo Credit: Unsplash

The Battle Of Money vs. Art

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By Michelle Green,

The notion of a “starving artist” is certainly not a new one. We've all heard stories of famous Renaissance painters dying penniless, stories of art school graduates who cannot find jobs and stories of people who simply closed their creative businesses because they could not make a living. Where these stories become battles are where the artists themselves say, “I feel bad asking for money,” or “I'm really only in it for the love,” instead of pricing their work correctly. It's as though they feel obligated to choose between their talent or their survival.

My question is, when did it become dishonourable to make a living from working creatively?

I don't believe we have to choose between art or money, because there is enormous value in choosing both. Here's what creative entrepreneurs don't understand about money: money gives you freedom. The freedom to creatively produce work for the world to enjoy, minus the stress and worry of how you're going to pay for those paints, that icing, that glue. Money gives you the freedom to actually thrive as an artist as opposed to forcing you to abandon your art and find “a real job,” or struggle on and starve.

Here's the big fat obvious part: “working” implies an exchange of money for labour of some kind. If you're wanting to be a “working” artist, the implication is that you would get paid for your (creative) efforts. So why then must you work..only for the love, love which you can't use to pay for anything? Here's another reason why you must learn to charge properly for your work – money makes you able to become better at what you do, and thus give your clients a better experience. With money you can make MORE things. You can improve your skills through education, purchase more ingredients, get better tools and invest in things which give your clients a better experience and product overall.

In other words, making money from your business is as much about giving value to your clients as it is about you. Your artistic, creative, wonderful business must be about the money on some level so that you can keep owning that artistic, creative, wonderful business. The very definition of business is the exchange of money or goods for other money or goods – so to be “in business”, money has to come into the equation somewhere, otherwise you're merely enjoying an expensive hobby. The world needs and deserves your gifts and talent, but not when the personal cost of those gifts renders you unable to produce them in the first place. Perhaps you're reading this and thinking, “But I don't want to be rich. I don't really care about money.” Funnily enough, nowhere in this article did I say that you need to make enough money to drive Ferraris and pour Bollinger on your cereal for breakfast.

You define success for yourself, and that includes defining how much money you need to make in order to be content and able to continue on with your work. Perhaps all you really want is to be able to pay your rent and bills, with a bit left over for some new tools or courses. Perhaps you just want to not be out of pocket every time you create something for a client. The absolute number of dollars is defined by your own definitions of success and need, but make no mistake - the dollars must be there in the first place. You are probably running your own creative business for many reasons. Your reasons might include lifestyle choices, artistic expression, your love of the craft, passion for the industry you're in, it feeds your soul, and so on. If one of your reasons is not money, you have no business being IN business in the first place. The battle here is not between money and art, the battle is between your head and your heart. Understand that money isn't only about being rich, it's about giving you the freedom to live a rich life. Those two things do not have to be mutually exclusive.

Michelle Green is the sole author of the Business of Baking blog. As a pastry chef, she owned a kick ass cake company for over ten years before deciding to sell it so she could write a blog full time and mentor other business owners. She works as a consultant to a number of small hospitality businesses and as a writer for the food/business industry. She has been featured or written for a number of publications and websites including Family Circle, candyaddict.com,cake! magazine, Sweet magazine,allrecipes.com.au, The Baking Sheet and Cakes Decore.  In 2015 Michelle will be teaching baking business courses all over the world. You can reach Michelle here:

Web: thebizofbaking.com
Via email: michelle@thebizofbaking.com
Instagram: @businessofbaking
Facebook: /bizbake

Twitter: #bizbake

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