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How to Create Simple Yet Accurate Business Reports and Records

In any business, there is endless paperwork involved. It would be a lot easier to get through it all if it were simple, concise, and to-the-point. If you’re wondering how to go about doing that, this list would help. 

Make the purpose clear

Write your title such that it stands out clearly and can be read easily. 

A short description consisting of a few sentences would be good. This description would tell readers what the report is about and what’s in it for them. Talk about how the information in the report can be utilised for their benefit as well. 

If you have a tag line – which would be a plus point – draw attention to it by using colour, font, or other available visual tools. 

Easy navigation is key for quick understanding 

Visual guides used right would help greatly in allowing readers to pick up the main points of the report. Text, graphics and images act as distinct navigation signals. These would make identifying the key points in the report easier for the readers and help them be efficient by allowing them to zero in on what’s most important to them. 

Headings and subheadings are must-haves in reports. They should be easily attention-grabbing, and should act as markers for clear differentiation between different sections of the report. Having adequate spacing around them would also be easier on the eyes. 

Stick to a format. If your first bold heading indicates one distinct section of a report, make sure your following headings are synonymous with defining each of the other sections as well. 

This uniformity would give a logical, simple structure to the report that makes it easy to peruse. 

Consistency is key, and it applies to not just headings, but other visual elements used in the report as well. Font size, colour, bullet points, etc. 

Ensure that your page numbers, footers and references are in the same place on every page throughout your report. 

Visuals, visuals, visuals 

When I say visuals, they don’t have to be bright and loud and all over your report. Colour is definitely a key factor here but your photos, charts, graphs, and any other nuggets of design would heighten the interest aspect of your work. 

It is important that these are clear, well-spaced, and add value to your content. Doing so would go a long way in helping the audience understand what they’re looking at better. 

Not only are valid visuals a great way to increase your report’s appeal, they also help in reinforcing your message and purpose. For instance, an image of a prototype being tested would add value to a report about that prototype. 


When it comes to maintaining an excellent record-keeping system, there’s a whole other set of factors that come into play. I can’t list them all (this article would become a lot longer than intended) but here are what I feel some of the more essential ones.

Capture the information

​Once the idea is out there, capture it. Open up an excel sheet or google doc which would start storing all these bits of information, little or big, and keep updating it. 

This doesn’t just have to be limited to ideas. The finances can be kept track of in the same way. Revenues, personal expenses, business expenses, miscellaneous transactions; these are all essentials that fall under the capturing process. 

Discipline and consistency are required in this process, but over time, it’s one of the most useful habits you can develop when it comes to business. 

There’s no need to feel the pressure of utilising the information you have right away. Keep collecting it for, who knows, a rainy day in the future. The habit definitely doesn’t hurt anyone. 

Just make sure the information you capture is detailed so that when the time comes for it to be used, you don’t have any missing details that would render it invalid. The date, product, transaction amount are some examples of the details. 

Save what you record 

It would be a sheer waste of hard work and consistent effort if your gathered information isn’t saved on a platform or software somewhere. Saving what you’ve recorded is giving it a potential purpose. 

This matters especially when it comes to your finances. Your copy of them could always be cross-checked with the bookkeeper’s so that the final information you have is as accurate as possible. It would be ideal do to this on a monthly basis, along with a review of the content. 

Check, double check, triple check

Just logging all the information is of no use if it isn’t accurate and right. Set a regular time for you to go through whatever you’ve captured so you can make sure everything is correct. 

The vetting could be done fortnightly, twice a month; up to you. Sticking to the schedule once you’ve set it up, however, is vital. Only after you’ve done the vetting and ensured it’s all in order can the information be considered valuable. 

I’ve talked about recording the details, but let me take this chance to emphasise on its importance. The nature of the transaction, the product, its purpose, the time of the transaction; these are crucial for the record to be accurate. 

Take action based on what you see

There’s no need to if everything seems to be in order. But if you do see something that needs fixing, fix it yourself or by someone else. Get the work done. 

Craft your to-do list in order of priority, starting with the most urgent one. If you see your expenses creeping up on your earnings, or worse, surpassing them, act. 

