Want some business ideas to make some money or extra income during the COVID-19 quarantine?
How has the COVID-19 pandemic affected you? Across the world, normal life as we know it is changing. In mild cases, some of us have had to adjust how we work, and in extreme cases, some of us find ourselves dealing with salary cuts and redundancies. No matter what you’re dealing with, it’s important to remember that there are things we can still control.
If you’re looking for ideas on how to make rent and grocery money from quarantine lemons, we’ve created a list you might find helpful.
Topics this guide will cover:
Business ideas to start at home and online
Online platforms where you can gain digital skills
Getting access to this list is easy: just fill out the form below to join our community and get download the list, as well as AWESOME weekly content.
19 Businesses to Start During Covid-19
Get a FREE list of businesses to start during quarantine
Go Motherland Mogul!
Get your list of Businesses To Start During Covid-19
As Motherland Moguls living in the new millennia, we have a diverse group of women in leadership to get inspiration from. Here are lessons from 4 African women who have #slayed the past decade to help you to reach your Vision 2020 goals.
1. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie: Get your receipts 🕵🏾♀️
Chimamanda’s success in the literary world comes from her ability to consistently publish high-quality work. The secret sauce for the Queen of African Literature? Reading
Chimamanda is an avid reader and researcher. Half Of a Yellow Sun, her second novel and an international bestseller, took four years of intense research and writing.
Nothing says investing in yourself like putting your name on something and sharing it with the world. Bonang has established her name as a valuable brand that will make everything from Champagne to mobile apps valuable.
Bonang’s success comes from years of strategic self-investment. If you ever doubt that you can do something, pull a Bonang.
After a show she was writing for got cancelled, Yvonne focused on creating her own opportunities with the resources she had.
In 2016, Yvonne created and starred in First Gen, a sitcom she piloted on YouTube with the goal of selling it to a major network. While the show never got picked up, it caught the attention of Issa Rae and producers at HBO when they were casting for Insecure.
Yvonne has continued to leverage her resources and network to get things done. She created her hit podcast with fellow Nigerian comedienne, Luvvie Ajayi, launched an international comedy tour and is scheduled to publish her first book in March 2020.
The lesson from Yvonne – start with what you have and build from there.
Like many people, I was faced with the dilemma of deciding whether or not I needed to attend business school to start my business as I had no experience. However, I finally decided to be brave and start my business without any experience.
In my one year since starting, I have learned the following lessons.
1. Never take things too personally.
When operating with people, it’s often very easy to make arguments, criticism and other relations personal. However, if you want to succeed in the business world, you need to remember that at the end of the day, how you deal with your customers and partners is strictly business and not personal.
2. Separate your business life from your personal life.
When you have a friendly relationship with your clients, it is very easy for the lines to get blurred. Sometimes, this can end up in sticky situations where one party does not fulfill their end of the deal. To avoid these situations, it is important to set the lines clear between your business and your personal life. You need to maintain a work-life balance.
3. Be clear about your job description.
As a service based business, one of my ethos is going beyond and above for my clients. Sometimes, this results in taking up certain duties (aka unpaid labor) that are not part of my job description. This can get overwhelming.
Therefore, it is important to be clear about ALL the services that your offer from the onset. If necessary, you should draw up contracts that reflect your services and your limits.
4. Review your prices regularly.
You might be doing yourself a great disservice if in a bid to come across as affordable you under-price yourself. It is important to review your prices as often as possible. Especially when you’re in an industry like social media where your responsibilities are flexible and subject to change.
5. Be accountable.
In the absence of a business partner or a co-founder, you need to learn how to hold yourself accountable. This can be as easy as setting small, medium and long-term goals and working toward them. These goals are important to give you a sense of direction and to keep you in check.
6. Toot your horn.
One of the few things I still struggle with is putting myself out there as I’d like for my business to speak for itself. But the game has changed and the internet is over saturated. The only way for you to be noticed or to come across as a thought-leader or an expert in your field is if you put yourself out there.
There are no two ways about it. Do you want to be the go-to person for a particular service? Put yourself out there and let people know.
7. Have confidence in yourself.
When you are running a business, you’re gonna need all the confidence you can muster for the tough days ahead. You will face people who don’t believe in your dreams and your plans may even fail. It is important to keep believing in yourself even when others don’t.
