You’ve seen the memes and maybe you have posted them yourself; ‘2016 is my year!’, ‘2016 making major moves!’, ‘2016 ah no go carry last!’. Okay I made up the last one up but you get my drift. On Facebook and Instagram it seems the GoWoman Army is at minimum social media ready to claim this year (as they do every year..haha) as the year of prosperity.
In line with the New Year’s burst of energy, commitments and resolutions, I’ve decided that our first post to you should be one about growth. And what do we want to grow more than our businesses? Well some of you are working on your squat game but that’s for another post altogether. This one is about your source of income, or as big business likes to call it, the bottom-line.
Here are five tips you need to consider if you are trying to grow your business in 2016.
- Don’t brand till you have mastered selling. I know this may come as a shock to many because I build brands for a living but all too often I see small businesses, and SMEs spending way too much on their brand identities before they even know if they have a viable business. In the era of social media, where visuals are everything, I understand that making your company look good is important but I’ll tell you that if you want to grow, focus less on the brand and more on selling. If the services and products you’re offering are good value for money trust me when I say most customers in the African market wont care about your brand. So save that marketing, PR, and branding expense and invest it in things that you can actually sell or save it until you have actually mastered selling. Don’t feel the pressure to get the brand perfect from the beginning, most times if you focus too much on your company’s ID, and not on selling and building a customer base, you’ll be back to rebrand within a year or two of launching your brand.
- Talk up your business like a broken record. This is YOUR business. If you are shy to put it out there every single day then you are doing yourself a disservice. If you are on social media daily posting about your church flow, Saint West and the like, but not making sure to put your business out there you are wasting your own time. Some people think that once they make one post announcing their business that that means that everyone has seen it and knows what they do. The reality is that out of sight out of mind. When you meet people don’t be afraid to strike up a conversation, and in that convo don’t leave them in the dark on what you do. Everyone who comes in contact with you socially online or in person should leave with a good idea of what you do. This means that in the event they are in need of products or services that you sell, they know exactly who to call.
- Make cold calls. If you intend to continue waiting for that email or phone call that’s going to be your business breakthrough of life, then you are going to be waiting a long time because we are all waiting for it. One way to definitely guarantee growth this year is to make cold calls. In Africa that means identifying potential clients and then going to them and saying hey this is who I am and what we do, here is what I can do for your business. Now I know that where B2B sales are involved there can be many gatekeepers stopping you from meeting key decision makers but don’t let that stop your hustle. There is a lot of business out there that isn’t with the big wigs but from SME owner (who are way more accessible by the way) who may not be able to grant you a large life-making contract but they can offer the every day drops of water to your soon to be mighty ocean.
- Don’t lose business because you’re too madam to get work done. One of the mistakes that some of us make with our businesses is that as soon as we have a couple employees calling us madam, we start over acting the part. Your restaurant will be busy but because you are madam you wont get up to assist with service. Some one comes to make an enquiry but you tell them that you’re the owner; they should wait for a sales girl to come. If you really want to grow this 2016 forget being a madam, get out of your own way and get your hands dirty. Be willing to do every thing necessary at any level of your business that will get it running at its best, even if that means turning the petrol into the generator yourself and not waiting for the gateman to do it for you. My sister light your own generator.
- Different price, for different folks. One big lesson I have learnt from one of my juice-manufacturing clients in Ghana is that you need to think about the earning power of your market base. If someone who earns the average income per month for where your business is based were to come to you today would they be able to buy from you? If the people in the middle cant afford any of your products or services then you need to check your prices. While this may not apply to all SMEs one way to ensure growth is to make sure you have something for every one. That way, you get cash coming in to keep you going until your larger price items move. Most importantly and especially if you are running an SME ask yourself this; Can I afford my own products and service on my own income? If the answer if no, then you should probably check your pricing strategy.
Follow these tips to help kickstart growth in your business this year, and certainly you shall not carry last at all.