Whether you’re researching promising market opportunities, thinking about business ideas or already have an idea which you think could be the “next big thing”, we’ve got the resources at Shanahan’s to guide and inspire the entrepreneur in you which will ultimately help you on the path to start-up success.
There are thousands of books out there on Selling, How to sell etc etc however, everything you need to know about selling really boils down to the following simple rules:
1. Specialise in Selling one thing and get good at it
The notion that a great salesperson can sell anything to anybody is as silly as the idea that a car mechanic can service any engine. The more you specialize in terms of product, service, and industry, the more likely you are to sell successfully.
2. Sort through the sales Leads
When you're selling, the last thing you want or need is a huge list of sales leads. You only want to spend time on prospects who will probably buy. Therefore, the tighter your target list, the more likely you'll find someone who's actually interested.
3. Do your Research
Never, ever, contact a prospect before you've checked out the person's LinkedIn profile, researched his or her company and industry, and found at least one good reason why the prospect should want to talk with you, today.
4. Talk your way in
Your initial goal is not to sell but to get into a conversation to find out if it the prospect is a potential customer. Remember, a wrong sales pitch -whether spoken, written, videoed, or whatever -is not just a waste of time; it's actually preventing a sale from ever happening.
5. Be a person not a salesperson
There's absolutely nothing wrong with selling for a living or having to sell in order to make yourself or your company successful. However, most people dislike any behavior that smacks of the showroom. Be yourself, not a clone of your top Sales Idol.
6. Quickly qualify your prospect
When you do get into conversation, your goal is to find out whether that prospect has a need for what you're offering and the money to buy it. If not, eliminate that prospect from your list. Don't waste your time or that of the prospect's.
7. Focusing on the customer's customer
When you're assessing needs, what's most important is always what your prospect's customers need from your prospect to be successful. Your job is to help the prospect meet those needs. Your own needs, of course, are your business.
8. Adapt to a Buying process
Selling is not something that you do to a customer. It's something that you do for a customer. This means understanding how the customer buys the sort of thing you're selling and providing assistance as needed to make the purchase happen, while working upon the repeat business.
9. The Close
When you've got what you hope is a bona fide potential customer, it's hard to risk hearing a no that smashes your dream of a big sale. Nevertheless, if you don't ask for the business, or wait too long to ask for it, you're going to lose the sale anyway - timing can be everything.
10. Long term Relationships
The only way to make selling easier is to build up your database of business contacts, not just of contacts but of people whom you've personally helped become more successful. Eventually, you won't need to sell as vigorously because your friends will do your footwork for you.
July 30, 2015
If you’re a small business owner I need not tell you how important your time is. In fact there is no resource more precious than your own time.
You might be of the view that money deserves that particular accolade but you can always make more money. On the other hand, there will only be 24 hours in a day and that won't change for the foreseeable future unless you have invented a time machine. If that’s the case I doubt that money will be much of a concern either.
You may spend a surprisingly sizable chunk of your time everyday checking and replying to your emails. The best thing to do is set a specified time where you will take care of your emails and any responses that you need to formulate. If you send and receive a massive amount of emails each day, maybe first thing in the morning, at lunch time and before you leave in the evening.
Checking your emails throughout the day really just takes you away from doing other tasks. You need to get into the mindset that just because an email pops up in your inbox doesn’t mean that you have to reply to it immediately, forsaking whatever other work you were doing. Rather, you shouldn’t allow anything to take your attention away from your work unless it is absolutely critical that you respond at that time.
2. Plan your day
The most productive time you will ever spend is the time you schedule, a simple Excel sheet on the face of your computer is a start. Whether you do this in the evening for the next day or first thing in the morning, having an idea of how your day will go is a powerful tool.
After some practice you’ll be able to tell within reason what you can expect to get done each day. The next step is to put the most important tasks that you need to get done at the top of your to do list.
As the days pass, you’ll find that you are consistently getting critically important work done on time and your business should be in good shape as a result.
3. Out-source and Delegate
Delegating tasks to trusted staff frees up your time to do the more important and critical work. When running a small business it can feel like you need to do everything yourself - don't! Generally that's not be the best approach, especially if you can improve staff morale and give yourself extra time through delegating.
