By Gaby Ndongo (6 mins read)
The crux of entrepreneurship is to identify and understand a market, more specifically a niche, that you are able to serve effectively, said a Business Strategist on Thursday, 11th April 2019.
“The more you understand the market you serve, the more confidently you serve that market,” explained Marang Marekimane at the University of Johannesburg (UJ) Entrepreneur Thursday, which occurred in the institution’s Doornfontein campus (DFC).
Marekimane is a Business Strategist for SMEs, Business Process Specialist, public speaker and a founder of several entities such as Business Process Mechanics, which assists “entrepreneurs to review their business models and automate business processes to build sustainable businesses,” read her LinkedIn profile.
Other aspects of entrepreneurship include minimising one’s expenses and always being aware of where the funds will come from to cover up for the incurred expenditures, she added.
A number of students at tertiary education institutions either have a business idea, started a business or been running one for a year or several years. These include students who attended this session.
UJ has introduced such sessions to aid it students better manage the pressures emanating from balancing academic work and starting/running a business.
The sessions invite entrepreneurs to talk about their experiences and table useful, practical advices as well as tools for businesses.
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Here are the items the experts of this Entrepreneur Thursday spoke about.
Elize Brassell, founder of Ezabekwa Group which is an incubator programme, had these tips in mind:
Know your unique selling propositions
In 60 seconds, be able to tell someone who you are, what you do, and ask to have tea with them for further discussion.
Find and apply affordable ways to market your business
She made the example of CamCard, where one can create a soft copy of his/her business card and save the contact details of others. But Brassell highlighted that one needs to still have tangible business cards.
Marekimane took over after a few minutes in the session and proposed the following:
You need to pay the cost
Be aware of what you will sacrifice (time with family, friends, etc,), for example.
Identify the end goal
Be intentional about this goal, said Marekimane. Is it for you to create more employment or ultimately for you to retire in an island?
Speak to the relevant audience
Either when networking or conducting audience research, know and interact with the people who your product or service appeals to and engage with them as much as possible.
Have a strategy in place
See it through and ensure that it takes a long term approach. But define the strategy and keep in mind that, “It is where your product fits in the market and ask whose problem does it solve,” said Marekimane.
The key question, she added, is “will this change a life?”
Think about the customer journey
A way of creating good customer experience is to have a quick response system on your social media accounts and insert buy-now buttons if relevant. Use content that fits well in your customers’ lifestyle within your online sites.
Importantly, don’t make a mistake of being in every platform, master those that are relevant to your business.
Keep your email signature simple: it should have what you do and the website.
Ask your clients, “Do you have a compliant?” or “Is there any way that we can improve our business,” said Marekimane.
The company name, on the other hand, should create a good experience. A good way of doing so is that it needs to embody the entity’s values through its design and colours.
Remember the three objectives of every business
- Competence: skills, what do you know that makes you unique?
- Product that is fit to market: know your product and where to sell it. In order to do so, insight of the market is necessary. “If you understand the pain of your customer, it is easy to sell to your customer,” said Marekimane.
- Capital for investment: have the required funds to allow for the business to operate and expand.
Separate personal expenses from business expenses
Having separate bank accounts for your personal expenses and business activities is one of the first steps. Another factor is of having a saving system that addresses the needs of your business.
Let the process out of your head and import it to others. It also assists you to maintain standards and see where you consume your time.
You further have some insight that “helps you realise what roles you need in your business and what skills must they come with,” explained Marekimane.
Recruit and make room for people to contribute
“A business entails more than one person; if not, it is a freelance job,” said Marekimane.
Get a team with the right skills
Several experts have advised that the best thing to do is to hire people who will perform the tasks that take much of your time. In return, you will focus on the activities you need to in order to generate the required income.
“I encourage people to hire those who can help them make money,” said Marekimane.
Be honest about where you are in your business
Do not lie of you breaking-even when there are lost occurring rather be frank with the people who are willing to give you a hand.
Get a coach and be coached
Something along the line of getting mentored by likeminded people who have the same intention you possess.
Capitalise during networking sessions
During networking sessions, “ask people of their challenges,” suggested Marekimane. This will allow you to better position yourself to be of value to your networks. TOJ
Reporting by Gaby Ndongo.
Feature image: Start up.