Make changes and accommodate your needs around the spending cut you’re going to incorporate. It’s important that these changes don’t have a negative effect on your profits. 

Collect your debts on time, and take the necessary action to make that happen. Dragging it out will be a downfall for you, not the other party. 


There are a lot more tips out there for effective business record-keeping and reporting, but for me, these six capture the essence of what a company needs fundamentally. 

If you have more of your own, that’s great. If your company is at a stage where there’s room for experimenting – or even better, it’s encouraged – then no harm in trying these out, I’d say. 

This list of logical, tested-and-proven steps might just help your company get the strong foundation it’s looking for. 

Source Credits: Agency for Healthcare Research and Qualitythe balance small business 

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The Sugar, Spice, and Everything Nice in A Start-Up’s Pitch Deck

If you’re a start-up seeking funding, the way you pitch yourself to the people with the money determines everything. This is a situation where ‘what’s inside’ definitely matters. 

Here’s a list of what I take to be some of the must-have ingredients you need to cook up the perfect pitch deck. 

Company overview 

Starting off the deck by telling investors who you are is as basic as introducing yourself to a stranger when you first meet them. Some companies believe in throwing in a hook before introductions, and that’s fine as long as it resonates with the message going to be delivered moving forward. 

Around four short but informative points on who you are, what your company stands for, your history, and any achievements till date would be very helpful in giving your investors the initial insight they need. 

Making these few facts fun would go a long way in creating an impact on your audience. 

The problem

Any start-up CEO or founder knows that if the idea behind the company or product does not solve a relevant, existing problem in society, it won’t be easy to justify the value of the start-up. 

Talk about the problem you’ve zeroed in on, the reason behind choosing it, and whom it affects. A relatable story to illustrate the problem’s seriousness and realness will give your investors greater clarity as to who you are as a business. 

Target market and opportunity

You would think the next slide would naturally be the solution. Effective storytelling, however, builds up suspense before the big reveal. In this case, a great suspense-builder would be the magnitude of the people affected by the identified problem. 

Who is your ideal customer? How many of them are there? What is the size of the market you are projecting to capture ideally? The more detailed figures you have for this juncture, the better. 

Here is where your TAM, SAM and SOM come in. You may be tempted to show the biggest, flashiest numbers to make it seem as though you’re reaching out to a larger audience, but if that’s not what your product can promise to deliver, the showiness will backfire. 

Investors want to invest in numbers which are backed by reasoning and research. Focus on a specific target market to not stray yourself while giving investors a more realistic idea of whom your product is for. 

The solution

Now it’s time for the big reveal. Show them how your product is a well-formulated solution backed by a great deal of thought and insight. 

More importantly, depict how it’s the ideal solution that will help your chosen target audience. By portraying how your product can solve the very real problem you talked about, you establish the importance of your start-up in the market as well. 

Placing your solution slide here is the perfect opportunity to portray it as the hero that’s here to save the day of the people. 

Use stories and graphics to make your slides more engaging and impactful. After all, a picture speaks a thousand words. 

Vision and value proposition

This is how you would describe your start-up if you had only one sentence to do it. Short, simple and sweet is the way to keep this. 

Tech start-ups tend to use big companies in these sentences to give a better understanding of their own identities. For instance, “We are LinkedIn and Carousell come together,” or “We are like Grab, but just for children.” 

Be careful to make sure that your characteristics actually somewhat model the company you refer to, and that you’re not misleading your investors by simply throwing around big names. 

Revenue model or business model

Your investors cannot invest in you if they don’t know how your product is going to make money. How much and who pays are vital questions to be answered here. Be it the users or advertisers, be clear about who the revenue is going to be generated from and how. 

Traction and validation

If the sales numbers are already looking hopeful for you, great. You should definitely talk about them at this stage. That way, you build your investors’ trust in your ability to attract and capture your target market.

If you don’t, talk about what you plan to achieve in the near future. A simple yet comprehensive two-year-plan roadmapping your key milestones would do just the trick for you. 

Marketing and sales strategy

This slide is all about how you plan to go to the market. From posting on social media to giving out flyers on the street, give a solid outline of what your marketing and sales efforts are going to look like. 