8. Find time to improve your skills.
Work/Life can be overwhelming sometimes and before you know it, three months have gone by without you learning anything new. In this ever-changing world, there’s a need to constantly improve your skills.
Thankfully we have the internet at our disposal but finding the time can be a challenge. To fix this, make a schedule maybe during the public holidays and learn something that would directly improve your daily activities.
9. Customer service is key.
Just because you’re not selling a product to a consumer doesn’t mean customer service is any less important. You’re selling services. Treat your clients with courtesy. Referrals are still king.
If you’d like to share your story with She Leads Africa, let us know more about you and your story here.
Sean “Puffy/Puff Daddy/ Diddy/Brother Love” Combs is one of the greatest marketing geniuses on earth. He has remained relevant and dominant to hip-hop music, culture, fashion, business and entertainment over the past 20 years.
Last year, Sean was also recognized as one of the Forbes 100 Greatest Living Minds. He is also often considered one of the top 3 of 5 wealthiest hip-hop artists on the Forbes list.
Amidst all these, you may wonder, how does he keep all eyes on him? In this article, we will discover 5 tips from Diddy that can help us improve our marketing game and slay!
1. Say Your Name
If there is one thing Diddy always does, is use every advantage to promote his products or name. Whether its an interview on Ellen or a cameo on The Breakfast Club, Diddy always has his products such as a bottle of Ciroc.
You should take advantage of every airtime you get to promote your brand and products. Through being strategic, you should find a way to guide the conversation in a way that allows you to talk about your products.
This will help increase your revenue and the reach of your brand.
2. Make The Circle Bigger
The fact is you can only be in one place at a time, but you need to get the word out about you, your brand or business. You need people spreading a positive word about you to others.
Diddy figured this out in his early days as a music producer when he started Bad Boy Records, which celebrated its 20-year reunion tour last year. Diddy has been instrumental in the careers of musicians like Notorious BIG, Mase, and more recently French Montana. Whenever a record of their plays, it will at some point announce “Bad Boy.”
Through shaping and promoting the careers of the musicians he worked with, Diddy also extended his marketing reach. When you help other people achieve their goals, you also, in turn, grow your circle of influence and people who will do anything for you.
3. Stay On the Beat
Is Diddy an expert of the FMCG, Film and Music industries? Probably not, but he knows enough of the field to spot a real opportunity. You don’t want to seem like you are all over the place, but rather that you ‘happened’ to be in a certain place or sector because you keep your finger on the pulse.
Whatever you are working on, you need to know all the new developments and contribute to the conversations in a meaningful way that elevates the topic. Diddy lost his father to gun violence at a young age.
Though he became successful, he didn’t forget to empower his people. His response to Black Lives Matter through building a world-class school in Harlem, the neighborhood he grew up in.
5. Have Fun
Diddy always looks like he is having a great time, from salsa dancing in his underwear to the energy he brings when he is hosting shows. People are attracted to someone who is upbeat, so plaster a smile on your face and get hyped about whatever you do!
We are always exchanging energy so make sure you put out positive vibes only!
A new year gives us an opportunity to reflect on the past and take note of our learning points.
As I carried out my reflections, here are the four most important life and business lessons I noted down:
1. Whatever you need to do, especially with regards to your life goal and purpose – START NOW.
I realized that there will never be a perfect time to get things done, and as they say ‘time waits for no one’. See how fast 2017 ran, I still vividly remember how I shouted ‘happy new year’ in church on the 1st of January 2017.
I learned that you don’t have to wait for everything to be ready or for you to have it all figured out before taking your step (this doesn’t take away the place of proper planning though).
In 2017, I started an organization called Clever generation. I have always been passionate about wealth creation, SMEs, and the empowerment of young people but I didn’t think that the time was right for me to start up something because of the high pressured nature of my current job.
So I told myself that I will start up the organization once I get a less demanding job. My spirit was not going to have any of my excuses and didn’t give me peace until I started the organization in August.
As at now, the organization provides educative and engaging content via its social media accounts. We currently have an estimate of about 3,000 followers on all our social media accounts (this was achieved in just 4 months). So despite the demands of my job, I have been able to make out time to manage the organization.
