Like many of you, I ventured down the entrepreneurial path a few years ago with really high hopes and an almost guaranteed conviction that everything would fall into place. Sooner did you realize that all those amazing projections was but one side of the coin. After several months you just couldn’t figure out why potential customers just couldn’t figure out the need you were filling for them nor even cared.
I have been there many times.
I have had multiple reasons to explain this in the past ranging from poor marketing, little or no ad budget, bad copy, insufficient market share, etcetera…
But today, something else clicked.
Interestingly, this is not the first time my mind has brushed over this reality. It just didn’t seem like enough reason until today.
One main reason why you are unable to get the attention of the audience you seek is because majority of them don’t read and don’t care either.
Let that sink in a bit.
Let me explain…
A common statement in Nigeria is that if you want to hide anything from the black man, put in in a book. Many people have challenged that claim citing the many graduates we have here and the great feats a lot of them are achieving. That is true.
However, we still have a whole lot of Africans and indeed Nigerians who will drop any piece of textual content that is more than a few paragraphs long just because it’s ‘too long’.
end of Digression****
To this day many business owners are trooping to Lagos and Abuja from within Nigeria and beyond to launch their businesses. Isn’t it curious that in these states where great deals are closed everyday, we still have extremely broke people there? Why?
The gap, is knowledge.
The people who break new grounds in business and make monumental impact are avid readers. These folks read everyday. They are in tune with current trends that matter to and help them achieve their goals and aspirations.
At the other end of the table are those who believe that they do not need to learn anything new. So they have zero interest in books or in increasing their knowledge. As a result they are ignorant about the opportunities you are bringing to the table. Worse yet, they are scared to even check it out.
“A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies . . . The man who never reads lives only one.” – George R.R. Martin
Think about this… Why else do only few people grow in your area?
We can therefore make the safe argument that the easiest way to truly grow your business is to run it in an environment with the larger population of individuals and businesses that are educated enough to buy into your products and services.
If the people you are trying to sell your product or service are uneducated about how your offering can help them and are unwilling to read so as to learn, you are backing the wrong horse.
So, which part of Nigeria or Africa are you right now? Is your product or service getting the attention of the right crowd?
Are you making noise in the minds of the wrong crowd?
You might realize that your current location is your main hindrance to scaling your business or to landing that job/ client you need to get to your next level.
Remember, if they are not educated enough and clearly don’t care about knowing more, you probably will be wasting away trying to convince them.
Did the above make sense to you?
Can we fix it?
What recommendations would you offer?
PS: Feel free to email me if you would like to have a session with me to chart a Digital Marketing cause for your business.
I launched my business. I am super excited about the future. Everyone is happy for me (or so I think)- they are all smiles. I have printed my business cards some fliers and started talking to businesses and potential clients. Hmm…they seem interested in what I do…
Something tells me I’m missing something. Ah..yes. I need be have a website. A business coach I respect says so. After all, how can I own a business for clients beyond my locale and have no website. Clearly it’s a no brainer- I need a website. But where do I begin?
I’ve seen many websites on the internet- millions of them.
How do they do it?
A quick Google search reveals that I can hire a website designer or design my website myself. Sweet.
I think I’d love to build my website myself. I saw a few videos on youtube on how to create websites from the scratch in under 1 hour!
I will do this myself.
Where it all Begins
My website is like a house. A house needs to be on a property owned by a landlord and has a address for easy location. To stay in my current place, I pay a yearly rent to my landlord. Similarly, for my website to be identified and found by people, I has to be hosted by a landlord – a webhost, and will need an address – a Domain Name.
There are thousands of webshosts on the internet who host websites for businesses like mine. I want one that’s in Nigeria and will cater to my needs. So I search for some Nigerian webhosts and voila! I think I’ve found my choice. The plan is good and the pay is just within budget. I make my decision based on storage and bandwidth- two crucial factors I hear are responsible for a super or horrible website navigation experience.
The storage capacity determines how much data I can upload to my website for visitors to access. Videos, audios, and Images can easily consume space. I’m selecting a storage space of 20GB at this time. I don’t see myself exhausting that capacity in a year. In any case, if that happens, I can simply upgrade my hosting plan- yeah It will cost me a little extra. But if the need arises, I sure know what to do.
The bandwidth determines how fast my website will go irrespective of the number of simultaneous user access. I believe the bandwidth on my present storage capacity will do just fine.
