In recent years, travelling for work and for pleasure has become an integral part of our lifestyle. Unlike till a couple of decades ago, when travel would be mainly for religious purposes, today, people travel within and outside the country for business and to simply take a break from routine.
A lot of nitty-gritty is involved in travelling including booking tickets for travel, arranging for stay, food and for local transport. There is a sizeable expense involved as well as uncertainty. If travel is not planned well, it could result in waste of money and inconvenience. The point is, there needs to be somebody with thorough knowledge and access to information to help the traveler in planning the travel. This is where the business of travel agency emerges as a very useful resource.
You could think of starting a small set up with minimum capital, staff and space. Look for a space of about 200 sq. ft in an area convenient for customers. The approximate deposit may be Rs. 50000/- and a monthly rent of Rs. 10000/-. A computer, printer and a laptop may be estimated at Rs. 80000/- and furniture at Rs. 30000/-. You will need to spend about Rs. 2000/- on registrations and licenses, plus Rs. 10000/- to print marketing material like brochures and leaflets. Taking into account salary to one employee, repairs and maintenance, phone and electricity, depreciation, EMI etc, broadly you can make a net income of about Rs. 35000/- per month.
Travel agency is a highly customer centric service. Customer satisfaction is critical. You need to be very thorough while planning the itinerary for your client as the smallest mistake can cause very big inconvenience. For instance, you need to know the check in and check out time of hotels so that you client does not end up paying more unnecessarily. Consider the lay over time between two flights and make sure it is enough to go from one terminal to the other to change planes. Several such details and information must be at your finger tip to be able to give excellent service.
Competition is tough in this sector. Try offering your own specialized services like package
tours and customized tours. Design special packages for senior citizens, newly married couples etc. Offer group discounts and early bird discounts. You will have to invest some amount for advertising and publicity. Print brochures and leaflets and also use social media.
Always keep in touch with your old clients since they not only patronize you regularly but if they are happy with your service they become your human advertisement.
All in all travel agency business is highly dynamic, exciting and has limitless scope to grow. With DeAsra’s support you can go places with this enterprise. You can get in touch with deAsra team and your Udyogmitra on 020-65365300/11 or access our free of cost business guide on the website. Board the flight to prosperity!
A successful business finds growth prospects in expanding the capacity so as to cater to a larger number of consumers. So a restaurant with ten tables may add ten more tables and increase the staff. An office may move from a smaller place to a bigger one where it can accommodate more staff, computers and serve more customers. What next? A couple of branches in other cities? Probably an office overseas? In line with this thinking, comes the next business model – that of franchise. Franchise means the authorization given by a business organization to another individual or organization to carry on a specific business activity. Franchise is necessarily geographical expansion with multi-location representation of a brand. These are not offices/ outlets owned by the principal organization, but a network of independent businessmen/ owners representing an established brand at multiple locations. In short, a hierarchical partnership of sorts!
Franchise or business chains have become an increasingly popular model of business especially in the service industry like restaurants, couriers, retail shops, service centres, laundries, pathology labs etc.
The foundation of franchise business is that the original brand enjoys a high degree of popularity, visibility and demand. The franchisee representatives must ensure that they deliver quality in consonance with the brand promise of the original brand. At the same time, the franchisee gets a ready brand equity as his business rides on the principal brand’s image and it saves him the effort and investment to start brand building from scratch.
Normally a franchisee is expected to make a certain minimum investment. Often the principal business lays down certain conditions to be fulfilled by the prospective franchisee, like – a certain capital investment, commercial space, basic infrastructure etc. He may specify the minimum area, frontage etc. The franchisee outlet must bear the same appearance, work style and quality of service so as to maintain brand perception.
Naturally when you visit a certain fast food franchisee outlet of an established brand in any city, you would find the same colour scheme, décor, furniture, staff uniforms and menus. The marketing communication and Point of Sale material is normally designed centrally and distributed to all franchisee outlets.
Often part of the production process may be carried out at franchisee level, especially in cafes and restaurants. In such cases the exact preparations and processes, even storage method etc must be laid down clearly to franchisee staff. The principal must keep a keen follow up to ensure that the quality standards and brand style is maintained.
Sometimes franchisee outlets fail in delivering the promise of the brand. This harms the image of the original brand which has been cultivated painfully over long years.