Depicting how you are going to reach your target market includes finding them in the first place. Assure your investors that you have a firm understanding of where to channel your efforts and what platforms you are going to use.

Uniqueness is key in this stage, so differentiating your plans from your competitors’ could give you a one-up with the investors. 

Team

A start-up’s small team needs to contain the best people for the job. Each member must have the ‘X-factor’ that makes them better for the role than anyone else. A power-packed team is a necessity for a start-up’s power-packed progress. 

Financials

As a start-up CEO or founder, you most certainly have unending pages of figures to show investors. Advertising budget, projected revenue, and many more factors come into play here.

However, keep it simple for your pitch deck. Basic details highlighting expenses, profits, and customer projections will do you well. 

Be prepared to explain the rationale behind the statistics you’re presenting. 

It’s your start-up, so it might be slightly difficult to be realistic. You need to try. If you can project your figures based on existing data from your traction or similar companies, it would give more legitimacy to your numbers. 

Competition

In today’s business world, it is highly unlikely that you won’t have competitors. Even if your solution is brand-new, your future customers are already using their own way to solve the problem you are addressing.  

Not only do you have to show what your place is in the industry, you also have to communicate what sets you apart from everyone else. Basically, your Unique Selling Point (USP) has to be solidly distinctive. 

From there, go on to explain why you are confident that this difference will result in you being the people’s choice. 

Use of investment funds

Alas, the time to actually do what you created this pitch deck for: ask for the money. You’ve set up your stage; painted a beautiful portrait named ‘Why Me.’ Now it’s time to quote the price for that portrait. 

And this quote can’t just be a number plucked out of thin air. Justify why you need it and where it’s going to be utilised. Knowing how you’re going to use their money to achieve the goals you mapped out to them is the information that can tip investors towards either a yes or no. 


There are certainly several more slides you could choose to include – such as exit strategy – but remember that the best pitch decks are the shortest yet clearest. AirBnb did that, and look where they are today. 


Source Credit: Bplans

How to Ensure and Validate the Right Start-up Idea

A start-up cannot start without an idea behind it – the reason for its existence. Coming up with an idea to base an entire business on means that it has to be right. From being viable to adding value to the community, it must encompass them all. 

What makes your start-up idea right is if it solves a problem that is real and present. If it does, the next step would be determining viability. Making sure the business can run is essential. Last, yet very important, is the way the idea would help you get fruitful returns and make money. 

Ideally, getting all this done by investing only what is absolute necessary would make any business-runner very happy. One common way to do this would be by creating a prototype, running it, and tabulating results and feedback. 

The downside of this is the high cost that the start-up would have to bear, which would burn a considerable hole in their starting budget. 

However, there are several other ways to find out if you are on the right track with your start-up idea. Here are four helpful steps to follow. 

Step 1: Clearly state what your product is and show it. This could be through your social media presence or website. It could even be via slides if the pitch is going to be face to face.

Step 2: Find your minimum viable segment (MVS). This is the audience who are facing the problem you intend to solve and who can be reached out to generally in the same way. Your product needs to be saleable enough to appeal to the big market segment and target audience you are looking at. 

The solution you are presenting has to be for your audience as a whole, not customised. A start-up cannot afford or maintain giving out tailor-made answers. 

Step 3: Get a gauge of the sales you could make. Target your MVS by getting your message out to them via social media and platforms which you feel they most actively follow. 

In the case of this method not working well, collecting contact information from future customers and assuring them that you will get in touch once your prototype is functional is a recommended alternative. Obtaining their numbers or emails is definitely easier than getting their money, however. 

For in-person sales, asking your customers a few questions to have some information to work with before pitching your product would be an effective technique. 

Step 4: One of the greatest assets you can have is feedback data, and interviews are the best way to go about collecting it. Bear in mind that there is a chance that the feedback you get is not the feedback you desire. 

In this case, repeat the process. Repeat the information you are presenting to your customers. Keep at it till you gather positive data that shows that your solution is necessary and solves a prevalent problem. 

