We came across a Facebook post suggesting that certain businesses perform better when they are unstructured compared to when they are structured. The person asserted that a renowned Nigerian blogger, Linda Ikeji, is struggling ever since she became structured, but that is quite a baseless assertion without specific indices or metrics to measure the performance of her business. The argument had so many holes in it, we didn’t even know which one to address or ignore, but our take away was that many people do not understand what structure means.
Here are some insights on structuring your business:
1. Structuring does not mean leaving your product-market fit. If you were doing very well by selling food to Tricycle Drivers and then you go build a gigantic edifice with air conditioners in the name of structuring, you are just burying your business alive. The drivers won’t follow you but will switch to another option.
2. Structuring does not mean leaving what is working and going to experiment with the unknown. If Linda Ikeji leaves what has been working for her to new terrain, she may struggle before getting it right again, if she does.
3. Structuring does not mean you stop innovating. If you become relaxed simply because you got structured, you will lose out. The more structured you become, the more you have to be on your toes innovating.
4. Structuring does not mean fancy offices and glam. It is not about “I have arrived”, you will be pushed over to the sideline.
5. Structuring is about becoming BETTER ORGANIZED as the business grows gradually. When a bukka woman teaches her daughter to cook the meals as well, it is structuring. When she teaches her Son how to go buy foodstuff from the market, it is structuring. When she keeps proper inventory of the foodstuff to check them against daily sales to ensure there is no theft or unrecorded debts to customers, it is structuring. When she can take a break and business is still ongoing, it is structuring. The list goes on.
6. Structuring is about creating systems and processes, no matter how basic. You cannot seek a serious business loan with your personal account, you need to open a business bank account and that requires BVN, a registered business, Tax identification, etc.
Our investor at Mapemond asked us, “what if I die, what will happen to my investment in your company?” our answer was all around systems, processes and ultimately, structuring.
You cannot desire to be another Dangote, Otedola, Elumelu, Jason Njoku, Ibukun Awosika, and all these people and not be thinking in terms of structure over time.
Davido and WizKid will direct you to their managers if you want to do business with them, even personal brands have their own approach to structuring. That is why they create DMW, Mavin Records, and the likes.
We have to break the fetters and manacles holding us spellbound to the hustle and survival mentality while thinking that we can build a big business by staying unstructured and evading FIRS and the rest perpetually.
Global Ventures that…
All the fancy desires will not happen by mere wishes, you have to build structures diligently and consistently for several years.
If your clients’ work will be on hold because you have malaria, your business is an endangered specie.
We don’t like to think about it, but what if you die? What happens to the monies you collected from people? Pending salaries? Etc?
Please share this, let’s empower more entrepreneurs with the right knowledge.
If you think otherwise, then this post is not for you.
We wish you well in your endeavors.
We had a meeting with someone recently who has a brilliant idea. She has figured out most of what needs to be in place to execute the idea, but there was a giant wall in front of her – how to get the clients. We spoke with her to provide guidance but we gleaned some insights to share with you in your career or business journey.
Ideas and dreams are exciting.
Doing the groundwork could be fun.
Until it is time to sell yourself, product, or service, cold feet will show up.
Selling is not a skill for entrepreneurs only, it is a skill for everyone.
When you go to the visa office, it is a moment to sell yourself.
When you write application letters, you are selling yourself.
When you sit before a panel at a job interview, you are selling yourself.
When you share thoughts on social media, you are selling yourself.
Selling is a must-have skill for you.
Your dreams won’t come true if you don’t confront the challenge of selling.
Making two million bucks monthly is easy to calculate on paper until it is time to make the numbers a reality.
Confront the challenge of selling.
Selling is the bridge that leads to the land of milk and honey.
Find a way to kill that fear and sell.
Overcome that hesitation and sell.
Change your thinking about selling, you can learn and do it well.
The most successful people in the world are not necessarily those who are the best at what they do, but those who sold themselves better.
How badly do you desire success?
How badly do you desire to see your dreams come true?
Summon courage from within and confront the challenge of selling.
There are various options available to aid you – books, courses, seminars, coaching, mentoring, internship, and so on. Only you can make the move, so you can achieve better results.
What you desire for your career or business is waiting for you across the river called SALES (SELL YOURSELF).
We wish you success!
Building an awesome brand begins with an idea, this book shares perspectives on thinking through business ideas. It is a twelve minutes read of stories and quick insights. We hope you will enjoy reading it. We would love to get your feedback. Kindly share with those who need it.
