Business Opportunities: 9 Great Ideas to Make More Money Online

Visual Two people shaking hands to represent business opportunities

Business opportunities are hard to define and the definition will vary depending on the person you ask. However, there are some general notions that are applicable and the aim will most often be: make money.

In this article, we will explore, what a business opportunity is, what are the most common types of business opportunities, what are the benefits, as well as 9 great online business ideas.

What is a business opportunity?

It can be hard to define exactly what a business opportunity is because it means different things to different people. 

Nevertheless, a business opportunity will most often involve either the lease or sale of a good or service. This lease of sale will then enable the person buying or leasing to start their own business.

The seller or licensor of this business opportunity most often will guarantee help to the buyer with finding the right location or provide the good to the licensee/buyer. This varies from selling an independent business, where there is no continued relationship with the seller once the initial deal has been made.

Another way to define a business opportunity is as a packaged investment that enables the buyer to start their own business. Technically, any franchise is a business opportunity. However, not all business opportunities are franchises.

The franchise differs from the business opportunity in that the business opportunity seller most often has no control over the way the buyer’s business operates. There will most often be no continuation of relationships between the buyer and seller after the sale. 

Due to this, business opportunities will generally offer much less support than franchises. However, this is not necessarily a disadvantage and can actually play in your favour, if you enjoy having more freedom.

Generally, you won’t have to follow the strict rules that franchises have to follow. With a business opportunity, you’ll most often buy the necessary equipment and then operate the business however you see fit. Most often, there are no continuing royalties nor trademark rights.

The makeup of a business opportunity

Typically, a business opportunity is made up of four different elements which are all present within one domain or geographical area.

These elements are:

  • A need
  • The means to fulfil this need
  • A method to apply the means to fulfil this need
  • A way to benefit 

If any one of these elements is missing, then a business opportunity can be created, by discovering this missing element. Ideally, the combination of these elements will be unique. The higher the control a company has over the elements, the better it will be able to exploit the opportunity and become a market leader.

Common types of business opportunities

There are three different types of business opportunities which are most common.

Distributorship

A distributorship is an agreement to offer and sell the goods of another company, without the right to use the trade name of the manufacturer as part of the distributor’s trade name. 

Depending on the agreement between the distributor and the selled, the distributor might only be allowed to sell the products of that specific company, or it will be able to market a range of different products from different companies.

Rack Jobbing

Rack jobbing describes the selling of another company’s products using a distribution system of racks in a range of shops that are filled by the rack jobber. With this type of business opportunity, the buyer or agent will typically enter into an agreement with the parent company to take their goods to market at various shops through strategically positioned racks.

Through the agreement, the parent company will acquire a number of locations where it is able to place racks on a consignment basis. The agent is then responsible to maintain stocks, arrange products, attract new clients and take care of the bookkeeping. The agent will show the shop manager an inventory control sheet which shows how much of the goods have been sold and the distributor is paid by that shop once the shop has taken its own commission.

Vending Machine Routes

The vending machine route is very similar to rack jobbing. The investment most often is larger for this kind of business opportunity because the distributor has to buy the machines on top of the goods being sold in them. However, in terms of payment procedures, it is the opposite as with job racking.

The person operating the vending machines most often pays the location owner a percentage based on the number of sales made. For this type of business opportunity, the location is most important. The machine has to be placed somewhere where there is a high footfall or as close as possible to one. If the machines are spread far apart, then traveling between them will cost you a lot of time and money, and could whittle down your profits.

The advantages of business opportunities

Visual of a thumbs up to represent the advantages of business opportunities

There are of course many benefits to business opportunities. Here are a few:

Business opportunities require lower initial fees than a franchise

There have been more and more low-investment franchises cropping up recently. However, it remains the case that fees for a business opportunity are most often a lot lower.

They provide a proven product or operating system

Tried and tested systems are there to optimise effectiveness and return on investment whilst minimising any issues. It is only a matter of passing on knowledge and experience. If there are any issues, the parent company will most often still be around and able to provide help and support to the licensee.

Initial intensive training programs

Within most companies, the initial learning period will pump up a lot of time and money. A strong business opportunity can get rid of the majority of inefficient steps through initial intensive training sessions.

More advantageous financing

Due to the size, contractual agreements and credit line of the parent company, it will most often be able to offer much more advantageous financing options than any individual person could obtain.

High-quality marketing and advertising

Most SMEs don’t have a huge budget for advertising or aren’t willing to spend a lot of money on it. When they are willing to set some money aside for their marketing, their plan is often badly thought through and lacks consistency. This is why many business opportunity ventures offer the buyer with pre-made advertising material and access to various advertising channels to help them with their marketing efforts. Some business opportunities will even have cooperative advertising agreements within their contract where costs for advertising are split. 

Ongoing support

Most business opportunity ventures will offer support throughout the training period but also offer expert guidance and knowledge otherwise inaccessible for an independent. Some parent companies will also offer some legal, accounting, financial, tech and strategic advice and support. 

Location assistance

Experts within the parent company will help you with site selection and marketing. They will help with leases and contract negotiation in order to get you the best deal possible, thanks to the leverage the size and status of the parent company afford them.

Buying power

Often, the buying power of the parent company, as well as their techniques and knowledge, will make it easier for you to access the right equipment and outside services at a lower cost.

9 great online business ideas

Visual of a post-it with a lightbulb in it on a wall for business ideas

Start a blog and monetise it

It has never been easier to start a blog. Not only that, but you can also make money out of it. 

Although you can’t expect money to come pouring in as soon as you create your blog if you create content on a regular basis that is informative, high-quality, entertaining or educational, that captures people’s attention, then you are on the right track.

Most importantly, if you want to monetise your blog, you need to find a way to sell something through it. For example, this could be products, ad space, sponsored posts, ebooks, coaching or digital products.

If you are serious about this and are committed on the long term, then blogging can be very profitable.

Sell your art online

No matter what kind of art you produce, whether that be paintings, photography or music, there are many ways in which you can launch an online business and transform your work into a source of income.

If you are a painter or photographer, then you could sell your originals or prints via your own website or using Printful or Printify. This is a great way to transform your art into something tangible that people can buy and use in their own personal spaces. If you are a musician, then you can also sell your music as digital downloads.

Become a freelancer

Graphic designers, web and app developers and writers can all make a living by starting their own business based on their expertise. As a freelancer, you will be able to make money by helping others with their own projects and by using your own knowledge and expertise.

Freelancing doesn’t mean that you have to give up all your free time by taking up huge projects. Indeed, projects vary in length and weight, meaning you will be able to pick and choose what suits your own schedule best.

Upwork and Fiverr are two great platforms for finding people who might be interested in your services.

Develop a niche product

If you discover a business opportunity within a certain niche, you might have discovered your next online business idea. Niche goods and services provide for very specific audiences or communities.

The niche could be a certain demographic, industry, values, geography, product attributes,… A niche is anything that is specific enough to target a small section of the population as potential clients. 

Create an online course or digital product

By creating an online course or a digital product, you are monetizing your knowledge and expertise by helping others and passing on your experience to others.

Of course, you will have to do the promotion of your product yourself. You could create your own website, create an email campaign, or find a third party to do the promotion for you. You will also need to create convincing sales material to convince people to buy your product.

Nevertheless, sharing your expertise and knowledge online to help others can be a great way to make money.

Become a copywriter

Copywriting describes the act of writing with the aim of moving people to action. It is the occupation of writing text for the purpose of marketing or advertising. This can be done for a website, a sales page, a blog, and more.

If you enjoy writing and are good at it, copywriting can be an effective way of monetising your talent. It can also enable you to work remotely and have better control of your schedule and time.

Help people with lead generation

Companies are always looking out for ways to generate new leads. They are, after all, what leads to deals and income for the business.

When helping a company with their lead generation, you are acting as a matchmaker.  You connect the company with leads who have a problem you can solve.

When the company you are helping concludes a deal thanks to the lead you generated, you will then most probably gain commission. If you are good at it, it can quickly become very lucrative.

Become a virtual assistant

If you are extremely organised and enjoy a job that isn’t being in the spotlight, then becoming a virtual assistant might be a great opportunity for you.

Virtual assistants help business people, entrepreneurs, leaders, managers and executives organise their own professional and personal affairs. Responsibilities can be wide-ranging, from marketing management to scheduling meetings and appointments. Being a virtual assistant, all the work is done online.

Develop apps and websites

If you are good with technology, you might want to consider learning some coding skills and start developing some things. Whether you want to create mobile apps or websites, you can create digital products which you can then sell or you can start providing your services to different companies and clients.

How CONNECTS can help you find online business opportunities

Visual of CONNECTS, It takes a community to build a business logo

Using online platforms is a great way to discover business opportunities that you might not have come across otherwise, whether that be because of your location, the industry you operate in or whatever reason.

CONNECTS is an online B2B matchmaking platform that allows you to find new business opportunities, as well as suppliers, distributors, partners and clients. As it is one single platform, it will save you a lot of time and effort and can really boost your online business efforts.

The platform can help you do business and find new opportunities worldwide within an environment of trust. Indeed, each member on the platform has been assessed and validated by a local chamber of commerce, meaning you can do business in all confidence.

If you are interested in finding out more about the types of opportunities on CONNECTS, check out our opportunities page.

Are you an entrepreneur wanting to discover and develop new opportunities, both locally and internationally? Join our Business Matchmaking Platform and start your free trial.

Already a member of a participating chamber? Join our Business Matchmaking Platform for free.

Want to learn more about CONNECTS? Find us on Google maps! For more information, don’t hesitate to contact us or request a demo

Imports and Exports: Essentials for International Business

Visual of cargo ship for Imports and Exports

Most people have heard of imports and exports. They are what international trade is based on. However, it isn’t that simple.

If you are an entrepreneur or own your own business and you want to start trading outside of your country borders, then this article is for you.

We will look at what imports and exports are, their pros as well as their limitations, how to start your own imports and exports business, what the rules and different types of Import/Export businesses are, and our top tips for becoming an Import Export Agent.

What are imports and exports?

Imports refer to the services or goods that are bought by a country’s residents from other countries across the world, instead of buying from domestic producers or providers. Importing goods leads to an outflow of money from the country because import transactions involve the buyer making a payment to a seller in another country.

Exports are services and products that are made domestically and then sold to clients outside of that country. Exports involve an inflow of money to the producer or provider’s country. This is because export transactions entail selling domestic products or services to a client residing in a different country.

The pros of imports and exports

  • It is one of the easiest ways to enter the global trade market
  • Imports and exports create huge opportunities for employment and growth
  • It will cost a lot less time and money than alternative ways to enter the global trade market
  • By comparison, it is less risky than other methods of starting doing business internationally
  • No country can be completely self-sufficient so imports and exports are vital for any nation’s functioning and growth
  • Imports and exports enable countries to access the best and latest technologies and well as the highest-quality goods and services in the world
  • It allows for better control over trade than establishing a market with much higher risks

The limitations of imports and exports

  • Importing and exporting goods leads to more packaging, protection, insurance and transportation costs which make the product more expensive
  • Exporting isn’t allowed if another country bans imports
  • Domestic companies that are nearer to the customer could offer a better service than businesses that are based in another country
  • There are certain quality standards for some goods so selling low-quality products or services can result in a bad reputation for the company and country
  • It can be frustrating, difficult and time-consuming to obtain licences and documents for foreign trade
  • You might run the risk of losing influence within your domestic market and with existing clients, if you are not careful

Starting your own imports and exports business

Visual of two people drinking coffee in a cafe

It has beens shown in some reports that up to 70% of people are unhappy in their current position. However, changing career paths, although daunting, is not impossible. Why not give international trading a go?

Taking time out to learn a new business and do some research, start a business and create a marketing plan takes a lot of courage, but it is worth it. It isn’t easy, but once the first few deals start happening, it is a very rewarding feeling to see what you have been working on come to fruition.

Starting your own business is an exciting process. All the work you put in directly benefits you rather than someone else you report into. You will be making the decisions and be accountable only to yourself, bringing you a sense of freedom. There is plenty to gain from starting your own company.

Imports and exports rules

The European Commission is determined to help traders make the most of global trading opportunities by laying out all the necessary information clearly.

International trading within and outside of Europe brings growth to the European economy and work for European citizens.

The European Commission provides the data on technical requirements to trade, tariff duries, food health requirements, anti-dumping and anti-subsidy duties and other matters.

This information is laid out according to whether one is importing into the European Union or exporting from the European Union.

You can find more information about the specific rules on imports and exports in Europe on the European Commision website.

Types of Import/Export Businesses

Whilst there are importers and exporters, there are also many variations within this. Here are the main ones.

Export Management Company (EMC)

An EMC takes care of export operations for a domestic business that wishes to sell its products overseas but isn’t sure how to. The EMC takes care of it all. They will hire dealers, send out invoices to clients, representatives and distributors. They will take care of the marketing, advertising and promotion. They will also monitor packaging and marking, shipping and they even sometimes arrange contracting or financing for the development of a credit card app. The EMC might even take title to the goods, meaning they become in essence their own distributor. EMCs most often specialise by foreign market, product or both and will most often be paid on salary, commission or retainer plus commission.

Export Trading Company (ETC)

Whilst an EMC sells merchandise and works hard to find buyers, an ETC takes care of the other side of the trading coin. An ETC finds out what foreign buyers want to spend cash on and then identify domestic sources that are interested in exporting. ETCs sometimes take title to the products. Other times, they will take commission.