Think about it this way, would you rather do reports which a staff member would be capable of doing and put back an important meeting with a client or delegate the reports and go ahead with the meeting which could generate new leads.
If certain expertise does not exist within your company, perhaps consider outsourcing if your budget allows. If you spend 4 hours resolving a problem which takes an expert say 30 minutes to do for a relatively small fee, then you need to think long and hard about exactly how valuable that time is to you
One thing not to do when planning your day is to allocate all of your time from 9 to 5 to carry out certain tasks and then put pressure on yourself to complete them. That’s not feasible.
You are going to be interrupted at least once during the day, whether you need to deal with a customer issue, help a member of staff, it’s going to happen. If you expect to be interrupted then you’ll have to learn to prioritize the most important of your tasks and you won’t be giving unrealistic promises about when you will have your tasks completed.
5. Saying NO!
Are you a ‘yes person’? If someone asks you to do something do you do it out of politeness even if you don’t want to? Learn to say NO, because the time you need to run your business properly is more important, if its not something in your field, it will take a lot longer and may never pay you - upshot -you are not happy your customer is not happy; if you cannot do and are happy to say NO refer where possible.
Unless it’s something you absolutely have to do, you shouldn’t be doing anything that you don’t think will be productive for your business.
6. Idle time
Whether it’s waiting for meetings, appointments, the train or having a sandwich, we all spend idle time throughout the day. Use this time efficiently if you can.
It could be a great time to catch up and reply to those e-mails you haven’t read yet. If you can get small tasks out of the way while you wait, they won’t eat into time you have set aside for other tasks later in the day. Use your Tablet or phone Apps to speed up applications
July 30, 2015
The Companies Act 2014 (the “Act”) states that every company must have a company secretary and in relation to their duties, the Act states:
“The duties of the secretary of a company shall, without derogating from the secretary’s statutory and other legal duties, be such duties as are delegated to the secretary, from time to time, by the board of directors of the Company”.
These duties come from statute, common law and contract law and are in addition to those duties as are delegated to the company secretary by the directors. Primarily those duties cover co-signing the annual return with one of the directors, maintaining the statutory registers, maintaining up to date minute books of meetings of the Board and the Annual General Meeting. They also ensure that all filings made in the Companies Registration Office and the Revenue Commissioners are made accurately and on time.
The existing statutory responsibility of the Secretary to ensure compliance with the Companies Acts which is contained in the Companies Act 1963 has been removed and is now the responsibility of the Directors. However, the company secretary may still be open to prosecution as an “officer in default” for failure of the company to comply with a relevant requirement.
As is the case with directors, on appointment, the company secretary must make a public declaration acknowledging that they have legal duties under the Companies Acts, other statutes and common law.
Common Law Duties
Company secretaries also owe some limited fiduciary duties to the company, unlike directors however, the Act does not set out an easily identifiable list of those fiduciary duties. The company secretary does not have any voting rights at board meetings and cannot make decisions at board level, unless the company secretary is also a director. The company secretary may be held liable for any loss arising as a result of or a breach of duty, particularly when a company secretary is also acting in some other capacity e.g. a company director or as an employee of the company.
The Appointment of a Company Secretary
The Act imposes new duties on directors when appointing the company secretary in that they must ensure that the “person appointed as secretary has the skills or resources necessary to discharge his or her statutory and other duties”. For private companies it is the discretion of the board to determine the appropriate skill set of the secretary.
The directors have a duty to ensure that the person appointed has the skills necessary so as to enable him or her to maintain the records required to be kept under the Act.
Here at Shanahan's we can assist your company with all company secretarial aspects relating to the new Companies Act 2014. Our team have extensive skills, knowledge and expertise to assist and advise companies with regard to their company secretarial compliance and governance requirements.
July 21, 2015
Bear in mind you must be prepared to give Angels Investors what they want if you want them to invest in your company. Also you need to know that angel investors typically reject three quarters of investment proposals sight unseen.
So how do you get an angel investor to invest in your business?
What are angel investors looking for?
1. A good reason to invest.
Remember that most angel investors are or have been successful entrepreneurs. They enjoy the thrill of helping to build and create a thriving enterprise.
2. The potential for a significant return.
Angel investors invest with the expectation of doing more than just getting their money back. They expect a good return on their investment – a return better than they can do on the stock market.