You can get it via DOWNLOAD HERE
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Get your team smarter through our short courses on sales, marketing, proposal writing, and more at really low prices. Visit MAPEMOND ACADEMY
At the middle of the year, many questions relating to the priorities of a firm spring up. It is easy to set priorities at the start of the year but following through is somewhat a challenge for most organisations. In the process of swimming with the tides of change either caused by internal or external factors, so many drift away from their initial goals and objectives. One way to resolve this is by being accountable to shareholders or partners.
Drawing insight from Jeff Bezos’ ritual of writing letters annually, since 1997 to date, to the shareholders of his company, Amazon.com, business owners can learn a great deal of accountability. The brand that is referred to as the world’s largest online marketplace and cloud computing company has been able to consistently remain on track running with clear priorities.
It was observed that the letters the company writes to communicate its focus to shareholders help it stay accountable throughout the year. Whether it is a new strategy towards expanding the brand or a decision on employees, the letters act as signals informing shareholders about the direction of the company. An excerpt from the 2004 letter shows that Bezos also uses it as a medium to share some financial concerns. There he wrote “Our ultimate financial measure, and the one we most want to drive over the long-term, is free cash flow per share.”
An analysis carried out on the letters indicated that there are key words the letters are structured with. From this, one can tell where the company’s priority for that year is centred on. The 2006 letter revolved around five words, “businesses,” “new,” “Amazon,” “grow,” and “culture”— pointing the attention of shareholders towards expansion and growth. In that letter, Bezos writes,
“At Amazon’s current scale, planting seeds that will grow into meaningful new businesses takes some discipline, a bit of patience, and a nurturing culture. Our established businesses are well-rooted young trees. They are growing, enjoy high returns on capital, and operate in very large market segments. These characteristics set a high bar for any new business we would start. Before we invest our shareholders’ money in a new business, we must convince ourselves that the new opportunity can generate the returns on capital our investors expected when they invested in Amazon. And we must convince ourselves that the new business can grow to a scale where it can be significant in the context of our overall company.”
Moving on to 2010, the priorities of the company changed to “data,” “Amazon,” “services,” “systems,” and “technology”. Bezos pinpointed
“All the effort we put into technology might not matter that much if we kept technology off to the side in some sort of R&D department, but we don’t take that approach. Technology infuses all of our teams, all of our processes, our decision-making, and our approach to innovation in each of our businesses. It is deeply integrated into everything we do.”
Even though Bezos never includes the failures of the firm, he makes his shareholders know of such possibility but assures them of a way out. This is clearly seen in his 2013 letter:
“Failure comes part and parcel with invention. It is not optional. We understand that and believe in failing early and iterating until we get it right.”
Bezos also utilises the opportunity to remind the shareholders about the company’s plan from the beginning. This can be seen in the most recent 2018 shareholders letter released 11th April 2019. It reads:
“From very early on in Amazon’s life, we knew we wanted to create a culture of builders – people who are curious, explorers. They like to invent. Even when they are experts, they are “fresh” with a beginner’s mind. They see the way we do things as just the way we do things now. A builder’s mentality helps us approach big, hard-to-solve opportunities with a humble conviction that success can come through iteration: invent, launch, reinvent, relaunch, start over, rinse, repeat, again and again. They know the path to success is anything but straight.”
With this approach, accountability becomes less of a problem for the firm, and serves as a means to attain sustainability.
What is your own approach for accountability?
Written by Jennifer Chioma Amadi
Do you need help with developing a business strategy? We can help. Send an email to email@example.com
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Have you thought about why it is a struggle for many of us not to spend business money on personal needs, even with all the talk about financial discipline? As simple as this question may sound, it would take lots of people several months if not years to answer.
Whether we are counting millions or thousands, buying or selling, saving or spending, the subject of finances is one we can never stop learning about. Without exaggerating, I would say we are confronted by different financial challenges daily but for some reason, most people consider financial topics too sensitive. This is the reason why you find a good number of persons especially entrepreneurs rarely discuss their financial struggles and secretly search for ways to survive.
The quest for survival has put a reasonable number of emerging entrepreneurs in a difficult position when negotiating payment terms with clients. They often sell themselves short in exchange for any amount just to meet their present needs. This has ultimately inhibited the growth potential of so many ventures.