Most franchises therefore involve a centrally controlled customer relation management system which draws customer feedback from all locations. This helps in maintaining critical parameters.
While several franchises have been greatly successful not only across nations but even abroad, some have failed. Reasons have been varied, from excessively heavy franchisee network to lack of central management. It is however worthwhile to explore the possibilities of this modern day business model to get on the fast track of growth.The franchising business model is widely and increasingly used by entrepreneurs seeking growth through geographic expansion.
According to statistics, 9 out of 10 start-ups fall by the wayside. This figure may paint a grim picture, but rather than getting discouraged, budding entrepreneurs should take heart, because 1 start-up out of every 10 does manage to tick all the right boxes, and that start-up can be you. In this article, the business mentors at deAsra have put together a few challenges commonly faced by small-scale food businesses, along with tips to help you sail over these speed bumps smoothly.
But first, what qualifies as a micro/small-scale business?
A mess service, a home-made ladoo business, or even a food packaging and reselling outlet can fall under the category of a small business, as long as the capital investment in machinery does not exceed 5 crores, (for businesses in the manufacturing sector) and is up to 2 crores (for businesses in the service industry) If your investment in machinery is up to 25 lakhs (manufacturing sector) and up to 10 lakhs (service sector), your business will be classified as a micro enterprise. In this case, revenue generated does not bear much weight – For example, a vada-pav vendor could be selling 1000+ vada pavs a day from his cart, yet, his business is still classified as a small business.
Partnership, Proprietorship, or Private Limited? Depends on the need. Another question often raised deals with registrations – what kind of company registration should start-up founders and co-founders opt for? According to deAsra mentors, it depends on the need. For example, when you’re at the cusp of transforming your chakli-making hobby into a full-fledged business, you may start off with a proprietorship registration, and later, as the business scales, convert it into a private limited, in order to run it in more professional way.as well as to take advantage of tax benefits.
Get your licenses right before anything else.
Before you get your business in place, it is essential to get your licenses in order. Miss this step, and fines or penalties could be staring you in the face.
For any business, however small, FSSAI registration and the Shop Act registration are compulsory. Manufacturers, distributors, retail traders and stockists also need to get licenses if their business turnover exceeds 12 lakhs.
A variety of legal formalities too are applicable on the different kinds of company registration. For example, partnership businesses call for partnership deeds and registration thereof, and private limited companies need to get registered at the Registrar of Companies (ROC).
Funding is more accessible than most people think.
Since Pune (and the surrounding region up to a radius of 40 kms) is classified as a developed zone, certain government subsidies do not apply to businesses here. However, to give women entrepreneurs a leg-up, the government has launched many organisations, like the Mahila Arthik Vikas Mahamandal, which offers loans at beneficial interest rates.
The big F word in the start-up scene – funding – is not out of reach anymore – especially if your business is commercially viable, enjoys a continuous stream of revenue and you can raise up to 25% of the margin demand by the bank. And even if that margin is beyond your scope, organisations like deAsra connect you to banks and financial institutions who can give your business some amount of runway.
Research before you figure out your pricing sweet spot.
“How should I price my products/services?” is one of the foremost challenges every entrepreneur faces. Low prices can undercut competition, but can also make your business unviable, while high prices will put you out of the running completely.
To tackle pricing, deAsra mentors help the business owners undertake a thorough audit where they assess the financial viability of a business, and estimate various fixed and variable costs, including raw materials, equipments, electricity, packing material, etc.
They also encourage entrepreneurs to carry out extensive competitor studies, observe the rates in the surrounding localities for the same product/service, and then work on the pricing model.
The USP of your business and its competitive edge can also affect pricing.
A preference for a brand can only be born when there is awareness of that brand’s existence. To get customers beating a path to your shop, deAsra mentors recommend converting your current brand champions into marketers for your business, since referrals, according to them, work the best. Roping in relatives and friends who swear by your delicacies and spreading the news through them is a good way to get one foot in the door.
A few other marketing tactics which can get you off to a good start include distributing food samples and leaflets in your area of operation, distributing products through retail outlets and offering incentives/discounts, especially to referred customers.
Keeping in touch with customers through Whatsapp and email marketing channels; and closely monitoring people’s preferences is also crucial. For example, people are becoming increasingly health-conscious, so incorporating that aspect into your product (think ‘diet chiwda’) could help boost sales.
