Your (Side) Business, Some Things to Keep an Eye On

Your business has been operating for a number of months or years but there’s a great chance you are still worried that you are not making enough money or that you are not getting as many customers as you thought you would. To help you get things in perspective here are a few simple questions to ask yourself as you go about your business

1. What is the problem my business is addressing?

At the onset you wanted to solve a problem. Are you solving this problem? Or have you diverted from your initial reason to be? Remember the lack of opportunity you identified or the difficulties and pains your customers mentioned to you. Are you addressing it if not? Why not?

Your business will not make money if people don’t need what you’re offering. Keep assessing your future clients’ needs, see what your competitors offer, understand what it is that’s lacking in your competitors’ product or service, and figure out how you can deliver that missing element.

2. Do I understand the market?

Understanding your market is really critical as you go about your business. If your business is selling children’s clothes what is the market in your area? Is there someone else doing the same thing? How successful are they? Is your product or service business operating in an already well-served area? (Like is everyone in your group selling children’s clothes?). If so, you can either offer your own spin on things like have a children’s clothing line that has a particular focus (formal clothes for children, shoes for children or t shirts only). Or consider selling in another market (to a different group of people or in another part of the country).

Understand your market and adapt and change. Your vision for your business should change as your business grows, so you need to be ready to revisit and revise some aspects of it on a regular basis.

3. Do I have the right approach?

You know how you have got all those many followers, well, do not let that go to your head because social media metrics are indicative of quantity, not necessarily quality. What really matters is that you have the right people following you—those who are actually going to buy your product. Instead of focusing on amassing empty likes, do some legwork. Go and find some real potential customers and sell to them.

Expecting everything to “work itself out” is not an effective business strategy, and you will not see the growth you desire.

4. Do I know how to handle the Money?

Money management or the lack of it is one of the greatest risks to a small business. To start with have a standard way you want to be paid. Have a rule in place that establishes the mode of payment of your products or services and then apply this rule to all customers. Do not create payment terms for individual clients on as they come basis. A universal payment term will make your bookkeeping easier, and can smooth your collections process. If you apply the same terms across the board, you also don’t have to worry about remembering the arrangements you made with each individual customer.

Another thing, open a separate business bank account. You need to keep your business finances separate from your personal finances. If you are unsure about the finances and how to handle them find someone to teach you or help you understand small business accounting. This way you will generate a realistic picture of what your business’s expected costs and earnings will be.

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Kwachalelo, be successful, be well.

About Balekile Gausi

A prolific writer covering work, money and lifestyle that passed through university coming away with a very good grasp of public administration, money and banking, international relations. She was a civil servant that quickly opted for self-employment. And as a trained and published writer she has been freelance feature writing for several decades but has also published fiction in Drum and The BBC Focus on Africa Magazine. Now settled and living in Lusaka after many years of living in several cities in Africa and Europe; Balekile is also an avid bird watcher, is married with 3 adult children and has an extraordinary fondness for chikanda ( the Zambian delicatessen that vegans and non-vegans world-wide are putting on their bucket list!)

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