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Business Clinique

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By Aditi Maheshwari

Being a female Solopreneur sounds like an autonomous power, but in the true sense, it is more of balancing and multitasking assignments in an efficient and effective way.

In the case of entrepreneurship and working with public and private companies, you can accuse or blame others for the delays, defective executions, or non-performance but for a solopreneur, you cannot make such excuses. Being a female solopreneur means you cannot transfer the responsibility on anyone.

By Mimi Kalinda

“There’s a simple rule: You say it again, and you say it again, and you say it again, and you say it again, and you say it again, and then again and again and again and again, and about the time that you’re absolutely sick of saying it is about the time that your target audience has heard it for the first time.” — Frank Luntz.

The above quote is an excellent example of the concept of “Effective Frequency” in advertising. The Effective Frequency principle emphasizes the need for repetition to get brand messaging to “land” with audiences. Basically, it means that an ad or message needs to be seen multiple times before a consumer will (a) notice it, and (b) respond favourably to it. The same applies to public relations (PR) and brand communication in general. But here’s where it gets tricky: while your brand may follow this technique by using multiple audience touchpoints and high message frequency, how do you know that the message you are sending out is the right message for your brand? Or, if you have multiple different communication content being sent out concurrently, is messaging still effective if it is inconsistent? Effective communication is closely tied both to consistency and frequency. The best results are achieved when there is a repetition of a key brand message which is based on primary brand goals.

A referred brand is a preferred brand, and a preferred brand is a referred brand”. This quote by Bernard Clive underscores the importance of referrals as a means of gaining customers in a business.

Customers are the lifeblood of any business – you can’t get enough of them. With competition in business as fierce as it has become, and innovative ideas leading the launches of new businesses almost every day, it is as easy to get into business as it is to fail.

By Aditi Maheshwari

How prepared are you to take the world by storm with the outbreak of covid19? Well, whether you or your company accept it or not working from home is the new work culture we are heading towards. With the various health and safety measures which includes social distancing, dished out on a daily basis to help save people from contacting the virus, work life or simply put ‘physical corporate space’ are beginning to move their offices to the clouds if you know what I mean. While working from home is not new to certain category of people, there are certain class of people who lack the buzz in working from home and might also find this very challenging in the beginning. However, if handled with a positive attitude and balanced approach we can actually leverage the strength of working from home. To maintain a balance between your personal and professional life is easy if you keep certain points in mind. Sharing in this article are some do’s and don’ts of working from home so that you can enjoy the best of both worlds. 

Do’s 

  • Have a set work space for a home office, as the more organized you will be the better results you will achieve. Keep your home office Skype friendly. As it is quite normal to conduct conference calls, video chatting, etc. for attending meetings online and so it’s advisable to keep things such as files, documents, etc handy to avoid pitfalls and time wastes. 
  • Plan your day in advance. When you will be clear in your mind about the tasks that are your top priority, you will be more productive. 
  • While work from home gives us the advantage of having flexible working hours yet it is always good to be consistent in having specific fixed work hour for increased efficiency and productivity. Prefer traditional working hours as business is always a two-way process and thus require communication with other parties. Also, clearly communicate your working hours with your family, friends and neighbors to avoid any sort of personal engagements during that time so that you can be as professional as possible.  
  • Avoid the luring distractions of the comfy bed, heavy meals, small naps, Netflix, etc. 
  • Maintain a healthy lifestyle by maintaining a proper schedule, maintaining proper diet, sticking to the exercising routine, avoiding lethargy in the form of spending time on the couch or bed doing nothing, drink lots of water, take short breaks while working, walk and stretch, etc. Never compromise on discipline as to work from home requires more discipline to be executed than usual and without discipline you are incapable of anything good.
  • Never involve yourself in personal tasks during office hours. The greatest weakness of work from home is that we usually get tempted to do personal tasks such as laundry, cooking, attending to family members or neighbors during the office hours which in turn makes us lose focus and we are unable to stick to our schedule and thus the result is inefficiency, frustration, incomplete tasks and pure time waste.
  • Enhance your communication skills. Since you won’t have any visual cues to support or guide your conversations and the talks will completely depend on online communication such as instant messaging, phone calls, emails, etc it is important to be clear and concise to avoid misunderstandings. Always remember, good communication skills are reflection of a great personality. 