Import/Export Merchant

An Import/Export Merchant is an international entrepreneur that acts as a sort of free agent. They don’t necessarily have a specific client base and don’t always specialise in one type of product or industry. Rather, they buy products directly from a foreign or domestic manufacturer and then pack, ship and resell the product on their own. That also means that unlike an EMC, they are taking all the risks, as well as any profits.

Becoming an Import Export Agent

Becoming an Import Export Agent is often sold as being a quick way to make money without needing to do too much work. It involves linking up buyers and sellers, negotiating deals and getting paid. However, it isn’t that simple. Here is a video that explains the basics of how to become an Import Export Agent:

Top 10 tips for becoming an Import Export Agent

Visual of Ta man holding his thumb up

Look for a service or product you want to represent

Figuring out what you want to be selling, finding manufacturers, suppliers or a source for your product is the starting point.

One good way to do this is by getting in touch with the embassy of the country you want to source from. For example, if you are thinking of sourcing your products in Canada, you should contact the commercial branch of the Canadian embassy in your country and ask for a list of Canadian suppliers and manufacturers of the good you want to represent.

Another way to source products is by getting in touch with overseas trade fairs and to ask for a list of the businesses that will be present at the fair. For example, if you were wanting to become an agent for grains, do a search on the internet for ‘grain fairs in Canada.’ You will then be able to create a list of locations, dates and contacts. You can even visit a few of them, if possible, to start getting to know people and to build your network.

Create a range of products

Once you have chosen the product you want to represent, you should then develop a range of them from either one supplier or from a range of suppliers who sell products you think go well together.

When you pitch your main product in front of a potential client, you will be better able to convince them to make a deal if you can back your product with a range of other products where there is an opportunity to sell the range, thus bringing in more money. The other advantage is that if the potential client isn’t interested in the main product, they might be interested in another product within your range. You will thus increase your chances of concluding a deal and growing your sales network.

Know your product

Do you understand your product well enough? Although you do not need to know all the minutiae of your products, you need to have a good understanding of them, of the manufacturing process, how much production costs, wholesale price, retail price, profit margins and so on.

You have to be able to pitch your product confidently and demonstrate a depth of knowledge. It doesn’t matter too much if there is one question you do know the answer to. You can always come back to them. However, if you aren’t able to answer a few questions, it will start to undermine your credibility and your product.

Do your research

When starting as an agent, you need to know your market. Who are your competitors, what are their wholesale prices, who’s retailing your products, what is your retail price, how are your different from your competitors, what can you improve on,…

You need to find your niche and then establish yourself there. Then, you can grow.

Find out about safety regulations

This is a crucial step that is sometimes overlooked but can quickly become very costly if not taken into account. Is your product compliant with health and safety regulations in the country you aim on selling to? If it isn’t, you could go through the whole process of sealing a deal and then find out that your product is being held at customs because it doesn’t comply with national regulations. This will probably cost you a lot, both in time and money.

Establish your territory

Mark the territory you wish to represent. This will largely depend on your goals, how much money you have and how large your network is.

If you’re new to this and have a relatively small capital, then it is best to work within your region. Once you establish yourself and start growing, then you can grow to a national and even international level. 

Circumvention clause

A circumvention clause is a legal way to prevent the buyer or seller from excluding you for future sales as the commission agent. You should make sure you include it in your contract.

Get samples

In order to promote and demonstrate your product in meetings and pitches, you will probably need samples. You will find it a lot harder to convince people if you are not able to show them what you are offering so make sure your suppliers can also provide you with some samples.

Promotional material

On top of samples, you should also check out what kind of promotional material your supplier is able to provide. They will generally have product images which you can use in any communications you make or which you can add on your website. These images need to be high quality and represent your products and brand well.

Videos are another way to present your product, provided it is good quality. You could also produce brochures to leave with potential clients. There you can include information such as costs, profit margins and prices.

Commission

Finally, you should determine what commission you will be working on. You commission has to make it worthwhile for you so you have to make sure you have properly thought through your costs and what the bottom line is. If your calculations are wrong, this could obliterate any profit you make from your sales.

How CONNECTS can help you with your import and export efforts

Visual of CONNECTS, It takes a community to build a business logo

When trading internationally and doing export or import activities, having a single platform like CONNECTS where you can find new suppliers, distributors, partners and clients can be a great help. It will save you a lot of time and effort and can really boost your imports and exports trading efforts.

CONNECTS is an online B2B matchmaking platform which can help you do business and find new opportunities worldwide within an environment of trust. Indeed, each member on the platform has been assessed and validated by a local chamber of commerce, meaning you can do business in all confidence.

If you found this article interesting, you might also want to read our articles about The Incoterms 2020, NACE codes, and Business Development.

Are you an entrepreneur wanting to discover and develop new opportunities, both locally and internationally? Join our Business Matchmaking Platform and start your free trial.

Already a member of a participating chamber? Join our Business Matchmaking Platform for free.

Want to learn more about CONNECTS? Find us on Google maps! For more information, don’t hesitate to contact us or request a demo

9 Tips for an Effective Business Strategy

Visual of 9 Tips for Effective Business strategy

Every entrepreneur wanting to start their own company will have to think about their business strategy. Indeed, a strong strategy is one step closer to business success.

In this article, we will take a look at what a business strategy is, why it is important, the different strategies there are, things to think of when creating your own, and some examples of strong business strategies.

What is a business strategy?

Business strategy refers to the set of tasks and decisions taken by a business’s leadership in the aim of achieving certain goals for their company.

The company’s management team will implement this plan in an attempt to gain a competitive edge within a given market, delight customers, maintain effective operations, and achieve specific targets.

Within business, a business strategy is a kind of long-term image of what the leaders want to achieve. It is the direction in which the business should be steered. It is a blueprint of corporate intent and action, which is carefully thought through and flexible enough to:

  • Gain effectiveness
  • Identify and make the most of opportunities
  • Mobilise resources effectively
  • Gain a competitive advantage
  • Meet threat and challenges
  • Direct behaviours and efforts
  • Maintain control over the situation

A company’s business strategy, the set of actions decided by the company’s leadership, will enable them to gain new clients, compete effectively, increase performance, and reach company goals. It sets out a plan of action for how the company should operate to reach the desired outcome.

By establishing a business strategy, leaders are able to spot, evaluate and exploit relevant opportunities, to manage and adapt to threats, to use business resources and strength optimally, and to counteract weaknesses.

Why is having a business strategy important?

Having a business strategy enables a company to understand how they are performing, what they are capable of, and how they can grow in the long-term.

A business strategy establishes a vision and a path for the entire company. This is vital for all members of a business to have clear-set goals and have a direction to follow. A business strategy is there to provide that vision and avoid employees losing sight of their organisation’s goals.

The different levels of strategy

There are generally three levels of strategy within a company.

Visual of Close Up Yellow Green Red and Brown Plastic Cones on White Lined Surface

Corporate level strategy

A corporate-level strategy is developed by the top levels of management. It is far-reaching, integrated, comprehensive and action-oriented. Strategy at the corporate level established things such as business lines, growth, mergers and acquisitions, integration, diversification, and possible opportunities for investment.

Business level strategy 

The strategies involved in a particular area of the business are business-level strategies. The general managers will be in charge of thinking them through. They are the ones in charge of turning the vision and mission of their company into concrete steps. This is like a blueprint for the whole company.

Functional level strategy 

A functional level strategy is set up by first-line managers. It relates to the decisions made at the operations level. These decisions will concern specific functions within the company such as HR, production, marketing, R&D and finances. 

Within business, having multiple strategies at different levels is absolutely crucial. One single strategy for the whole company will not be enough. This is why most businesses have a three-tiered structure.

A range of strategies

It can sometimes be confusing taking part in strategy discussions, because most companies will have a range of different strategies, rather than just a single business strategy.

People sometimes use the term marketing strategy to describe a company’s competitive strategy. It is also important to know that a pricing strategy is different from a financial strategy, or an operational strategy. A company’s different strategies will often be related and interact. However, they are different, with different goals and different paths to reach these goals.

A strategic framework

It is much easier to understand the notion of business strategy when you look at each strategy as part of a strategic framework.

This framework is organised hierarchically. At the top of the hierarchy will be the company’s overall strategy. These will be the highest-level business objectives, which are to bring in money sustainably and to grow. One of the main questions when it comes to this is how the company plans on achieving this.

Companies in industries that are highly competitive will generally answer this question by explaining how the company competes. This is why the overarching business strategy for such companies is called a competitive strategy. The competitive strategy will lay out a general picture of the company’s competitive position, how the business is different from its competitors, its market, and how to create client demand.

One will find the details and concrete measures of how to achieve the wider business goals within the lower level strategies such as the financial, operational or marketing strategy. 

Defining your business strategy

When starting your own business, it is crucial to have a proper think about your business strategy. This will be your map, which will help you figure out which direction your business will follow and what to expect from the future. By having a clearly defined strategy, you will have a structure and guiding principles that will help you develop your business, grow, and achieve your goals.

Do not forget that you cannot provide everything for all customers. There is also no need to be at the top in your market to be a successful competitor. The most important thing is to focus on your business’s strengths and how you are different from your competitors.

Once you have established your business strategy, you will have set clear priorities for your employees, which will also help you bring in top talent and keep it. Individual teams will, of course, have their own tasks and priorities. However, these should not compete with the overarching business strategy of the company. 

When writing down your business strategy, it can be done in a few paragraphs or as a set of statements. Your business strategy is a summary of how the business is to achieve its targets, fulfil the needs of its clients, and maintain a competitive market within their industry. When laying out your business strategy, it should answer the following questions:

  • Why does the company exist?
  • What are the company’s key strengths?
  • What client base should the company focus on?
  • Which goods/services are worth selling and which ones are not?
  • Why were these strategic directions chosen?

By finding answers to these questions, you should be able to define your company’s priorities. 

9 things to consider when developing your business strategy

Photo of a Woman Thinking

Clearly define your long-term objectives

You should make sure that your business’s strategic plan is both realistic and applicable in the long-term. Think about the kinds of goods or services you want to offer, who will be interested in purchasing these, which market you should focus on, and what kinds of activities you want to be doing in order to achieve your goals and objectives.

Opportunity

Make sure to carefully evaluate the different opportunities open to you and how these could evolve. Assemble facts, information, and data about these opportunities before making any final decisions. By making sure you take into account all the risks and challenges you might come across for each opportunity, you will be able to avoid or manage them a lot better.

Innovation

When thinking about the products or services you want to offer, make sure to clearly identify what makes them different from the competition, but also that they fit in with your company. 

Competition

You need to make sure that your business strategy remains competitive. When evaluating what market you want to tap into, be sure to choose one which is either little or not at all served yet and where you have little to no competition. This is how you will be able to take up space in the market, develop your brand and make it trickier for other competitors to enter your space.

Economies of scale

When considering the pricing for your goods or services, make sure to decrease their cost as much as possible whilst remaining effective and innovative. It is always a lot better to offer good customer service and unique features.

Time to market

Think about the different options to build as opposed to buying for the goods or services that you are thinking of putting out there to your clients. It is sometimes less expensive to buy a part of a product or services that are already on the market or to outsource the work to a third-party. This can sometimes save on the cost of producing the product or service in full and then putting it out on the market.

Tests

Make sure to actually test your strategy once it has been established. Your strategy should be viable at all times and remain in line with your business’s goals and market needs. Make sure to try it through phases. It is better to fail when the stakes are not too high, rather than making a big mistake later down the line when it is a lot harder to recover.

Risks and failures

Make sure to take into consideration the risks related to your business when thinking about your strategy and allow yourself and your employees to make mistakes and fail. This will give you valuable information and insight which you can then learn from to improve and succeed.

Stakeholders

When you have finished establishing your strategy, you should share it with your staff. This will give them guidance and a better understanding of the actions that will be carried out by the company in line with its strategy. Explain how your strategy relates to their work within the company. You should also inform your external stakeholders about your strategy. Investors, suppliers, industry analysts, and partners need to be made aware of how you are planning to generate revenue and influence shareholders’ value.

3 Great examples of a strong business strategy

Tesla

Visual of a Tesla parked on a dirt road at sunset

Most often, within a business, when an entrepreneur starts their own business, they will design a minimum viable product (MVP). Put simply, this means that the entrepreneur will create a basic version of their product, but that is still functional. This will most often lead to lower starting prices for the MVP, due to its lack of features and to create interest for the launch of the final product.

Some companies take this a step further by offering their initial product for free, with the aim to monetize it further down the line, once more features have been added and they feel that there is enough interest for people to actually pay for the product. This happens a lot with tech startups.

However, Tesla decided to do the complete opposite. They have long wanted to become the biggest car company in the world. So that they can become the largest company by volume, they will need to kill in the low-end consumer car industry.

Instead of starting by focussing on the lower-end though, and design a limited-feature version of their cars to achieve a high scale quickly (and so make the most from economies of scale on top of reaching their growth goals), Tesla decided to design the most expensive, fully-featured, luxury car they could come up with. This was the Tesla Roadster. Currently, the base model is being sold at $200,000. This was their first-ever produced car. They knew full well they would not be able to achieve the necessary efficiency or scale to make a profit.

Still, when we look at Tesla today, they have just surpassed General Motors as the most valuable car business in the world.