From critical observations backed up with research, I have summed the financial circle into four. Every individual and entrepreneur can be categorized under one of them. I have come to believe that the circle or stage one is determines their financial decisions. Here are the basic four financial circle;
SURVIVAL: This is the base level where folks practically struggle to get through each day as it concerns basic necessities like food, transport fare, shelter, etc. Folks in this circle are usually the first casualties when there’s hike in the prices of general consumer goods. However, there’s a grading within this circle just like all others, not everyone is exactly at same level.
COMFORT: This circle is just above the previous, basic things of life isn’t much of a problem here. People in this category just want to be comfortable enough to live in a good home, buy the gadgets they want, send their kids to good private schools, afford one or two trips abroad, and so on. There’s also a grading in this circle, not everyone is at the same level. Beyond that, some people shuttle between this circle and the previous one, others remain here perpetually while some others proceed to the next.
SUSTAINABILITY: At this level, comfort is no longer a person’s quest, it is settled. Folks here are more concerned with how to maintain their quality of life and create a fortune for their heirs. People here take investments more seriously; they want to own properties and assets, anything that gives them some level of security.
LEGACY: This is the stage where money isn’t a problem anymore. The world’s top billionaires belong here. They are hungry for impact; something with their names crested on it; own a football club or something of that sort, set up a foundation tackling one major problem the world laments about, or re-engineer the business itself to offer greater value to the world. By all means, they embark on legacy projects. So long as it takes money, there is nothing they cannot afford.
Not everyone starts from ground zero by the way, but everyone belongs to one out of the four circles at each point in life. I am an advocate for people to live within their means and be contented with what they have per time even when hoping and working to improve their lot.
Which financial circle do you fall under and what plans have you been making to progress in order to build your enterprise?
Written by Maple Dappa
Are you in need of financial advice and planning? We have experts on that. Send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org
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A major problem business owners have with branding is that they delay the need for it. “I will start the business first and brand it later”, they say. But that’s like brushing your teeth without toothpaste and licking toothpaste later to make up. I know that illustration is a bit too extreme so don’t try to wrap your head around it.
Anyway, practically speaking, when branding is shoved aside or kept at the bottom of the to-do list in business that could be classified as one of the most unwise business decisions. For anyone venturing into the competitive world of business, the first thing on your mind should be how to stand out from others who have been there. This is not to exaggerate but no business would stand out without slight touches of branding.
No matter how basic, branding should be an intricate part of your business plan. For example, when thinking of your business name, also ask yourself if it will make a good brand name. Consider how the name will flow on marketing materials, souvenirs, stationery, and so on. It can be that basic and simple, even though branding runs much deeper than visual identity and communications.
Though branding is a broad topic and sometimes seen as complicated, it is still doable and never farfetched. I’ve observed that some people try to avoid it with lots of excuses to give, from limited resources to lack of time. In fact once a conversation about branding is stirred they literally begin to enumerate all the challenges that would prevent them from taking actions towards branding their business.
You may not have the funds, time or requisite knowledge to effect a full scale branding from the onset, but you should think ahead and lay the right foundation that you can build on later. I think it all begins from our understanding of what branding really is and that is why I urge you to learn more about the subject, by any means possible.
One thing you should understand is that branding affects every aspect of your business – visual identity, product development, customer experience, employee relations, organizational structure, office administration, marketing communications, and so on. You cannot afford to take it for granted if you really desire to grow a sustainable business.
When you lay a good foundation, you stand a better chance to survive the challenges that come your way. A whole lot of setbacks in business can actually be prevented from the beginning if the right branding strategies are employed. Wait no longer, now is the best time to start branding your business.
Written by Maple Dappa
Do you need help with your brand strategy? We are your go-to consultants! Send us an email at email@example.com
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Reputation is something that sticks longer with humans and it’s usually difficult to correct whether good or bad. In business, a first mistake could be pardoned and considered an oversight but when it becomes a reoccurring event, it becomes your company’s reputation. Once people get to know your brand for a particular thing, negative or positive, that image stays glued on your business until you’re able to create a stronger impression that is remarkable enough to replace the former. A bad reputation therefore tarnishes the image of your business.
The fact is customers never forget the kind of emotions they felt when they encountered your brand, how fast or slow you delivered, the process in which you got the work done either efficiently or otherwise. If they had a terrible experience caused with your brand, they would always remember.