 

Don’ts

  • Never discuss personal life issues during professional conversations. It’s natural to be inclined to discuss personal issues in the home-based office environment but by all means avoid this pitfall.  
  • Limit the number of times you check your phone to avoid unnoticed time lapse.
  • It’s important to keep the necessary equipments such as a computer, scanner, printer, etc but don’t burden yourself with equipments you can do without. 
  • Stay connected with fellow officials, customers, etc. Connection builds trust and helps in leveraging the technical support needed. Staying connected may seem not so important activity but if managed well gives fruitful results in the form of long-term healthy relationships. Even while you work for others you represent your personal brand and when you voice your brand in a balanced approach where it’s not over communicative or disconnected for that matter it results in magical trust building. People usually invest in the organization they trust. Small things help in achieving big dreams so never underestimate the so called “small factor”. 

By Boma Benjy – Iwuoha

Since the commencement of the lockdown sequence which is being implemented in most cities across the globe to curb the spread of the deadly COVID-19 pandemic, the internet, and social media have been a major pastime and source of entertainment for many, who are learning to cope with the new realities.

Social distancing makes E-communication the safest means of communication. Unlearning old methods of warms hugs, pecks, handshakes and fist bumps, we are forced to connect with work colleagues, carry out official duties, chat with loved ones and socialize online through digital communication. We are faced with the new reality and understanding the importance of digital communications.

This new reality also makes me wonder, what happens when we curb the spread of the pandemic? Will we go back to hugs and kisses, and unlearning the social distancing, or would the end of the pandemic create a permanent barrier that will leave us telling stories like – “there was a time when people hugged each other as a sign of greeting”? I wonder. We will discuss this aspect on a different date.

Today, Let’s take a look at Micro businesses, and what this new reality would mean to them?

There is no doubt that before the COVID-19 pandemic, many businesses had embraced the digital age of emails, telecommunication, remote work, and e-meetings. Remote work (which allows people to work outside of a traditional office environment) has been on the rise over the last two decades. An October 2019 survey by Gallup (American analytics and advisory company) found that 43% of Americans work from home occasionally, a 4% increase from the 39% who did in 2012. In 2017, Quartz, U.S. Census data indicated that 5.2% of U.S. workers completely worked from home. FlexJobs & Global Workplace Analytics report also found that the number of people telecommuting in the U.S. increased by 159% between 2005 and 2017.

So when I ask, what will be the new reality for small businesses, I see a lot of information online saying grocery stores and data service providers are making a kill during the lockdown, or that people will work remotely, and I’m thinking Yes, this will work for certain kinds of businesses, but for many others, it’s a whole different scenario.

A few days before the announcement of the index case of coronavirus in Abuja – Nigeria, my friend, and colleague, Ms. K, as we often call her, invited me to a friend’s opening party for her new beauty spa. I was very interested because the invite offered teeth whitening services, something I have wanted to do for a while. After the party, I made an appointment for a session the following week. Three days later, Abuja recorded its first COVID-19 case, then followed the lockdown and here we are, two weeks running. Certainly, that beauty spa would not be offering any services in the coming weeks, or maybe months. I don’t know about others, but I know for a fact, that I would need to have a lot of confidence in their service to let them poke around my mouth when the lockdown is over, and that is the story of so many small businesses.

The pandemic has jolted all businesses into the digital age, prepared or not they have to rise to the challenge. Consumers are also forced to see that some businesses are not relevant. I have learned to make some foods that I would normally order, I know I won’t be going for a pedicure anytime soon because I can do that now. My friend just informed me she’s completed an online fashion class in corset making for $200, she had earlier planned to pay $750 to an instructor for the same course. This trend simply means that many businesses like the beauty spa would need something extra to get back on their feet; INNOVATION.

What will set them apart when the race resumes? Their client service, products, or freebies? It all boils down to innovation. For small businesses, this will play a key role in bouncing back to operations. Business owners need to think outside the box while working within the restrictive environment that will linger in the aftermath of the pandemic.

Therefore, while the lockdown may seem like an “E-Holiday” with friends and family, this period also provides business owners a chance to innovate, create or improve on their products and services.

