Edward Hamilton - Green Beans
Edward Hamilton is a financial and business coach whose company Greenbean works with individuals, entrepreneurs and small business owners to help them build their companies.
For the months of April and May, Edward will be on hand as our resident 'Expert' so if you have a small business or are thinking of starting one and have any questions about marketing or business strategies, or are looking for financial guidance then please get in touch.
Email any questions you have to firstname.lastname@example.org
Q. Hi, I am considering opening up a small cafe/take out style restaurant (with a counter and 3-4 tables max) I'm a little confused as to the type of licenses I would need for this. Also, with all basic first overheads considered, what would be a rough minimum figure needed when looking for a central, well located space?
A. Hi Julia, thanks for the question. To find out about the licenses required I would talk to people who've already gone through the process and run a cafe or take-out. They might also give you a better sense of the problems you might face and things to look out for. However, I would recommend when doing your research you try and talk to at least a couple of owners and not just rely on the experience of one other.
As for how much would you need. This is a difficult to say without more information and knowing how much your business could sustain. However, if you are interested in starting up your small business and would like some help determining this important question and others similar I would be happy to assist you further offline.
Q. I'm currently working as a hairdresser in Barcelona and am just about to start my own business parallel to working in the salon where I do hair and make-up for weddings in Barcelona.
My question is, is it possible to work as an autonoma in the salon as well as having my own business? I just thought it would be easier that way as at the moment I'm employed in the salon.
Thank you! Catrin
A. Hello Catrin, An autonomo is effectively a self-employed person in Spain. So yes, if you went autonoma then the salon would become just one of your clients. You would invoice each client separately then declare your income and business expenses (to offset your taxable income) on your quarterly tax filings in order to pay your own income taxes, IVA and social security. However this is not my area of expertise so I can not give you any advice on whether this would be your most tax advantagous structure. You should consult a tax advisor if you wish to know more on this subject or need helping becoming an autonoma. Alex Martin with Martin Howard Associates http://www.mhasoc.com/ which is an English & Spanish speaking tax advisory firm has plenty of experience in this area if you need a contact.
Q. I've noticed that there are many people setting up blogs to do with their lifestyle on the internet. It appears that many of them make a living off just this... My question is, when you have a website, how do you get paying advertisers?
A. Hi Paige, thanks for the question. Signing up to Google Adsense will allow you to display google ads on your website and you are paid per click-through by Google. However how profitable that will be depends on the popularity of your website. You need to write a blog that creates a loyal and regular readership. If you become a popular site that receives thousands of hits or you can build a newsletter database of thousands of subscribers then you have real potential. So I would focus on your content, your readership and also public relations to unlock the real potential of paying advertisers.
Q. Business plan: I'm looking to set up a business here, but have never done anything like this before. I have my own financing so how important is it to have a business plan? And, if so, where can I look to understand what I should include in it? Thanks very much. Pete
A. Great question. Before you start up a business you need to make sure you have a well-thought out, researched and viable idea which will fulfill your business and financial goals.
However, do you need a nice presentable well-constructed business plan to do this? Well my opinion is that business plans are necessary when you are presenting your business to an external party (i.e. looking for financing, presenting to peers for feedback, searching for sponsors). However if it is just for yourself and you are probably going to do it, file it and not really use it then perhaps your time could be better spent focusing on and researching the specific areas of the plan rather than writing one. Barcelona Activa has a good online-template to help you create a business plan (or know the areas to research).
You MUST have a thorough understanding of the financial implications of your idea.
Is it a financially viable idea and when will it make a profit? You also MUST do competitor research and understand the industry landscape. What is your unique selling position? Another essential area is understanding the customer. What do they need and how does your product/service cover this need? Answering these questions is perhaps more important than writing a nice report.
The plan you really need to write is the Strategic Plan. How are you going to implement your idea to reach your goals? Write the plan and stick to it to achieve better success rate in starting your business.