Following the recent event of the Ethiopian Airlines crash of the Boeing 737 Max 8 jet, we realised the magnitude of a bad reputation. The Boeing 737 brand that had also crashed five months earlier during Lion Air flight generated a lot of bad publicity for the airplane manufacturer, Boeing. Due to the reoccurred misfortune, some countries have grounded the plane, labelled it unsafe and it has already cost the company its shares valuation, which dropped to 13% with the snap of the finger, in the stock market. It is a thing of certainty that people whose families died in the plane crash will always relive the grief anytime they hear Boeing 737. This has automatically put the Boeing brand on the black list of many potential passengers and even shareholders.
From the event, you would deduct that a brand’s reputation creates a certain perception of it among clients, stakeholders and its target market. Unconsciously, the type of reputation you have could stir several emotions in customers who try to patronise you. What they feel becomes what they would associate with your brand and eventually would turn out to be your brand identity.
Companies with bad public image run at loss and never make high sales most of the time. They are usually seen as not being trustworthy or reliable and also lose customer loyalty as time goes by which affects their relevance in the society they operate. It obviously points out that a bad reputation is one of the fastest ways to ruin any business even the greatest of them all.
For any business to thrive in its sector, it must pay attention to the kind of reputation it has earned from when it commenced. People would either connect or disconnect with your brand based on what you have been known for as a company’s reputation always guides the decision of prospective investors or clients.
For the Boeing brand, we think it would take a lot of product re-engineering, rebranding, remodelling and reassurance for it to gain back a good public image. What’s your take, do you think it still has any reputation left to build on?
Written by Jennifer Chioma Amadi
Do you want to build a remarkable brand that will leave a lasting legacy? We can help you structure your business the right way. Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
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A phone brand with variety of ringtones almost half of Nigerians cannot forget is Nokia. With its different models that came in different shapes and sizes with different abilities, Nokia sure did leave a mark on the walls of the telecommunication market in Nigeria. It had a grand entrance into the market and enjoyed a good season of dominance.
Interestingly, with time and as new brands emerged with different technologies and innovations, Nokia began to lose its stand and at some point was wiped out of the Nigerian market. Determined to spring back to its feet, Nokia through its partnership with Microsoft produced new products to satisfy the ever craving Nigerian market.
Regardless of what must have gone wrong, it is undeniable that Nokia is a remarkable brand and there are many lessons to learn from its brand story. So brace yourself as we dissect one of the historical brands ever – Nokia.
Nokia, what we now know as one of the most popular multinational telecommunications brands in the world went from one industry to another before venturing and becoming known for production of mobile phones. Here is how it transited.
In the early period of 1865, May 12th precisely, Fedrik Idestam, a mining engineer, founded Nokia in Finland. In that year, the brand did not start as a telecommunication brand rather it commenced as a single paper mill operation. The company went public with the name Nokia Ab in 1871 when Leo Mechelin, Idestam’s friend joined hands with him.
Like most partnership, Idestam and Mechelin did not agree on everything. At some point, Mechelin wanted to expand the company into the electricity business but Idestam declined the idea. In 1896, Idestam retired and Mechelin became the company’s chairperson. Nevertheless, after Idestam had retired in 1896, Mechelin pushed his idea to the company’s shareholders and eventually Nokia became an electricity company in 1902.
Due to its near bankruptcy after World War I, Suomen Gummitehdas Oy, popularly known as Finnish Rubber Works, acquired Nokia. It was a company founded in 1898 by Eduard Polon, a business leader. The Finnish Rubber Works subsequently acquired Suomen Kaapelitehdas Oy (Finnish Cable Work). This new company was into the production of telephone, telegraph and electrical cables.
While Nokia Ab, Suomen Gummitehdas, and Suomen Kaapelitehdas were under the same roof, they did not merge legally but became a viable group.
However, in 1967, the three companies merged to form Nokia Corporation. This new establishment manufactured products like paper items, car and bicycle tyres, rubber boots, communications cables, televisions and other consumer electronics, personal computers, generators, robotics, capacitors, military technology and equipment (such as the SANLA M/90 device and the M61 gas mask for the Finnish Army), plastics, aluminium and chemicals.
The company ran for close to fifteen years within which it experienced loss at some points, giving birth to a new focus on mobile phone technologies. From the merger between Nokia and Salora, in 1979, the Nordic Mobile Telephone (NMT) network called 1G, which became the first fully automatic cellular phone system, was developed.
In order to create better phone models, Nokia purchased Salora in 1984. Following the success of this, in 1987, Nokia launched its first mobile phone “Mobira Cityman 900” for NMT– 900 networks that was able to accommodate data.
After gaining its ground in the mobile phone industry, Nokia commenced operations in over 130 countries connecting millions of people all over the world.
