Sunday, 15 December 2013

A Short Business Walk with Nelson Mandela

Today December 15 2013, Nelson Mandela is finally laid to rest in his home town Qunu. He is a Legend, and the face of freedom in Africa and indeed the world. An iconic leader that earned world respect because of the values he represents. However, beside his personal life and struggles for freedom, there is a business perspective to his name, and there is a lesson for every upcoming entrepreneur who wants to add value to business.
It is in your hands
The decision to make a difference is in your hands irrespective of your challenges. The success of your business is in the choices you make, the diligence you put into work and the values you represent. Take charge, and take action to grow your business.
Taking 27 years out of a man’s life is enough to discourage and kill his dream of a free South Africa, but he refused to give up his ambition. Set your business goal and determine to stand by it. Never give up, and be confidence that you would walk out of that ‘prison’ (Struggles) successful. Successful businesses became achieved success because they hanged on even when it was not convenient. Business will not always go your way, but you have to persevere hoping that the good times will come.
Turning adversity into a brand
46664 is the prison number of Nelson Mandela. However, today this number is not just a prison number but an emerging brand in Africa for a cause. Businesses are set up to pursue a cause – meet needs. Don’t dwell on your problems, always think positive about the challenges you face in business.
No enemies in business
He won the noble peace prize with his former ‘enemy’  and even raised his hand in public. Don’t consider any competitor as an enemy because you are all pursuing the same goal from different perspectives. Think cooperation, think partnership, think welfare of the consumers.
Madiba is no longer with us, but the values he left behind are a great asset for any entrepreneur to imbibe in building a successful business.
Rest in peace Madiba!

Wednesday, 4 December 2013

3 Most Successful Entrepreneurial Marketing Strategies that can Change your Business

Marketing strategies are becoming more aggressive, innovative, inexpensive, intuitive and proactive. Innovative marketing is redefining business as entrepreneurs adopt new strategies to product promotion. Innovative entrepreneurs create unique identity for their businesses and as well promote their products.

Entrepreneurial Marketing is marketing with an entrepreneurial spirit. It is a type of marketing strategy that is innovative, risky and proactive. It focuses on opportunities and can be performed with less resource.

Here are the 3 best known and most successful Entrepreneurial Marketing strategies
     Guerrilla Marketing
This is a ‘crazy’, low cost, high impact and a one-time (rarely repeated) marketing technique that springs surprises and that ‘wow effect’ about your business. E.g. The TV drama series ‘Vampire Diaries 2’ was promoted with ‘Blood-like liquid’ dispenser at strategic locations.
            Buzz Marketing
It is a form of word-of-mouth communication which uses internet, e-mail, or BBM to generate a buzz around your business or product. Get opinion leaders in social networks to help disseminate information about your business. Buzz marketing strives on credibility, else it will be counterproductive.
            Viral Marketing
This is about a customer spreading marketing messages or rumors about a product to create brand awareness. The best form is to create messages that appeal to individuals who can forward the message. 

No matter the form your marketing strategies take, a little creativity can get you ahead of others.

Friday, 15 November 2013

Being an Entrepreneur is not a Title

Entrepreneurship is not a style, and it’s no joke. It is not a wish, and it’s not in having a great idea, and it is not about having a complimentary card or a business name. Being an entrepreneur is about sweating out your idea, and making it tangible enough for various stakeholders to buy into it. Having the title ‘an entrepreneur’ is not an accomplishment, what makes you an entrepreneur is what you have accomplished through innovation and creativity.  

There are 2 critical roles entrepreneurs play in the life of consumers

The role of a Father
Fathers anticipate the needs of their children. Through experience, they know what needs the children may have as they grow, so they prepare for it, and provide it. Successful entrepreneurs are those that anticipate needs and sometimes even create one and eventually solve it. Consumers sometimes don’t know what they really need; it is the responsibility of the entrepreneur to anticipate such need, and figure out how to satisfy it.

