Tax Talk Newsletter Summer 2021
Be realistic with social media expectations
You’re starting out in business, or maybe you’ve been in business a while but everyone is saying you need to have a social media presence.
If you agree, and if you’re a small business, you have to be realistic in what you can do with social media.
The first rule is not to overdo the number of platforms you use. You just won’t have the time or resources to maintain several accounts, so stick to just a couple. Unless you have someone dedicated to running them, you’ll be distracted and overwhelmed if you have Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Tumblr and so on.
Let’s say you set up a Facebook page because you have big plans for marketing your business. You load it with lots of information and you get a few ‘Likes’.
Then you realise you’re going to have to put some effort in. To get your information in front of a lot of people, you need to get them following your page. So you have to market the page.
Then you have to keep posting on the page to keep it up to date. And you have to delete posts from other people because the posts are not relevant. And you have to reply to people who post or message you with often bizarre requests or information. You need to load photos and edit your posts so they’re accurate and grammatically correct.
The message is if you’re using social media, be prepared to put time and effort into it. It could mean up to an hour a day. Can you afford that when you need to be out making money for your business?
You might be better to provide a regular electronic newsletter specifically targeted for your clients, suppliers and prospects.
Don’t let your fish off the hook
The lifeblood of businesses is sales. Every extra dollar you make after you have paid for the running costs of the business is profit.
A retailer who normally adds a 50 percent profit margin gets nothing for herself until she has paid the rent and other running costs. Once that has happened a $100 sale is $33 in her pocket (before Mrs Tax has taken her share). The vital component of a business is sales.
Someone rings you to buy something. The fish is on the hook just waiting to be landed.
“You can order that on our website,” says your telephone receptionist.
Your fish has just been let go and money has just been taken out of your pocket.
Now look at it from the point of view of the fish. It has been freed. There are lots more morsels to eat so this fish lifts the phone and rings one of your competitors, who obligingly supplies the goods with a minimum of hassle.
Many websites are poorly designed and waste the customer’s time. They are best avoided.
It’s all about saving time. If a telephone call is going to get the job done more quickly, then that’s the way to go. That’s why your fish rang you in the first place.
Never tell a customer you’re not going to serve them personally by referring them to your website.
‘Sell your bill’ with
It’s tough in retailing at present, but retailers have an advantage over trades people – they set the price and get paid immediately.
Trades people generally do the work, bill for it and wait to be paid. If the customer doesn’t like the bill, delays can occur. It can happen especially for maintenance work.
If possible, it’s worth providing a price before starting the job so the customer knows what to expect. At least tell your customers your hourly rate and any other fees, such as for a callout.
When unexpected work is required and a bigger bill likely, advise the customer as soon as you know.
Another tip is to ring your customer and explain in detail why a bill might be larger than they expect. Then ask if the total amount is acceptable. Most people are reasonable if you are.
“Sell your bill” by providing plenty of information in your invoice.
Get meeting notes as they happen
The use of Zoom and other online meeting platforms during the Covid-19 lockdown has spawned many innovations as companies scramble to change their work practices.
One clever innovation involves enhanced meeting notes.
In “the old days”, notes were taken by a secretary, transcribed and delivered to participants when someone decided what should and should not be in them. Now it’s possible to have a meeting in which everyone gets notes of the conversation as it happens.
One of these note-taking programs is Otter.AI, which has recently signed a deal with Zoom to put the notes into a web browser for everyone in the meeting. The transcript can be copied at the end.
Meeting collaborators, such as teacher assistants or secretaries, who are logged into Otter can even highlight, comment, and add photos to create meeting notes that everyone can review and share.
The program is timely given many people are working from home. Many meetings, events, and classes have gone virtual, but remote workers and students struggle to listen and pay attention while having to take their own notes.
Businesses, schools and others can now capture information accurately and make them accessible instantly.
Be cheeky and seek out the best
One piece of business advice might be the only one you need.
It’s this: Get cheeky and ask a smart, successful person for help.
Most people who have succeeded in business are happy to help someone genuinely seeking advice. In fact, they sometimes wonder why no one will talk to them. They’re a bit like the best-looking ones at the dance who seem too good to be true, so no one asks them to dance.
We know of one local retired businessman who built a multimillion-dollar business with offices on every continent. Being semi-retired, he now helps all sorts of businesses to get where they want to be, or just get out of difficulty.
And the best part of it – he doesn’t charge for his time. He loves the collaboration, but if someone doesn’t want to take his advice, he’s happy to walk away.
“It’s their business, so it’s their decision,” he says. “I might not agree and I’ll argue my case, but if they decide to do something else, that’s fine.
“Because I don’t charge, there’s no obligation on either of us.”
If you do your homework, you’ll know who’s been successful in your line of business. Seek out the best and ring them, or make an appointment to see them. It’s never difficult to find well-know people. Be creative.
They might be retired and spending most of the time in the garden, but they’ll have plenty of expertise and experience just waiting for someone to tap into. In fact, they might just be flattered that you have thought of them.
If you do get that phone call or appointment, be prepared. Be specific. What is your particular issue – starting in business, difficulty building the business, wanting to get out of the business . . .? What do you want from them? If they are good enough to give you their time, show you are prepared and won’t waste the opportunity.
You never know, you might just build a strong business and personal relationship that benefits you both.
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Important: This is not advice. Clients should not act solely on the basis of the material contained in the Tax Talk Newsletter. Items herein are general comments only and do not constitute nor convey advice per se. Changes in legislation may occur quickly. We therefore recommend that our formal advice be sought before acting in any of the areas. The Tax Talk Newsletter is issued as a helpful guide to our clients and for their private information. Therefore it should be regarded as confidential and should not be made available to any person without our prior approval.