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ENTREPRENEURS

Successful Entrepreneurship Thrives On Uniqueness: Entrepreneurship Series Part 5:

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Entrepreneurship success has its roots deep in originality. Effective entrepreneurship entails effective management. Once you take the entrepreneurship route, there are some imperatives that you need to keep a contact eye on.

For the sake of this article, I have identified seven most important ones where uniqueness needs to be exhibited.

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  • Recruitment

Choosing the right candidate. “Great vision without great people is irrelevant.”

Jim Collins

Any organization will gradually require additional labor as it grows. At times you start as the director cum employee. As the workload increases, you would eventually need to get into the job market to look for employees.

The quality of people you take on board determines the quality of results that you get. Your organization’s performance is hinged on the caliber of workers you have. “You can’t teach employees to smile. They have to smile before you hire them.”– Arte Nathan. You have to hire for character and often time train for skill.

On organization performance, the famous Microsoft founder Bill Gates once said, “The key for us, number one, has always been hiring very smart people.”

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I’d rather interview 50 people and not hire anyone than hire the wrong person – Jeff Bezos. Most SMEs have a tendency of hiring passersby and at best their friends’ children or that other neighbor. Do they have the relevant skill and expertise needed for that position? Find ballplayers, not those who look good in baseball caps.

From the onset, an organization should establish a robust recruitment policy. It’s a proven fact that 99.9% of upcoming entrepreneurs fall short in this regard.

Choose to be a different entrepreneur by recruiting wisely. While the majority are recruiting the ordinary way, add a professional flair to your recruitment for better results. Be unique in your approach to recruitment and enjoy unique results.

“Acquiring the right talent is the most important key to growth. Hiring was – and still is – the most important thing we do.”

  • Product / Service designs

Make something people want and sell that, or be someone people need to sell and sell you

Ryan Lilly

I recall opening my consultancy firm in a market that already had its giants. For an ordinary mind, this spells a tough time which almost seems insurmountable. Most businesses are saturated already. Should you then choose to sit back and relax? No. The best that you can do is copy what they do, edit and paste. By doing so, you have created a unique product or service.

At times it’s all in the way you dispatch your services i.e. the execution part that spells out the difference. I have seen great workmanship in how some welders are now designing their sliding gates. They are given different styles that make them unique and attractive to the customer. This kind of innovation differentiates your organization from others.

As a retail manager, I used to hire individuals who major in erecting catchy displays in the shop. That alone made my shop unique. Every eye is attracted to good things and that used to set my shop apart. How many times have you said ‘wow’ to the display that you see in major supermarkets? Products are arranged in an amazing manner.

Give your product or service that uniqueness and you’ll be amazed at the results that you get. Always try to find ways of differentiating your products and services from the general masses.

I received this comment from my recent presentation at Monomutapa Hotel in Harare, “I like your storytelling style and the hot testimonies that you gave.” That’s how I chose to make my presentation unique that day.

We often make a big mistake in procuring stocks. We order what we want to sell and not what the customers need. David Ogilvy hinted on this attitude when he said, “Don’t find customers for your products and find products for your customers.”

  • Pricing Strategies

Find the right price for an irresistible offer, which, by the way, isn’t necessarily the lower price

W. Chan Kim

Most of the African economies, Zimbabwe included, are undergoing a serious economic challenge that the pricing system is not much to talk about as a cutting edge strategy. Tweaking the price may result in losses for you though under normal circumstances there are pricing strategies that can differentiate your organization from others.

Cost-plus pricing is whereby you simply calculate your costs and add a mark-up. This strategy works better when there is no competition. That is in a monopolistic environment otherwise your products or service will not sell.

Competitive pricing is setting a price based on what the competition charges. This is what is usually applicable though you need to make sure that you’re not pricing below your purchase cost.

Value-based pricing is setting a price based on how much the customer believes what you’re selling is worth. This is mainly done for those classy products for the elite.

Price skimming entails setting a high price and lowering it as the market evolves. In this strategy, a high level of market intelligence is required so that you’re able to read into the market and respond accordingly.

Penetration pricing involves setting a low price to enter a competitive market and raising it later. If you’re new to the market, you need to apply this strategy in order to lure customers.

Sales

“You can sell anything if you can tell anything.”

Beth Comstock

Selling involves telling your story to the intended recipient. It therefore implies that where there is no communication, there are no sales.

A sale can be defined as a transaction between two parties whereby the other party has a good or a service that is exchanged with the other for money or any other consideration of value. Therefore, sales include operations and activities involved in promoting and selling goods or services.