One of the best lessons I learned in 2017 is that you can exert yourself to do what you have to do regardless of how you feel. My classic example: It’s past close of business, my boss just finished reviewing a document, and says to me ‘we need to get this to the client first thing tomorrow morning’. Leaving me with no choice but to update the document with his review notes overnight.
Well, I worked till 2.30 a.m. the next day, and still had to resume at work at 8.00 a.m.
Then I thought to myself – why do we make these sacrifices for our bosses and employers, and not do same for ourselves?. I have tons of articles written in my head that I haven’t been able to write them down because I keep telling myself that I don’t have the time. Never forget, no one deserves your best other than yourself Click To Tweet
3. Mindset! Mindset!! Mindset!!!
Life is a game of the mind, only the mentally, psychologically, and spiritually prepared wins.
Your world is a reflection of what is on the inside; its garbage in – garbage out. Whatever you accept, believe, and tell yourself is what life produces for you.
So if your mindset is one of the most important determinants of your success, it means that you need to invest in educating and training your mind.
4. Idea generation and idea execution require a different set of skills.
The fact that a person can generate a brilliant idea doesn’t mean s/he can execute it. Learn to identify the skill set of your team members, and align their roles to their skill set as close as possible. Don’t be quick to assign tasks to people because of what they say or based on your perception of them.
Some years back, I met someone who had a business proposition and was looking for a business partner who will invest financially in the business. I thought the business was good and agreed to become his partner. For more than 2 years, I was investing financially but the business never made significant progress.
He kept emphasizing the capital-intensive nature of the business. So I got someone to invest in the business with the promise that we will pay back the capital and a percentage interest after a set period of time.
I wasn’t very involved in the management of the business because of the demanding nature of my job, I relied on his report. When it was time to pay back our investor, the capital wasn’t available, let alone the interest. He told me that it was because our customers were not paying on time.
I knew there was a problem when he couldn’t tell exactly how much the business was expecting from the customers owing. I got angry and insisted he produced a record of the revenue, expenses, and profit for the period. That’s when I realized how disorganized my business partner was, he had no management skill and just spent the money as the demand arose.
He had to borrow some of the money that was used in paying back our investor as I refused to support financially. That’s when it dawned on me that my business partner is a visionary but not a business manager.
Being a successful female entrepreneur in Africa’s current economic and cultural context is an arduous journey. Calling organic entrepreneurship impossible
Despite being a marginalised group, women entrepreneurs in Africa have great potential to positively impact the economy of the continent. It is time, we as women discussed credible models for emerging entrepreneurs as well as winning solutions in womenprenuership.
Here are some key principles I have learnt along my path pushing the clothing brand Chenesai, it’s still a journey I continue walking in confidently despite the challenges which I emerge from more determined. I’m an avid believer of sharing skills of the trade with my fellow womenprenuers in the continent.
1. Define your vision.
Vision is born from action. Engage your ideas and define your vision. One must be able to fully conceptualise how their brand will operate and relate to consumers at its pinnacle. An entrepreneurial spirit becomes paramount to sustaining this vision and seeing it through to the climax.
Entrepreneurship is not just an activity, it is a lifestyle committed to the development of the dream. It is an attitude, a psychological and physiological engagement completely dedicated to achieving the ultimate goal. So, how does one afford the luxury of investing in that dream?
2. Be your own capital and collateral.
Believe in yourself enough to invest mind, body, and soul in your vision. Capital remains the main challenge that continues to dominate the dialogue on entrepreneurship in Africa. The solution to this is to start where you are and with what you have, then work your way upwards. Pessimists may be quick to dismiss this view citing that a few dollars cannot start up the multi-million empires they desire. However, to be an entrepreneur you need to always see the glass half full instead of half empty.
When I started Chenesai, I transformed my study into my factory. I did not even own a sewing machine, so I offered the space to a design student in exchange to use her machine for my designs. From the arrangement, I saved up to purchase my own machinery.
In the four years, I have been working on Chenesai, there hasn’t been a single day where I had extra capital to bankroll my projects. I’m continuously searching innovative ways to develop at each stage as I go along, that is my capital. Quid pro quo deals are an effective way to secure services and inputs you may require. Find what services you can offer in return for products and services you need from others.