The role of a Leader
Leaders lead their followers towards a desired destination. For entrepreneurs, it is not enough to anticipate needs, they have to guide consumers towards satisfaction. Consumers love entrepreneurs that have the capacity to lead them to satisfaction. If you anticipate need and you can’t create a solution that is so innovative and creative that consumers are willing to leave their current solution and move on with you, you are not yet an entrepreneur. Steve Jobs provided a direction with the iPhone and iPad; he created a new path that consumers and competitors willingly followed. That is what entrepreneurs do.  

Entrepreneurship is a duty, an obligation for which you hold yourself accountable for meeting a particular need of the society. You have the duty not just to identify a need, but to innovatively transform that need into a solution that people will be willing to pay for. Every activity an entrepreneur engages in is done with a level of responsibility to the consumers, and it is this responsibility that makes one an entrepreneur.

Tuesday, 25 June 2013

How Small Businesses can Recover, Grow and Succeed

Small businesses have had their own share of the recent economic crisis that rock the world. While many have absorbed the shook and moved on, others are still struggling with the effects of the recession.

Recently, D&B an organisation that provides insights and actionable information to support small business growth offered some tips on how small businesses can recover, grow and succeed during challenges. These principles include

  1. Make use of data: The big businesses are not the only ones who need data to make decisions, small businesses should also take advantage of it to improve on their business decisions.
  2. Be transparent with your business: Small businesses that share information on themselves are more likely to get access to capita.
  3. Get personal with your customers: Small businesses stand a chance of developing a one-on-one relationship with their customers more than big businesses. Make use of all the channels possible to keep the interaction going on with them.
  4. Don't be restricted: Explore new markets, seek for new opportunities, and develop new strategies.
  5. Make resilience the norm: Adaptive and agile small businesses are responsive and ready for change 

Quotes on Personal Development

It is only the very wisest and the very stupidest who
cannot change.

     --  Confucius

We are either progressing or retrograding all the while;
there is no such thing as remaining stationary in this life.

     --  James Freeman Clarke

To conquer oneself is the best and noblest victory; to be
vanquished by one's own nature is the worst and most
ignoble defeat.

      --  Plato

Everybody wants to be somebody; nobody wants to grow.
      --  Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

The happiest life is that which constantly exercises and educates what is best in us.
      --  Hamerton

Monday, 24 June 2013

What is a Start-Up?

In business, alot of terms are so difficult to define, and others lack a consensus meaning among experts. One of such terms is START-UP.

What really is a start-up business, and when does it ceases to be a start-up? Below are some of the expressions and illustrations of what a start-up is.

1.    A 'startup' is a company that is confused about --
  • What its product is,
  • Who its customers are.
  • How to make money.             
      As soon as it figures out all 3 things, it ceases to be a startup and then becomes a real business.
                 - Dave McClure
2.    A startup is a human institution designed to deliver a new product or service under  
       conditions of extreme uncertainty.  - Eric Ries 

3.  A startup is an organization formed to search for a repeatable and scalable business model
        - Steve Blank:

From the definitions above, a start-up is not yet a business, it is more like a moving object without precised direction and destination under high level of uncertainty, and its operations are temporal until it finds a proper business model.

CASE STUDY: Smart Move by Dow Chemical

Herbert Dow founded Dow Chemical in Midland, Michigan when he invented a way to produce bromine cheaply. He sold the chemical for industrial purposes all over the US for 36 cents per pound at the turn of the 20th century. He couldn't go overseas, however, because the international market was controlled by a giant German chemical cartel that sold it at a fixed price of 49 cents per pound. It was understood that the Germans would stay out of the US market so long as Dow and the other American suppliers stayed within its borders.

Eventually Dow's business was in trouble and he had to expand. He took his bromine to England and easily beat the cartel's fixed price of 49 cents per pound. Things were okay for a while until a German visitor came to Michigan and threatened Dow that he had to cease and desist. Dow didn't like being told what to do and told the cartel to get lost.