Nokia explains its vision simply, “we create the technology to connect the world.”
The brand has operated with solid values over the years. Here they are;
As more competitions arose among the mobile phone brands, in 2008, Nokia’s market share fell to 40.8 percent. Even though Nokia tried to get back its position in the market by releasing new models like N97 touchscreen device, it still experienced some loss in 2009.
Even with the losses, Nokia refused to give into the pressure to switch to producing Android based smartphones and continued to focus on producing more Symbian based smartphones which were no longer selling in the market. This again saw their market shares drop further in 2010.
In search of a remedy, Nokia went into partnership with Microsoft. Because of this partnership, Nokia adopted Windows Phone as the operating system for the smartphones it produced from 2011. Nokia took a more courageous step on the 25 April 2014 to sell its mobile phone business to Microsoft for £3.79bn.
Despite all the pitfalls, Nokia continues to bounce back, proving itself as a hard nut to crack. In recent times, it has embraced new technologies, thereby enhancing the quality of its products. It has made its return into market with more vibrancy, and has gained back its visibility.
DID YOU KNOW
- The name Nokia was coined from a town called Nokia and the Nokianvirta River.
- By the end of 2013, 10,000 employees had been dismissed
- In the 1980s, Nokia’s computer division “Nokia Data”, produced a series of personal computers called the “MikroMikko” in the 1980s
Do you need support in building your business to become a sustainable brand? We are here to help! Shoot us an email at email@example.com.
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If we compile all the names of different enterprises in this world, they could sum up to over a billion. The whole word could seem too farfetched so let us bring it home; walking along a busy road here in Nigeria, there is a high probability you would see at least twenty different names of businesses at every turn of your neck. Though each of these twenty try to make a statement of their own, only a handful, if at all any, will succeed in communicating with you.
Bringing it further down to your neighbourhood, can you remember all the names of the little shops on your street even after residing there for many years? The answer is likely a no! You might put the blame on your memory or accuse yourself of not paying attention to details. The truth remains; the names of these little shops did not leave an impression on you and could not register in your mind.
However, the light bulb in your brain practically turns up when you hear names like MTN, Coca-Cola, Facebook, Indomie, Microsoft, DSTV, Toyota, Samsung, Google, SPAR, TOTAL, etc. You might conclude that these are big brands that are well recognised. Yes, this is true but do not forget that they were not as big as they are when they started. The difference is the names of these popular brands have continued to speak loudly for everyone one to hear.
Choosing a business name is an imperative criteria for any enterprise and it is not as simple as you may think. Merely picking a name that sounds good to your ears might not be a wise business choice. Deciding on a business name requires a lot of brainstorming and deep research in your chosen market. It demands you devote quality time defining each term you wish to use to ensure it connects with your business or the kind of brand you want to build.
You may be asking why you should go through so much stress for a brand name and fail to realise one fact, a business name, in most cases, is the first thing potential clients would meet before they encounter the owner. The name of a business becomes its identity and carries the brand’s message. It is the voice that gently calls out to customers beckoning on them to patronise the business. Now let’s look at a few steps you could take to give your business name a voice.
Firstly, do not think you know it all, consult professionals. Most people consider consultation a waste of time and money, and move straight into making decisions that end up marring all their efforts. With the right strategic advice and plan from a professional, you can be sure that every aspect of your brand will stand out from the crowd.
Secondly go for a name that is easy to remember. Simple names stick longer in the minds of people and communicate to them better. So avoid any name that is too complicated and hard to remember. Also, before you settle for any name, do a proper check to ensure no other company has used that name before.
Thirdly, add some creativity to the name that leaves people curious to the name. Don’t mistaken plainness for simplicity. Keeping your business name, short and simple doesn’t mean you should go for a plain name that literally gives your business away or sounds too mundane. Depending on the nature of your intended business or brand personality, you could also introduce a little mystery to the name that stirs up curiosity in the minds of people.
Lastly, be certain the services or products your business offers lives up to its name. It is not enough to have a brilliant name and then deliver poorly. Customers will always link your business name to the quality of your services. So whilst you have a striking business name, it could also have a bad reputation.
Extra Tip: A name is not merely about the alphabetic letters, but about the reputation, perception and values it represents.
With these simple steps and a strong publicity to increase the visibility of the business name, you can be rest assured that your brand will not just be in the minds of people, but also in their hearts.
Written by Jennifer Chioma Amadi
Do you need a total rebranding? We can help! Send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org
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