Tag Archives: Entrepreneur

Why You, Business Founders, Need to Get Out Of Your Building And Meet People Now?

“Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning.” – Bill Gates.

Business owners need to realize the importance of going out and meet people. An important step of creating a startup is to understand what the market needs, not what you think it needs.

1. UNDERSTANDING THE MARKET’S PROBLEM

MarketingWhat better way to understand the market than to go out and meet them personally. Communicate with your market and try to understand their own perspective of your product. You will be surprised by the wealth amount of new information you will discover from the conversations, these are crucial to your product development.

Be in it for the long haul. Do not send out marketers to do all the job for you, you’d be ashamed. You need to get involved in the process as well. Marketers are only trained to familiarize your product to a certain degree of understanding. You know your product best, which makes you the more suitable candidate to lead the development process.

You are the best person to ask the questions to try understand completely the problems that might arise from the consumers relate to your product. The follow-up questions can also be as crucial.

2. Re-develop your product

Using the information provided by the market, this is your best source of information to redevelop your product. Believe it or not, your market is the most trustworthy place to understand your product.

Your consumers know what they want, and this transcends to what is needed in your product. In addition, customers are crucial to help you understand the wear and tear of your products. So, this is the best time for you to fully understand the long term issues that may arise from usage.

3. Pricing strategies

It’s always a good idea to develop your product bottom-top. Setting the price for your product is best determined this way.

Once you get your market audience to understand your product, ask them what would be the preferred price they’d pay for it. This is a great way to know how sensitive your market would to pricing such product.

Pay attention to the feedbacks of the preferred price they suggest. This gives you an idea how much customers are willing to pay for your product. If they suggest a low price, it gives an indication that the problem your product resolves is not worth paying much. If the suggestion is at high price, it tells you how serious the problem is and that customers are willing to pay much to resolve it.

Through the conversations you have with your targeted market, you will have a stronger understanding of the consumers and how much would they be willing to pay for it.

4. GET FEEDBACK FOR FUTURE MARKETING

Another important thing to highlight here is how much information you can learn by just getting to know your consumers and their problems.

The comment, testimonials and feedback from consumers can be relayed to your marketing team so they can develop better understanding of the targeted market. As a result, your marketing strategies become more effective since your business becomes emotionally connected and aware of the consumers’ problems.

5. Final Two Cent

Running a business is far from only working from your desk, analyzing countless data and information. It needs a step further – get to know the people you are selling to. Understand their problems, their concerns in short & long term, tell them how you intend to solve at the given price. Communicate. Communicate. Communicate.

7 Women Entrepreneurs You Need To Know

I’ve decided to write something else this time. It’s rare to see stories written about successful women entrepreneurs around the world. Not that they need any more recognition than they already have – but I feel the time was already due to write about these ladies in my blog.

I remember the first time I saw SlideShare back in the university days. Years later, I was shocked that LinkedIn bought it for $118.75 million in 2013. Curious, I started researching about the company and its history (a nerd I was).

What caught my attention was not the fact Rashmi Sinha, the founder, is a woman, but the fact she studied PhD in neuropsychology – nothing to do with web technology at all. It just shows the level of aptitude she possesses which impress people in the business world.

She co-founded the company with Jonathan Boutelle in 2006 who became the CTO before being sold to Linkedin which has more than 16 million registered users now.

Another company that grew to become a giant, Cisco. The idea was born out of the problem where the founder Sandra Lerner experienced difficulties to email with her then-husband Len Bosack while working at Stanford University. This problem has led her to design the multi-protocol router – a platform which catapulted Cisco in 1984.

In 1990, it was reported Lerner walked away from the company with $170 million from the sale of her stock options. Her entrepreneurial career did not end there, she continued on to start Urban Decay, a company specialized in cosmetics and a farm based in Virginia.

Flickr was founded in 2002 by duo couple Caterina Fake and Stewart Butterfield. The popular photo sharing website was an offshoot of a game which Fake was developing with her husband at the time.

