Horses are undoubtedly one of the most magnificent animals in the world. But you never will see the full glamour and beauty of a horse while it’s encumbered and kept in the stall. Set it free and see it rise in enchanting beauty. Just like in the world of horses, there are also stalls in the world of enterprise.
The focus of this article is centered on one challenge many emerging entrepreneurs, particularly in Sub-Saharan Africa, face but no one seems to talk about even though it greatly inhibits the growth of ventures. Most young entrepreneurs keep encountering challenges when it comes to dealing with clients in the area of payment and terms of engagement. The reason is mainly that the entrepreneurs are unable to enforce the idea of formal agreements, they deal based on verbal discussions and agreements which often leads to dispute.
One may begin to wonder why this is so. The simple answer is survival! When your business still runs with the ‘hand to mouth’ approach, you don’t care much about agreements needless of insisting on it, you just want the money to survive, considering the fact that your next meal, data subscription, transportation fare, and the rest of your needs depends on it. You literally can’t walk away from deals when the client already proves troublesome by not wanting to have an agreement. You are constantly gripped by that silent fear of losing the money.
If you ever want to experience visible progress in your business, one thing is for certain, you can’t go on that way. Failure to understand and deal with this basic truth leaves the entrepreneurial dream in a stagnant cooler. Remember, everyone can dream, but execution makes the difference. The next set of things you will be reading are suggestions that have been tested and proven. They can help set your business on the pedestal of greater achievements.
- DOCUMENT YOUR DEALS
You can have verbal agreements, but before you commence any work, ensure to document on paper or a computer. A good practice will be to send an email stating what was discussed and agreed before proper engagement. This will save you a great deal of trouble. Documentation enables clarity which guides the engagement going forward. Some studies have shown that things written down have a higher likelihood of succeeding.
“I learned to pay the maximum possible attention to details, to document everything, to keep archives – paper or digital – well ordered. This is a key factor when and if you need – possibly years later – to review a project or to support or challenge claims in court,” Jacopo [“Jaclaz”], a Technical Consultant stated.
2. RUN YOUR BUSINESS WITHIN YOUR MEANS
In the words of Dave Ramsey, a popular US radio host, and businessman, “financial peace isn’t the acquisition of stuff. It’s learning to live on less than you make, so you can give money back and have money to invest. You can’t win until you do this.”
One disciplinary habit any entrepreneur should cultivate is learning to fold their legs to the length of their blanket. This simply means to live within your means, spend only on essentials. Stop competing with those who are better placed financially. As much as you can, seek cheaper alternatives that still serve the purpose, but remember that sometimes the cheapest option is the most expensive.
3. SAVE AS MUCH AS YOU CAN
Build a cash reserve, no matter how little. When discussing with a new prospect or client, your next meal should not depend on the deal, but on your cash reserve. With some cash set aside, you will stop being at the mercy of clients. You will also have better bargaining power, and you will have the confidence to say no to bad deals.
Benjamin Franklin puts the idea of saving better,
“if you would be wealthy, think of saving as well as getting.”
These are seemingly simple issues, but they’ve kept so many ventures hindered from growth when they should be sprinting majestically like horses. Nevertheless, it is never too late to start the race to building a successful brand.
Written by Maple Dappa
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DO BUSINESS BETTER!
It started as a rumour, but months down the line, it’s the new reality and identity for these two major bank brands, Access Bank and Diamond Bank. The deal which was reportedly denied by some authorities in the banks officially went public in December 2018 when negotiations were already concluded.
Expectedly, there have been many reactions to this; while most see it as a welcome development which is significant in putting Nigeria on the map, a few remain sceptical about it. Amid the pressure from panicking customers, concerned shareholders, the interfering press and public opinions, the two banks have remained focus to what they believe would be the largest bank the African continent has ever seen.
Moving away from the noise and excitement, there is so much to glean from this seemingly great business accomplishment. Let’s see what insights we can glean.