Who’s ready to build his own first website? I know I am.
CMS or Hard Coding?
I am a huge fan of ease of use. I have seen several arguments for and against CMS and Hard coded websites. One thing I have observed to be consistent with the two is that you need softwares to hardcode a website as well as to build on CMS (Content Management Systems). My use case it seems favors CMS. I hear WordPress is super cool and has enough options to help me achieve my dream site. Let’s get started.
Setting up WordPress
Setting up WordPress is pretty straightforward as you will see in the video below
That was pretty cool right?
Your next step now is to start building your website just the way you like it. You may find it helpful to draw inspiration from the websites of other businesses you admire. That way your question will revolve around ‘what plugins?’ you will require for specific functions and tasks on your website.
Now there are millions of plugins and templates out there to choose from, so take your time and be sure you have a pretty good idea of the basic functionality your website must have. Start from there and work your way up. I have found that approach to be quicker and efficient as it helps me get the website online in as little as 48 hours or less!! Yep, you read that right.
Creating the ultimate website is a matter of context, your own context. Your context is determined by what you hope to achieve with your website. That said, you only have to bother yourself with the essential parts that come together to make your website functional like ours. To do this as explained above, you need a hosting plan, a domain name, a CMS and a few necessary plugins and you are good to go.
I’ve tried to make this as brief as possible. If you found it helpful, kindly share with your friends and colleagues.
If you have questions you would like answered, be sure to ask in the comments below. I’ll be happy to answer them.
Have you ever done things before without a pre-set plan in place? Well many of us definitely have. When it comes to business is there a need for a business plan?
“I don’t have one” was Carl Icahn’s (A renowned business man) response when asked to see his business plan for his new company.
You may think this is normal for a first time entrepreneurial adventure. But what if you were told that Carl has started many companies in his 20-year tenure as an entrepreneur?
And with all the companies Carl started, none of them have ever exceeded revenues of a million dollars. Many of them failed and Carl was forced to shut them down within the first year of business.
Does this mean Carl is a terrible businessman?
What it means is Carl did not understand the purpose and the value in creating a business plan and making good use of the right kind of technology. And unfortunately this is pretty typical of many entrepreneurs.
They think flying by the seat of their pants and relying on their street smarts and intuition is the spirit behind entrepreneurship. This could not be further from the truth.
If you don’t plan for growth . . .
Now I know what you are thinking. You are thinking that you and other entrepreneurs you know have never developed a business plan and you are doing “ok” – right?
Well, here is the big secret – you can always do better. I know for me — “ok” simply is not good enough!
And if you don’t plan for growth with the right tech you may grow, but chances are good you will not be able to sustain it. Planning for growth is essential. According to Price-Waterhouse-Coopers, “two-thirds of CEO’s of fast growth organizations develop some type of business plan”.
Deploying good technological strategy for your business plan stands to benefit your business even more.
Incorporating technology strategies into your business plan helps you to run a more competitive business. For example, you may realize that you need a certain piece of equipment to operate your business. Yet you may not immediately realize how it will affect your business financially in the long term. How you strategically use the Internet to market your business is another technology area that benefits from proactive analyzing. By addressing these areas in your business plan, you may experience less monetary surprises in your allocated budget.
Conduct Cost-Benefit Analyses
A Cost-Benefit Analysis is used to determine the payback or break-even point of any investment over a period of time. Technology continues to advance, and this fact alone makes it worthwhile to conduct a CBA on technology-based equipment and services before making a purchasing decision. Run a CBA to show the purpose of technology equipment and services you plan to use in your business. List the upfront and operational annual costs. This will include the dollar estimated value of lost time due to unforeseen circumstances, such as down-time, disruptions and sick-time. The impact of internal control, security and privacy risks must be considered on both sides of the CBA. Next, assign a realistic cost estimate to the benefits to quantify the purchase’s annual beneficial value. Deduct the annual investment from the benefits. Three years and under are typical break-even points for technology-based equipment such as computers and printers. Some investments like building purchases may take longer to reach payback. The Small Business Administration provides a CBA worksheet.