3. A good management Team.
A competent management team with leadership ability is a must if you hope to attract angel investors. Essentially an angel investor is investing in people, so they need to see the evidence that your business is in the hands of people who are knowledgeable, competent and trustworthy – and possess the skills to lead your business to the next level.
4. A Well Prepared Business Plan.
Angel investors want to see a business plan that’s both convincing and complete. They want to see that you’ve developed a vision for your company and that you’ve given thought to the details of how to get there. They want to see things such as financial projections, detailed marketing plans, and specifics about your market.
5. The Business is structured for investment.
While some angel investors invest by giving loans to a business, a minority equity ownership position is usually the preferred choice.This means that your business has to be structured to allow for investment (and that if you are the sole trader or company, you have to be prepared to give up a certain amount of ownership if you want to attract angel investors). Most angel investors will expect a formal shareholder’s agreement which lays out the nature of their investment and the return.
6. Opportunity for active participation.
For many angel investors, it’s not just about the money; they want to actively participate in developing your business. They want to act as a mentor and sometimes even to take an active role in managing the company. This often translates into the angel investor having a seat on your Board of Directors.
7. A viable Exit Strategy
The get out Clause. Before an investment is made in your business, an angel investor will expect to see an exit strategy. While angel investors are patient and willing to make long-term investments, they need to see how they’re going to reap the return on their investment. The sale of shares to the company’s principals is a common exit strategy for angel investors who hold equity positions; the sale or merger of the company is a common exit strategy for debt-holding investors. Don’t be surprised that your prospective angel investor wants a time-frame set.
So, if you want an angel investor to invest in your business, you have to ensure that your business is investor-ready. If you haven’t already done so, preparing a solid business plan, restructuring your business as necessary and completing your management team are the best ways to start preparing to attract an angel.
Once you've done these things, you’ll be ready to tailor your investment pitch by incorporating the other things that angel investors are looking for that I’ve outlined above. Then all you need to do is find an angel investor to approach.
The good news is that there are myriad resources – in Ireland to help companies to prepare for equity investment.
These include other entrepreneurs, who have taken the same path themselves, government agencies like Enterprise Ireland and InterTradeIreland, local Business Innovation Centres and the development programmes run by incubation centres.
See Angel Investor Links
February 20, 2015
So, you’ve decided to take the plunge and start your own business – but you have no idea where to begin. From what business to start to how to raise the money for it, the sheer array of options can be daunting.
John M Shanahan & Co has a range of resources available to take that blossoming entrepreneurial desire through the stages it needs to become a viable business.
We’ve addressed all the essential questions you should pose when you’re thinking about how to start your own business.
If you’re keen to be your own boss but are asking ‘what business should I start?’ there’s a multitude of options available, including those that support the lifestyle you want to lead or make extra cash to supplement your household income.
Part-time businesses: If you want to run a business while keeping up with other commitments, why not start a part-time business?
Franchising: Consider starting a franchise to run your own business with the training and support of a big-name brand behind you.
Buying a business: Buying an existing business is another popular option that can carry less risk than starting afresh.
Start-ups you can run from home: Modern technology means an office environment is no longer necessary – many businesses can be run entirely from home.
Technology start-ups: The tech industry in Ireland is enjoying an unprecedented vogue; there has never been a better time to start a tech start-up.
Popular industries: Other popular sectors to start a business include green businesses, service and retail ventures, and online businesses.
Choose a business structure: Are you going to be a sole trader, in a partnership, or even start as a limited company? You will need to decide what business structure you adopt early on.
Market research: Thoroughly research your market to assess the viability of your business idea.
Write a strong business plan: Writing a business plan is essential. Make sure you have a clear roadmap before starting out. This is especially important as you may show this business plan to potential investors.
Think about your branding: Believe it or not, a business’ name, logo and business cards can make a difference in achieving success.
Set up a website: Register a domain name and have a well-designed website built for your business.
Start-up’s finances: Learn how to deal with bookkeeping and cashflow issues for the first time – you may consider talking to an accountant and seeking his advise who will mentor you on the process.
Investigate potential grants: Small business grants are extremely useful, but can be difficult to come by. Start with your local Enterprise Board.
Apply for a bank loan: Although bank lending to small business is fragile, most businesses end up approaching the bank at some point.