Securing a loan may seem like a necessity for your business but what this essentially entails is that your activities and course are determined by your commitment to repaying the debt. Organic growth allows you to make mistakes, learn, improve and expand.
You don’t have enough time to dwell on challenges. Perfection is a myth so act! As Motswana female tech entrepreneur, Rapelang Rabana puts it, “the most powerful ideas come from solving your own problems.” It is important to never think of challenges, I live in solution mode.
I had to do most of the work by myself, in the beginning, I could not afford to employ a trained designer. Instead of giving up and holding the “challenged” placard as justification for failure, I thought innovatively, tapped into the unqualified resource pool and trained my first employee from scratch.
Because I personally trained her on all the essentials of my business, she thoroughly comprehends my vision and works well to complement my efforts. The idea is to consider your surroundings and continuously devise effective strategies to utilise resources and opportunities to power up your business.
4. Possess an autonomous mind
Entrepreneurship is a test on your mental state. Keep your mind clear. This should be established from the onset and maintained throughout the running of the business, it must become a lifestyle. For one to be able to make effective decisions, they should have as much control of the factors in play as possible.
Limit obligations and understand that it’s a long and lonely walk. Refrain from engaging in relationships, friendships, activities and commitments that will affect the course of your business negatively. Every activity you partake in must bring growth to your entrepreneurial spirit or feed into the vision in some way.
Put a price tag on your time, maximise every hour, minute and second of each day operating on 100% productivity. You are expected to wear different hats as you grow your enterprise, as such your time is gold. When I made the decision to venture into Chenesai, I left my job at one of Zimbabwe’s top law firms and settled on a much smaller one to afford me the time I need to invest in my dream.
I now work 3 days a week and the rest of my time is dedicated to my brand. If you need to keep an 8 to 5 job, then every minute outside of work must be accounted for. Create and own your flexibility outside of the office or workplace and make the time for the business.
6. Tackle the gender barriers
Finally, for now, the strategic deviation has got to be embedded in your DNA if you are looking to succeed. While we continue to work to address cultural structures that deprive us (women) of several opportunities, we do not have the luxury to wait for things to change.
We need to actively find ways to get around the issues we face as women entrepreneurs. Find inspiration from your multiple roles and where you can, merge them with your passion. For example, as a mother, I include my son in all my projects because I must play my part in raising him (do not forget the dads) and looking after him. I have developed a line of clothing, “King K” which is inspired and dedicated to him.
Solution driven thinking and time management will solve a lot of the issues we face as women. That along with the compact rules I have shared from my experience, I am confident that we can all prosper as womenprenuers in Africa!
Julie Nixon was educated in the United Kingdom before immigrating to South Africa in the late 1980’s. After undergoing extensive Retail Management courses with a leading retail chain, Julie utilised her broad experience in sales, merchandising and human resource courses to streamline the Gone Rural operations.
Julie arrived at Gone Rural in 2005 to take on the position of Workshop Manager and was promoted to General Manager in 2007 with new responsibilities including Sales, Human Resource courses, and Logistics. As head of sales, Julie oversaw a one hundred parent sales increase in three years which in turn quadrupled the women’s income during the same period. Julie due to her successes was given the position of Chair Person for the “Swazi Secrets” (a women’s empowerment company started by Her Majesty the Queen Mother) where she served a two-year term.
While chairing this organisation, Julie realised that though artisans in Swaziland are hardworking and talented, they do not make much income. This led her to start a fair-trade organisation called Swaziland Fair Trade (SWIFT) which ensures that supply chains are fair while creating opportunities for fair wages at grass roots level. Julie is passionate, dedicated and committed to improving the lives of the people of Swaziland and has managed to secure a grant for a three-year capacity building project for handcrafters in Swaziland.
If you are planning on starting any organisation, here are 7 effective strategies you can learn from Julie Nixon.
1. Identify the need for the community and possible solutions
To start any type of organization, you will first have to discover the need and then provide solutions. The core purpose of any organization is to fill a need –be it goods or services, the organisation must provide some satisfaction.