Plato said “Necessity is the mother of invention”, but Johnny Flora says, If necessity is the mother of invention, then adversity must surely be the father of Re-Invention.

The COVID-19 pandemic is a global adversity that has created the time (lockdown) for a re-invention of businesses, dreams, relationships, life goals, etc. but hey; that’s one way to look at it.

By Miracle Nwankwo

Every business whether startups or not are in dire need of business angels (Investors). These business angels will not just keep running to you because you need them badly, but they also want to know what you have to offer and what you will be bringing to the table. Before a prospective investor can freely and without fear invest in your business, there are red flags they always look out for, so as to avoid the possible pitfalls that may arise from investing in the wrong business.

Below are 6 genuine reasons why you never attract a potential Investor to your business. 

 

  1. You are a first-time founder with no experience: according to Matt Paulson, founder of Startup Sioux Falls, “Start-up investors are investing in the people behind the companies they invest in as much as they are investing in the companies themselves.” What were you thinking? Starting a business in an industry where you have no experience? Friend, you are going to have a very hard time finding an investor because investors know that a person who is not a great person or do not have business hormones wired in him/her will not succeed even if they have outstanding business ideas. This is connected to the fact that businesses evolve and as time goes on the business model you start with might not be the business model that you end up in, a principle and dynamics investors are fully aware of
  2. You Have an Unproven Plan: Having a brilliant idea is fantastic, but great ideas are not worth any more than the paper they are printed on. Great business minds can agree that it is about execution, not just the idea.  In an article written by David Kleinhandler, Founder and President at Vest Financial Group, he said “No matter what makes up your business plan, investors want to see proven results. At the least, they will want a picture of your real-world earnings before they commit. That means quarterly reports that show both short-term growth and long-term promise. The investment history books are rife with stories of highly promising concepts that ended up losing a fortune.”  You have to understand that this is more about substance and not ideas. Yes, you have a great idea but you have to move from having a business idea to beginning a process of execution, at least start small but just make sure you have started. Your inability to provide a proven plan can hinder your chances of attracting a potential investor.
  3. You have not checked your product or idea with your customer. Most times, entrepreneurs just want to hit the ground and run. They rarely carry out a proper ground check on their idea or product with their potential customers or consumers before setting out. So how can you thrive in a competitive market place where one product can have multiple manufacturers. Finding out what your customer or consumer thinks about your product or idea is very important before you set out in search for investors. Speaking about customer’s feedback, Paul Judge, Founder and CTO / Purewire (Acquired by Barracuda) said; “It’s become so sexy to pitch to investors nowadays that people forget to first go talk to customers. I have people pitch to me, and when I ask what customers think about this, they tell me they don’t know. So why are you talking to investors right now?” Investors want to know that your business idea will satisfy the need of your targeted demographic. They want to know that you are either creating something new or have come up with a unique business model that outshines your competition and is able to cover up their lapses and above all meet your customer’s requirement.
  4. Your startup probably cost much more than the investor is willing to let go: Investors are often people who have had a firsthand experience of the business you are about to venture into and probably know about many other businesses too, so they definitely have an idea of the financial implications that accompany your trade. Investors normally come with huge experience of your industry and so they have a clear idea about the fund requirements for your business startup. Moreover, they already have invested in other ventures or have gone through many proposals. Figuring out the value of a startup is always a challenge for many entrepreneurs , as a matter of fact Marty Zwilling, CEO & Founder of Startup Professionals, Inc, sheds more light on this: “Some entrepreneurs try to start with a huge number, hoping they can negotiate and close on a smaller one, while others understate their requirements, in hopes of getting their foot in the door with an investor. Neither of these strategies is a good one, as both are likely to damage your credibility with potential investors, even before they look hard at your plan.” Therefore, value should be based on past accomplishments and the company’s potential. If a potential investor feels that a startup is being assessed at a value that is too expensive, he is definitely going to look for another investment opportunity. This is why it is preferable to have meticulous details about every facet of investment backed up by breakup of the cost. “The days are gone, if they ever existed, when you could present an idea and a vision, and have investors throw money at you. Now you have to do your homework. Get busy, and have fun,” says Marty Zwilling.
  5. The Prospective investor has not been satisfied with your commitment: Every serious investor wants to see that the founders are enthusiastic with their business and are giving 100 percent dedication to the company before they jump in. “I always look first at the people, and that covers from the customers to the entrepreneur to the team. Second is the product, because when you start a business, it’s a hunch, it’s a guess, and you have to go out and find out if people really want it or are you just a solution in search of a problem,” Gary Sprirer, CEO / Question Mine.