Sales can also be the total money accumulated in the process of selling. That’s why at times we ask the question, “What’s your daily sales figure?”

Your selling doesn’t have to be as a common process as is the name sales. Build your uniqueness around that process that is difficult to imitate.

In the process, remember the words of Estee Lauder, “If you don’t sell, it’s not the product that’s wrong, it’s you.” It is in how you tell your story that determines your next sale.

What differentiates sellers today is their ability to bring fresh ideas.” – Jill Konrath. You need to keep abreast of new selling strategies in order to win on the sales front.

Sales are what bring life to the organization. You can’t pay overheads without sales. For organizational sustainability and survival, it should be a daily thing. Estée Lauder had this to say on selling, “I have never worked a day in my life without selling. If I believe in something, I sell it, and I sell it hard.”

Marketing

Marketing is telling the world you’re a rock star. Content marketing is showing the world you are one.”

Robert Rose

Marketing brings business to your organization. It’s much easier to double your business by doubling your conversion rate than doubling your traffic – Bryan Eisenberg.

Marketing is the process of getting potential clients or customers interested in your products and services. The process involves researching, promoting, selling and distributing your products or services.

The marketing process is the conduit that links customers with your organization. To me, this type of conduit becomes an integral part of any organization without which there cannot be any activity.

Word of caution from Tim Williams, “Clients don’t care about the labor pains; they want to see the baby.” Once you’ve have attracted customers to your business, deliver. Once you fail on this front, you have missed the mark. Customers will vote with their foot elsewhere.

Strong customer relationships coupled by an excellent delivery system drive sales, sustainability and growth.

“Conversations with customers will create sales, even if the product or service is never mentioned.”

George Farris.
  • Customer Service

“You are serving a customer, not a life sentence. Learn to enjoy your work.”

Laurie Maclntosh

Customer service is the major variable that you have total control over. It’s just like a remote control. You choose which channel to tune into. You have total influence over how you handle your customers. It’s just like the volume nob of your television set. You adjust it by improving the volume to improve on the sound.

Like I said earlier on that as with prices, you can’t do much under the uncertain current economic environment but with customer care, the nob is in your hand.

Customer service is linked to customer care, which is the process of looking after customers to best ensure their satisfaction and delightful interaction with a business and its brand, goods and services.

Customer service shouldn’t just be a department, it should be the entire company.” Tony Hsieh. Everyone’s lenses in the organization should be customer-focused. Instead of focusing on the competition, focus on customers because they are central to your cause.

Delight your customers. Maya Angelou once said, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” Strive to make your customers feel at home in your organization that they would always want to deal with you.

Capitalize on customer complaints as they will make you improve on your deliverables. To this Zig Ziglar revealed that statistics suggest that when customers complain, business owners and managers ought to get excited about it. The complaining customer represents a huge opportunity for more business.

“Happy customers are the biggest advocates and can become your most successful sales team.”

Lisa Masiello
  • Continuous Improvement

Practice the philosophy of continuous improvement. Get a little bit better every single day – Brian Tracy.

The world is ever-rotating, so should your business be in terms of continuous improvement. Change is inevitable, so you need to change at the speed of light in order to survive.

Continuous improvement is born out of creativity which is a fruit of imagination. You imagine the organization that you see yourself in and start to work towards that.

Learning is not compulsory in the words of Deming; it’s voluntary. Improvement is not compulsory; it’s voluntary. But to survive, we must learn. Like food to the soul so is continuous improvement to the business. Every area of your business has to improve.

Persistence, perseverance and continuous improvement are the ingredients for forming a successful business. An American polymath and the founding father of the United State of America, Benjamin Franklin once said, “Without continual growth and progress, such words as improvement, achievement, and success have no meaning.

ENTREPRENEURS

Expanding Entrepreneurship

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Entrepreneurs mindset

I have been conducting a silent survey for a few months now and I have noticed that some people are stuck with a shallow definition of entrepreneurship. Entrepreneurship seems to be now restricted to mere direct buying and selling only. Frankly, that is a viable arm of the subject but there is so much more surrounding entrepreneur-ship. It is about innovation, taking risks, and maxing out your thinking capacity to come up with unique and great ideas on how to make money without entirely depending on a fixed monthly salary, sometimes not even at all.