Shortly thereafter German bromine started appearing for sale in the US for 15 cents per pound, way below Dow's price. The cartel flooded the US market, offering the chemical way below their own costs, intending to drive Dow out of business. But Dow outsmarted them. He stopped selling in the US market entirely and instead arranged for someone to secretly start buying up all the German bromine he could get his hands on. Dow repackaged it as his own product, shipped it to Europe, and made it widely available (even in Germany) at 27 cents per pound. The Germans were wondering 1) why wasn't Dow out of business and 2) why was there suddenly such demand for bromine in the US??

The cartel lowered its price to 12 cents and then 10 cents. Dow just kept buying more and more, gaining huge market share in Europe. Finally the Germans caught on and had to lower their prices at home. Dow had broken the German chemical monopoly and expanded his business greatly. And customers got a wider range of places to buy bromine at lower prices.

Dow went on to do the same trick to the German dye and magnesium monopolies. This is now the textbook way to deal with predatory price cutting.

Source: Herbert Dow, the Monopoly Breaker

Signs of the Times

Graduates of Harvard University are increasingly heading into careers in finance, which is a bad thing. Statistics show that when Harvard grads flock to Wall Street (when times are good and careers there appear most attractive), the stock market falls the following year. In 2007, for instance, 47 per cent of Harvard grads went to Wall Street, reports the website Quartz. We all know what happened in 2008.

Austerity strikes again. Italy reported there were 1.65 million bicycles sold in the country in 2012, compared to 1.4 million cars. It's the first time bike sales have passed car sales in nearly 50 years in Italy, home to Ferrari and Lamborghini. "There is a silent revolution taking place on two wheels in our cities," said the country's transport undersecretary last week.

Culled from  Back to basics. Maclean's, 00249262, 6/17/2013, Vol. 126, Issue 23

Mobile Money Growing in Kenya

Kenya is fast becoming one of African's leading hi-tech countries. It has encouraged technological landmarks like the first African electric car, and it is exploring the most of modern technological gadgets especially mobile technology.

In recent times, there has been a considerable growth of mobile technology users since 2011 in Kenya, the country will be providing Visa card-swiping machines that are attached to mobile phones  to is small business owners.

According to a report from African Business, Kenyan card users grew by 20% to 6m from 2011 to 2012 and point-of-sale usage rose to 15% from 10%, with cash-machine visits making up the rest of the $6bn transacted last year and Visa's client banks increased 39% to 25.

Friday, 17 May 2013

Briefly On Business: Can You State Your Strategy Statement?

One major problem most business executives encounter is to briefly state their company's strategy statement. No company can operate successfully without having a clear statement about their strategy.

Researchers have identified three components of a successful strategy statement: objective, scope, and advantage.

Strategic Objective
This identifies the factors that drive the business over the next few years.

Strategic Scope
A firm's scope encompasses three dimensions: customer or offering, geographic location, and vertical integration.
Boundaries make it easy to identify which activities the firm should concentrate on and which they shouldn't.

Strategic Advantage
A strategic Advantage shows what makes the company unique and different in the market.

With a clear definition of your strategy, formulation and implementation become infinitely easier-the statement will be easier to communicate, and will empower your people to raise the performance of your organization.

-- I Spring 2013 I Harvard Business Review OnPoint

Monday, 29 April 2013

Why Customer Care is Important

Some reasons why customer care is important  were highlighted in a survey carried out by the CBI (Confederation of British Industry) in 2009.  

Their main conclusions were:
    Only 1 customer in 10 with grounds for complaint actually does so.
    Those customers who experience problems tell between 8 and 15 people about the problems, whether or not they have formally complained.

    9 out of 10 people who complain and have a problem that is not dealt with satisfactorily will never buy again from that supplier, or do so as a last resort.

    9 out of 10 people who complain and have a problem that is dealt with satisfactorily will buy again from that supplier. In fact, they rate the supplier higher than if the problem never occurred in the first place

    It costs 5 times more to attract a new customer than to keep an existing one.