This was the case of Julie who discovered that though artisans in Swaziland are highly skilled and talented with an abundance of natural raw materials, they had no way of getting their beautiful pieces to the market.
The artisans had capacity needs such as proper costing as many of them did not cost their labour into the product which meant it was actually costing the artisan to produce and sell a product. This led her to provide a solution by starting a system where all will benefit and as she has always been a big supporter of Fair Trade, she decided that would be the best way to make a difference.
Thus social enterprises like those in the Fair-Trade model ensure that their supply chains are fair, they create opportunities for fair wages at grass roots level and they are transparent and inclusive. This is a model she supported, which is why Swaziland Fair Trade (SWIFT) came into being.
2. Prepare a plan or strategy to execute these solutions
After discovering the need and possible solutions, you then have to prepare a plan or strategy to execute these solutions as an idea will remain an idea until it is actually put into action.
Julie’s plan for SWIFT is to grow the local economy and create more socially responsible companies that operate under the principles of Fair-Trade. Thus, a network of businesses that work together as a united front to protect the weakest members of their society.
With this as the fundamentals, Julie set out to put her idea into action by;
Targeting a group
Every organization needs a focus group for it to function, as if you do not have people believing or patronizing what you intend to provide, then there really is nothing to give. The target group for SWIFT was local handcraft or food producers who have a marketable product and a will to create jobs through the application of Fair Trade standards.
Making a list of services to be provided or goods to sell
What do you intend to give this target group? Julie carefully crafted a capacity building, mentoring and coaching, training and development program to capacitate the highly skilled artisans of Swaziland. The training was supported by trade linkage opportunities and sales platforms such as the Bushfire Marketplace, to ensure members “earned while they learned”.
Making a list of how to communicate your plans to the target group. This can be through word of mouth, social media etc. depending on who your target group is.
3. Get a mentor, attend workshops and do some research
As you are working on getting your organization out there, you also have to work on yourself and that is by getting a mentor who has been in that trade or industry for a while, attending workshops/school and doing some research.
Julie attended workshops by Paul Meyers the Chairman of the World Fair Trade Organization (WFTO) who called for the setup of country networks that offered an alternative to the classic capitalist model and became active in spreading the word about Fair-Trade.
If you have chosen the path of starting an organization, then you must already know that this organization will run on money and time. This means you should be prepared to invest with both your money and time.
SWIFT was started with zero finances but with decades of collective business knowledge. Their vision was pure, capacitate handcrafters at grass roots level, to promote Fair Trade as an ethical business practice and a will to grow their domestic economy.
In the very early years, SWIFT used membership contributions to hire a part-time country manager and the company Julie worked for Gone Rural, allowed her time to work setting up SWIFT.
5. Start small
Rome wasn’t built in a day so be prepared to start small unless you already have your funding and professionals who are willing to sacrifice their all for your dream. If not, you would have to start alone, with a partner or with a few employees and with time, you can increase your workers or even train interested beneficiaries to work with you.
SWIFT started with a Country Manager and an Office Manager, then trained 8 women on an intensive Train the Trainer program, the top 2 became the Business Development Managers. They also hired an Operations Manager and a Marketing Manager where they linked members to each other to learn from the best.
Best practices held four times a year where members with the best practices such as packaging, costing, production or reporting open their doors to other members for a specialized training day.
6. Brand your organization to attract investors, clients
Everything you do must brand your company well to attract the needed people. SWIFT’s logo speaks of inclusivity, it is a circle representing the infinity of life, the birds represent Swazi products flying across the globe, yellow is for their natural recourses, red represents their past and blue is for peace and prosperity for all.
Their mission, their vision, and their ethics have helped to create a strong brand that stands for ethical business practices, inclusivity and the upholding of the principles of Fair Trade, partners want to be part of this movement working towards a more just business environment. Their membership is vocal in their support of SWIFT as a network and encourages organizations to join.
7. Build networks wherever you go
There are people out there who are looking to support, recommend and assist your work. It is your duty to find them and you wouldn’t find them by staying in your home and not making contacts with anybody. Take advantage of every opportunity you get to connect with others who can help promote your organization. Also, learn to stay in touch with everyone you meet.
