19 Jan How to Jump-start Your Business: Top Tips from Serial Entrepreneurs
The third edition of #SFANLiveChat was held on January 14, 2017. This brilliant session hosted two highly esteemed serial entrepreneurs: Romeo Effs, the Business Gladiator, Strategist & Fixer, and Anie Akpe, founder of IBOM LLC, Innov8tiv, Women In Tech Africa, and NetworqApp.
Below are five key takeaways from the discourse.
Take a look at this beautiful recap.
Before you launch, create a vision for your business.
Ask any sailor or captain, and (s)he’ll tell you that you can have the best airplane or ship in the world, but if you don’t have a compass to navigate your way, the entire crew will keep drifting endlessly. The same is true for your business. When you think of launching a business, Anie says, you have to ask yourself the following questions: “what is the purpose? Who is interested in what I am creating, and will they buy what I am offering?” This thought process will help you to align your business with a great vision.
In defining the vision for your business, you must ensure that you include vivid images and signposting.
“I’ll use myself in this instance,” she continues: “My goal is to lose weight. To lose weight, I have to have a vision of what I want to look like. From that image, I now decide what my projected time frame is? So with a business, you have to envision what you want to see in the next 1, 3, 5, or 20 years. The time frame helps in bringing your vision to clarity. No vision or dream is too big.”
On financing — think outside the box.
Robin Sharma once said ideation without execution is a mere delusion. However, turning your idea into a viable product or service, backed by a great team, often requires a lot of funding.
Startup funding depends on which part of the world you are in, Romeo explains. “Some markets are more mature than others. In the UK and USA, there are mature Angel Networks and government schemes to help entrepreneurs. In other parts of the world, funding often comes from family and friends or traditional places such as banks or credit cards. Credit Unions and Crowdfunding are equally other viable options. A brilliant way to finance your idea is to get an order and then walk into the bank or to someone with this order and ask them to fund it. You could also try invoice factoring if you get an order; ask customers to pay part upfront, but, in the absence of these, you have to look at personal things of value that you can sell to get money to put into the business.”
Speaking from over 15 years of experience in entrepreneurship and Corporate America, Anie noted that numerous successful entrepreneurs didn’t initially start their businesses with a lot of funding. They started with mentors, worked from home, used part-time or contract staff, bartered/traded services, and used free software to market their businesses. “With a lack of startup funds, they used their creativity,” she says.
On creating a culture of accountability — unleash the power of goal setting.
According to a McKinsey report, among the biggest challenges faced by businesses trying to build their organizational capacity is the lack of accountability and buy-in. To get accountability, you’re going to need to set goals, Anie emphasizes. “Your Goals quantify and define what happens next. Now, questions you need to ask yourself as it relates to your team include:
- What is the background and reason for establishing this team?
- Who and how many people will be depending on the output of you and the team?
The more team members feel involved in defining the answers to the mentioned questions, the more they will embrace accountability. Overall, make sure you focus on creating a consistent shared-purpose team environment.”
Contributing from Jacksonville, Florida, William Jackson notes the need to ensure your team is as passionate as you are about the business goals and mission.
On key performance indicators — start with the rate of conversion.
A lot of businesses fail because they do not use the right metrics in measuring performance. Depending on what your business is, Romeo recommends, the key metrics you should use to measure your growth are the number of leads, the number of completed transactions, the rate of conversion, the average sales value, the sales margin over products sold, and the cost of goods sold or cost of customer acquisition.
“Let’s state that business metrics should be compared to established goals or business objectives,” Anie says. “As a wise business owner, you must ensure that you have the right technology that helps you measure these key indices: sales revenue (include marketing cost, price changes and discounts that you have given) and repeat business (customer loyalty).”
You must create benchmarks by looking at what’s going on in the industry on a traditional level. Whether you’re a new or established business, you need to pay attention to your daily completed goals compared to the monthly and yearly goals.
On maintaining consistency — internalize them
Romeo’s advice for maintaining consistency in your business process is that you make them a habit — get them entrenched in your business and team. Creating a consistent message could require that you “outsource the work to a professional to produce in batches in advance, and then reuse on all platforms. Find the right technology to enable efficiency and automate.”
Ultimately, you need to “know your ideal customer and build that tribe — the market where you will be selling. Build a consistent process to manage cash flow. Trust your gut and trust the process. Never stop; keep stepping up and getting things done. Implementation is constant. It never stops — it is the entire journey, not a phase of the journey. It is: execute, evaluate, adjust, execute, evaluate, adjust, and the cycle goes on and on.”
Anie buttressed the fact there are free software tools to get started with at the initial stages of your business related to your budget. “When a business is smaller, it’s easier,” she says. “The best advantage for consistency is when you use it to measure your results — you can create accountability and consistent message about your company.”
If you want to jump-start your business in 2017 or any year, the secrets are now laid bare. It’s important that you create a vision for your business, remain consistent with your process, and research the tools and platforms that connect you with your target audience. “Stay focused! As the phrase goes, ‘Just do it.’ Do your research and put fear aside,” Anie recommends.
Says Romeo, ensure you have a strategy or roadmap to follow and get a coach or mentor to keep you accountable. Get all the help you need to build your business and grow your career here.
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Tom-Chris Emewulu is the Founder & President of SFAN (Stars From All Nations). When he’s not building SFAN and helping entrepreneurs and rising professionals create fulfilling careers, he’s telling African innovation stories or advocating for people-centered policy. Tom-Chris is a former consultant at Mastercard Foundation, Seedstars Ambassador for Ghana, and the author of the forthcoming book: Breaking the Limits. He is a thought leader on youth development, social entrepreneurship, technological innovation, and the future of work.