Apple

Visual of an Apple iPhone, watch and macbook

The first smartphones, which came out in the 1990s, although they allowed access to calendars and emails, were heavy and uncomfortable to use. However, as the years went on, Blackberry, HTC, Nokia and others, started manufacturing reasonably solid smartphones. Then, in 2007, Apple released its first iPhone.

Apple chose not to focus on the small niche of tech geeks, who are relatively rare in the wider market space, and might not be too keen on spending real money on new tech. Instead, Apple decided to wait until their technology was mature enough to sell to higher placed people, able and ready to spend proper money on good technology, but also less tech-savvy than tech geeks. 

Airbnb

visual of airbnb business strategy

Airbnb is valued at over 38 Billion USD and is one of the fastest-growing technology businesses in the world. They have managed to change the way people travel, probably forever. Even so, they actually started very low.

Their first-ever rental was for 3 blow-up mattresses on the floor in the apartment of Airbnb co-creators, Brian Chesky and Joe Gebbia. They charged 90 dollars for each mattress. They thought this was a really good idea, so they set up a website and started encouraging others to put up their own mattresses for hire on their website.

It was definitely not a great success at the start, even though they had a few bookings here and there. They even decided to start selling cereal in 2008 in order to make extra money. Although there were plenty of listings and important traffic on their website, not that many people were actually booking anything. They attributed this to the poor listings people were putting up. 

To remedy this, the Airbnb co-founders actually went knocking on people’s doors with a camera, for each and every listing they had in New York. When someone answered the door, they would try to convince the owner to let them take pictures. They then ameliorated the pictures slightly and put them up themselves, instead of the old bad-quality pictures. This led to their sales doubling within a month. It was onwards and upwards from then on.

Consider using an online platform when developing your business strategy

When thinking about your business strategy, you should consider every option open to you. Especially since COVID-19, it has become more important than ever for companies to adapt and find new ways of doing business in order to survive. 

With most countries having had to install travel bans and lockdowns at some point or another, companies that were already using new technologies and had a kind of ‘digital safety net’, proved a lot more resilient than companies who didn’t.

CONNECTS is an online business matchmaking platform that enables entrepreneurs to connect, communicate and do business with each other, regardless of location. On top of that, every single company on CONNECTS is evaluated and approved by a local Chamber of Commerce. The platform provides a trustworthy digital environment to do business.

Many companies have had to adapt their business plan due to the pandemic. Resorting to an online platform to find new clients, partners, suppliers, opportunities and distributors is a great way to remain resilient, instead of relying on more traditional ways of doing business.

If you found this article helpful, you might also be interested in reading our article How Business Continuity Planning Can Help Your Business and our article about How to Write a Business Plan.

Are you an entrepreneur wanting to develop your business? If you are a member of a participating Chamber of Commerce, you can join our Business Matchmaking Platform for free! If not, take advantage of your free trial.

You can then make the most of the CONNECTS online community feature. Want to learn more about CONNECTS?

Find us on Google maps! For more information, don’t hesitate to contact us.

Time Management: Top Tips to Get You Organised in 2021

Visual of Time management

Life can sometimes feel like a race against time. Work, family, hobbies, these are all things that have to be carefully balanced and it can sometimes become overwhelming.

Effective time management is one way to relieve some of the stresses of daily life.

To help you with this, we have written this article to give you tips and tricks on how to get organised in 2021.

Find out more about:

  • What time management is
  • Why it matters
  • What a Priority Matrix is
  • Top time management tools
  • Our top tips and tricks for effective time management

What is time management?

Time management refers to the practice of planning and consciously controlling how much time is spent on a specific task. Most often, the aim will be to increase productivity or efficiency. It entails juggling different tasks related to life, work, hobbies, interests and/or family in order to make the best use of time. 

Making best use of time will enable a person to choose how they manage their various activities and how much time they wish to spend on each one. There are different things one can do or use in order to effectively manage time and reach goals or accomplish important projects and tasks that have a specific due date.

At the start, time management was only really used in a work or business environment. However, the term has now evolved to encompass life and its activities more generally. A time management system the combination of all the different tools, methods and techniques used to manage time effectively.

Most often, good time management is crucial to project management, as its effectiveness will determine whether the project is finished properly and on time. However, one should bear in mind that there can be structural and technical variations in time management influenced by different cultural concepts of time.

More generally, effective time management can help you work smarter without necessarily working harder. You will be able to do more using less time, even if you already don’t have much and you’re working under high pressure. Bad time management could lead to increased stress and lower effectiveness.

The importance of time management

Visual of a woman in black long-sleeved top in front of green-leafed tree

Whether you give a monetary value to time or not, time is invaluable to most of us. Many end up losing time worrying about how little time they have. There are plenty of ways in which to approach time management.

You could organise your time using apps, change your sleep time, write to-do lists,…

However, if you aren’t sure why time management is important in the first place, doing all of this won’t necessarily help you. If you aren’t motivated to use these, chances are you won’t.

First of all, you need to take a step back and look at the wider picture. Understand why managing your time is important what you could gain from it. Here are a few reasons why time management is so vital:

Time is not limitless

No matter how you decide to allocate your time, there will only ever be 24 hours within one day. Of course, this applies to everyone. It applies to your colleagues who seem to accomplish twice as much as you do as well as to your other colleagues who only seem to be managing half of what you’re doing. Recognising the importance of effective time management will make it easier for you to accomplish your tasks and rise through the ranks.

You can do more with less effort

When you are able to control how you spend your time, you also increase your ability to focus. Of course, with greater focus also generally comes greater efficiency, because you aren’t losing momentum. You will quickly start accomplishing your tasks faster and your workday will seem to fly by.

Better ability to make decisions

Whether your tactic relies on dividing your day into chunks or you prefer writing to-do lists, you will soon discover that one of the positive consequences of managing your time effectively is that you will be able to make better decisions.

When you feel like you don’t have enough time and have to make decisions, you will be more likely to make rash decisions and jump to conclusions, within thinking about the different possible options. This context is bound to lead to bad decision-making. 

By managing your time effectively, you will be able to get rid of some of the pressures associated with the feeling of not having enough time. You will feel more in control and calmer.

When you do have to make decisions and look at the different options you have, you will be able to do so carefully and with consideration. If you can do that, then you will be less likely to make the wrong decision.

Make your career more successful

Effective time management is the key to a successful career. Rather than just going with the flow, you will be able to actually be in control of your life. When you start accomplishing more every day, making better decisions and feeling calmer, people will notice.

This means others, including senior members of staff, will trust you to get things done. This increased visibility will also make opportunities for career advancement more forthcoming.

Opportunities to learn are everywhere

It goes without saying that the more you learn, the more your value will go up in the eyes of your employer. Learning opportunities are everywhere if you actually stop and make use of them. When managing your time effectively, you also have more time to do this.

For example, you could support another team on a project they have been working on or volunteer for a company event. You can learn a lot even by just spending a bit of time with people outside of your own department.

The more you learn about your own industry and the company you work for, the more likely you are to make a positive impression on people higher up the ladder.

Less stress

When you aren’t in control of your time, you can easily start feeling overwhelmed and rushed. Once this feeling is there, it becomes difficult to figure out how much time different tasks will take to complete. Once you have figured out how to manage your time effectively, you won’t find yourself in such a level of stress.

On top of this being better for your health, you will have a clearer perspective on how much time you need for various things. You will be more capable of estimating the time necessary for different tasks and you will feel more confident about meeting deadlines.

Free time is vital

Everybody needs some time to unwind and relax. However, many of us don’t actually get enough of it. Life, family, work, there is always something that comes in the way and it can be extremely difficult to even find 10 minutes of spare time. Managing your time effectively can help you with this.

When you’re keeping busy, you’re also achieving more things in less time. All the time you save throughout the day by thinking through how you allocate your time adds up. You can then spend this time relaxing and unwinding at the end of a productive day.

Self-discipline is important

Effective time management leaves no space for procrastination. And the more effective you become at managing your time, the easier it will get to discipline yourself and avoid procrastinating.

This will have an impact in other areas of your life where lack of self-discipline where you have been unable to achieve your goals due to lack of discipline.

The positive cycle of effective time management

Time management has a far-reaching impact. Doing it effectively will allow you to do more with less time. You will have more free time to learn, relax, and focus, leading to greater success, both in the workspace and life more generally.

Good time management has a domino effect. All you need to do is actually start the cycle.

What is a Priority Matrix?

Visual of a priority matrix

In order to successfully execute any project, excellent execution is just as important a having good ideas. A good concept, good tools or a top team are not all that matter. In order to achieve success, good execution is also crucial. By setting targets and meeting deadlines, you will be better able to complete your projects on time, meet and even outdo expectations.

However, this is easier said than done. You will need to be disciplined. Prioritisation is one of the most important elements when executing any kind of project.

Choosing what to prioritise and what not to is dependent on a range of factors such as urgency, importance, energy required, necessity to other tasks, how much it will cost,… One of the most useful tools when weighing these different factors against each other and determining what to do first is a priority matrix.

By charting out clearly what your priorities are, building a priority matrix can help you increase your productivity and better execute your projects.

A priority matrix is based on four time-management quadrants, It was developed by Stephen Covey, a famous business leader. It aims to break down tasks into two dimensions: importance and urgency.

The first quadrant refers to the Quick Wins, which are both important and urgent to complete. You should complete these tasks first.

The second quadrant is for Major Projects. These have clear deadlines and are important but are not urgent. With these, you should set a time limit or checkpoint in your schedule in order to not forget about them and work on them when the time comes.

The third quadrant is for Fill-Ins. These tasks aren’t as important so can be delegated or deprioritised.

The final quadrant refers to the thankless tasks, which are neither important nor urgent. Wherever possible, you should avoid integrating these tasks in your already busy schedule so that they don’t take time away from more important and urgent tasks.

Most often, you will have to juggle with a range of tasks from across the four quadrants. However, if you have a good understanding of how to manage each task and which to prioritise, you will be able to manage your time and opportunities better.

How to make your own priority matrix

Once you have gotten to grips with how a priority matrix works, you can start building your own. Here are the three steps you should follow in order to build an effective priority matrix:

  • Make a list: Write down all your current projects, priorities and goals, whether that be ongoing projects, daily tasks or more long-term initiatives.
  • Rank them: Out of one to ten, rank all these items based on their impact on your work and the wider business. You should also consider how much each item will require.
  • Map it out: Once you have sifted through all these items on your list and ranked them, you will be able to place each one into a quadrant of your priority matrix and figure out what to do first, delegate, or deprioritise.

Top time management tools

There are plenty of tools out there that can help you with managing your time more effective. Here are a few which you might find useful.

ProofHub

Visual of  Proofhub website

ProofHub brings together a range of different tools to help you manage tasks, time, projects, files and more. With ProofHub, it is possible to track time either manually or with timers.

This allows you to find answers to questions such as how your team is spending its time, what are the billable hours of a project or has the time taken for a specific task been tracked.

Here are some of the things you can do using ProofHub:

  • Set time estimates to determine how much time a specific task should take
  • Record how much time it took to complete tasks or projects
  • Create custom time reports of projects, teams or people
  • Create multiple timesheets to gather time data
  • Export timesheets and use them for client invoicing, payroll, estimation, and even time management

Zapier

Visual of the Zapier website

Zapier is an online automation tool. It has been designed so that you can connect different apps to automate repetitive tasks. It allows you to do this with just a few clicks.

Using Zapier, you can look for your favourite apps and select from a range of Zaps (integrations), or create your own workflow. For example, Zapier allows you to synchronise with Google Calendar, share apps publicly, set up actions and triggers and automate repetitive tasks.

TimeCamp

Visual of the Timecamp website

TimeCamp enables you to assign and track time in a range of ways. The manual timesheet is most commonly used. With it, you can either enter the length of time of a specific task or use a timer.

TimeCamp uses time tracking for billing clients, paying employees every month or measuring project profitability.  With it, you can automate non-billable and billable time tracking, budget in money or time value, report date, use it on mobile and desktop, and use it as an integrated payment gateway.

Monday

Visual of the monday website

Monday.com is a cloud-based work operating system. It is a fantastic time management platform for businesses, whether they be large or small. It allows users to add code-free automations to their boards in order to reduce human error and dedicate more time to the tasks and projects that are most important.

Monday.com also enables users to collaborate and communicate within a single communal workspace. It also integrates other tools you already make use of in order to streamline workflow and not waste time.

The platform has a fully customisable board, meaning you can adapt it however you want to fit your workflow. It also automates repetitive processes and offers different pricing plans depending on your needs.

Top tips to develop your time management skills

According to Emma Donaldson-Feilder, a chartered occupational psychologist, ‘The aim of good time management is to achieve the lifestyle balance you want.’ 

Here are some top time management tips to help you relieve stress and gain a feeling of control:

Figure out your goals

Think about what your priorities are and what you want to achieve. Once you have figured this out, it will become what guides you and it will instruct how you manage your time.

Once you have a clear perspective on what you want to achieve, you will be better able to determine some short- and medium-term targets. This will help you plan ahead and better focus on the things that will lead you to achieve your long-term goals.

Write a list

Writing to-do lists are a great way to organise yourself. Find out what works best for you. Keeping a single list can help you organise all your tasks and prioritise without losing track of everything you have to do.

Focus on results

Managing your time effectively in the work environment means producing high-quality work rather than high quantity. It is better to focus on results rather than everything you have to do.