Place a general overview of how you plan to market your business online in your business plan. More details can be placed in your marketing strategy. Developing a website, selecting a domain name, and defining the products and services you will offer on the Internet are all parts of a good technology strategy for your business plan. Search engine registrations, social networking, directory listings and online advertisements are ways to market your business and solidify your online presence. These technology strategies, if mentioned in your business plan, can help you track your marketing effectiveness. Then, you can see more clearly where to make changes to remain competitive. Check out this link as it can equip you with more information on the use of internet resources https://www.huffingtonpost.com/melinda-emerson/small-business-advice_b_3826366.html
Plan A Technology Growth Strategy
A growth strategy for advanced technology can be internal, that is, companywide. For example, in the beginning of your business, you may have to wear many hats, including handling accounting tasks. Your two-year vision may be to improve the efficiency of business processes in accounting. After conducting a cost-benefit analysis, you could include in your business plan a goal to implement more efficient, streamlined accounting software and an employee. An external technology growth strategy for your business plan may be more customer-focused. You may need to acquire the needed equipment and services to get benchmarked with your competitors. Alternately, you could decide to outsource certain advanced technology services. Your ideas for strategic growth in dealing with technology can be added to your business plan. Furthermore, implementing both internal and external growth technology strategies covered in your business plan can keep it from becoming stagnant. Check out this link for further information on the use of technology as a strategy growth in business.
How to Start, Grow and Profit from an Online Business in Nigeria.
Do you run an offline business?
Have you recently been nursing the desire to take your business offline?
Are you uncertain of how to begin?
Running a business online has it’s peculiarities just like running an offline business does. However, with proper planning and the right engines in place, you can successfully launch and grow an online business, even if you are looking to transition your offline business.
Why Make the Move?
The most obvious reason to take your business online is the relative ease of accessibility to a wider target market which is way beyond your current locale. Online, everybody can get a feel of your business and if you are good enough, you get get rewarded with repeat business. Think of Amazon, Jumia, Konga. These are online businesses that have closed Billions in sales. Their secret- they took an offline business, re-defined it and re-targeted to a wider online audience, leading to repeat sales from every part of the world.
With the continuous growth and adoption of the internet and technology as a whole, we will see consumers opting to do more businesses online majorly because of the ease it comes with. Plus they tend to spend less (in some cases) for highly professional services compared to offline alternatives.Do a google search today and you will find online farms, online restaurants, online shoe makers…essentially services that we always thought will remain offline.
Furthermore, running an online business is generally cheap when compared to it’s offline counterpart. From cost of equipment to furniture to transportation to electricity, maintenance services fees, business plans, these all are statistics that online business need very little of. This means that it is exceedingly faster to bootstrap and launch an online business in days.
Are you seeing where am going with the?
A lot is changing really fast and so should you.
Where to Start?
There are about 5 checklist items you’ll need to take care of to successfully grow any online business. Now these processes are very important if you are looking to win. So write them down :
Research > Get Online > Online Marketing > Convert Leads/ Monetize > Analyze and re-implement
This is the quickest way you can start and grow your online business. Let’s talk about each of them, shall we.
A prominent reason why online businesses fail is because of a lack of research. Many mistake research for copy. You can see Business A selling computer and doing really well. But that doesn’t mean that if you enter into the computer selling business, you too will be profitable. Let me explain;
Mr A has many contacts in big organizations that use computers regular. Because his contacts are high profile and he is really close to them, he always gets orders from their companies to make supplies. Mr A has gotten a market and is feeding his market well.
Your research to reveal where who you want to serve, where they converge and what they need. What better deal cal you offer that you competitors aren’t? You must realize that it is the answer to these questions that will reveal of a an online business is going to be profitable or not.
A really easy approach to this research is to pay attention to online conversations on social media. Social media gives you amazing insights to what troubles prospective clients are facing. Gleaning this information correctly will reveal the winning business for you. Do not be alarmed however, if your current offline business won’t cut it. I learned this lesson this lesson the hard way.
Sometime in late 2013 I finally figured out after much struggle how to make explainer videos. I was super excited at the prospect of making millions. I set to work creating several video tutorials some of which I put on You-tube, produced in Disks and started marketing with high hopes. I would soon realize to my disappointment that my target market was not ready for a that product. Sales we literally close to zero. When I finally began to research and really listen to the market, I understood what service and products to offer and the rest they say is history.
Forgive the epistle, but am sure you get my drift.
With your Research completed, you should have determined what business to engage in and which audience to target. At this point, you are ready to make the transition. The key determinant of this transition is the location of your audience, where they hangout online, which social media platform they frequent. This information helps you reach them quicker as you will be engaging them on the platform they like.