For any business that seeks to expand, there are certain qualities it should be known for as well as structures that must be in place. To put this in a more concise way, that business must have built its capacity which isn’t built overnight, rather it is consistently developed over the years.
From its record, Access Bank, which is a top Multinational commercial bank in Nigeria, has had six successful mergers and acquisitions before now. The bank began its journey of acquisitions in 2005 with their first being Marina Bank and Capital Bank. Amongst other acquisitions after the first, one of the most memorable which placed them as one of the four largest commercial banks in Nigeria was in 2012 when it acquired Intercontinental Bank. Well there is no doubt the management team has been running with their vision which is “to be the world’s most respected African bank”.
On the other hand, Diamond Bank as a technology driven retail bank had set a high standard which gave other banks a run for their money. This has earned it an indisputable leadership position in digital and mobile banking. Diamond bank mostly leveraged on technology and continued to provide innovative solutions for financial challenges.
Another sign that this merger will be unbeatable is clearly seen in their statistics, with Access Bank having an asset of 4,555 and 1,555 for Diamond Bank. It is also going to be a massive force combining both bank’s customers, Access Bank having over 10 million customers in Nigeria and different parts of Africa, and Diamond Bank 19 million customers. This explains why successful establishments tend to acquire enterprises that will add more value to them rather than reduce their worth. The likes of Facebook who keep acquiring other business platforms to enlarge its empire will help drive this point home.
Paying a closer attention to this deal, one would understand that another reason why Access Bank and Diamond Bank took this bold step is to remain relevant first as a financial establishment, then to their customers who are faced with many options to choose from in the ever bubbling financial market. What better way can a brand attain relevance if not creating a larger platform that provides solutions to the many problems facing their many customers?
While Access Bank will leverage Diamond Bank’s leadership in digital and mobile-led retail banking, Diamond Bank will gain more visibility with Access Bank’s strong network across the continent. In the word of Herbert Wigwe, the CEO of Access Bank,
“Access has a strong track record of acquisition and integration and has a clear growth strategy. Access and Diamond have complementary operations and similar values, and a merger with Diamond, with its leadership in digital mobile-led retail banking, could accelerate our strategy as a significant corporate and retail bank in Nigeria and a Pan-African financial services champion.”
Now bearing in mind the heights both banks have climbed in the past and what they hope to achieve, we can bet that they have done their market survey and have seen the many opportunities their merger will create in both the banking sector and the society at large. Again Herbert’s words confirm this,
“We believe that this platform, together with the two banks’ shared focus on innovation, financial inclusion and sustainability, can bring benefits to Access and Diamond customers, staff and shareholders.”
Till the deal comes to a final conclusion, there remains a high hope that the combination of these two banks will give birth to an exceptional brand.
Written by Jennifer Chioma Amadi
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Do Business Better
At the beginning of every year, most business owners are filled with so much enthusiasm and a rush to hit targets. It is the period they feel they can take on the world and totally own their space without a single doubt in their minds. For several organisations, the common practice associated with this is assessing the successes and failures of the previous year and mapping out plans and strategies to do better in the New Year.
Often times as the year winds down, there seem to be some sort of friction that begins to counter the wheels of the initial drive to achieve the goals. In the end, a lot is left unmarked on the year’s to-do list. So the big question, “why?” continues to hang in the air at the end of the year.
From research, it has become an obvious fact that the answer to why most plans are not achieved is due to poor execution. This can be traced to certain factors like; not taking action at appropriate times, lack of capacity, lack of resources, or just plain complacency.
Building a great and lasting brand can never be accomplished by wishful thinking, without taking deliberate steps, everything remains futile. Successful enterprises all over the world were built based on the foundation of daily intentional actions in order to get the work done. From the words of Napoleon Hill, the author of Think and Grow Rich, “plan your work and work your plan,” you would understand that working out your plan gets the desirable results.
However before you can achieve all your organisational goals, you must continue to build capacity. The level of your capacity or “organisation’s strength” will determine how much work you get done. You definitely cannot take on what you wouldn’t be able to deliver. This is the reason most companies keep equipping their staff with new skills and imparting them with knowledge. Like we pointed out in this article, capacity building is a continuous process; you keep enhancing and getting better.