I have a friend of mine who owns a now prominent suit company called Don Minteiro and he posted something on his Facebook timeline that I found very impressive. He said, “I am no superior being nor am I cheesy to my peers; I just refused to be paid 12 times in 365 days”.That is certainly a million-dollar mindset. Now, imagine growing up with such a mentality, that would be revolutionary don’t you think? That is why the school system should integrate entrepreneurship into the learning curriculum in the early stages to encourage actual thinking, brainstorming, and independence. After all, we should catch them young.

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I was recently watching a video of a Nigerian man who was tracing why Africa is poor. In a nutshell, he was saying that when the whites colonized us they forced us out of practice and into theory by creating a school system that promoted remembering more than thinking therefore suppressing our ability to be innovative. But the good thing is that it was suppressed, not completely destroyed so we must do whatever it takes to summon that ability and conquer the mediocrity of thinking.


If you are lazy and you cannot think outside the box you certainly won’t make it in the entrepreneurial sphere. Entrepreneurship is a tool that requires hard work, maximization of your brain capacity, and most important passion but our society has been crippled by laziness and peer pressure. If or one once ventured into a business only because it proved to be lucrative for someone else, not because I was passionate about the idea, and without passion propelling the business, I hit a dead end. Most people have ceased to think and they just follow upon what other people have done all in the name of inspiration. You need to sit down, think about what you are passionate about and how you can channel that into making money.


There are many stories behind successful entrepreneurs. It is never a smooth road to the top. Endurance is an important attribute if you want to become an entrepreneur because you will face challenges; financial, social, economic, but you should never give up. That is why passion is the essence of entrepreneurship because you cannot just watch something that you love to sink into the ocean, you will surely fight for it to whatever end.
We need to expand the notion of entrepreneurship in order to create a more diverse and profitable entrepreneurial network.

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SUCCESS STORIES

Strive Masiyiwa Becomes the First African to Sit on Netflix Board.

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Strive masiyiwa netflix

Netflix names Zimbabwean billionaire to board as part of African Growth Push making him the first African to join the streaming giant’s board of directors. Masiyiwa is the founder of Econet Group which has operations and investments in 29 countries in Africa and beyond includes Econet Wireless, Zimbabwe’s leading mobile operator; Liquid Telecom, the pan-African broadband company and it’s subsidiary Africa Data Centre’s, the fast-growing data center company, which just raised $300 million from the US government’s development finance arm.

Netflix is at the forefront of bringing great entertainment from anywhere in the world to everyone in the world, and I look forward to working with the board and all stakeholders to continue its traditions of innovation and growth,” said Strive Masiyiwa in the statement. Masiyiwa is effectively replacing Rice and as it currently stands would be the only recognized person of color on the board along with four women and seven other men, including co-chief executives Reed Hastings and Ted Sarandos.

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This comes with great joy as he continues climbing his ladder of success. “I’m thrilled to have Strive join our board as we expand more across Africa and the world,” said Sarandos.  We say congratulations to Mr. Masiyiwa for such a great post.

Strive Masiyiwa was born on 29 January 1961 and is a London based Zimbabwean billionaire businessman and philanthropist. He has gained international recognition for his business expertise and philanthropy and is considered one of Africa’s most generous humanitarians. Masiyiwa has provided scholarships to over 250,000 young Africans over the past 20 years through his family foundation. Over the last few years, Masiyiwa has devoted his time to mentoring the next generation of African entrepreneurs on Facebook and Facebook has identified his platform as having the most engaged following of any business leader in the world.

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ENTREPRENEURS

How To Build A Successful Business: STEP BY STEP GUIDE

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Starting off a business, small goings.

It’s quite simple, but yet tricky, as to managing a business you have to be “the business “,   understand it like the way you understand yourself. I just gave you a clever approach, your first step is to be clever, prepare your business before it even starts. Think hard about different possibilities of losing and winning. Think hard about those two and how you will tackle those because those two are the biggest obstacles you will find according to me.

Raising funds

Starting a startup will not be a million dollar business at the word go. I started with raising funds because definitely you have the idea in your head and probably in your heart. What may be stopping you from starting is capital. Raising funds for your startup has 3 key stages.

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The first stage is for you to prove that people are going to buy into your business and with the first batch of small money you get you to buy into your own business. If you’re going into an industry that is already existing, for instance, transport, your first step would be to look for the kind of transportation you want; goods or people. I’ll make an example of goods freight: what you would do is to look for a perfect truck for the job, probably the owner won’t be using it, draft a good contract with the owner to get the truck road worthy and ready for business. Once you have used your money to get that truck ready (make sure the contract is a long term contract, for more than 2 years binding) start looking for jobs for the truck, of course, we start small.