You need to be flexible enough to be open to new learnings while following these steps. Do not strictly stick to what you think you know, and do not push your customers towards a solution that seems unnecessary to them. You need to constantly test and find new results to come to the most comprehensive and accurate conclusions. 

Now that you have the tools to ensure that your idea is right, you need the ones that will help validate it. Here are some guide points to look at to make sure you are on your desired path.

KYC – Know Your Competitor(s)

After successfully completing the first and most important step of making sure that your idea is a solution that solves an existing problem – but before implementing it – researching and studying your competition is crucial

Understand their brand and the solution they are offering. Only through a thorough comprehension of your competitors can you then think of how to set yourself apart – how to secure a solid unique selling point. 

Determine who the perfect buyer for you is 

Earlier I mentioned interviewing your potential customers to gain valuable market insights. You will notice – the more data you gather – that some information could be quite repetitive. These repeating nuggets are what form the personality of your ideal buyer. Not only does this help you eliminate most target markets, you will also find out which type of audience exactly to focus your efforts on. 

Know if your idea can be monetised 

Wanting to solve a prevalent problem is a noble thought, but you will not be doing yourself or your customers any favours if you have to shut down due to your inability to make money. 

To prevent this, make sure from the very start that you have a viable revenue model. You can do so by analysing the results from your initial qualitative and quantitative validation stages.

Develop and test your main features 

Imagine a Whatsapp where you could not send emojis, or even share a funny link you want to send to your family and friends. I cannot speak for you, but I definitely would turn to another texting platform if that were the case. 

Without these core features, the product fails to deliver what it promised, resulting in customers turning away from it.

Test your main functions to answer the questions you will most likely have about  your product’s functionality and viability. More importantly, use this stage to find out whether your product truly works as the solution to the problem you are trying to solve. 

Have a clear vision for your start-up

As time passes and your start-up progresses, your idea and vision may fluidly change form to adapt to everchanging dynamics. Hardly any companies have a clear map to follow from the get go, but with time, your goals will become more defined.

Once this happens, you will be able to create the path that will take your start-up to your desired level of achievement. The picture will become clearer once you start gaining traction. 

Though this article essentially only addresses two steps – making sure you have the right idea and validating it – there are several checkpoints that have to be ticked in order to make sure these steps are achieved satisfactorily. 

If you do not address these vital initial stages first, the rest of your start-up journey would be based on an unstable, underdeveloped foundation. Getting these down to perfection, however, would definitely prove as a great start to getting your start-up to the peaks of success.

5 Do’s and Don’t’s You Need to Know for Your Start-up

The steps you take to build your start-up could either make or break it. Here are some tips to make sure you do more of the former and avoid the latter. 

Take stock

Fully knowing the limited resources your start-up has is essential before executing any grand plan. One of the few, crucial tools in your inventory is time. 

Setting up a timeline for the things that need to be done goes a long way in ensuring effective planning.  

Human capital is another one of the weapons you have in your arsenal. I cannot emphasise this enough, but a start-up’s team is its biggest asset. The people are what helps the business grow.

Start-ups burn cash while not making money in the beginning. That is just the way things are. This makes it crucial to spend wisely. Make sure to focus your efforts on tasks that have top priority, so that you will not be burned out – worse still, with no good results. 

Overspending

I meant what I said earlier – think before spending. It is completely understandable for you to want nothing but the best for your start-up. The best office space, laptops; the list goes on. 

However, write down your priorities from most to least important first and stick to the order. This early on in the business, a start-up needs to channel its efforts to staying afloat rather than attempting to full-on swim. 

As a guidance to start off your decision-making journey, here are three steps Forbes recommends that you take. 

The first one is to figure out how much space you require. The next is determining what specifically goes into your inventory. Last, but far from the least, is your budget question. Here is where you decide how much to spend on what.

Overplanning

Every start-up has that one team member who is concerned about the minor details. A little too concerned, in fact. Just make sure – if the start-up is yours – that member is not you. 

Yes, the small details do matter, but fretting over them to the extent of worrying yourself cannot be a good thing. Murphy’s Law exists for a reason. It is good to be prepared, undoubtedly, but you need to remember that you cannot ensure that every microscopic aspect is in perfect order. 