Three years later, Yahoo bought the website from the couple for a reported $35 million in cash and stock options. Fake went on to co-found another another website called Hunch – a site that makes recommendations based on users’ preferences. She was even named to the board of directors of the very popular online marketplace Etsy.

4. The Body Shop

Anita Roddick was not a stranger to the entrepreneurial life when she founded The Body Shop in 1976, England. Right after running a hotel and a restaurant, she used the experience to create a livelihood for herself and her two daughters – thus creating the company.

Her business concept became a hit and Anita launched her second branch within six months after launch. Realizing she hit jackpot, she soon launched The Body Shop franchise program which enabled her company to open stores all over the world.

The company’s success led to its first public offering in 1984 and 2006 later on. It didn’t end there. Anita and Co finally sold to L’Oreal for a reported $1.4 billion which today, we see there are more than 2500 stores in 61 countries.

Katie Rodan and Kathy Fields were classmates who studies together at Stanford University. Both ladies agreed to the need of finding a better acne treatment since they have also suffered similar ordeal at some time in their lives. At a certain point in their lives after Stanford, the pair noticed the problems acne posed for people of different ages which led them into developing a new way to treat facial blemishes.

Over a five-year period of researching and testing, they have developed an effective acne skin care system which is know as Proactiv Solution. It was a combination of acne medicine and soothing botanicals to create a much more effective acne fighting system designed to leave the skin smooth, clean and clear.

6. HTC

Cher Wang is the co-founder of the famously known mobile technology company HTC with an estimate worth of $1.6 billion according to Forbes. She was born in 1958 and studied degree in economics from University of California in 1981. A year later, she joined First International Computer company, which led her to co-found VIA in 1987. 10 years later, she went on to co-found HTC in 1997.

Cher has been featured on Forbes world’s billionaire list multiple times from year 2010-12 having a net worth at an estimated 1.6 billion dollars making her one of the most powerful women in 2012.

7. The Huffington Post

No one familiar with digital media world has not heard of The Huffington Post. The founder, Arianna Huffington  even plays a huge role in the company after selling it to AOL for $315 million.

Arianna is also an accomplished author having shared her experience in book Thrive: The Third Metric to Success where the book still remains featured on the website.

My Final Two Cent

What do you guys think of the list? I’m sure there are more ‘women-preneurs’ which I missed hustling and working hard around the globe. Let me know any women entrepreneur which you feel very interesting and ‘must-know’. I’d really like to find out more about them.

7 Tips How You Can Promote Your Business Using Instagram.

Personally, I’d feel a B2C setup works quite well on Instagram since end consumers would like to have a look at your product before considering to purchase – if they do consider, the platform offers great opportunity for businesses to connect with consumers directly. On the other hand, B2B often works with other businesses such as suppliers and distributors which most Instagram users aren’t.

It goes without saying that Instagram is one of the most popular social media sharing platform these days – if not the most. With a staggering amount of millions of people sharing photos and videos on it, the community is highly sought after by every business. So here’s 7 tips you should use to promote business on Instagram:

  1. Schedule well-timed posts and regularly
    • Personally, I’d suggest using Crowdfire. The app simply provides you a lot of insights about your online consumers and best of all – it sends you post recommendations for your online media platforms from time to time helping you to post updates easily.
    • You must have figured out some of the best times to post your updates. But if you haven’t, I’d recommend  Simply Measured, an app which helps you figure out the best time to post updates – Free up to 25,000 Followers.
    • Another app I’d suggest is the Iconosquare – which I strongly recommend. However, it only offers 30 days trial.
  2. Strong Call to Action
    • Use the right words in your call to action see result in your posts.
    • A survey has found that photo caption with the word ‘like’ receives 89% more Likes than the one that does not. It also found that photos receive up to 2194% comments by including the word ‘comment’ in the caption alone. That’s something you need to pay attention to.
  3. Follow and Like Players in the Industry
    • Connect with people in the industry if you want to get known. It’s a no-brainer to follow influential people in your industry to get noticed.
    • There’s evidence that points to us the more active an account is in liking other images, the more likely people visit your account and Like your images too.
  4. Open Conversation Comment
    • Stop commenting the typical flatter such as ‘Great post!’ or ‘You have great talent!’.
    • Instead, be more conversationist. Start making conversations with the players in the industry.
    • Start by sharing what you feel would be appropriate to give the Instagram account the extra edge. End it with a compliment and a question related to the post.
    • By creating an open-ending question, the user might be more inclined to pay more attention to answer rather than the typical compliments from other fans.
  5. Research Best and Popular Hashtags
    • Hashtags are useful to get your page noticed by strangers around the world.
    • Determine popular hashtags in your industry to reach your market’s full potential.
    • Try the app TagsForLikes which offers ideas on popular hashtags that meet with your demand. Use it to determine best hashtags for your brand to grow on Instagram. My personal favorite would be Likes.
  6. Include Faces in Your Photos.
    • Evidence shows strong indication that photos which include faces receive 35% more Likes than those that do not.
    • Don’t forget to include photos such as selfies, group photos (or ‘we-fie’) once a while to start boosting your post likes.
  7. Rename location to your Website URL
    • If your business has a website and you intend to promote it on Instagram, you can rename the location of your business location to the URL.
    • It can be tedious nowadays to rename your location since the update.
    • However, there is a method to do so which can be found on Benrequena’s website where it teaches you step-by-step to rename your location on Instagram.
    • Once you’ve renamed your business location, each time you share it on you update, it will show up which gives better exposure to your website.

My Final Two Cent

Instagram gets a little bit tricky these days as the platform is saturated with competitors. Whilst it is important to analyse your competition, it is also important that you create your own Instagram marketing tactics suited for your own brand. If you struggle (which you will in the early stages), adopt some of your competitors’ principles and start developing your own ideas around it.

Writing Executive Summary. Why is it Important and How to Write It?

The executive summary is crucial as it allows investors or banks to be able to understand the nature of your business by just reading a few paragraphs. Investors who constantly receive new business proposal do not have the time to read every page of what you submit.

This is where the summary becomes essential. It gives the investors/banks an idea of the nature of your business instantly. Based on it, they will also get to understand your business, what makes you – unique. With enough reasons, they can decide whether to read further or even end up investing.

1. First paragraph

The first paragraph is always the most crucial and the most difficult to write.

Structure systematically about what you want the investors to know about your business. What is the problem you’re trying to solve? What product and which audience? These are the things you need to focus on in the first several sentences.

Then, write about how do you operate and sell? What equipment or assets you have at your disposal to run your business?

Finally, write in one sentence what your business needs from them (investor/bank) to grow? Write in general terms, with little details. Keep it simple. If your investor is interested, they will read further to find out more.

Use the guidelines below to help structure your executive summary. Use them as guidelines, make adjustments to which you feel fit your industry.  

What you want your investors to know about your brand?

  • What problem you’re trying to solve?
  • To which audience?
  • Operation and how you sell?
  • Equipment and asset?
  • Why and where will the money be invested?

2. Second Paragraph

This is where you talk in details about your operations and sales; and how the money invested will be spent on improving your business activities.

Your focus on this one should be inclined more towards how you intend to reach your market and eventually selling your service. This, followed by how you intend to support your selling effort. Inform the investor how your supply chain functions

Remember, always keep in mind how investor’s money will be spent and how it improves your profitability when you write. Just be careful not to be too redundant.

3. Third Paragraph

It’s best I divide this into 2 sections.

In the first few lines, this is where you talk about how you want to grow the business using the money. Where will your business be in another 3 or 5 years?

Then, explain generally how you intend to use the money from the revenue on paying back the investor. Do not over promise your investors about paying back the principal plus dividend. Be realistic and honest. Investors can sense you’re being dishonest if you intend on paying them back quickly as it affects company’s survivability if you do.