 

 

Business investors have the likelihood of measuring the success of company with how serious the owners are. It has been observed that investors pay more attention to entrepreneurs who run full-time on their business.  Once a prospective investor is satisfied with the entrepreneur’s commitment and dedication, they will be willing to give their all, to the success of such business.

A business idea can be compared to a fetus in the belly of a woman, the beauty of the fetus cannot be seen until it is brought forth to the world after a period of pain. As an upcoming entrepreneur whose desire is to make good profit, you have to make conscious effort surrounded by hard work in order to attract your potential investors.

The Global Entrepreneurship monitor (GEM) 2016/ 17 women’s report shows that women entrepreneurial activity globally is up by 10 percent, closing the gender gap by 5 percent since 2014.  Sub-Saharan Africa leads the way, as its female entrepreneurship rates the highest globally. 25.9 per cent of the female adult population is engaged in early-stage entrepreneurial activity in the region.

The majority of women entrepreneurs – 61.8 per cent – said they started a business because they are taking advantage of opportunity, rather than out of necessity.

While the news that women are leading in the entrepreneurial space is exciting for us, there is sad news. A report by researchgate.net, drawing on a unique, nationally representative data set of entrepreneurial firms sampled from the U.S. population in 2005 and followed yearly since then demonstrate that female entrepreneurs /businesses are more likely to fail than those of their male counterparts. Reasons for this includes; going into businesses spontaneously rather than as a careful thought out plan.

The idea of starting or owning a business can be very exciting, but it is also a daunting venture which can especially take its toll on women who need to consider some special issues before taking the plunge to business.

It is thus wise to count the cost of a venture before starting. There are several things to consider before starting up a business venture as a woman, this business Clinique article will however look at four important issues.

Choose your employees wisely

The truth that teams have to be complementary to be functional is one that most women learn a little too late in business. Women are often concerned about how they are perceived by others and a high percentage of women do not want to be seen as difficult to work with. Hence most female entrepreneurs are afraid to speak up especially to male employees. Women in business should realize that there is hardly a way to set boundary without making someone upset. It is important to take this into consideration especially when making employees out of very close friends and relatives.

Will it be easy to tell your brother in-law you are considering employing that his job is not satisfactory? Can you comfortably query your best friends’ daughter without having that guilt trip when you meet with her parent, your friend? If you are one who can comfortably separate your professional and personal life without having to fight with emotions, go for it. But if you belong to the other group who will always pause to consider how great business decisions will affect personal relationships, then the rule of thumb should always be “Do not hire anyone you cannot fire’’.

Think carefully about the team you want to take off with before starting.

Be convinced of your motive for going into that business

Are you passionate about the business venture? do you see a need and want to meet it? is it profitable in your area?  or are you just jealous of the attention people in the sector are getting and feel you deserve some of the limelight too?

Honestly ask yourself why you are going into that business, keeping in mind, what success looks like for you.

Remember that your business should fit into your vision for your life, not the other way around. So, before you begin your business, honestly consider if you’re truly interested in living the life of an entrepreneur and consider if your motive for starting that business fits into what success means for you.

Consider Family

If you are considering starting a business, you need to also count the cost in terms of commitment to family. Women are usually the primary caregivers to children and ill family members and thus need to thoroughly think this through before choosing to start or when considering the type of business venture to take up.

Issues such as delaying marriage or having a baby or moving to a new city to start up a family should all be carefully weighed in when making this consideration.

Most of the stress that comes with being a female business owner can be alleviated with careful planning and forethought.

Be Battle Ready

Starting a business is definitely going to be trial by fire. You will be stretched and challenged in ways you would never had imagined. It is very important thus for any female considering going into business to be ‘’battle ready’’. You will now be responsible not just for yourself but also for the livelihood of your team. There will be naysayers and those just waiting to say ‘’I told you so’’. 

Constantly reminding yourself of why you ventured into the business in the first place will always help you stay battle ready.

Kembet Bolton