For a vada pav seller, a simple change in the presentation of his product – and a switch from a wooden cart to a swanky mobile van – did wonders for his business.
Watch out for these hurdles.
As an entrepreneur, it’s ok to make mistakes; in fact mistakes are the stepping stones to success. But learning from those mistakes, and more importantly, learning from other people’s mistakes, can take you a long way ahead in the entrepreneurial journey.
For example, many food businesses end up buying wholesale quantities and building unwanted inventory, which leads to revenue drain. Also, home-grown businesses borrow money from chit funds or micro-finance institutions, which lands them with higher rates of interest. Instead, opt for banks and reputed financial institutions, suggest deAsra mentors. For food businesses, maintaining consistency in quality and taste is also a major problem area. This can be solved by strictly adhering to Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs). Raw materials need to be tested too, which is not widely practised in India. For example, there are more than 20 kinds of potatoes produced in our country, so a vada pav seller has to test all varieties and find out which works best for his vadas.
Keeping tabs on the shelf life of products is equally crucial; maintaining a batch-wise record of products can prove to be helpful in this case. Apart from this, maintaining a proper book of records is essential and comes in handy when you need to recover pending payment dues.
The food business is beset with labour problems – how does one handle that?
According to deAsra mentors, most business owners forget that their labourers too, at the end of the day, are customers, and should be treated with dignity and respect. At deAsra, business owners are introduced to HR management techniques, which help bridge the gap of discord between labourers and owners, while building loyalty and reducing attrition.
Finally, don’t give up too soon, and don’t pass up expert help.
Any food business generally takes a year to pick up pace, and that’s if the quality is top-notch and the right marketing strategies and SOPs are followed to a T. What’s the advice of deAsra mentors to budding entrepreneurs? ‘Don’t give up on your business too soon, but more importantly, don’t hesitate to ask for expert help. Help can move you forward, fast.’
deAsra partners with mentors, business experts and other complementary organisations and financial institutions to help entrepreneurs build a successful food business from the ground-up. Need help with your food business? Give us a call at +91 20 65365300 / 11.
To know how we helped other food businesses take off, read our impact stories here.
Floundering for answers, searching and hunting for ways to do things fast, seems to be the norm for entrepreneurs, at least when they are just starting out. More so, in the case of that oh-so-critical project report. So dear entrepreneurs, your prayers are answered as there are quick and relatively simplified ways to get a project report done.
How? With deAsra Foundation’s ready-to-use business model templates, called as Business Guides.
What are these Business Guides?
deAsra’s Business Guides are ready-to-use business model templates in a concise and user-friendly format that entrepreneurs can use to fill in their project information. These Business Guides are based on a six-by-six grid. The process is divided into six stages – Plan, Start, Fund, Setup, Market, and Run and each stage is further divided into six steps. These guides focus on providing complete and detailed business model templates on all aspects of starting and running a business from an individual entrepreneur’s point of view. It is in short, an end-to-end business planner for an entrepreneur.
deAsra studies businesses thoroughly to develop these Business Guides
These Business Guides are developed by the deAsra Foundation team after researching and consulting a sizeable number of businesses in certain categories such as baking, fashion designing, travel etc. Since each business type is based on its own peculiar way of working, processes, practices and systems, the research helps deAsra Foundation to arrive at a concise model template for each business type. The entrepreneur needs to pick up his business model template from the deAsra website –www.deasra.in and start creating his project report with help from the Udyog Mitra at deAsra Foundation.
Since the Business Guide has a ready framework, the entrepreneur finds it relatively easy to fill in his information.
It has been observed that these Business Guides reduce the Project Report development time remarkably, helping entrepreneurs to get a lot of other important things done.
Moreover, since the Business Guides are developed with our Business and Banking experts, the Project Reports are well turned out and meet the criteria of the banks and similar agencies who can be crucial deciding factors in a new business.
deAsra Business Guides for over 60 business ideas: With a plan for researching 250 business ideas ranging from fashion designing, snacks centre and bakery, to travel and tourism and many more. deAsra Foundation creates a detailed Business Guide for each business. Business Guides for 60+ business ideas are already available on our website. When a budding entrepreneur like you fills in his details in this template, he/she can come up with a project proposal that is well-thought-through in considerably less time than normally possible.