Another factor that reduces the chances of enterprises striking out their goals is insufficient resources and inefficient work tools. When these resources and tools are not readily available, the company could record losses marked by low productivity levels. Companies ought to keep enlarging their basket for a wild catch.
Complacency and sometimes sheer laziness are also reasons why some businesses never reach their fullest potential. The moment there is no drive to keep expanding and the hunger for growth becomes stunted, then failure is being invited. This is why it is imperative for business owners to keep their team motivated all through the year to ensure that they still have enough fuel for the ride to success.
If your goal is to really build a brand that will live beyond the present year and become one that will set the pace for others, then you must go beyond strategizing on the drawing board. The degree of execution will determine the level of achievement that is gained in the end. So roll up your sleeves and get the work done.
Reach out to us via email at email@example.com, if you need help in drafting action based strategies that will move your brand to the next level.
Do Business Better.
My friend Sharon Georgewill once put up a post on her Facebook timeline which read:
“Try this: Be consistent! In the long run you will gain positive habits that’ll help you grow/bring more money!”
This statement, which sounds like what we hear often, took me a bit down memory lane to when I started Mapemond and the growth process from then on till now. In 2008 I began my journey as an entrepreneur and for the first four years I made no dime from the business. Reminiscing, I can say three key things were responsible; I was still building my capacity, I was yet to ‘rightly’ articulate the value proposition, and of course marketing was zero because I didn’t even know how to market.
During that period, I read a book that a friend bought from a floating book shop that berthed in Port Harcourt at the time, MV Dolous was the name of the ship. I wish I could recall the title of the book as well. A section of the book made the bold declaration that a business venture which can’t generate any revenue within the first six months is headed for failure. For the first time I contemplated calling entrepreneurship a quit, but somehow I pressed on and eventually realized that the author was wrong in her assertion.
In between, a story that gave me hope was that of Christopher Columbus, the European who was convinced that there was definitely land across the Atlantic Ocean and set sail to satisfy his curiosity after years of trying to raise funds. We all know the story I suppose. From it I learnt the true meaning of consistency and have also seen the result in my business.
Today, I would like to encourage those still struggling with making money in business, stay hopeful and keep navigating. You might have tried all you know but push on. Your level of consistency will determine if you would ever break through or not. Your success is never based on people’s opinion or a timeframe.
Sometimes I look at the proposals I wrote in 2009 and 2010 and I laugh because at the time I felt clients will be blown off their seats as they read it. The indescribable boldness that comes with passion even when capacity is below par!
Today, we have clients who engage us for an entire year; one is the fifth year now. What’s the point? The amount of time you invest in a particular thing plays a role in your journey to success. Malcolm Gladwell calls it the 10, 000hrs rule while others call it the One Decade Principle. Success responds to consistent effort that is good.
Don’t be blinded by excitement, don’t be choked by passion, focus on the long journey for consistency and acquire the various habits and principles that will help you grow and in return make money. It is possible.
Do you feel overwhelmed in anyway? We could help, send us an email via firstname.lastname@example.org
Written by Maple Dappa
In our world today, there is an endless demand on everyone venturing into business to build as much capacity as they can in order to remain relevant. That invariably means, the more capacity an individual or a company has, the more relevant and sought after they become.
In a seminar session tagged “#DoItYourself”, sometime ago, the Facilitator, Mr Tosin Yusuff shared an illustration that emphasized the levels and effects of capacity. He said [paraphrased];
“You can touch a wrist watch battery as you like and it won’t hurt you because it is low in voltage.
You can touch finger batteries as you like and they won’t hurt you because they are low in voltage.
You cannot touch a car battery same way because, it is higher in voltage and can hurt you.
You won’t even dare a high tension cable because, it will ‘kill you dead’ (as an insecticide advert once said).”
From the illustration above, it can be deduced that the more capacity something possesses, the more powerful it becomes. This too can be said for human beings and businesses that aim at making global or national impact.