4. Fourth Paragraph

Describe briefly where will the money go in supporting your business justifying the amount you request. Write from general perspective. Let the investor know the overview of the money flow.

Imagine yourself in their own shoes, you’d definitely want to know how the money will be spent and how you will be getting paid.

This is the closure of your summary.

5. Other Tips

It becomes a difficult task to write as you need to squeeze in almost everything about your business in one paragraph. Business proposals consist of many content ranging from your financial statements and forecasts to competitive edge. How is it possible to share all the depth of information in one paragraph? Well, it becomes easier if you truly understand the ins and outs of your business. It is why the best person to write the proposal is yourself, the owner. If you feel you lack the stomach to write, be participative when it is being written.

Heard of ‘write your executive summary once you’ve completed your proposal’? Well, it’s true it does help. Do this as soon as you complete writing it as your brain is still fresh from it. If you’re short on time, take note of all the important things that make your business unique. Keep it for when you’re ready. Even then, try not to wait too long to write it down. I’d still recommend to write it immediately after completing the proposal though.

6. My Final Two Cent

Personally, I am surprised to see ‘experts’ advising aspiring entrepreneurs to keep the executive summary to one or one and a-half page. The advise immediately constricts the flow of writing. It does not help the process gets easier.

Instead, focus on what you want the investors to know. Tell them what separates you from the rest. You might end up with one or two or three pages, but the very least, you have done your job on informing them accurately about your business and why you need the money. If you summarize correctly, meaning you remain on point and concise, you will get it done much better than focusing yourself to write one page as advised in the first place.

Most important of all, do not digress. Stay on point.

If you’re looking for an example of the executive summary I wrote back when I started Mirsky Mode, click to download. It’s FREE.

14 FANTASTIC EXAMPLES OF BRANDS USING INSTAGRAM

Without a doubt Instagram has become a crucial social media platform for businesses around the world. Apart from the fact that 400 million active users every month, it is also a perfect platform to showcase the ‘other’ side of your business and to engage with your consumers in a much personal way.

Take a look at 14 brands which have successfully utilized Instagram in building their brand.

Continue reading 14 FANTASTIC EXAMPLES OF BRANDS USING INSTAGRAM

5 Weaknesses That You Need to Get Rid to Become an Entrepreneur.

Yes, running new business is exciting. The idea of success and the bountiful benefits which come with it are truly desirable. But, can anyone just do it? Can anyone who dives into this achieves success?

Recent report that 90% startup in USA fail is enough to scare away people from venturing into the entrepreneurial world. Apart from the distinct weaknesses in the technical department, what the article fail to realize is also the required mindset in order to achieve the difficulties and challenges of entrepreneurial world.

Having said that, here’s a list of weaknesses you need to get rid of in order to make the entrepreneurial journey less difficult:

1. Escape from your 9-5pm job

Majority of my clients began startup as a mean to escape from their 9-5pm job. I caution you if that is what you’re looking for. Starting your own business is just as difficult, if not more.

You are no longer just working at a company. You are running it which means every business activity needs to be at your fingertips. Your responsibility becomes broadened. You no longer check in and out at 5pm.

As an entrepreneur, your work continues making sure your budget is balanced. That you have enough money to pay salaries, rent and utility bills. You’ll begin to worry ‘what if’ you can’t afford to pay your employees end of the week if business not going well. You also need to consider your loan repayment and its interests (if you did take one).

Once done, only then you start thinking about getting your pay – unless you are a dishonest person, taking the share early leaving everyone else who worked for you ‘dry’. Something which I do not advocate and strongly condemns.

I’m hopeful that I did not scare you away with those rants, I was just stating the truth. This is the reality of starting an honest business from scratch and I have barely scratched the surface.

If you feel this person is you, then I’d recommend you to eliminate this thinking and prep yourself in facing more challenges as an entrepreneur. Otherwise, I’d recommend you keep your job until you are mentally and physically prepare for it.