It isn’t because you spend more time on a task that it will necessarily turn out any better. Staying late after work or working through your lunch break won’t necessarily get out the results you need and it might not be the best use of your time.

Build a priority matrix

Build a priority matrix so that you can figure out which tasks you need to complete first and which ones you can leave for later. Make sure that you keep an eye on the important but not urgent tasks, so that these don’t become urgent and important.

Having to deal with too many urgent and important tasks can be stressful so try to ensure you don’t have too many of them building up.

Learn to say no

Whether it be in life or with work, it is important to set boundaries in order to achieve a balance. It can sometimes be tempting to say yes to everything and everyone.

However, this is not very practical. If you are confident that you have set aside the right amount of time for your various tasks, then you should be able to tell others that you do not have the time. Don’t forget that you are not alone. Asking colleagues for help with some tasks will also lift some of the load off you.

Prepare early

If you start off early and far enough in advance from deadlines, you will be able to organise your time well enough that you do not need to stress about all your other tasks.

For example, starting early in the morning means you can make the most of a quiet period before the rest of your colleagues start to focus on your tasks and get a head start on assignments.

New, urgent and unexpected tasks can appear at any time so if you have started your day early, you will be better able to meet these and adapt without missing your deadlines.

Be realistic

Many put unnecessary amounts of pressure on themselves when it comes to meeting deadlines. The most effective people at time management are those who understand that inconveniences can crop up at any time and that things can often take more time than expected.

In order to maintain focus on the task at hand, it is important to take regular breaks and switch off from responsibilities once in a while. Use your spare time to talk to your colleagues about challenges you are encountering and to go back to work with a clear and focussed mind.

Centralise what you can

It can be very hard to keep track of everything you have to do if everything is disperse. If you are a business owner and need to find new business opportunities, suppliers, clients and partners on a regular basis, using a single platform such as CONNECTS for all of this can save you a lot of time.

CONNECTS is an online B2B matchmaking platform which can help you do business and find new opportunities worldwide within an environment of trust. Indeed, each member on the platform has been assessed and validated by a local chamber of commerce, meaning you can do business in all confidence.

Image of a globe with people interconnecting and with text It Takes a Community to Build a Business

Are you an entrepreneur wanting to discover and develop new opportunities, both locally and internationally? Join our Business Matchmaking Platform and start your free trial.

Already a member of a participating chamber? Join our Business Matchmaking Platform for free.

Want to learn more about CONNECTS? Find us on Google maps! For more information, don’t hesitate to contact us or request a demo

10 Must-Reads to Boost your Digital Transformation

Visual of person holding an open book on their lap to represent must-reads for digital transformation

Nowadays, digital transformation is crucial for any business that wants to survive and grow within an increasingly competitive business world. 

Digitalisation of your company activities can lead to higher overall efficiency and productivity, better customer experience and increased satisfaction, better understanding of business performance, more flexibility and innovation, all leading to higher business performance and commercial success over the long term. 

Here is a list of 10 must-reads when it comes to boosting digital transformation for your own business.

Platform Revolution: How Networked Markets Are Transforming the Economy–and How to Make Them Work for You by Geoffrey G. Parker, Marshall W. Van Alstyne, Sangeet Paul Choudary

Visual of Platform Revolution: How Networked Markets Are Transforming the Economy--and How to Make Them Work for You by Geoffrey G. Parker, Marshall W. Van Alstyne, Sangeet Paul Choudary

Platform Revolution presents strong evidence and facts and gives the reader a straightforward guide for creating a successful platform business model. It presents in a clear and understandable manner different ways one can identify suitable markets and how to make money out of them. 

The book presents the various strategies behind the most successful and upcoming platforms and leaders, as well as how more traditional businesses can learn and adapt to a changing world.

This book explores different topics such as security regulation, and customer trust, as well as which markets seem ready for a platform revolution. It demonstrates the promising future in front of platforms and shows how these will change people’s lives and their work forever.

Digital Transformation: Survive and Thrive in an Era of Mass Extinction by Thomas M. Siebel

Visual of Digital Transformation: Survive and Thrive in an Era of Mass Extinction by Thomas M. Siebel

In his book Digital Transformation, Siebel presents a clear picture of what digital transformation is. He explores the intersections between four different technological currents: cloud computing, big data, Internet of Things and Artificial Intelligence. He demonstrates how these have transformed the world of business, both public and private.

To illustrate his points, Siebel presents different real-life case studies of the digitalisation of companies such as 3M, US Air Force, Shell and Caterpillar. He provides readers with a clear image of what digital transformation is and practical advice on how to successfully adopt digital transformation.

The Technology Fallacy: How People Are the Real Key to Digital Transformation by Gerald C. Kane, Anh Nguyen Phillips, Jonathan Copulsky, Garth Andrus, Paul Michelman (Editor)

Visual of The Technology Fallacy: How People Are the Real Key to Digital Transformation by Gerald C. Kane, Anh Nguyen Phillips, Jonathan Copulsky, Garth Andrus, Paul Michelman (Editor)

The Technology Fallacy shows the reader why companies should focus on their people and business processes rather than on technology when it comes to digital transformation. This group of authors have put together four years of research in collaboration with Deloitte and MIT Sloan Management Review, interviews with business leaders from companies such as Walmart, Google and Salesforce, as well as surveys of over 16,000 people. 

They contend that companies can effectively respond to digital revolution by modelling their business culture to be more tolerant, creative and flexible. This book helps business managers and heads to survive digital transformation by making changes to their company that make best use of the powers presented by technology.

AI Superpowers: China, Silicon Valley, and the New World Order by Kai-Fu Lee

Visual of AI Superpowers: China, Silicon Valley, and the New World Order by Kai-Fu Lee

In AI Superpowers, Kai-Fu Lee shows the reader how China has so quickly caught up with America. Lee explains how significantly American and Chinese Artificial Intelligence will influence white-collar jobs besides having a devastating impact on blue-collar workers, as most experts have predicted.

Lee contends that these changes in AI will lead to dramatic developments muck quicker than anticipated.

Lee presents the different sectors that will be affected by these developments as well as those that can adapt and grow through AI. He also offers various solutions to these monumental changes happening right now.

Modern Monopolies: What It Takes to Dominate the 21st Century Economy by Alex Moazed, Nicholas L. Johnson

Visual of Modern Monopolies: What It Takes to Dominate the 21st Century Economy by Alex Moazed, Nicholas L. Johnson

Platforms such as Snapchat, Google, and Amazon have radically changed the game. Rather than producing anything, these platforms propose value by connecting people together and being present in the global population’s everyday lives. Mobile technology has also changed the way in which people interact and brings together the digital and physical worlds. Although these businesses are growing their influence from the digital realm to our global economy, few actually fully understand how significant this structural shift is.

In this book Modern Technologies, Moazed and Johnson, explain the changes that have been happening, how, these impact today’s businesses, and how company leaders, managers and entrepreneurs can evolve and thrive in this new world.

Mastering Digital Business: How powerful combinations of disruptive technologies are enabling the next wave of digital transformation by Nicholas D. Evans

Visual of Mastering Digital Business: How powerful combinations of disruptive technologies are enabling the next wave of digital transformation by Nicholas D. Evans

Mastering Digital Business is a practical guide for business and IT executives. Nowadays, intelligent automation, Internet of Things, cloud, mobile, wearables, robotics and social are some of the most groundbreaking new technologies.

Nicholas Evans explains how people can make use of these various technologies, combine them and optimise our digital services, platform business models and leading practices in corporate innovation in order to develop and implement highly competitive and effective digital strategies.

The Industries of the Future by Alec J. Ross

Visual of The Industries of the Future by Alec J. Ross

The Industries of the Future presents Alec Ross’s observations on the various forces that are transforming society. Alec Ross has travelled nearly a million miles to 41 different countries, as Hillary Clinton’s Senior Advisor for Innovation. In his book, he presents the most important opportunities for progress as well as how some countries thrive and others lag behind.

Ross’s piece presents different ways in which we will need to evolve. He paints a very informed and vivid image of how seismic global trends impact our daily and future lives. He takes a look at certain areas that will mould our future economy over the next few years, including the impacts of AI, cybercrime, robotics, digital technology, and commercialisation of genomics.

The Transformation Files: 17 Insights to Inspire Managers and Leaders in the Transformation of a Digital Economy Business by Rob Llewellyn

Visual of The Transformation Files: 17 Insights to Inspire Managers and Leaders in the Transformation of a Digital Economy Business by Rob Llewellyn

In The Transformation Files, Rob Llewellyn presents a group of various critical success factors that every head should prioritise during the adoption of digital transformation. To back himself, Llewellyn has over 20 years of experience, working in over 30 different countries to help world-renowned companies create more commercial value from people and customers.

This insightful must-read is informed by relevant professional experience and practical advice to start applying the advice and tips straight away.

The Digital Matrix: New Rules for Business Transformation Through Technology by Venkat Venkatraman

Visual of The Digital Matrix: New Rules for Business Transformation Through Technology by Venkat Venkatraman

In The Digital Matrix, Venkat Venkatraman presents readers with a clear picture of the different players forming the new business world, which changes every company will have to go through, and which strategies to adopt to guarantee business success.

This book will help you navigate the digital world, understand how you can compete and partner with other businesses in order to create value, realise how robust machines can help optimise your employees’ work, and understand how to create teams that try out new ideas, reevaluate existing beliefs, and redevelop your business strategy for a digital world. It shows readers how to reconceptualise their business model, bring together the right team, and make bold strategic decisions to make best use of the power of digital technology.

Digital Transformation Playbook: Rethink Your Business for the Digital Age by David L. Rogers

Visual of Digital Transformation Playbook: Rethink Your Business for the Digital Age by David L. Rogers

Digital Transformation Playbook looks at the phenomenon of digital transformation and what marks out businesses that adapt successfully and thrive within the digital world we live in.

David Rogers has over a decade of experience as a global business consultant and teacher at the Columbia Business School. In this must-read, he shows how long-standing businesses can reimagine their strategy to make the most of new opportunities presented by digital.

This book presents concrete tools and advice for any business, no matter the size or industry, for making decisions and forming new strategies. It also presents some case studies to back up this advice. It is a fantastic book for leaders, showing them how legacy businesses can reinvent themselves to succeed in a digital world.

How CONNECTS can help you with digital transformation

Visual of It takes a community to build a business logo

Using an online platform to conduct business is one way to boost your business and have a successful digital transformation. If you are a business owner and need to find new business opportunities, suppliers, supply chains, clients and partners on a regular basis, using a single online digital platform such as CONNECTS for all of this can save you a lot of time and effort. It can help you streamline your business activities and become a more effective and prosperous company.

Digital innovation and transformation have never been more essential for businesses. We believe strong business relationships can only be developed through trusted networks. Working with Chambers of Commerce, we provide access to online leads, suppliers, partnerships, skills and business communities you can trust.

CONNECTS is an online Business Matchmaking Platform that allows entrepreneurs to initiate trustworthy business opportunities worldwide.This fast-growing platform is unique, simple, and effective for business development and growth. CONNECTS has been developed to support Chambers of Commerce, SMEs and Start-ups.

The Communities feature on CONNECTS enables users to invite other users to join online business communities of common interest. There, they can share information, have 1:1 chats, share business information, and organise meetings and events. 

Users will also be able to broadcast their Teams, Zoom, and Webinar sessions to wide audiences, Monetise their communities by providing exclusive access and information to paying members and manage events such as trade missions.

Are you an entrepreneur wanting to discover and develop new opportunities, both locally and internationally? Join our Business Matchmaking Platform and start your free trial.

Already a member of a participating chamber? Join our Business Matchmaking Platform for free.

Want to learn more about CONNECTS? Find us on Google maps! For more information, don’t hesitate to contact us or request a demo

The Ultimate Guide to Factoring in 2021

Visual of a factoring guide

If you are an entrepreneur or own your own company, you will probably have come across factoring when thinking of different ways to finance your business. If you aren’t too sure what it is or have never heard of it, this article is for you!

In this article, you will learn more about what factoring is, how it works, its benefits as well as its risks, and discover some of the top companies offering factoring services around the world.

What is factoring

Factoring is a financial term used to describe a transaction or a kind of debtor finance in which a company sells its accounts receivable to an external party (known as a factor) for a lesser price. A business will sometimes decide to factor its receivable assets in order to its more immediate cash needs. 

Forfaiting is the financial term used to describe a factoring arrangement used within international trade. Exporters who want to sell their accounts receivable to a forfaiter use this factoring arrangement. People will most often refer to factoring as accounts receivable factoring, invoice factoring, or sometimes accounts receivable financing. The term accounts receivable financing more accurately describes a form of asset-based lending against receivables.

The Commercial Finance Association is the most important trade association of the asset-based factoring and lending markets.

In the US, invoice discounting (called an assignment of accounts receivable in American accounting) and factoring are two different things. Invoice discounting describes the borrowing that involves the use of the receivables as collateral for the loan. Factoring describes the selling of the accounts receivable.

Still, in markets such as the UK, invoice discounting is seen as a type of factoring that involves the assignment of accounts receivables and that is taken into account in factoring statistics. That also means it isn’t considered as borrowing. This arrangement will most often be confidential. This means that the debtor is not made aware of the assignment of accounts receivable. It also means that the seller of the accounts receivable takes in the debt on behalf of the factor.

How does factoring work?