Another key take away from the illustration is that one should always be conscious of the level of their capacity. In most cases, business owners overrate themselves; while their capacity could be likened to that of a finger battery but they continue to think of themselves as high tension cables. They simply live in denial and that obviously hinders their growth.
A company or an individual could have well defined goals, clear vision and mission statements and the most striking strategic plan but still struggle if there is no capacity for execution. This implies that for an organization to achieve their goals, it must have built capacity over a period of time. The same way an athlete continues to train in order to win, that should be the same way a company should strive to build capacity.
Building capacity involves retaining and improving skills that are relevant, gaining broader knowledge, utilizing available tools and resources needed for effectiveness as an individual or establishment. The major idea behind capacity building is to maximize all the learning materials that improves and builds the company and its employees. Every aspect of an organization should be put into consideration. This ensures that the different areas from technical competence, to financial management, to social intelligence are all polished.
If you seek to build a brand that would stand the test of time, then capacity building is a compulsory task you should be willing to inculcate and remain intentional about. It is imperative to bear in mind that increasing your company’s capacity is not a day’s job but a continuous journey. Are you ready to begin?
We can help you build more capacity. Send an email to email@example.com and let’s get started!
Lastly, we would love to read your thoughts and perspectives. Please leave a comment.
Throughout the history of the world, one gift man has never lacked is land; to walk, farm and build on. But with the passing of time, this originally free gift has become scarce and expensive, reducing the chances of one comfortably owning land these days. Still, man continues to strive to gather as much pieces of land as can be acquired.
Awakened by the harsh realities of land acquisition in Nigeria, Bamboo Real Estate emerged to solve it and increase the opportunities for more aspiring land owners with the target client being young people. After being exposed to the idea of land acquisition and going ahead to acquire his first plots of land in 2012, the founder, Oseyomon Ighodaloh, would later conceive the idea to start the Bamboo real estate arm in 2014. Amazed by the opportunities that exist in real estate investment, he continued to nurse the idea until March 2018 when an opportunity presented itself for him to begin his entrepreneurial journey as a realtor.
However, within that period, Oseyomon focused on the energy and construction aspect of the Bamboo brand. In his word, “The Bamboo Company doesn’t focus on real estate alone; we are also players in the energy and construction sectors too.”
THE BAMBOO VISION
Bamboo Real Estate sees itself becoming Africa’s leading Real Estate and Service Company. The brand prides itself first as an African company, starting from Africa to the rest of the world, and would not just want to be seen as a global company.
A layman will assume that the brand name Bamboo was coined from their sense of Africanism but they are quick to mention that that the plant bamboo isn’t just African but could be found in virtually every continent. However the name Bamboo was chosen based on a deep conviction which connects all that they stand for.
THE BAMBOO MISSION
Though still growing into their mission, it is clear that their target is to give the youth market the opportunity of owning their first plot of land. To make them realise that investment in real estate is the best form of investment. They intend to achieve their mission by offering their clients convenient payment plans based on their income. They look forward to bringing development to underdeveloped locations and by so doing expanding the city.
THE BRAND VALUES
Like most unique companies, the Bamboo brand has its foundation laid on these core values;
I- Integrity in all their dealings.
I- Innovation in all their ideas and services offered.
E- Empathy towards their clients and business people.
A- Africaness in the strength of their brand.
THE BAMBOO CULTURE
They are a contemporary company that tends to strike a balance between playfulness and seriousness. They believe in the spirit of community, one that unites them and creates an attitude of oneness born out of a deep love for what they do.
With a team size of six persons and some outsourced departments, the Bamboo brand keeps waxing stronger, deepening their impact in the city of Port Harcourt. They also highlighted that they have a team of over a hundred marketers which they continue to train in order to add value to lives.
Even though the CEO currently doubles the Marketing Manager, the Bamboo group indicated that they will be hiring a qualified candidate to serve in that position soon. They said the idea is to develop a system and structure that can stand the test of time.