Good luck with your new business idea.
Q. Help! Managing people: I have a shop in Barcelona and I employ two part time people. I've tried very hard to create a good atmosphere and I feel like I think about them all the time. But, it never quite works and when I finish on Saturday I always go home feeling annoyed. I'm not very good at confrontation so perhaps I just don't assert myself enough. It seems like they do what they want and never really understand what I ask from them. I would really appreciate some help on this as it's really getting me down and affecting my business too. I've been open four years and these employees have been with me for two years. Before that, I managed everything myself. Thank you!
A. Employee relations is one of the most difficult areas of small business ownership so you are not alone. Many small business owners feel your frustrations. Every situation is different so there is no one definite answer. But a couple of techniques to try to relieve some of the frustrations and lead more efficiently are below.
Instead of thinking about confrontation try focusing on creating regular and open communication. It is imperative that teams talk and share their knowledge, ideas and feedback. Allowing the employee a voice can empower them and increase their motivation for the job. Talk to them and listen to see if they can offer you any ways to improve the relationship and improve the productivity.
Sometimes with older employees they have fallen into some lazy habits that have gone unnoticed and their productivity has fallen as a result of this. You may need to redefine what you expect from them, what are their individual responsibilities, the team goals and the quality level you desire within their work. Support them through this process of change but be sure about what you expect and don´t allow slips to go unnoticed. Be consistent yet fair, that is what employees expect from employers. If they are good employees they should respond to the new challenge you have set them.
Finally try thinking in terms of leading not managing employees. There are many useful books on leadership skills and techniques which can be very useful. Or feel free to contact me personally if you would like to discuss this more or sign up to my Emini Series - Road Map to Business Success Mini Series which talks more about this topic. You can find the sign-up on my website www.freegreenbeans.com
Q. Non Competition Clauses: I had a contract with a 10 percent of salary compensation for a non competition clause. It said it was to included in my base salary but it was never broken down in any payslips or my final payslip when I left my employer. Is this clause enforceable? Peter
A. Hi Peter, Thanks for your question. However, this is more of a legal question for a labour lawyer and is outside of my area of expertise. Therefore I suggest you talk to a lawyer to see if you have a case. I can recommend one, although he speaks little English only Spanish and Catalan, if you would like. Or I suggest you try the Metropolitan online business directory for an English-speaking one.
Q. Is there an equivalent of 'Self Employed' in Spain? Tracy
A. Hi Tracy, the equivalent to self-employed in Spain is being an autonomo. You have to be registered with the tax authorities if you are doing business in Spain and autonomo offers an easy and affordable way for self-employed people to register themselves. If you would like more information on being an autonomo or discussing other possible tax statuses then I suggest you contact an accountant. Alex Martin at Martin Howard Associates helps Spanish and English speaking clients on these matters in Barcelona. www.mhasoc.com
Thanks and keep the questions coming.
Edward Hamilton, Green Bean Business & Financial Coaching
Q. Social Media: Hi Edward, As Social Media is the way forward for individuals to find out about a business, do you have a blue print for a Social Media Marketing strategy?
Barry Davys: www.expatfinancialadvicespain.com
A. Thanks Barry for a very topical question.
Nowadays social media is an important part of a marketing strategy for small businesses. It is a great way to reach potential customers along with a whole host of other benefits. However it could also be a time drain with few monetary benefits if it is not done correctly. To be effective you need to create a tailored social media strategy aimed at the social mediums of your target client. While every strategy needs to be individually tailored below is a blueprint of some important steps and things to consider while defining your strategy.
Do Your Research:
1) Understand what Social Media is. It has two words, social and media: don't forget that. You must be social for it to be relevant and successful. Research the full scope of social media (it is more than Twitter and Facebook) and find the ones that are popular in your community and with your customer profile.
2) Look at your competitors' social media efforts or any similar style businesses. Make a note of what works for them, things you like and what does not appear to work. Look closely at the style, content, usage and mediums to help you understand how to be more targeted and successful. We don't have to learn everything by trial and error. Research and learn important lessons from other companies' trials.