Now the second stage after proving that your business idea is worthy to be considered, start saving the money you get from your contracted truck and start your own fully fleshed business. Register the business and if finances allow getting a board of directors, a minimum of 4 people you included. Why a board of directors? You don’t want to run the business like your backyard tuck shop, you need others to tame you. When choosing the board of directors choose professionals, in the law field, logistics field, finance field, etc. How will we pay the board of directors? We’ve been saving to grow and scale the business isn’t, so the Director’s fees can come from those savings as well as profits being made from the continuing jobs. Be careful not to overspend on directors. Now your business is registered, with a contracted truck that doesn’t belong to the business, a board of directors, and a CEO.

The third and final stage is now using the savings to buy your own truck as a business and has an asset within the business. After buying your own truck, don’t throw out the contracted truck, continue with it also. It will also assist in revenue increase within the business.

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Simple steps that require patience and zero investors. We’re avoiding investors in the startup stage because this is the most crucial stage where key performance indicators must be realized. And when investors do come into the business, now the scaling model must be for a huge fleet of trucks, not just one or a couple of few trucks.

Breaking into the market

You break into the market by advertising. You can use many ways to advertise/market. Let me suggest social media, your friends, and your family. All you have to do is to make use of them wisely. As people, we have this tendency of using people close to us unprofitably. You come up with a brilliant idea and you are not so sure about yourself and you try to get compliments from those close to you, if you want compliments they will give you compliments, but if you want the real truth ask for the truth.

But normally people around you don’t understand your ideas and eventually, you think it’s a bad idea and let go of Gold. Familiar faces won’t give you help, learn that truth. And that’s how most people out here lose that good idea of product development and service offers they had. If you are going into business just know that you are digging your own grave, but you can find gold while digging your grave. I hope you getting the message in these statements.

Handling finances

 This is where I say the only way for your business to be successful you should be “the business” (when starting off be the business, but later know that as the business grows you should learn to accept what is called a board of directors, here you are no longer the business). Treat your business the way you would treat yourself, say you are starving would you invest in shoes or invest in food?

Exactly, so you realize if you went for shoes you would have starved yourself to death. The same goes for your business. A starting business is hungry and it needs to be fed. So what you do in terms of managing the money flow of the business is to make sure your business always gains more than it loses, feed it first then you after. And make sure it is because it will die because of hunger. If every day your business products and services give you $100, why don’t you take $20 or $30 for yourself at least, the rest give the business.

The business may need things like rent and other problems that may occur along the run. There is a financial management strategy I would like to call the ‘Lesotho finances’, hahaha the name I came up with it because of my friend in Lesotho who gave me this management idea. Of 100% of revenue; use 30% for backup funds, 40% for expenses and future equipment purchases, and lastly 30% for dividends(paying the owners of the business). Exactly, so business owner takes 30% and then 70% you leave out about, 30% as backup money and then 40% you purchase your business equipment and pay your workers’ salaries.

Although I will allude that not all businesses can be managed with this method, know how to construct and deal with an income statement. In your income calculate how many percent of revenue is your working capital, analyze if it fits into 40% of your total revenue. Then why do we pay the business owner only 30%? We are assuming you wish you scale the business and require business savings of another 30%. I’m aware that other may critique that 40% as working capital is too small, but let me say that having more expenditure as a business isn’t the right highway to scaling your business, if working capital exceeds 40% fix the problem and cut down on expenses, you will not go wrong with scaling.

Employing individuals

When your business is still fresh out of the water be your own employee don’t be in a hurry to hire.  Be your own employee so that you see how money comes in and out  and why so that when you have employees you know exactly what happens in the field so they won’t dare to cheat you.

Further more…

In so being your own employee when your business is new it will help the business to gain more than it loses. Yes exactly, don’t hire yet because you are broke and you lack experience of what you are trying to build and with employing you will be cheated. Below is common management table of your skills team:

ACTIVITYPEOPLEPROCESSESTECHNOLOGYBUDGET
Sales    
Marketing    
Legal    
Human Resource    
Inventory management    

How to charge

Charging for your business products and services; take a look at your products and services and material how much they cost, this will give you the right amount of your charges(break even). Remember, never charge less than what you deserve all because you want to gain customers, not everything cheap attracts customers.

But for a starting business to win the Market. Don’t start off by being too expensive, (I know a lot of us become impatient because we want to be where you dream to be  immediately. But this part here requires you to be patient like super patient), charge so that your business gains enough to grow so that your market grows by your service deliverance.