With just a small down payment, a client is one step away from acquiring land in a conducive environment with professional estate management. Clients are advised not to focus on the location but instead dwell on the future returns that come along with land investment.
They hope to bring back the green environment with lots of trees and flowers beautifully and strategically planted to aid more oxygen for respiration in the residential areas.
Bamboo Real Estate has gone the extra mile to ensure all registrations and documentations have been cleared with the communities and the Rivers State Government. Clients can be rest assured that there will be no misunderstandings and cases of fraud.
The Bamboo Brand believes that as development spreads, man moves with it and that has informed their catchphrase, “don’t wait to buy land, buy land and wait.”
The marketing drive of Bamboo caught our attention. From the recruitment of a robust sales force to the setting up of various billboards across the City of Port Harcourt, the Bamboo brand demonstrated an understanding of the importance of brand visibility. It isn’t enough to have lofty ideas and dreams, business owners and visionaries must learn to push their brand out there by all legit means possible.
Written by Jennifer Chioma Amadi
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A couple of months ago, we conducted a market research for a client that manufactures and distributes a product which falls within the category of Fast Moving Consumer Goods [FMCGs]. Their target was to push their product into same league as global brands with a strong national presence in Nigeria.
The research was focused on Port Harcourt and the drag net captured three LGAs in Rivers State; Obio-Akpor, Phalga and Eleme. That means every neighbourhood in Port Harcourt was captured. Now, this is the interesting part!
Our client is chasing the bigger players and what that means is that they have been slicing off the market share of the big players just by penetrating the south-south market deeply. However, within the smaller neighbourhoods, especially in Abuloma, we noticed that a much smaller company was slicing off our client’s own market share by penetrating deeply into the Abuloma market and other neighborhoods.
So what’s the point?
Most small businesses and startups lack the financial muscle and operational capacity to give the big players a run for their money. Instead of just dreaming of the day you will square up with the big players and possibly beat them, you can actually focus your limited resources and energy on carving a niche for yourself.
What’s your lowest hanging fruit?
One neighbourhood after another, Habib Yoghurt now has a strong presence in most Nigerian cities including Port Harcourt. If it is one store you can get, give a razor sharp focus to it and penetrate the immediate market deeply, it generates revenue to keep you afloat and also gives you the much needed traction with which you can eventually lure investors and even expand. Before you get your 1000 subscribers, focus on the first 100 and before that, focus on the first 10. Scale down your operations to the barest minimum that your resources can carry. It’s called a Minimum Viable Product (MVP).
By all means, find that one street, neighborhood, company, demographic, etc and penetrate it DEEPLY. Be an underdog, and if you don’t have the privilege of a bird’s eye view, capitalize on the privilege of a worm’s eye view. It’s luring to want to flesh out your full vision at once, but building up in milestones is more sustainable than trying to do it all at once.
Think about it. What has been the most rewarding source of revenue for you? Focus on it and penetrate that market deeply. You don’t have plenty seeds to scatter, why cut your only seed into several pieces?
Written by Maple Dappa
If you need help in any area, we are here to provide custom solutions. Let’s hear from you, send an email to email@example.com and you could get a Free Brand Audit!
Starting a business is one thing, building a business that not only stands the test of time but leaves lasting positive impressions on your clients, is another. My colleagues and I went out for some drinks at a new spot one of us had discovered; we decided it will be great to give it a shot. We all got there and sat back to take in the space; cool spot, great brand name. They took it up a notch by incorporating the name in their choice of materials for the interior design. Ingenious! The attendants were all smartly dressed in lovely branded T-shirts and the setting had a lovely rooftop view.
Generally, they had ticked off a few boxes on my list of what a great brand should be, but in a few minutes I was forced to rethink my review. More than 20minutes after our arrival, no attendant had come to take our order and efforts to call their attention were futile. So much for a great space, hmmm!
Eventually, we caught the attention of one of the attendants and a plain, ill-crafted menu was given to us. We expected that a menu befitting the space and design flow will be presented, but it was a mere A4 sheet with black print. No lamination, no art, nothing!