Define & Allocate Your Resources
1) Social Media is not free. It is an investment which involves time and possibly money. Define your budget, allocating how much time and money you can put into social media. Without having strict time management you may find yourself spending too much time and it becoming a distraction from your other work. You can't allow this to happen so be realistic. It is possible to outsource your social media to specialised small marketing companies (or even individuals) at quite a cost effective way. If their cost per hour is less than your value per hour and the product is of the same quality or higher than yours then it could be a smart investment to outsource.
Create Your Social Media Goals & Feedback Channels
1) What are you looking to achieve specifically out of social media? For customers to know your name? Become a known expert in your industry? Get people buying your product directly? How much interaction per month? Etc.
2) Now you must know if it is effective, so you need feedback. With all investments you need a way to make sure it is sound and profitable. Social Media is no different so put in place a way to receive feedback (google analytics, customer surveys etc.). Feedback allows you to continually target and improve your strategy and will allow you to know when you have hit your goals.
Create a Tailored Customer-Focused Strategy
Draw up your client profile. Understand their preferences and how they use social media. Then plan and implement a strategy within the resources you have to effectively touch your target market and to hit your predetermined goals. Remember, always have your client/customer in mind. This step can be tricky but there are professionals, business coaches and marketing consultants that can help.
Be Active, Regular And Promote
Social Media is active marketing, it is not passive. Just in the very nature of how social media works it is the active and regular user that takes away the most benefits. Studies have shown that companies have higher success when they have a regular stream of social media. You stay in the forefront of your followers minds and constant regular interaction can be associated with dependability and becoming known as a trusted source as people rely on or expect your interaction. This can have a positive effect. You have to be disciplined.
Learn the rules of the game
Each social media platform has different rules. What might be acceptable in one could be spam in another. Badly managed marketing can have a grave effect on your business and reputation so make sure you understand the etiquette behind social media. To help you with this perhaps try at first not to over reach but instead focus on one or two mediums that you can perfect.
Go Local or Niche & Think Outside the Box
Find a local place your customers use or enjoy. Find a specific need or niche and fill that gap. Try to build a community. Offer something free in return for a more loyal customer base. Write interesting blogs. Have a personality and demonstrate empathy. Offer competitions. Get listed. Be innovative, fun, open or refreshing. Have fun, it is a big new world with endless opportunities.
So I hope this helps and gives you something to think about with incorporating social media into your marketing presence. Nowadays, I am seeing this as a high priority with all of my clients to develop and implement a successful social media campaign that gets recordable results. Together we are tailoring a customer focused strategy within their resource constraints which they are implementing to good effect.
Social media fits more naturally for certain types of businesses, but that doesn’t mean other businesses shouldn’t be on there. It may just take more time to build an audience. If you would like any more information on this topic please feel free to contact me. Thanks Barry.
Keep the questions coming!
Q. I have heard that for tax purposes in Spain an individual can buy and sell goods and services under his or her name for a certain amount (under €3,000) without the need to declare himself or herself as autonomo. But, I have also heard that Spanish law has changed recently where this is no longer the case. Can you confirm whether this is true or not, and the specifics, or to whom I can ask to find out.
All the best, Nicholas
A. Thanks for your question. As it is an accounting related question I asked Alex Martin of Martin Howard Associates (www.mhasoc.com) to answer this question.
He says: This is an old fallacy. Anybody carrying out freelance work must register and pay autonomo social security whatever their earnings. The €3000 misperception stems from the limit that companies have to declare in their annual 347 (transactions with third parties declaration). Any supplier billing a company less than €3000 does not have to be declared and so wouldn’t be picked up under normal circumstances by the hacienda.
So it appears to not be true. If you would like more of an explanation then I suggest contacting Alex directly.
Thanks and please keep the questions coming.