As mentioned above, invoice factoring refers to the selling of a part or full amount of a business’s receivables. This is how it works:

  • A business will offer its services or products to its clients, just as usual.
  • The clients are then invoiced for the products or services they purchased.
  • The raised invoice is then sold to a factoring third party. This third party then pays the business the bulk of the invoiced amount straight away, most often about 80 or 90 percent of the value, after having made sure that the invoice is valid.
  • The clients will then pay the factoring third party directly. The factoring third part can then be the one chasing invoice payments that aren’t happening.
  • The factoring third-party then pays the remaining amount of the invoice to the business, minus their fee, once they have received the full payment for the client.

The benefits of factoring

Visual of a man in a suit holding his thumb up

There are of course some major benefits to factoring. Here are a few:

International capabilities

International factoring companies like Tradewind Finance have an edge over domestic companies because of their network of offices and affiliates available in different regions of the globe. Tradewind’s international presence positions them to work with clients at both ends of the transaction, providing local market insights and on-the-ground support. Based on your company’s client profile, you can choose a suitable range of services that meet your requirements, including financing arrangements structured in different currencies.

It isn’t a loan

Many entrepreneurs worry that by factoring the invoices of their business, they might risk getting a lower credit score. However, one of the main elements of factoring is that it is not a loan.This means that this way of financing does not appear on the business’s balance sheet as a debt.

You receive a guarantee

There is always a risk that clients won’t pay what they owe. However, when you have a reliable factoring partner that offers non-recourse financing, you benefit from their financial resources, their credit protection. This means if a client is incapable of paying, you are still guaranteed your money. 

Improvement of liquidity

When a business passes over its accounts receivable to a factoring partner, the financing they get in return helps the business regulate its cash flow. The amount of working capital that is available increases, meaning the business’s balance sheet includes more liquid assets and the company can grow quicker.

Minimized risks with credit investigation

In order to lessen the risk of collection, many factoring service providers offer to their customers a credit investigation service that gathers trustworthy information about a buyer’s reputation within their industry and their financial stability. With this data, you can limit the risks incurred by collection and develop a list of high-quality clients.

It will save you time

Time is absolutely crucial within the world of business. When running a business, it is important not to waste time unnecessarily. Keeping an eye on credit, orchestrating collections, and figuring out whether a client is credit-worthy or not, is essential to running a company safely. Such activities take a lot of time. However, they can be contracted to a factoring business who will then do them for you. This means you will have more time to concentrate on developing new ideas and strategies and on your core business activities.

It will save you money

If you decide to make use of a factoring company’s services, you will also be paying less overhead expenses because the factor will effectively become an extension of your own company by taking care of your bookkeeping and collections. Furthermore, you will be able to pay your suppliers in cash rather than credit, meaning you’ll be less at risk of losing money unnecessarily through late fees and penalties.

Higher Financial Status

Factoring makes it possible for a business to pay for its operations by using the capital it has created by selling its own receivables. This is different to other financing options. The business will receive a reduction in its commercial payables and collection times, meaning it will gain better financial stability. The company will be using its own resources to finance its needs and development, leading to a boost in business.

The risks to consider with invoice factoring

Visual of a man above a cliff on a rope

Invoice factoring is one way for companies to relieve the financial pressures upon them. It is easier and faster than getting a bank loan because it doesn’t depend on your years in operation or your credit.It it does is transform your existing customer invoices into cash which can then be used to pay for operation costs, without incurring any debt. 

Invoice factoring is sometimes the only solution for a business in need of quick cash. Sometimes it is the option that makes most sense. However, there are some risks that need to be considered.

Is the factoring company trustworthy?

When the first factoring companies started to appear, a few of them started charging excessively high fees and used dishonest means, giving the whole industry a bad reputation. However, things have evolved since then and factoring has become widely accepted. It is now considered a trustworthy source of funding for many businesses across all markets.

Obviously, one should always exercise due diligence before starting any kind of business relationship. It is important to find out how long a factoring company has been operating and where they are located. You might also want to ask for referrals from existing clients and research whether the company has had any lawsuits or complaints. You can do this through simple search on Google, through the Better Business Bureau, or your regional authorities office. It is important you also trust your gut on such matters. If it doesn’t feel right, then you will probably not be able to build trust and there isn’t much point in going forward with it.

What happens with uncollectible invoices?

Some factoring companies will give you the option between recourse and non-recourse factoring arrangements to manage invoicing. Both options rid you of the hassle implicated in collecting invoices. This means you will have more time for other activities.

Recourse factoring means you take responsibility for paying the invoice. If your client doesn’t pay their debt, then you will be liable to pay the factoring partner. Non-recourse factoring means that you will be paying your factoring partner a slightly higher fee. However, you will also be mitigating the risks to your business. The factoring company will be fully responsible for debt collection. Non-recourse factoring is most often a better option for small companies who aren’t able to absorb unpaid invoices.

How will the factoring company communicate with your clients?

It is important that the factoring partner you choose has a clear way of processing your clients’ invoices and of communicating with them. They should be able to inspire trust.

Is your client worthy of credit?

In the world of business, perfect clients are rare and even the best will sometimes take time to pay invoices. It might even happen that they won’t be able to make the payment at all. This is the reason why it is vital for you to make sure that your potential clients are creditworthy before engaging with them. 

Some factoring companies will be able to conduct routine credit checks for you, a task that takes up a lot of time, effort and money.  

Factoring in Belgium

BNP Paribas Fortis Factor

Visual of BNP Paribas Fortis Factor

BNP Paribas Fortis Factor offers businesses that are active in the B2B marketspace integrated solutions such as follow-up of management on receivables, credit risk protection, provision of cash against receivables and more.

BNP Paribas Fortis Factor is also an authorised intermediary in credit insurance. 

They will offer a tailored experience which best suits your business’s needs. In addition to offering standard factoring services, they also offer solutions for businesses wanting to grow their working capital or to optimise their balance sheet. 

They also have an important international network. As a BNP Paribas Fortis subsidiary, BNP Paribas Fortis Factor is part of the BNP Paribas Factoring network, a European leader in the factoring market in terms of geographic coverage, with a presence in 15 European, Asian and African countries.

They are also a member of Factors Chain International (FCI) which allows them to offer global factoring solutions.

BNP Paribas Fortis Factor has been established in Belgium since 1965 and now has 180 experts working to offer solutions to their customers. 

ING Commercial Finance

Visual of ING Commercial Finance

ING Commercial Finance offers one basic package and two options.

Basic package concerns financing outstanding invoices. It entails that you ‘sell’ your outstanding invoices to ING Commercial Finance. You will then immediately receive an advance of 70% to 90% of the amount that the client has to pay to you. When ING has collected the full amount from the customer, then you will receive the balance of the funds. There is some interest you will need to pay for the advance payments and also a potential factoring compensation.

  • You will be paid immediately for the services and products you provide.
  • The invoices will no longer appear on your own balance sheet and you will be able to pay your suppliers faster. This will lead to an improved risk profile and better ratios for your company.
  • You decide how much your outstanding invoices will be financed.

ING’s first option is debtor management. This means they will take care of the administration, follow-up and collection of all your receivables. ING also provides a ‘CreditView’ tool so you can track all your invoices, whether they be outgoing, incoming or outstanding. This will allow you to know exactly how much working capital you have at any time. 

  • You will be in possession of more working capital, due to the fact that the average payment period for your clients will become much shorter.
  • You will have less unpaid invoices.
  • You will be making savings on personnel and admin costs because you won’t be in charge of doing all the work yourself.

ING’s second option is that they take over the risk of non-payment by clients, either fully or in par. They will first make an assessment of what the risks are that a client might not pay. Based on this assessment, ING will determine the amount of default risk that they are willing to assume.

  • You will be safe from any unpaid invoices
  • You determine which clients ING will take the default risk for.

KBC Commercial Finance

Visual of KBC Commercial Finance

KBC Commercial Finance (ComFin) can take care completely or partly  of your debtor management and outstanding invoices. With their ComFin web app, you can let them know all the details concerning any open invoices you might have. If necessary, they will then send over an immediate advance payment of up to 85% of the amount of the outstanding invoice.

After that, KBC will follow up with your customer, meaning you don’t have to waste any time doing it yourself. Once the invoice has been paid by the customer, KBC will send over the rest of the amount on the invoice to you at once.

Top factoring companies across the world

Bibby Financial Services

Visual of Bibby Financial Services

Bibby Financial Services have supported small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) since 1982 and today work with more than 12,000 companies across the world.

Their parent company Bibby Line Group has been in business for more than 200 years and has companies in financial services, distribution, retail, shipping, marine and construction.

They are proud to help businesses, both big and small to grow and thrive in domestic and international markets.

altLINE

Visual of altLINE website

altLINE is a division of The Southern Bank Company, which was founded in 1936. It has been a reputable and reliable community lender in its Northeast Alabama footprint for over 80 years. 

While working locally with SMEs, The Southern Bank understands the consistent need for non-traditional commercial lines of credit. In response, The Southern Bank created altLINE, an Accounts Receivable based financing platform for commercial customers.

Operating within an FDIC insured and state regulated bank, altLINE provides customers the flexibility of an independent financing company with the cost advantages and service people expect from a community bank. altLINE partners with commercial bankers, accountants, business advisors, and other intermediaries nationwide to deploy its specialty lending capabilities wherever it may be needed.

Crédit Agricole Leasing and Factoring

Visual of Credit Agricole Leasing & Factoring website

Crédit Agricole Leasing & Factoring (CAL&F) is one of the Group’s subsidiaries that specialises in specialist financing. With € 22.9 billion in outstanding amounts managed, including 25% worldwide, it is a leading player in leasing contracts, factoring and financing of renewable energies in France and in Europe.

CAL&F provides support for companies of all sizes, both in their equipment and property investment projects and in the financing and management of their accounts receivable.

Factoring for CONNECTS members

Factoring is a quick and effective way for SMEs to increase their cash balance. There are also other ways in which you can make your life easier if you have a limited number of employees or a limited amount of resources. 

Outsourcing and nearshoring are great ways to delegate tasks and specific business activities to a third party so that you can focus on your core activities.

Using an online business platform such as CONNECTS can also help you save time and effort. There you can find new opportunities, suppliers, partners, and clients all across the world, on a single platform, from the comfort of your own home.

Each and every member on the platform has also been evaluated and validated by a local Chamber of Commerce, allowing you to do business in which you can trust.

If you found this article interesting, you might also be interested in reading our article about how to write your business plan and our piece about business models.

Are you an entrepreneur wanting to discover and develop new opportunities, both locally and internationally? Join our Business Matchmaking Platform and start your free trial.

Already a member of a participating chamber? Join our Business Matchmaking Platform for free.

Want to learn more about CONNECTS? Find us on Google maps! For more information, don’t hesitate to contact us or request a demo

Ski Resorts and COVID-19: What Can We Expect in 2021?

Visual of a Ski Resort

As we enter the first winter season amid the COVID-19 pandemic, many avid skiers and snowboarders are wondering if they’ll get a chance to hit the slopes in 2021.

As of Christmas 2020, prospects are grim: few ski resorts are open and those that are, often only give access to nationals. 

In this article, we present an overview of the current situation for ski resorts in France, Switzerland, Italy and Austria. 

You will learn: 

  • What the main rules are for each country regarding the opening of ski resorts 
  • What the prospects are looking like for 2021
  • Initiatives from local business communities, municipalities and chambers of commerce to address the consequence of the ski resorts closing

Ski resorts in France: The current situation

The French government has announced that ski resorts would be allowed to reopen their lifts from 7th January. Of course, this will all depend on the COVID situation. This was declared after a meeting held between Prime Minister Jean Castex and the representatives of ski resorts earlier on in December.

France had started easing its second lockdown in November. However, Emmanuel Macron, the French President, announced winter sports resorts would not be allowed to reopen before the end of 2020, due to a new increase in cases.

Back in November CCI France network had requested the opening of ski stations and ski lifts as soon as possible.

The CCIs of mountainous regions, in conjunction with CCI France, were very concerned about the extremely distressing situation of ski-tourism professionals, while the ski season was looking like it could be postponed by nearly two months.

They insisted on the absolutely essential nature of this economic activity which directly supports more than 120,000 people in France, not to mention the very many jobs involved. For the 325 French ski resorts, Christmas represents 20% of the year’s turnover.

However, there is support out there. The CCI Haute-Savoie, for example, is offering support to local businesses affected by all these changes, such as training, webinars, diagnostics and follow-ups. 

For more information about ski resorts in France and how they are dealing with COVID-19, check out:

Switzerland ski resorts : Open but only for Swiss residents 

Faced with the growing number of infections, the Federal Council has once again stepped up measures to combat coronavirus on October 28, 2020. The goal is to significantly reduce physical contact. Therefore, skiing is also affected by the restrictions.

These measures define the framework and conditions for continuing snow sports training in Switzerland, both competitive and recreational. These measures are valid from November 2, 2020 until further order.

The Swiss Government did decide to allow ski resorts and regions to open during the festive season. However, these will only be open to domestic visitors. This has been allowed despite other countries having to close their own facilities due to growing numbers of cases.

Here is the statement the Swiss Government released earlier on in December:

‘Ski areas should be allowed to open for domestic tourism. Where the epidemiological situation is critical, measures must first be taken to allow it to improve. From 22 December, ski areas will require a permit from the cantonal authorities in order to operate. The prerequisite is that the epidemiological situation so allows, and that hospitals, contact tracing services and testing sites have sufficient capacity. Ski resort operators must also put in place strict precautionary measure plans that reflect the national standardised requirements. The aim is to prevent the virus from spreading in tourist destinations.