2. You Look for Quick Results

I’ll be honest. Every millennials (myself included) fancy the idea of making quick buck. We mistook the idea of internet available everywhere enables us to reap results fast – along came Mr Zuckerberg’s Facebook and Systrom’s & Kriger’s Instagram which were considered as an ‘overnight’ success at the time.

Ever since then, we take pride in the idea that ‘if Zuckerberg can do it, so can I’ often leads to impatient approach and taking shortcuts even if it means to lie and cheat. We also start making ridiculous short-term business objectives for the purpose of making it ‘big and quick’.

And whenever we don’t get the results we set out, we falter. We began questioning ourselves and raise doubts over the business. These are the setbacks of looking quick results or in other words, an instant success.

This particular characteristic is dangerous as I have seen quite a number of young entrepreneurs who fell for the ‘quick buck’ mentality. They went down not only at the expense of being demonised by their unpaid staff, but also at the cost of owing more money to the bank at a very young age.     

3. Quick Diversification

At a certain point, entrepreneurs have always been reminded to diversify their business activities. This is true, but needs to be applied the correct way at the right time.

Diversification somewhat implies your business is growing. However, quick diversification could cost your business too. Businesses that grow rapidly could cause strain to activities that support your growth. Once a business’ growth exceeds its supporting functions, it will cause a reaction to its failure.

For example, your business grows quick till it does not give enough time and support to its departments which drives growth in the organisation. The quick and large diversification of business activities will strain them and eventually will lead to organisational failure due to lack of support and time to recover.

In short, quick diversification overloads your departments from functioning properly due to lack of support and time to recuperate.

I’d recommend you to diversify your business, but only when your business is ready to grow. Take your time, understand the market you intend to enter and; implement new principles to your business and its staff patiently.

4. You’re Connecting for Sales, not Relationship

This is somewhat related to ‘looking to get quick results’ section mentioned above. Making sales is fun and great. However, it does not guarantee customer retention and referrals.

Entrepreneurs can be very financially-driven – at least from my experience consulting. Whilst it is great to see our sales performance skyrocket, it does not ensure that next annual performance could maintain, if not better.

Many entrepreneurs tend to forget that building relationship with your customers is just as crucial. They would normally spend a lot of time and money on selling their product to customers and less on customer relationship. This could end up to confusion and dissatisfaction in the customer service department. And sometimes deceit.

The barrier between the business and customers will likely have the latter ends up not supporting due to lack of confidence and trust. You can forget about customer retention and referrals – two of the most sought after customers in business.

At the end, building relationship is just as crucial as making sales. It requires more work especially dealing with demanding customers, but the outcome of these relationships is long-term. By communicating and resolving their issues, customers will be more willing to support you and don’t mind referring peers to your business which they truly feel honest and trustworthy.

5. ‘Maverick-Lead’

Maverick leadership is an old concept of team management which is no longer applicable in this century. Exchange of information is quick and there will always be people smarter than you. You can no longer make decisions based on your ‘hunch’ alone without any supporting evidence to back you up. You are just going to get heckled by your staff when things go wrong.

In this modern era, even the slightest mistake will have you ruined. One man or woman can’t run the organisation alone. You need to be good at management, delegation, teamwork and inclusive decision-making process.

A true leader sees leadership as a responsibility, not a privilege in which anything can be done as pleased without reasoning. You need to listen, have open discussions and accepting criticisms.

The more you listen, the better your decisions will be having to consider wealth of information from bottom-top of your organisation.

Having said that, also learn to accept the amount of information gathered is enough and not more is needed – which purpose is to prevent information overload.     

6. Final Two Cent

While all these weaknesses or misconceptions sound easy to deal with, doing it practically is far more difficult. Aspiring entrepreneurs have the tendency to ‘make it big quick’. I guess everyone does. This is where your long term business plan is crucial. Stick to it. You have done the homework, now is the time you learn to trust it.