Then when your product has grown then you can start having your increases, but not too much. Take it step by step. Charge enough to get back your capital back as the time goes

 Like sometimes offer discounts? Exactly!!!

 Discount is another form of winning customers on daily bases, but don’t offer too much.   Offer enough for a customer to find it worth it to buy it. About 5% or so according to how many times the customer is always around buying your products and services, this will encourage them to come back again and again.

Be friends with your customer, like treat them like friends like family make them understand you.  This will give your business a beautiful platform in the community and they will come running. A good Startup first builds the community and makes the community shine. But don’t be too friendly because some of them will take advantage of it.

Be friendly but be observant. Discount for people who buy frequently and those who buy in huge bulks 5% is enough.

Encouragement

When you have a Vision don’t wait for someone to tell you it’s a brilliant idea. When you feel it in you that it’s going to be a hit, when you are totally sure about it go for It, like go down straight for it no matter what go for it chase it until your legs can’t anymore.

Funding?

 Fundings are tricky because this one requires your communication skills. By communication I mean writing and speaking to present your idea.

 Trust me it’s not easy because the vision you see you have to put it in someone’s head so that they can see it too. If you fail to do that trust me you won’t be getting any response. Harsh isn’t it? 

Plus again to get funds you have to have some capital as well, let’s say you write me a project proposal asking for funds of 90%, I’m going to expect to see you with at least 10% of the money so that I know where my money is going if it’s going to serve a good purpose and that my money will come back to me  with its interest(this is where it’s complicated).

 When you ask for funds…

If you completely flat broke but have a brilliant idea that your completely sure that it will blow. Offer your investor shares as bribery, but make sure you take most shares than the investor  this way if he offers you funds, the you owe him nothing you don’t have. To pay him back his money with its interest it’s much like a loan from the bank. You take a loan you pay it back together with interest same with fund raisers. But of course they can still decide what they want. “I’ll fund you the money and you pay me back quarterly   or monthly with its 10% increase  depending on what you offer”.

 So basically it’s sweet talking funders?

 Yes, exactly much like  proposing to a girl you just want to sleep with, you first have to convince her you love her even though you don’t.

It’s a crazy example ain’t it? It makes learning fun! Doesn’t it? Plus it’s hard to forget.

If I’m employed can I ever acquire assets and soon make money from my assets? Yes it’s possible; by turning debt to income(debt buys you an asset, and assets bring you income).

This story was authored to fit the Zimbabwean situation of a fresh graduate earning an equivalent of US$500 monthly.

Tawanda is a 24 year old young man who after finishing his studies in a Science degree in Pure Chemistry at the National University of Science and Technology got a job at the Solusi High School. Tawanda had a friend who was an entrepreneur and running businesses all around Zimbabwe, Prince. Prince promised to assist Tawanda with financial literacy knowledge of how to make the most out of his earnings and he kept the promise.

Tawanda on his first year of working applied for a bank loan at 25% interest rate over 12months of US$1,000, which ment he would pay approximately US$105 per month to cover the loan. Tawanda consulted a chair manufacturing company in South Africa if he could order a batch of 100 chairs(Wimbledon chairs) and the company agreed to pay for the delivery of the chairs to the Zimbabwean border. With the help of Prince, Tawanda went to collect and pay for the chairs. At first, his parents saw it as stupidity why he would waste money on chairs.

Tawanda used part of his income(US$105) to pay for the first month of the loan, during that month he was creating brochures and social media flyers to alert individuals in Bulawayo that his chairs were now available for hire.

How did he determine how much to charge per chair? Good question. To answer that is a simple mathematical calculation which you can always use to determine the value worth of your asset (cost of asset x 5% x 13 x 80% = monthly revenue target ), with the use of this formula you can determine your daily target by dividing the monthly revenue target by 30. In this instance, if he is to hire all of them out, per day he has to charge US$17.30, rounded off to US$17 per day excluding transportation costs.

Tawanda bought 100 chairs worth US$1,000, directly implying that each chair cost him US$10. Using the calculation above; (10×5%x13x80%=US$5.20÷30=US$0.17 per chair per day) he would hire out each chair at US$0.17/day. Even if Tawanda loses his job to staff indiscipline, hahaha he still has income to keep him going through.

I am saying buy Wimbledon chairs and hire them out? No. All this story is portraying is that the little we have if carefully planned and fully utilized can increase our personal networth and network. Tawanda could have applied for a US$3,000 loan and bought himself a Honda Fit Jazz so to catch the eye of some attractive female students hahahaha, but income must come first before liabilities.

By: Mbonisi Siziba

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