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Ross Andrew - Can You Handle More Business?

I am sure that most business owners would answer an emphatic yes to this, but before we do, we should look at our staff , our systems, our cash flow and our marketing strategy... Are we really ready for that new contract or large new client, do we have capacity to grow? Quite often although we all inherently know that we need to grow and want to grow, sometimes we just aren't ready for growth. Business growth is often more than just getting more work, it could be hiring more staff and/or upgrading our systems and implementing a new marketing strategy to ensure that we grow correctly.

Through my years in business, I often come across business owners who are new to the world of the small medium enterprise (SME), either as a result of leaving the corporate world or fresh out of university. Although these people may be experts in their fields, they probably have never been taught to market a business. More and more I see 'solopreneurs' struggling to be everything from the salesman to the accountant, from the director to the driver. On many occasions, operating way outside of their comfort zone and expertise. These businesses need to grow in order to be able to employ staff to give the owner time back so that he can work on his business and grow it into a small and then a medium enterprise. This journey will also have employed another person or two and had an effect on the local economy.

In today's busy business world, we are inundated with a myriad of marketing options which all have their place and come with varying budgets, both in terms of price and/or time commitment. For many businesses there are three main types of marketing i.e. Print advertising, social media, and networking. I personally love the latter because it involves getting in touch and face to face with real people and building relationships. Not just ordinary relationships but effective business relationships.

We all know that people will talk to you if they know and like you, but this is seldom enough for them to do business with you. So it could be said that in order to do business, people need to know, like and trust us. But is this enough....when last did your mother pass you a fantastic business referral? This is a different type of relationship. In business we need to develop strong, focussed, effective business relationships based on trust and integrity.

In the world today, around 98% of businesses rely on referrals to gain new business, yet only around 3% have a strategy for referrals. There are many types of networks that can be used to gain referrals, some are more socially focused whilst others are more business focused, and all of them can be used to make connections and grow your influence.

BNI is a global networking organisation, with over 260 000 members operating in 76 countries around the globe. In KwaZulu-Natal there are 19 Chapters positioned in Zululand, the Battlefields, the Midlands and the Greater Durban Area. BNI works on the principle of "Givers Gain" which is reciprocity of referrals. Not only are members trained how to network but also how to grow their businesses both locally, regionally and even internationally. Members build up Power Teams of Referral Partners, which effectively gives them access to a large marketing team, exclusive marketing rights, a regular source of business and access to a national and international network. Extensive training is offered to our members in the areas of networking, marketing and leadership.

I, along with my wife Cheryl, have the privilege of being the executive directors of BNI for KwaZulu-Natal. I have seen so many business owners take charge and their businesses flourish it really is heart-warming. Our vision is to Change the way KZN Does Business and make significant strides in uplifting the economy and tackling unemployment by helping members increase their business through a structured, positive and professional referral marketing programme that enables them to develop long-term, meaningful relationships with quality business professionals.

For more information contact: T: +27 83 309 6538 E: W:

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