Take a step back, look at the big picture, and try to fix up the most important links first. Remember, priority-wise is a great way to work worry-free. 

Forbes once again has a reliable set of three steps to offer as help. 

The first one is to have the basic materials that you require. An office space and laptops are good examples. Next, do your paperwork right and get it in order to go about getting your business legally up and running. The final step is simple: fix the opening date and go for it. 

You can be as prepared as you want, but you have to accept that events may take their own course as well sometimes. Do not let the fear of anything going wrong hold you back from executing a solid, thought-out plan. 

Under-planning

A question most of you may have asked is, “Which is worse? Doing too much or too little?”

Personally, I would rather be overprepared than lack adequate preparation. Not having the tools you need in a crucial moment is the last situation you would want to find yourself in. 

Having a business plan in place is what is going to save you from landing in those situations. From the employees you hire to your go-to-market methods to revenue model, it is vital to have it all down and decided before you launch your business. 

Use your business plan as a guiding stick. It will keep you on the most viable path. Even though the structure is more or less fixed, it still offers the flexibility that would allow you to make changes you wish to as you go along your start-up journey. 

Narrow down the activities to focus on

As I said earlier, it is inevitable that start-ups spend more than they make in their early days. The high opportunity cost involved puts more pressure on getting the wheels of the company to move as quickly as possible. 

The most logical line of action here would be to channel your limited resources into the most essential aspects – the ones that could potentially make you a big name in the start-up industry. 

Out of the hundred and one activities you have, however, sieving out the unfruitful ones may not be the easiest task. Many of these can present themselves to you as necessary measures, when in fact, they are not. The resultant time wastage is something many start-ups experience initially. 

Do not lose hope. You can still salvage the situation and make good use of your time in the future by learning how differentiate between actual and phoney progress.

According to YC Partner Adora Cheung, determining your primary key performance indicator (KPI) and setting weekly goals related to it would be a recommended way to go about doing that. 

This would aid in shearing the unnecessary parts of your to-do list down to only the activities that affect your selected KPI. 

Choosing the perfect KPI to focus on could be a slight challenge, but for most businesses, results that show the value they provide to their customers is what serves as an ideal indicator. 

How do you find out the value that customers are getting from your product or service? Conducting surveys, expanding marketing efforts, and collecting their responses to those efforts could help greatly. 

Not only is it in line with your goal of finding the specific information you need, the results you gather also let you know if you are on the right path. Consequentially, they help you plan your next moves as well. 

If you ever decide to take up this advice, talk to people about how it worked out for you. Who knows, someday we could all know you as the next big thing in the start-up industry!

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7 Ways to Make Your Start-up Stand Out

You may know this, but there are over 55,000 start-ups today in Singapore alone, and the number is still growing. Which means start-ups are not only competing against conglomerates; their fight is with the rest of the start-ups as well. 

In a cut-throat situation like this, the best solution to rise above the competition is to stand out distinctly. Here are some tips a start-up could use to start off. 

Know what you want to say and say it out loud 

Moving forward without a clear message in mind is not a smart move. The purpose of the start-up is vital. 

Only knowing it is not enough. Reaching out to their target audience and letting them know is also necessary. 

A highly effective way to do this would be through marketing. As a member of the PR and marketing team in my start-up, the work I do is crucial. Sure, we focus on the services we offer. Without marketing it, though, we would not be able to complement our hard work and do it justice. 

In my industry of tech, there are several start-ups out there. It is a functional, planned-out marketing structure that would go a long way in setting a successful one apart.

Countless start-ups who fail to make it almost definitely did not focus on marketing themselves early on. Since the message was not sent out earlier, potential customers were left unaware and unreached. Needless to say, that does not do a company’s profitability any favours.

Shout your message out in ways that you can. The impact it can have and recognition you get can be staggering. 

Use social media 

For starters, it’s free! Social media is one of the few things in the world that does not cost you anything and yet is highly effective. With the right content, a company could be well on its way to forming its own organic customer base that they can easily communicate with. 