Ski areas themselves are not subject to capacity restrictions. However, from 9 December only two thirds of maximum capacity will be permitted in all closed forms of transport, such as trains, gondolas and cablecars. This applies to seating and standing room.

Face coverings must be worn when queuing for and travelling on all forms of transport, including drag- and chairlifts, and distance must be maintained when queuing. Guests at restaurants in ski areas will only be allowed inside the premises if there is a table available. The current rules continue to apply to indoor and outdoor areas: customers must be seated with no more than four people per table, with the exception of parents and their children.

The cantons have a duty to monitor compliance. If significant problems arise, ski resort operators will be issued with a warning. If the situation is not rectified, the permit must be withdrawn. The cantons must also provide a report to the federal authorities on the number of checks carried out, the number of warnings issued and permits withdrawn, as well as on hospital capacity.’

For more information about ski resorts in Switzerland and how they are dealing with COVID-19, check out:

Ski resorts in Italy are closed for now 

Due to the emergency linked to the spread of COVID-19 in March 2020, the Italian Authorities decided to impose the immediate closure of all the lift facilities on national territory, anticipating therewith the closure of the winter season.

Ski enthusiasts could therefore not use the lift facilities until the official end of the winter season 2019/2020.

Travelling between different regions in the country has also been banned over the festive period, meaning many are unable to go to their secondary homes or to visit relatives and friends.

“It will be necessary to avoid potential gatherings in places of tourist attraction linked in particular to skiing activities,” said the health minister, Roberto Speranza, in a recent address to parliament.

Prime Minister, Giuseppe Conte, said it is not possible “to allow holidays on the snow. We cannot afford it”.

“From December 21st 2020 to January 6th 2021, travel between different regions (including those to or from the autonomous provinces of Trento and Bolzano) will be prohibited, with the exception of travel for proven work reasons, situations of necessity or health reasons,” said a statement from the government.

On December 25th and 26th 2020 and January 1st 2021, travel between different municipalities will also be prohibited, with the same exceptions.

Planetski offers very helpful information about skiing in Italy and more generally across Europe.

For more information about ski resorts in Italy and how they are dealing with COVID-19, check out:

Ski resorts in Austria: Open but only for locals

Ski has been allowed in Austria this year, although it was a close call.

Austria decided that it would open its ski resorts on Christmas Eve. However, this will only be for locals. This is because there won’t be any hotels open to leisure travellers and tourists. There are also strict entry restrictions for people entering Austria at the moment. Indeed, all visitors coming from countries with more than 100 cases per 100,000 (nearly all of Western Europe) will have to quarantine for 10 days upon arrival to Austria.

Restaurants will also only be able to offer take-away or delivery services and all events have been cancelled.

You can find more detailed information about this on the official travel portal for Austria.

For more information about ski resorts in Austria and how they are dealing with COVID-19, check out:

Conclusions

All in all, the next few weeks aren’t looking too great for ski-lovers. Most people hoping to spend Christmas on a ski holiday in France, Switzerland, Italy or Austria will be disappointed. 

Even for those locals who are able to go skiing this Christmas, there won’t be much in the way of entertainment on site, with events being cancelled and restaurants closed in most places.

However, if the coronavirus situation improves, you could be hitting the slopes next January!

Are you an entrepreneur wanting to discover and develop new opportunities, both locally and internationally? Join our Business Matchmaking Platform and start your free trial.

If you are a member of a participating chamber, then join our Business Matchmaking Platform for free.

Want to learn more about CONNECTS? Find us on Google maps! For more information, don’t hesitate to contact us or request a demo

Rotary International: What Is It and How Does It Work?

Visual of the Rotary International Logo

What is Rotary International?

Rotary International is an international service organisation. Their aim is to bring together professional and business leaders in the prospect of providing humanitarian assistance and to further peace and altruism throughout the world. 

The organisation is non-religious, non-political and open to everyone. Worldwide, they have over 35,000 member clubs, with over 1.2 million members. The members are called Rotarians. Their motto is ‘service above self.’

Their headquarters are currently in Evanston, Illinois, Us and they have locations in over 200 countries and territories. Holger Knaack is the current president, being in this position since July 2020. 

A bit of history

The first Rotary Club was created by Paul Harris, an attorney, in Chicago. He organised a meeting with a few other businessmen on 23 February 1905. One was a mining engineer, another a coal merchant and one was a tailor. The aim was to exchange ideas and build long-lasting, meaningful friendships.

These men chose the name Rotary because they then started rotating between each man’s office for their subsequent weekly meetings. However, within a year of the first meeting, their club became so big that they had to seattle on a single regular meeting place.

Over the years, the Rotary Club’s reach and vision progressively turned towards humanitarian service. 

Structure and organisation

In order to carry out all their different activities, Rotary is structured into three different levels: club, district, and international. Each club is chartered by Rotary International, headquartered in Evanston, Illinois. The 35,000 different clubs across the world are grouped into 529 districts which are themselves divided into 34 zones.

A Rotary Club in the basic unit of Rotary activity. Each club decides who their members are. Initially, the limit was at one club per city. However, Rotary International has since encouraged the creation of more than one clubs in larger cities in order to make it more practical.

Most clubs have weekly meetings at their usual meeting spot where they discuss club business and have guest speakers. Each club is also responsible for organising various service projects within their own local community. They also take part in special projects with other clubs around their district or with ‘sister clubs’ in another country. They also organise a range of social events throughout the year. 

Each Club is responsible for electing their own president, which changes on a yearly basis.

Rotaract is the equivalent of Rotary for young adults who take part in community and international service. There, they gain leadership skills and participate in professional development. The Rotaract Clubs can be either community or university based. “Rotaract” stands for “Rotary in Action”. The Rotaract motto is “Self Development – Fellowship through Service”.

Rotaract first starter as a Rotary International programme. The first club was created in 1968 in Charlotte, North Carolina, US. Rotaract became a membership type of Rotary International in 2019, and no longer just a programme.

Rotary International’s causes

Visual of Rotary Humanitarian Aid

Promoting peace

Rotary aims to promote conversation to develop understanding within and between different cultures. As part of their activities, they train adults and young leaders to avoid and mediate and support refugees who have fled war-torn or dangerous regions.

Fighting disease

Rotary International educates and equips communities to limit or halt the spread of dangerous or life-threatening diseases like HIV/AIDS, malaria and polio. They work hard to improve and grow access to affordable or free healthcare in developing regions.

Providing sanitation, clean water, and hygiene

They support local efforts to provide hygiene, sanitation and clean water to increasing numbers of people. Not only do they build wells but they also share their own knowledge and expertise with local leaders and educators to ensure that the efforts succeed in the long-term.

Saving mothers and children

Poor health, malnutrition and inadequate sanitation is responsible for the death of close to 6 million children under 5 years-old every year. Rotary International works on expanding quality care, so that mothers and children can live longer and healthier lives.

Supporting education

Currently, there are over 775 million people who are over 15 years-old and cannot read or write. Rotary aims to increase and improve the ability of communities to provide basic education and literacy, to both children and adults, whilst reducing gender disparity in education.

Growing local economies

Rotary carries out programs that aim to better community and economic development and create work opportunities for both old and young. They also work with local leaders and entrepreneurs within poor communities, and especially women, to strengthen and increase their skills.

Protecting the Environment

Rotarians work hard to tackle environmental issues by developing projects, using their networks to change policies and plan for the future.

Ending polio forever

For over 35 years, Rotary International has made it one of its missions to eradicate polio across the world. They started this initiative in 1979 when they vaccinated 6 million children in the Philippines. Now, polio is only endemic in two countries, Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Rotary International’s programmes

Visual of graduates throwing their hats in the air rotary scholarships

The Rotary programs are aimed at forming the next generation of leaders. They do this by offering funding to make the world better and prioritise peace. The programs are not reserved to club members. You can also make a positive difference within your local community, without being a Rotarian.

Rotary Peace Fellowships

Every year, Rotary International picks about 100 professionals from all across the world to receive a fully-funded academic fellowship at one of Rotary’s Peace Centres.

Rotary Community Corps

The Rotary Community Corps is responsible for bringing together local Rotarians and non-members to bring about positive change.

Rotary Youth Leadership Awards (RYLA)

The RYLA is developed specifically for young people and is a leadership development program. The aim is for them to build their confidence and have fun. They organise a range of events such as week-long camps and one-day seminars.

Rotary Youth Exchange

The aim of the Rotary Youth Exchange is for students to discover a new culture, learn another language, and become a truly global citizen.

New Generations Service Exchange

Rotary’s New Generations Service Exchange is dedicated to university students and you professionals younger than 30. It is a customizable, short-term program in which the participants can arrange exchanges that bring together their own professional goals and a wider humanitarian aid project.

Grants

The Rotary Clubs have been receiving, for 100 years, grants in order to support humanitarian aid, international exchanges and scholarships.

Scholarships

Every year, Rotary International invests over 7 million USD in philanthropists and future leaders, by funding scholarships for graduate and undergraduate study.

How to become a member

You can only become a member by receiving an invitation. This is to ensure that people join a club that fits their own perspective and interests. Rotary International can connect you with a club that is right for you, making it easy for you to get involved and become a member. Here is how the process goes.

You express interest

You first have to tell them a bit about yourself and what you are looking for in a club. 

Rotary matches you with a club

Rotary will then find a club in your area that fists your expectations, interests and preferences and contact them, letting them know you are interested.

A local club contacts you

A Rotarian will then get in touch with you, either via phone or email, to talk about your interest in Rotary. Once that is done, you will be invited to a club meeting, event, or even to volunteer for a project, where you can get to know the club better

The club invites you to join

Once you have spent some time getting to know your local club and have both decided that you fit in with the rest of the club, they will invite you to join them. Depending on the club, there will be different ways in which you can be welcomed, such as a ceremony.

You’re a member!

You can now take part in the various Rotary Club activities, such as joining the committee, organising a social event, leading a project or anything else to do with your Club.

Brussels Rotary Club

The Rotary Club de Bruxelles, whose founding meeting took place on July 24, 1923, has nearly 120 members, brought together on the basis of their professional qualities and a permanent concern for ethics, around an ideal of friendship, with the aim of serving the community together.

Eminent personalities from the economic, legal, academic, medical, scientific and artistic world have brought their experience and generosity to the Club and stimulated, through their active participation, so many actions of dedication.

The Rotary Club of Brussels has created more than twenty Sponsored Clubs in the region and in the major cities of the country, which have, in turn, generated other Clubs.

The Club works within the framework of the Rotary Foundation, a flagship activity of Rotary International, and the National Association for the Assistance of Persons with Disabilities (A.N.A.H.), active since 1931.

The Rotary Club of Brussels is proud to have, throughout its history, contributed to the launch and development of actions in favor of young people and disadvantaged people in the Brussels region, as well as abroad.

Several of these actions were distinguished by their quality such as:

  • the work of the Pupils which, for more than 75 years, has supported, morally and financially, young orphans, gifted and deserving, in the course of their studies, until their professional beginnings.
  • the foundation of a “Third Age Information Center”, an idea taken up by the Public Authorities, as well as an “Information Center for Single Mothers”.
  • the creation of an exhibition room for the blind at the Royal Museums of the Cinquantenaire.
  • the support given to the Queen Elisabeth Music Chapel.
  • very active support for “S.O.S. Jeunes-Prospection Jeunesse”, a project created by a Rotarian of the Club.
  • a direct participation in the Gustave Stoop Foundation.

Recently, the Brussels Club has taken a very active part in providing skills and financial support for initiatives such as:

  • the fight against dropping out of school
  • the work of Silex, a leisure center for adults with mental disabilities
  • Nativitas, which welcomes the needy of the Marolles
  • the creation of a ceramic workshop in Syria
  • support for the HVP Gatagara home in Rwanda, for young people with physical disabilities and blindness.
  • the creation of a water supply for the Illahua Chico community (Ecuador)
  • support for a children’s hospital in Bucharest (Romania)

Are you an entrepreneur wanting to discover and develop new opportunities, both locally and internationally? Join our Business Matchmaking Platform and start your free trial.

Already a member of a participating chamber? Join our Business Matchmaking Platform for free.

Want to learn more about CONNECTS? Find us on Google maps! For more information, don’t hesitate to contact us or request a demo

Business Models (2021 Edition): The Ultimate Guide

Visual of desk from above with man to represent business models

If you are thinking of starting your own business, or own your own company, then thinking carefully about your business model is absolutely vital to your business success. 

In this article, you will learn more about what a business model is, why they matter, how to understand them, how they differ from technological innovation, some tips on developing your own, and all the different business models that are out there.

What is a business model?

A business model refers to the strategy a business develops to make a profit. It is an explanation of how a company plans on delivering value to clients within a reasonable price range. The company will determine which goods or services are to be sold, which market to target, as well as any costs that might be incurred to the business. It is important for any company to have a business model, regardless of size or how long it has been around. 

A business model will help new and growing companies to gain investors, find quality staff, and motivate managers and employees. Companies who are already well established should also have a business model which they review and update regularly. If they don’t, they will risk missing out on trends and will not be prepared for any eventual challenges. Furthermore, having a solid business model will help any potential investors evaluate and understand the businesses that interest them.