5 Characteristics of Businesses that provide high standard Customer Care

Customer service is an integrate part of an successful business. It is important to any business serious about the welfare of its customers, and it has proved to be a good tool for increasing sales, building customer loyalty and profit making in the long run.

Frank Atkinson identified the hallmarks of businesses that are serious about taking care of their customers

  1. They  provide value for their customers. You want your customers to have the best product or service that their money can buy.
  2. They follow up on customers. They provide after service to help customers maximize the benefits of the product or service
  3. They provide a friendly environment for business. Customers love dealing with friendly businesses
  4. They respond quickly. They know the impact of not attending to customers' demands on any business, hence they are quick to attend to any enquiries.
  5. They do regular appraisal. They appraise their  services regularly in order to improve on customer  experience through their products or services.
We are all customers, treat your customers they way you want other businesses to treat you.

Thursday, 11 April 2013

8 Things Entrepreneurs do that Customers don’t like

In business today, experts have written a lot about the characteristics and qualities of successful entrepreneurs. Unfortunately these qualities do not often translate into customer satisfaction. There is no doubt that consumers are complex and difficult to understand, however small business owners need to minimize the rate of consumers' complaint. If consumers continue to complain about services provided by small businesses, it will be difficult to get loyal customers.
When an entrepreneur is operating in a large market, there is a tendency to disrespect some consumers. Sometimes it may not be deliberate; unfortunately consumers don’t wait for explanation before they react. In other cases, business owners take advantage of the fact that there is always a market for their businesses hence; they can afford to pay lip service to service quality and customer relationship management because they believe that there will always be customers. This type of attitude erodes consumer confidence in the long run.
Here is a list of things that entrepreneurs do that offend consumers up to the point of switching to competitors.

1.         When trust is broken:
Customers do business on trust. They believe in the ability and expertise of the entrepreneur to provide the best advice as a basis for decision making. The entrepreneur serves as a bridge through which consumers meet their needs. Anything less, the consumers feel betrayed, angered and confidence is lost.

2.         When you fail to meet their expectations:
Sometimes, in a bid to impress, small businesses can promise and fail to deliver. Customers hate to be disappointed, and are angry with businesses that consistently fail to meet their needs especially when you have made promises to them.

3.         Giving customers an unsatisfactory response:
When you fail in meeting customers’ need, your response to their questions can dissolve any anger in them. It is bad to disappoint customers and at the same time fail to justify your actions. Customers can forgive you when they know that the situation was beyond you.

4.         When you take customers for granted:
Business exists because of consumers. The consumer wants to feel important and needed. They don’t want to feel less important to others. They want to be respected, listened to and attended to promptly.

5.         When you care about the money than customers’ welfare:
Satisfied customers are likely to come back. Aim to meet their needs, and they will happily give you the money. Consumers love businesses that gives them an unforgettable experiences, and in most cases, they will be willing to pay for such.

6.         When there is no effort to catch up with competitors:
Customers don't like businesses that lag behind in innovation. No matter how much your customers love you and your product; they want you to meet their current needs. Consumers don’t like feeling inferior when they compare themselves with customers from your competitors.

7.         Customers hate entrepreneurs that argue with them:
The customer is king, and no king wants to engage in an argument with his subjects. Argue with a customer even when they are wrong, and they will never come back to you except your services are essential. As an entrepreneur, you should be an expert in communication and conflict resolution. Be polite in resolving an issue with a customer.

8.         Not enough experience:
While managing a small business that handles all forms of office documents, I had problems with my customers because I lacked experience in handling public documents. Although I had experience handling the internal documents of the company where I worked earlier, that experience was inadequate for managing public documents. I never knew until some customers became mad at me.

Customers can be great when they are happy. They help you build your business and will always recommend you to friends. However to keep that relationship always positive, you need to identify what makes them angry, and avoid such as much as possible.