You will need to build your service/product/ brand’ awareness online to draw the attention of your target audience. As an example, suppose all/ a huge chunk of your target audience are on Instagram, your goal online will be to project your service and products in the language that Instagram uses. This will require using the right hashtags, sharing great content consistently on Instagram and driving traffic to your website (you can research this).
You will find it particularly strategic to own a website where you can direct your audience to from social media. A website communicates seriousness, intent and a mission. When your target audience gets linked to your website, they should be able to engage with your content in a way that moves them to action repeatedly.
Obviously, it takes some patience and practice. But with careful research as discussed above, you can create an amazing online structure that keeps your target audience engaged over and over again.
**Imagine what it would mean for your business if you had 1000 monthly visitors to your online business? Think about it.**
Convert Leads/ Monetize
Monetizing is the goal of all online businesses. It is what keeps the business and it’s owners sane and not lose their minds (insert smiley face here). The same lack of money which drives many offline businesses from one place to the other can well happen to online businesses who lack well curated and targeted marketing. Notice the link? Without great marketing in terms of your content, you will have no leads (visitors who come to your business) and as a result you make you sales.
Of course, you will need an automated process to receive payments from you new customers. This could be through a payment gateway (this is a link provided by your bank or a third party company that enables seamless payment directly to your bank account). Check out paystack for an example of a payment gateway.
Ultimately, with the correct research, proper online implementation and marketing with a payment gateway, you automate your online business and “go to sleep” in a figurative sense. Basically, you put your business in autopilot, something an offline business can never do.
Analyze and Re-implement
Now your online business should be automatically running and bringing in results. You at this point need to identify list-wise all you did that worked from the research phase with the goal of recreating the same system to a similar or different business. You can thus launch multiple online businesses (insert smiley).
Simple right? No..duh!
It takes careful planning and dedication. But obviously the results are beyond phenomenal. Now you have the blueprint; what you do with it is up to you.
5 years ago, we’d start a project and believe that it will be profitable no matter how long it takes. Well we’re certainly older now and have gotten enough experience to realize that that approach is a highway to disillusion.You see, in an ever dynamic world and economy as ours, trends are always changing. And with such change comes changes in customer habits and loyalty, including their money.
Many businesses set the wrong targets. ‘if we make 10 million, we’ll be happy’, is the approach. This is why great businesses of 10+ years ago and a shadow of themselves today. Because they settled. There was no reason to keep moving.
Don’t get comfortable!
Here’s how this affects you…
So you can start up a business based on what you think will work, or you can observe where the trends are headed and strategically adjust your sails.
It’s the reason Microsoft still remain a thriving business; they are a major player now in artificial intelligence. Apple isn’t doing quite as well judging by their seeming silence of recent.
Your business can and will only thrive when you adopt a growth approach.
Don’t get comfortable.
It’s up to you to make your dream a reality.
Bots are Here!
2013, I created my first video tutorial. Oh the joy, the excitement, the dreams… I could not fail, I was certain. 12+ months, plenty fliers, posters, 50+ DVD down the road, reality set it. The feedback I was getting was all wrong- the market wasn’t ready. Frustration (for lack of a more graphic term) describes my state then.
I couldn’t help questioning what the hell was wrong with people for not getting it. The strategy was straight forward after all.
I would soon learn in 2015 that the market wasn’t ready and I needed to put that plan on hold. I needed to focus on what the market needed present and provide the solutions. And provide I did.
Today my company provides services I never thought we would dare attempt and we’re getting paid for it.
Here’s the part that concerns you….
If you’ve been attentive enough, you’d have heard of some buzz words bouncing here and there- online course creation, websites, online businesses, bots… Are you doing something about them or are you just a bystander stubbornly holding on to that plan/dream that’s make you no kobo/ cent since it’s inception 1 year ago?
Bots are officially a Big deal.
You may probably have observed (or not) that artificial intelligence has dominated the rhetoric of most online leaders, and for good reason.
Bots make customer engagement with your page amazingly seamless- Based on the tests we’ve been running in the past week, we have seen tremendous feedback from our messenger Bots than from our tradition message feature which before now had really thin results.
Bot give a new meaning to Virtual Assistance- With bots, the wait-time visitors to your page usually face is a non-factor as bots instantly reply messages as they come. Take a look at our message responsive status- you’d see that we are very responsive (1-mins response time). That’s crazy fast. Imagine a potential client wanting to make a quick purchase- would he/she rather wait for x-time before getting a response or would they go with the brand that responds instantly?