When developing their business model, entrepreneurs will test out different ways to structure their costs, revenue model and revenue streams.

A business model will generally be divided into three different parts:

  • Everything to do with the product and production side of things, such as raw materials, labour, design and manufacturing.
  • Everything to do with sales and getting the product in front of customers. This will include distribution, service delivery, marking and sales processing.
  • Everything to do with payments and cash flows, such as payment methods, pricing strategy and payment timing.

Put simply, a business model is the result of the research done on a business’s expenses and costs, as well as how much will be charged for goods and services provided. If a business model is well done, there will be more money from clients coming into the business than coming out of the business for production costs.

When reviewing their business model, companies can finetune anything within these three categories of the business model. For example, they could choose to decrease the costs incurred by manufacturing and design. Or they could find better ways of marketing their products. They could also find new ways of making their customers pay.

However, it is important to remember that there is no need to create a whole new business model in order to have an effective strategy. It is possible to use an existing business model and present it to different clients. For example, catering companies generally operate on a standard business model but will target different audiences.

Why is a business model important?

Having a business model will enable you to extract value out of your ideas. It is good to have new business ideas of products or services you can offer. However, you need to be able to back these ideas up and be able to explain how you plan on implementing them. Discussing these with colleagues will help you spot potential issues and challenges associated with your idea.

A strong business model can pave the way to business success. Preparing a business model is like laying down the foundations for your company. It will help you take an objective look at your business idea and realistically evaluate your chances of success. By doing this, you should be able to figure out your business concept, how you will create customer value, how you will position your product in front of potential clients, how you will manage competition, as well as the costs and revenue you can expect.

Understanding business models

Visual of Lightbulbs with the last one lit up to signify understanding an issue

One of the main elements of a business model is its value proposition. A value proposition refers to the description of services or products offered by a business and why they bring value to customers. This will be presented in a way that will contrast the goods or services from the competition.

For a start-up, the business model will generally also take into consideration how much it will cost to actually launch the company and how this will be financed, as well as the target customer audience, how it will be reached, what competition looks like and projected revenue and costs. The business model might also include information about potential opportunities for partnerships with already established companies.

A successful business model will allow a company to offer its customer base a solution to its needs whilst remaining competitive price-wise sustainably. Companies will generally reevaluate their business model over time to allow for changes in market demand and business environment.

When looking into a business for potential investment, investors need to know exactly how a business plans on making money. This means they will look at the business model. Of course, the business model might not provide all the financial information. However, an investor who is presented with an effective business model will be able to get a good understanding of a company’s prospects.

Experimentation is key to business modelling

Visual of Chemical experiments to represent business model experimentation

Developing and implementing business models is for an entrepreneur what experiments are like for scientists. However, whilst scientists are generally looking for lasting truth, entrepreneurs generally look for solutions and strategies that will work in a particular setting at a particular time.

Many people make the mistake of thinking that by just writing down a business model, it will work in the real world. However, most often, that is not the case. For a business model to work in real life, it will need a lot of consideration, testing and modifying. A successful business model will emerge from a process of experimentation.

Indeed, entrepreneurs will generally have to develop and test out a whole range of variations of one business model within a real-life environment. Only once they have tested different variations out can they determine which model is most effective.

That implies that often an entrepreneur has to design multiple variations of the same business model and test those in the marketplace. For instance, if you’ve built a company that offers software but you positioned yourself with a freemium model, thus bringing them closer to business success.

The difference between technological and business model innovation

The misconception that technological and business model innovation are the same thing comes from the fact that advancements in technology have led to new ways of doing business. Internet technology is allowing new and untested models to be adopted. One example is Netflix and other similar companies. Their business model would not exist if internet technology had not created new ways of delivering and streaming content, which is how they make money come into their business.

However, business innovation and technological innovation are two very different things. Technological innovation most often takes place in laboratories and research centres. Business innovation takes place within a company or a business context. By extension, technological innovation requires a huge amount of investment and resources, as well as researchers and experts. These will experiment freely with different ideas that can take a long time to materialise results and will not necessarily follow business goals.

Furthermore, if a new technology happens to become commercially viable, then it can quickly become a commodity. This means technology in and of itself is not necessarily a competitive advantage. However, combining new technology, innovative ways of serving clients, effective distribution networks and a competitive monetisation plan will probably lead to strong competitive advantage. This is where business model innovation comes in.

7 top tips for developing an effective business model

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When writing a business model, it isn’t just about copying and pasting your business plan or deciding what products or services you should go for. When preparing your business model, you should be establishing a long-term strategy of how you will be providing value to your customer base in the long term.

Here are 7 tips on how you can make your business model a success.

Identify your target audience

If you choose to target a wide customer base, then you run the risk of losing focus on the customers you really need and who want your goods and services. When developing your business model, you should try to try to narrow down your target audience to focus on 2-3 specific client profiles. Outline each profile’s demographic, common challenges and what solutions your business can deliver.

Determine business processes

Before you can launch your business, you will need to know how your business will operate in order for your business model to work. Outline core business activities by firstly determining the main aspects of your business’s offering. Will your business be offering consultancy services, will you be providing a service or shipping goods? These are things you will need to consider before your company can go live.

Keep records of your company’s resources

Think about what your business will need day-to-day in order to carry out its activities, find new clients and fulfil its goals. You should make sure you keep track of your business resources. This will enable you to make sure that your business model is suitable for the long-term for maintaining your business activities. Resources can include things such as a warehouse, your website, intellectual property, your client list, and capital.

Create a strong value proposition

It is crucial for you to outline how your business will distinguish itself from competitors. By clearly determining what value your business can bring, and how your products or services are better than what your competitors have to offer, you are on the path to delivering a strong value proposition. Once you have written down a few value ideas, you should link each one to a product or service delivery system. This will help you identify who you will keep on providing value to your client base over the long term.

Identify key business partnerships

It is impossible for any business to operate effectively without having established a few key partnerships that will enable the business to keep on serving its customers. When establishing your business model, identify key partners such as advertisers, suppliers, your supply chain, and strategic allies that will help you bring value to your customers. 

Create a strategy to generate demand

Unless you are planning to do something truly radical for the launch of your new business, you will have to think of ways to build up interest in your company and start thinking of ways to find leads and close deals. You should consider the ways in which customers will come across your business and what you want them to do once they have. By drawing up a demand generating strategy, you will be creating an outline of your customers’ journey whilst establishing what their key motivators might be for taking action.

Don’t be scared to innovate

When you start a business and create your business model, you will have to make quite a few assumptions as part of your business plan. Indeed, you won’t really know if your business model is a strong one until customers actually start paying. This is why it is crucial to leave space for innovation in your future plans. Your initial business model is not a static document. You should keep reevaluating it and making changes where needed.

The different types of business models

When thinking about your business model, there is no need to create a whole new one. Indeed, nearly all companies actually use existing business models which they then adapt to their own needs and to find a competitive advantage. Here is a list of business models you can use when starting your own company.

Advertising

The business model for advertising is a very old one that has become increasingly refined as society has moved progressively away from print towards online. The core of the advertising model revolved around developing content that people want to consume and then setting it in front of this audience.

With the advertising model, one needs to please two different customer bases: the people consuming the content, and the advertisers. Although the consumers might not be paying, advertisers definitely will be. 

An advertising business model can also be paired with a crowdsourcing model in which you will receive content freely from users instead of paying creators to develop content.

Affiliate

The affiliate business model is similar to the advertising model. However, there are a few differences. The affiliate model is most often found online. It uses links that are embedded in content instead of using visual adverts that are easily identifiable.

For example, a movie review website could embed an affiliate link to Amazon within the movie review. This means readers will be able to click on the link to Amazon and purchase the movie being reviewed. Amazon will then give you some commission for each purchase that was made through your referral.

Brokerage

A brokerage company is in charge of connecting sellers and buyers and then making sure the transaction runs smoothly. In exchange for these services, they will ask for a fee for each successful transaction, either to the seller or to the buyer and possibly both of them.

Real estate agencies are a common type of brokerage firm, although there are plenty more types of brokerage companies. Brokers and freight brokers are another example. They support construction businesses with identifying buyers for the earth that is dug out to build foundations.

Customisation

Some companies specialise in customising existing goods or services so that each sale is specific to each client. One example is of high-end travel agents who take care of booking custom trips for their wealthy customers. 

Crowdsourcing

Crowdsourcing is when a large number of people all contribute content to a common website, space or platform. You will often find that crowdsourcing business models are coupled with an advertising business model in order to bring in revenue, although there are plenty more variations of the model.

Businesses in need of a solution to a tricky issue might also make it public in order for people to help them solve it. People who find the solution might win a reward. The most important thing for any crowdsourcing company is to identify which rewards will be most appealing whilst remaining viable for the company.

Disintermediation

If you plan on producing and selling goods in shops, you will most often work through a range of middlemen to get your goods from the production facility to the shop shelves. Disintermediation is when a business decides to sidestep all middlemen and sell directly to customers. This might lead to lower costs for customers as well as a closer relationship between the business and the client.

Fractionalisation

Fractionalisation refers to when a business, instead of selling a whole product, will only sell a part of the product. One example of a fractionalisation business model is a timeshare. Here people will be owners of a part of a holiday home, meaning they can use it for a specific amount of time of the year.

Franchise

It is common to find the franchise business model within the catering industry, although it is also prevalent in other service industries such as recruitment and cleaning.

The basic principle of the franchise model is that a company sells the strategy for launching and running a successful business to another party. A company will also often sell access to a support service or brand that will enable the party who bought the franchise to actually start running. Put simply, one company sells access to a successful business model they have created.

Freemium

Companies implementing a freemium business model offer a part of their goods or services and then will have a paying premium service or product.

The freemium business model is different from a company offering its customers a free trial, which only extends for a certain period of time. With the freemium model, clients have unlimited access to a range of basic features for free. Clients are only charged if they want to access a wider range of features.

Leasing

The leasing business model seems in some ways quite similar to the fractionalisation business model. However, there are some major differences.  With the fractionalisation model, a company will give access to a part of a product or service perpetually. The leasing business model is more like renting. Once the lease agreement is at an end, the client has to return the good they were renting.

It is mostly high-priced products that are leased because clients might not be able to afford a full purchase. Instead, renting the product for a certain period is more effective for them.

Low-touch

When companies are based on a low-touch business model, it means that they reduce their prices by offering fewer services. One of the most obvious examples is low-cost airlines and furniture stores such as IKEA. In both examples, clients have to buy extra goods or services, or they might have to do some things themselves in order to maintain lower costs.

Marketplace

With a marketplace business model, a company will enable sellers to post items for sale on their platform and provide consumers with easy tools to purchase items from sellers.

Marketplaces have different ways of bringing in revenue. This could be through fees to the seller or the buyer for every successful exchange, they could offer additional services for supporting sellers with the advertising of their products, or they could offer insurance to customers. Such spaces can be dedicated to both goods and services.

Pay-as-you-go

The concept of a pay-as-you-go model is that instead of paying for something upfront, clients pay for their actual usage at the end of a specific period of time. Home utilities, for example, most often use a pay-as-you-go model.

Razor blade

The razor blade model takes its name from the product that is as the origin of the model. The model entails providing a durable good below cost to grow the sales volume of high-margin, disposable components of the good.

This is the reason behind razor handles being so cheap. Companies bank on people purchasing large volumes of blades over the long-term. This strategy aims to tie people to the product, making sure that they keep on purchasing items over the long term.

Reverse razor blade

The reverse razor blade model flips the razor blade model around, meaning companies provide high-margin goods and promote sales of associated low-margin products.

Just like with the razor and blades business model, clients, by purchasing a particular product, make the decision to enter an ecosystem of products. However, with the reverse razor blade model, it is with the first purchase that the business will make most of its money. The extra items purchased by the customer over the long term are just there to keep the customer loyal to the initial product purchased.

Reverse auction

The reverse auction model turns the auction model on its head. In this case, sellers are offering their lowest prices to buyers. Buyers can then choose the lowest price on offer. This happens, for example, in construction, when contractors bid to do work on a particular project. People who want to take out a loan or a mortgage are also seeing a reverse auction business model in action.

Subscription

The subscription model is becoming increasingly popular. With the subscription business model, customers have to pay a subscription fee to be able to access certain services. Newspapers and magazines have been using this model for a long time. However, it is now spreading to other types of businesses such as software providers and online services.

Using an online platform for business growth

When you are thinking of what your business model will look like, it is vital to consider all the options that are open to you. Digitalisation has been happening for a while now. However, it has been drastically accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Online platforms are becoming more and more prevalent within the business world as a way of sourcing leads, clients and partners, and as a way of bringing in money for a business. Indeed they allow people to conduct business and find new opportunities from the comfort of their home. 

CONNECTS is one example of a global business platform. Based upon a collaboration with Chambers of Commerce, it enables entrepreneurs to do business worldwide and with trust. Indeed, each and every member on the platform has been vetted and approved by a local chamber of commerce.

In current times, considering platforms such as CONNECTS when developing your business model will ensure you are putting all the odds in your favour.

If you found this article helpful, you might also be interested in reading our article How Business Continuity Planning Can Help Your Business and our article about How to Write a Business Plan.

Are you an entrepreneur wanting to develop your business? Join our Business Matchmaking Platform and start your free trial.