Ask a friends or family: It’s not hard to see why many entrepreneurs start with personal finance or the assistance of friends and family, but try not to put your house, or anyone else’s, on the line.
Consider invoice discounting: If you’re finding bank loans difficult to come by, look into invoice finance as an alternative funding option.
Angel investment: Angel investors cannot only provide funding but valuable mentoring, (Dragons Den) support and advice to early-stage businesses; be wary of giving away too much equity early on, however.
Understand the basics for setting up: Learn how to set up a company.
Advise Revenue: Contact the Revenue to tell them you’ll be setting up and register for the appropriate taxes.
Set up business banking: Get set up with a business bank account.
Get your equipment: Think about what equipment you will need to start your business. Vans are a necessary purchase for many start-ups, especially in the trade sectors, whilst equipment such as PCs, printers and smartphones are more or less essential.
Consider a virtual office: If you plan to set up a home office, look into whether a virtual office is right for you. Virtual office services can offer you the total office experience without physically buying, leasing or renting an actual office.
Find premises: If you need external premises, buying property is a huge step; unless you’re absolutely committed, leased premises or serviced offices are normally more suitable.
Location, location, location: If you’re starting a retail business, location is crucial. Make sure you’re in the know and have explored all avenues before committing to a property.
Protect your intellectual property: If you have a technology or ideas-based business, or something that may require protection, make sure you protect your ideas by familiarising yourself with intellectual property law.
Understand tax law: Whether you’re in business on your own account or already have employees, a knowledge of tax law is essential.
Get insurance: Prepare for the unknown by taking out business insurance, and be aware of the different insurance types available.
Comply with regulations: Don’t forget about your obligations under health and safety regulations. This is especially important if you plan to take on employees.
Source the best suppliers: You can source suppliers at trade fairs and exhibitions – but before entering into any agreement, ensure you negotiate protection for your business through a supply contract.
Pick a manufacturer: If you have a product that needs to be made on a large scale, make sure you look carefully at the compatability/ fit and how they can service your business before choosing a manufacturer for your business’ product.
Consider sourcing from overseas: Don’t forget that overseas suppliers can often be more cost-effective than the domestic supplier when out-sourcing products.
Ensure the timing is right: Ask yourself some key questions such as need, viability, skills requirement etc. before deciding whether the time is right to hire an employee – don’t rush into it.
Write a job description: Learn how to write the perfect job description to make sure you understand their role and help you attract the best and brightest talent.
Pose the right questions: Do a dummy run and discover the best questions to ask during an interview – and the questions you should never ask.
Investigate employment options: Read up on the different employment options for staff – is your business more suitable for permanent employees, part-timers, be aware of the long term costs as well as the tax cost.
Take heed of employment law: Just like tax law , you ignore employment law at your peril, or your business could find itself confronted with expensive and potentially serious legal proceedings.
Offer training: Set up your new employees with the tools for success through training schemes, there is assistance available from Enterprise Boards as well as Enterprise Ireland etc.
Tell the world what you’ve got: You need to know how you will promote your product and who you will target – learn about the key selling techniques that suit your business best as a starting point.
Get your product out there: If you’re targeting retailers, you need to get labelled, branded and packaged to perfection to be in with a chance of getting your product stocked in stores.
Keep up-to-date on e-commerce: Today, e-commerce and selling online are crucial and you should be aware of the workings of internet sales.
Brush up on selling techniques: Seek out in-depth advice on selling techniques and negotiating. This will help you create a solid sales strategy, as well as being able to use cross-selling and generate repeat business.
Tell the world: Learn how to raise awareness of your brand by marketing your business, you will tell the world in what ever way you find most effective for your business and you will tell them again and again - because they will forget.
Get in-depth information: Our Business Links has a range of in-depth start-up guides for setting up in business. On a one-to-one level, we at Shanahan's can help your business start-up by taking you through a business plan, business registration, banking, taxation issues potential pitfalls and more.
Be inspired: Success is 10% inspiration and 90% perspiration. Read up on the success stories of other entrepreneurs to see how they overcame some of the early challenges they faced and grew into household names.
Chat with other entrepreneurs: Connect with other business owners and seek support and advice through LinkedIn and other social media networks as well.
Also - Go to our Business Links page.
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