And these customers can communicate back. Social media channels make it very easy for them to leave any feedback they wish to, which is an asset to any start-up. From blasting emails to posting an announcement on Instagram, there are several ways for a start-up to establish contact with customers through social media. 

The collected feedback would be a significant help in telling the company what they are doing right or wrong, enabling them to make tweaks if and when needed. 

What is the real you?

Customers nowadays are big on authenticity. The same old photoshopped visuals with vibrant colours are not enough to convince them anymore. The question then arises, “What would convince them?” 

Your story would. Customers want to see beyond the sales material; they want to know what makes you…well, you. Sharing how your start-up came about, what the inspiration behind it was – your customers would feel the pull without even consciously realising it. 

This automatically sets you apart, and here is why. Everyone out there has a story, but yours is uniquely yours. All that is left to do is to use the right words to forge a connection between your company and customers through your story. 

This connection would be built on the strength of core values such as trust and a deeper understanding of the purpose of the company. When it comes down to the crucial moment of deciding, this connection may very well be the game changer that makes the customer choose you.

Create a Unique Message Based on Customer Input

For a start-up, knowing what the customers need is a key for growth. The next step is using that knowledge to create customised content for them. Keep gathering data and analysing it to try and work out your customers’ taste so you can craft out the best message. 

At the same time, tread carefully. Make sure, as best as you can, that you do not only cater to one group of customers. Not only would this make the rest of them feel unvalued, you could stray from the very fundamental quality that attracts them to you in the first place. 

Feedback questions and surveys are a great way to go about exploring your customers’ opinions. Basic questions such as “Do you find our prices affordable?” can aid in refining the product or service and best cater to this most vital stakeholder.

Honesty is the best policy

Everyone likes a great, inspiring success story. They like it even better when that story is genuine. According to poll results of top business-to-business (B2B) marketers, 54 percent of them agree that sharing real success stories is extremely effective. 

Building a relationship on untrue content or falsities can never do a start-up any good. As mentioned earlier, authenticity is what seals a good deal. A transparent, real story about how the founder dropped out of college to start his own tech company might be just the thing customers want to read. 

The customers whose values resonate with the story will form the loyal base that every start-up needs. 

What’s life without a little philanthropy?

A start-up’s place in and value to the community is of great importance to customers. If your service or a product aids the community significantly, chances are it is a huge success with the members of that community. 

The company’s dedication and concern to the people is shown, which communicates that the society matters. People get to see that even businesses can think beyond just their own well-being and offer help. 

If you want to find out the vibe or mindset of a start-up, just take a look at its team members. 

Because a start-up’s team is so small, it becomes imperative that each member must be a strong personality in whichever department they belong to. A wildly creative digital marketer or an eloquently tactful PR executive are some examples. 

A vibrant workplace helps to prop up a brand and enhance its uniqueness. This allows  the start-up make sure it is flexible enough to be able to adapt to a changing society as well.

Treat the team right 

If you managed to find the perfect digital marketer and PR executive I mentioned earlier, brilliant. Now, all you have to do is make sure they are treated well. A start-up cannot fulfil its potential without the people who make it up. Their well-being is crucial. 

Team members being emotionally cared for can translate into many positive outcomes for the start-up. Increased revenue, better branding, reduced expenses, an established customer base; the list goes on. 

To do this, start by thinking of what would make an employee want to stay. Empower them through opportunities and encourage their learning. Taking them out for a mean once a month or so would also be the kind of bonding session they would appreciate. The team’s productivity and drive would stay amped up. 

Happy people tend to spread their happiness. Once the word gets out there, more talent would see your start-up as the desirable work environment they want to be a part of. With a satisfied and adept group of people, your start-up has the best team to boost it to its success. 


Competition will always exist, but following these tips might be just what your start-up needs to be the next big thing. These six stepping stones would go a long way in taking it up the ladder of success. 

If your company is not where it wants to be, why not try these out? If you have any tips of your own, even better. Trial and error is an excellent way to figure out what works best for your company. 

Better to be a risk-taker and gleaning the possible benefits of it than staying stagnant, don’t you think? 

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