If you are already a member of a participating chamber, then join our Business Matchmaking Platform for free.

Want to learn more about CONNECTS? Find us on Google maps! For more information, don’t hesitate to contact us or request a demo.

Business Development in 2021: Everything You Need to Know

Visual of Business development

If you are thinking of starting your own company, then chances are you will need to do some business development, or hire people to do it for you. But where should you even start?

In this article, you will learn more about what business development is, how it applies to overall business strategy, some tips and tricks on how to be more effective at it, and how you can start creating your own business development strategy.

What is business development?

Put simply, business development (BD) refers to the processes, strategies, and tasks intended to increase and expand opportunities within and between different companies. This could mean business expansion, increasing revenue, making strategic business decisions, or improving profitability through strategic partnerships.

More generally, BD is the creation of long-term value for a business from partnerships, clients, and markets. The term can apply to any activity, no matter the size of the business, whether it is a for-profit one or non-profit, which is aimed at ‘developing’ the company in any manner. 

Business Development can be conducted internally or externally with the help of a contractor or consultant. If a company chooses to use an external party to do their business development, the activities can be streamlined through Planning Systems, which governments put at the disposal of small businesses to help them. 

Furthermore, building strong foundations and a good reputation has been shown to greatly facilitate business development. 

What is the difference between sales and business development?

Visual of a Sales funnel

Both business development and sales aim to grow new business. However, there are differences between the two.

BD plays a crucial part in the sales process. The business development department is in charge of leading qualified leads further down the sales funnel. However, business development representatives are not the ones who actually close the deals.

This is where the sales team comes in. The main role of the sales team is to bring in revenue for the business. Sales representatives are in charge of doing product demonstrations, handling negotiations, and closing deals. If the sales and business development teams work together effectively, then it becomes a lot easier to convert prospects into paying customers.

Making a difference between the two roles within your business enables each team to specialise and fully focus on their own function. This means your company will be able to grow a lot more efficiently. 

Both sales and business development require similar skills, meaning BD representatives who want to go further down the sales funnel and close deals are perfectly equipped to do so.

Business development across departments

Visual: Business Development

Business development activities span throughout different departments within a company, such as project management, marketing, sales, account management, vendor management and product management. Partnerships, networking, negotiations, and cost-management activities are also a part of it. All these different teams and activities are integral to a business development strategy.

For example, a company is successfully selling a product in the US. The BD department decides to investigate the potential for further expansion. After having done their research, they determine Brazil as a good prospect for expansion.

Let’s take a look at how this business development team’s findings impact other departments within the company.

Sales

The sales department will most often focus on a specific set of customer markets and relationships, with a revenue figure to aim for. In this example, the business development team determined that the market in Brazil is worth 1.5 Billion dollars in sales over three years. With this goal, the sales department will be in charge of targeting a customer base in Brazil with its own sales strategy.

Marketing

The marketing department is in charge of advertising and promoting, with the end goal of successful sales of products or services to end-clients. The marketing team will play a part in achieving targets set by the sales team, meaning the sales team might actually include a marketing budget within their own plan. If a higher marketing budget is allocated, then the marketing team can pursue a more aggressive strategy, with personal visits, free sample distribution, cold calling, or even roadshows. If a smaller budget is allocated, then the marketing team will implement a more passive strategy, with online ad campaigns, billboards or print adverts.

Strategic Initiatives or Partnerships

If a company decides to expand into a new market, they need to decide whether they want to do it on their own or through alliances and partnerships with companies already active in the area. With the help of the finance and legal departments, the business development department will have to consider both the benefits and drawbacks of their options and determine which strategy will serve the company best.

Business planning and project management

When going into a new market, the company will have to determine whether they will need new facilities in that region or if their products will be manufactured in the home country to then be shipped to the target country. Shipping the goods might also need new facilities in the target country. The final decision is down to the business development team and based on their time and cost-related analysis. Once this is done, the project management department is in charge of actually implementing these decisions.

Product Management

Market standards and regulations will vary from one country to another. This means a company might have to change its product around slightly or even design a whole new one in order to conform to specific country requirements.

These requirements will be behind the activities and tasks of the manufacturing and product management teams. They will have to take into consideration things such as costs, regulatory compliance and legal requirements as part of the business development strategy.

Vendor Management

When entering a new country, a company might have to consider new external vendors. They might need a dedicated courier service for shipping goods, or it might have to partner up with new retail partners as part of the already-established retail chain in the country. This might incur extra costs which will have to be considered by the business development team.

Lobbying, networking and negotiations

Some businesses, by the nature of their products or services, will be needing experts with soft skills. Some countries allow lobbying, which might be necessary for a company to be able to enter a new market. Negotiation and networking might also be needed with external third parties like government authorities, vendors, regulators and agencies. This is all part of business development efforts.

Cost Savings

The role of the business development team isn’t only about market reach, products and increasing sales. They also need to make strategic decisions when it comes to improving the baseline, which accounts for cost-cutting measures. An internal investigation which reveals excessive travelling costs, for example, might lead to changes in company travel policies. The business could decide to host more video conferences or choose more affordable travel options. Management could also decide to outsource non-core activities in order to save money, such as financials, technology operations, billing or customer service. 

Business Development Ideas You Can Implement

Business Development ideas are strategies which you can apply to your own business to improve it in a range of different ways. These ideas can help you find great prospects, discover new opportunities, increase brand awareness, and network more efficiently.

Here are a few ideas which can set you on the right path. It is important to remember that every company, its structure, and its staff are different, so some of these ideas might be more relevant to one business rather than another.

Think of new innovative ways to network

It is a truth that cold calling doesn’t work as well as it used to. This means you should think of new ways to network and develop strong relationships with your potential partners and prospects. This could be done through face-to-face meetings at events, trade shows or conferences related to the industry you are in.

Go through your online networks such as your relations on LinkedIn to find potential clients and partners. Contact the people who sign up to your newsletter or complete other forms on your company website.

Give consultations

It can be extremely helpful for prospects if you offer them consultations or assessments. By explaining your goods or services fit in with their own needs, you will help your prospects in their decision to become a partner/customer or not.

On the other hand, conducting assessments or consultations can help you figure out whether they are a good fit for your company or not. This information is just as important, as it will avoid you wasting any more time on them or running the risk of ending up with unsatisfied customers.

Organise sales demos for leads and prospects

Offering a demonstration of your products or services to your leads and prospects will allow them to see how it works in action. Make sure that your demonstration is tailored specifically to your lead or prospect, so that they can have a clearer understanding or how your product or service can serve their own company. 

Keep your prospects engaged

It is really important that you keep your prospects engaged, either by calling, meetings, emailing or any other way of communication you might see fit. When you are nurturing your leads, the aim is to give them as much information as necessary about your goods or services, so that they can make an informed decision about whether to make a purchase or not.

By doing so, you will be able to make your content specific to your lead when it comes to product and brand. This means your lead will be better able to see how your products or services can solve their pain points. This will also demonstrate support for your prospect and make them feel understood and heard by your business.

Give your prospects different kinds of content

By putting different kinds of content such as videos, blog posts and social media posts in front of your prospects, you give them different ways of ingesting information. This will make it easier for them to process and understand your brand, services, or products.

It is often much more effective to meet your leads where they are and give them content which they prefer to watch or read. Make sure that all the content you provide is easily accessible and shareable so that they can then forward it onto other staff members. This will make it easier for them to explain why what you offer is the best solution.

Marketing and Communication is crucial

Even if business development is traditionally associated with the sales team within a business, that does not mean that business development activities within the company only involve the sales department. You should make sure you organise regular meetings and maintain open communication between departments that have a part to play in your success, such as product development and marketing departments.

One way to look at it is that the marketing department develops campaigns and content for the audience you are targeting about how your products or services can solve their business issues. So it makes sense that you would want to discuss social media posts, blog posts, website content, and campaigns with them.

You sales representatives and Business development representatives can share the content that the marketing department produces directly to leads. This will help with prospect conversion, as well as help the marketing department figure out if there are any gaps or elements missing for leads.

The business development process

A business development process describes all the different tasks and activities a company will conduct to grow their business effectively, better relationships with leads, increase revenue,… This is what the business development department will be in charge of on a day to day basis. This will include everything to do with pleasing clients throughout the buyer’s journey.

By going through the business development process, your employees will gain a better understanding of the company’s goals, targets, present situation, target audience, and more.

By bringing all these elements together and communicating it within your team, you generate a business development strategy which is actionable and will encourage your employees, encouraging both growth and success for your business. 

The goal of elaborating a business development strategy is to set achievable targets that enable your company representatives to grow the business, find new prospects, coordinate better with other departments, convert more leads, and seal more deals.  Here are a few steps you should follow when thinking about your business development strategy:

1. Write your elevator pitch

You can make initial conversations with leads a lot simpler by preparing an elevator pitch ready to use whenever. Your elevator pitch should make clear your company’s mission and how your goods or services can solve the pain points of your target audience. It should be attention-grabbing and get your leads excited to hear more about your business and what you can offer.

Furthermore, preparing this will help your team decide which elevator pitch is most successful in successfully turning leads into business. You can then use this information and share it within your other departments.

2. Set SMART goals

Establish SMART goals for your team to follow. SMART stands for specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and timely. By determining this set of goals for your business development plan, you will be able to make sure that they fit in with the wider goals of your business.

3. Do a SWOT analysis

A key role of business development teams is to keep updated on industry and market trends, making sure they have a good understanding of the competition. A SWOT analysis will come in useful here. SWOT is an acronym for strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. In order to successfully conduct a SWOT analysis, you first need to set a clear goal.

Visual of a SWOT Analysis

Next, consider what your core strengths are. What is your company best at? It is possible for your company to have multiple strengths, so do not hesitate to list all of them and how these will best influence your customers.

You should then think about your weaknesses. What might put your business at risk? This could be at any level of the company, and could also be influenced by external factors. For example, market demand could increase faster than your ability to provide your services or goods.

After that, consider the opportunities for your business. Here, you should consider the future of your business and what you can accomplish. For example, think about how past partnerships could lead to further ones down the line.

Finally, consider what the threats are to your business. Consider who your current competitors are and who might become competitors further down the line. 

Conducting a SWOT analysis will enable you to identify strategies for creating opportunities to grow your business. It will also help you develop new processes and spot weaknesses and threats, which you can prepare for and counter.

4. Decide how you will measure your success

Taking into consideration your SWOT analysis and your SMART goals, you will also have to determine how you want to measure your business development activities and successes.

Here is a list of business development KPIs which are commonly used and will help you measure and understand how your efforts are coming through:

  • Lead conversion rate
  • Leads generated per month/ quarter/ predetermined time
  • Prospect and customer satisfaction
  • Company growth
  • Reach
  • Changes in revenue
  • Pipeline value

5. Determine your budget

The type of business development goals you set for your employees might mean you need to set a budget. Think about the resources you have, how much previous business development strategies have cost, and what other elements you might need (who you need to be involved, what items you need,…)

Here, you should involve the greater team to determine how much you are ready to invest and how much you are able to invest in your business development strategy.

6. Do not forget about your target audience

No matter your goals, you should always remember your ideal prospects and target audience. Evaluate what their needs are and figure out exactly how your company and its products are services will solve their issues.

This is the group which most probably will make a purchase, so make sure your business development plan takes them and their needs into consideration. This will make it easier for your team to then convert more of them and expand your business.

7. Determine an outreach strategy

A key part of business development is identifying new prospects and leads. In order to do this, you will have to decide how you will reach and connect with these potential leads and prospects. You could:

  • Cross-sell and upsell
  • Organise sponsorships and advertisements
  • Network
  • Use referrals

Measuring your business development progress

Visual of a Key performance indicator image

The Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) you choose to evaluate your business development strategy will change depending on your business and its sales cycle. The main function of business development is to find new opportunities to sell. One of the easiest ways to evaluate your progress is by looking at your sales pipeline and how it is influenced by the activities of the business development team. You could also look at the number of possible deals that were generated through the business development team’s activities.

Many business development departments will use metrics that are aligned with the company’s overall revenue goals. This means the BD department needs to consistently generate revenue and a healthy pipeline of leads and prospects.

Metrics and KPIs will vary from company to company, but some common ways to analyse business development activity are through the number of appointments booked, cold calls, emails sent, or the number of leads generated. A company will generally use CRM software to store all this data.

Using a platform for your online business development

When thinking about your business development strategy, you might want to consider using an online platform. Especially since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, more and more people have had to work from home and find new ways of doing business that doesn’t require face-to-face interaction. Business development departments have not been left untouched.

However, if many companies have had to move towards much higher use of digital technology, it has also raised questions about online security. Indeed, how can you trust someone you have never met?

One way of doing so is by using CONNECTS. CONNECTS is an online business matchmaking platform that enables entrepreneurs to find new leads, prospects and opportunities worldwide. By working with Chambers of Commerce, we ensure that each and every member of the platform has been vetted and meets the high standards set by the Chambers. By using CONNECTS, you can do business wherever you are, with trust.

If you found this article interesting, you might also want to read our article about How Business Continuity Planning Can Help Your Business and our article about How to Write a Business Plan.

Are you an entrepreneur wanting to develop your business? Join our Business Matchmaking Platform and start your free trial.

If you are already a member of a participating chamber, then join our Business Matchmaking Platform for free.

Want to learn more about CONNECTS? Find us on Google maps! For more information, don’t hesitate to contact us or request a demo