Thursday, 12 July 2012


As a small business owner, you may never satisfy you customers until you understand their needs. And you will never understand their needs until you understand their language. Take a look at your business very well, the only thing that may be separating you from profitability may be your understanding of the needs of the customers. Studies have shown that consumers sometimes don't know what they really want, and if they don't know what they want, it becomes difficult to meet their needs.

For instance, what means satisfaction, quality service or good product to you, may not mean the same to the customer.

As a consumer, I may not be able to tell what I want, but I know what I don't want if you give it to me.

To deal with this problem, SMEs need to:

1. Make the customer feel relaxed.
A warm greeting can do that. In fact mere asking, 'How are you?' can make a
customer feel relaxed and welcomed.

2. Learn to ask Why, What, When and Where
Most times, the 'Why?' which is the reason they need your product puts you on the
same page with them. Even when the customers tend to know exactly what they want, asking questions can reveal more about the need of the customer.

3. Know the factors that shape human needs
Factors like social class, culture, religion, money etc. must be taken seriously
because they have a way of shaping how we think, behave and even relate with others.

You can be in business, growing customers and yet not speak the same language with your customers. Believe it or not, customers have a language they speak, and only those who understand the language win the market. Just because every customer has a need, does not mean they all have the same need.

Every customer has a language he or she speaks, deal with them individually and always ensure you really understand what they need before you make an offer. DON'T LET LANGUAGE DIVIDE YOU AND CUSTOMER

Wednesday, 11 July 2012


 Every business starts up with the aim of fulfilling a need in the society. Any aspiring entrepreneur, who is yet to identify a need to fill, is not yet ready for business. This is because need satisfaction keeps you in business, and the moment you fail to achieve that, the market turns against you. 
Starting up a business requires a level of preparation from you as a person.
It’s about identifying a means of satisfying someone else’s need. Come to think of it, what keeps an employee on the job? It is the ability to satisfy the work desires of the employer. Like wise, if you must remain in business, look for a problem you can continually solve. Consider your business as another person’s problem that you are opportune to solve for money.
Businesses are activities that provide goods and/or services in
exchange for money or other goods and services

  Although many small businesses fail within the first three years of operation, starting well excludes you from that list.
Finally, a good understanding of consumers’ need irrespective of the form it takes, keeps your business on track.
Find a strategic niche you can satisfy profitably.


The strength of a good business person is not tested by the task you engage yourself in, but the team you have carefully selected to help you execute that task. If you understand that there is little you can do by yourself, but so much you can do when you have quality people around you, then you will value the role a team plays in achieving your target.

In one of Donald Trump's episodes of the 'Apprentice', the two finalist were asked to choose between a task and a team. Brandy one of the contestants, chose a team while Clint chose a task. Though both contestants were outstanding in their managing of the different task, Brandy won the competition with a team of 3 people as against 4 for Clint.

When both were asked the reason for their decisions, Clint wanted to impress Mr Trump with his management ability so he chose the task, whereas Brandy focus on having the right people work with her to achieve the target.

What lessons can we draw from here:
1. A team is more important than a task. Focus more on who can complement you efforts, the task will naturally fall in place.

2. A team can handle a task, but a task cannot handle a team. Barcelona FC as a football club is more successful than others because of their compatibility as a team. It was said that without a coaching experience, anybody can use the Barcelona team to win trophies.

3. A team focuses on strength of each member. The essence of team building is to harness the areas of strength of each member. The weakness in a team member is complemented by the strength in another.

4.Teams makes a task possible/achievable. Once you have the right set of people, your task is as good as completed.

In life, make the selection of team members the most important aspect of your responsibility, every other thing will fall in place. That does not mean that the right team will always win, but the rate of success will be more than failure.

Businesses strive on getting the right team to work with them, you too can do the same.

Thursday, 5 July 2012



Many entrepreneurs have sunk in the euphoria of starting small. They have excluded themselves from the very standards set in the industry that they want to operate in. The danger of this is that SMEs are knocked out of business even before they step into the market. Having values to offer in business is not enough, but you must offer it in a better way than other competitors do, that is what gives you an edge.

Michael Porter discussed the importance of having an edge in business in his books: Competitive Strategy and Competitive Advantage. These are two concepts that entrepreneurs must take seriously while starting up. Not having an advantage or developing a strategy that will give you an edge in the market is killing your business before it starts. Having an edge in business is the reason consumers may want to buy from you rather than your competitors.

The bigger businesses are not your friends, they see you as a threat, and will fight you with all they’ve got. This makes it a big risk to go into business without having a value, and a means to deliver such value better than competitors

Although Adam Brandenburger and Barry Nalebuff in their book: Co-opetition, looked at ways firms can complement the role of each other in business, competition in business serves the consumers better. According to Michael porter, competition reflects on the performance of the firm, and influences how things are done. As a small business owner, you must learn how to survive with the competition in the market.

An edge in business helps you to match your business strength with the market need and neglecting this aspect in business, tantamount to being myopic in your business.

3 Ways to enhance the value of your product

To grow your business, value creation must be a priority. SMEs must create additional values beside the primary function of their products or service.

Consumers buy value, and value is usually influenced by perception. Influencing the perception potential customers have about your product could be a means of closing the sale faster.

You may not always have the opportunity to physically enhance the value of your product or services when you are with the customer, especially when they are rejecting your offering. But you can change their perception about your product. Consumers are emotional, whenever they want to spend their money and often times, they don’t spend the money on the best products but rather on the products they perceive to serve their needs. They may not know what to expect from a product however, any product that create that emotional connection with their needs, gets bought.

There are 3 things SMEs must do to change the perception of consumers about their product, as well as enhancing its value.

1.     Always ask, what exactly do you want?
Before attending to a customer, one thing I do is to re-phrase their needs in my own words to make sure we are on the same page. For instant, a customer can tell you that she needs a cake. Cakes come in varieties, it is your responsibility to find out, what kind of cake, and for what occasion? Don’t always take consumers’ expression of their needs at face value; make enquiries to know to what extent the consumer knows the product they want to buy and why they want to buy.

2.     Educate the customer
According to Zig Ziglar, the reason that your potential customers keep rejecting your product is because they do have enough information about your product. All the consumer needs is additional information on while they need to patronize you rather than the competitors.
In providing this information, you can do a little comparison of your product and others by highlighting the best features in your product. Compare base on your competitive edge. Be careful not to condemn other products so the consumer doesn’t think you are trying to sell.

3.     Present more features
One major problem SMEs face is inability to offer more. The average consumer wants to pay less for more. They want you to answer the question, “What else can I get from your product beside its basic function?” So when they are reluctant to make a purchase, they have not seen enough values that can force them to part with their money. This is one need a consumer will not tell you about, but wants to have it.

If you want to close the deal with your customers, Always ask what they want and why, educate them on how your product can meet their needs, and then present the features of your product or service. The more you educate them about your product, the more value you are adding to it and the higher the chances of changing their perception about your product or service.