Anyway, we placed our orders but were gobsmacked at the cluelessness of the attendant when one of us had a few questions about the meal she intended to order. The platter of surprises was far from full as they kept serving more disappointments. After the stipulated time that they gave for our meals to be ready, we neither saw Chinaware nor silver cutlery and none of the waiters had the courtesy to apologize for the delay or affirm the food was getting prepared. After a prolonged wait, the food was served and it took complaints from us to elicit an apology from the attendant, who obviously had little or no training or knowledge on the rudiments of customer service.
Though the meal and ambience were wonderful, we had definitely struck off coming back to the establishment neither were we going to recommend it to anyone we knew. We were put-off by the poor service and nonchalant employees so much that we had no good reviews to put up. What’s the point in this?
At times, people think once you have a building with aesthetics and can afford some labour, your business is set. Not so! Branding a business goes beyond the buildings, aesthetics and employing people who wear uniforms; a distinct personality has to be created for your business in every way possible. Though the establishment in our aforementioned story had a desirable ambience (first impression), the services failed to portray a good ‘personality’ (character and conduct). If they had paid some attention to adequately training their staff to understand the importance of quality service as well as the vision, mission and core values, maybe the outcome would have been different.
Once the basics are addressed, your business will be sure-footed on its way to becoming a brand in every ramification; from name to service delivery. Once your customers are pleased with what your brand offers, ALOHA! to awesome reviews and customers that know your worth and will gladly pay for your services while they invite others to drink from the fountain of your proven brand!
If you will remember one thing, it is this;
Branding begins its journey from internal coordination before it gets to external communications.
Written by Kosisochukwu Ikeme
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During the era of Nazi Germany, a secret-police organization was created to deal with persons suspected of disloyalty; they employed even crude means in carrying out this task.
While extreme measures may not be employed in their case, employers often treat their employees as corporate slaves. They pay the salaries, so employees should just keep quiet and do the bidding of the masters. Anything outside that is perceived as disloyalty or even treachery in worse cases. Such employers are not concerned about the reservations employees may have about the operations of the organization, and that is where they start missing out on crucial feedback that could help in shaping the organization better.
When the employers eventually get to ask employees if they have any comments or opinions to share, the employees opt to stay mute for fear of being victimized unless such a comment is in favour of the powers that be, just like the Gestapo operated. Supposed team members would rather stomach their reservations than risk being in the black book of the masters, that’s if their jobs aren’t even threatened. This is so because the culture of feedback is in actual sense non-existent in the organization, and I daresay many Nigerian and African organizations. Our understanding of power seems be a function of might and self-assertion.
And so, the unexpressed reservations eventually reflect in the form of nonchalance, it’s sometimes the reason why customer care representatives don’t give their all in serving clients, asides personal attitudinal flaws. A team that is less passionate about driving the organization’s vision, functioning in a more or less dispirited environment, and working the job just to earn a living and nothing more, truly cannot be as outstanding as the organization desire.
Let’s consider the personal relationships in our lives. It is at the point people no longer feel free to express their reservations that our relationship starts going awry. Our associates, friends and family owe it to us as a duty to express their reservations in line with the terms of engagement, so adjustments can be made where necessary and corrections taken as well and we also have the responsibility of giving them our ears so they can let it all out.
Stronger relationships can only be forged when we can freely express both the pleasant and unpleasant observations and also be willing to listen to others when they do same. This should not be mistaken for being swayed by the expectations of others, no. It also doesn’t mean organizations should pander to the dictates of their employees, far from that. What this means is that we value relationships, even with organizations, so much that we don’t take for granted anything that could possibly threaten it.
There should be a feedback system that ensures no one is victimized for expressing concerns that doesn’t conform to the soothing desires of management. Corporate organizations must have that moment of truth within its team, that’s how solid and well bonded teams are built.
It is profitable to harness strength out of divergent viewpoints instead of bludgeoning people into acquiescence.
Written by Maple Dappa
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