Julie understood the essence of networking when she granted an invitation to join an exhibition in Botswana for President George Bush at the event where he launched his HIV/AIDS funding initiative. Through this, Julie met high-level personages including Andrew Card who was the Chief of Staff for President Bush. Julie says she still has Mr. Card’s business card in her wallet.
Personal branding expert, and Forbes contributor Glenn Llopis says; “A personal brand is the total experience of someone having a relationship with who you are and what you represent as an individual”. The boom of social media has also come in handy for personal branding. This is seen by individuals taking over the social media space (thankfully social media can afford us all our mini reality show) for self-promotion. Individuals may be as inauthentic, but their pages are curated to take on a persona.
This goes by the Dramaturgy Theory by Goffman, where personal branding is regarded as a self-presentation. It is an act or drama in itself classified into the ‘front stage’; a premeditated image for everybody, and a backstage; the authentic self (not for everybody). Goffman’s theory seemed to have paid off a lot more at the onset of social media, when social media tended to be only for solidifying public image.
Now social media content that get the most engagement are those of pages that have the ability to be vulnerable. Rather than centered on a premeditated image, they have a human face, add value, and connect genuinely with the audience.
Let’s talk about a successful personal brand story, Adenike Oyetunde, who has been up and about her authentic self and is inspiring audiences.
Introducing Adenike Oyetunde
Adenike Oyetunde is a spirited lawyer and on-air-personality. She was diagnosed with Osteogenic Sarcoma (cancer of the bone) at age 20 when she was in her second year in University. Adenike eventually had to accept the Doctor’s diagnosis and go for a limb amputation, after refusing to admit that she would live without one of her limbs for the rest of her life.
Adenike’s personal brand message: Inspiration
It’s rather a sad one to have your limb amputated but Adenike is such an energetic, happy, and inspiring soul. I like this statement she once made: “I, my name is Adenike Oyetunde, and I am living my life like it’s golden.”
Adenike admits to the news of amputating her limb dropping like a bombshell, as the Doctor was as direct as possible. She had to even be the rock for her family because her parents didn’t take this so well. “I actually saw my dad crying… I would have to not cry before my mum because she was going psychotic.”
Adenike’s is a case of courage and radiating so much positive energy. Yes, this was her source of strength, to pull through those times. Adenike survived it and now uplifts the world. Her message is such an inspiring, and uplifting one. She takes to social media every day to radiate light. Here is what I love about her -she’s a fun, free-spirited, warm and a good-natured soul.
Brand authencity: Her social media is such a fun and relatable place
The soul of Adenike’s social media page is in its spontaneity. It is not curated and comes with a ‘random’ vibe. Every Wednesday on her page, she shares funny witty randomly curated words from social media on ‘Wordy Wednesday’. Adenike sounds so relatable on social media, you would think that you have met her in person (and yes you have).
Adenike also shares stories of upliftment. ‘Miracle Mondays’ are Mondays where she shares stories of people who have had miraculous interventions on social media. The warmth of her personality shines through all the time. And therein lies the authenticity of her brand.
This is Adenike’s watchword, I think. She is like somebody who lives for everybody else; selfless. One of my initial encounters of Ms. Adenike was during one of her social impact causes, when she was raising funds for a cancer patient on world cancer day.
Adenike is so passionate about spreading the word on cancer and other social causes. She recently launched Amputees United for amputee-activism, and January this year she began the gratitude jar challenge for people to tell their gratitude stories on social media for the 365 days of the year.
There’s a huge risk attached to every new business. We’re talking the loss of lots of money. That’s why it is important to test a business idea before scaling up the business. Simply prove a business idea works and is commercially viable, and you’re off to a great start. This is called “proof of concept”.
Most of the time, venture capitalists/investors look out for proof of concept before putting in money in a business venture. This is because it quantifies how much a business has (and is able) to accomplish in a way that’s measurable.
When you create a product/service and are able to achieve a certain level of traction with it, it becomes easy to relate with whatever huge projections you set especially when trying to get investment. Showing that a business works can help zero in on a definite path to follow for success. In the bootstrap model, a business becomes commercially viable somewhere along the “sell” stage, just before the “growth” stage.
How do I know my business shows proof of concept?
Well, when a business idea shows proof of concept, it means one or all of the following
The business has been able to capture its own sizeable audience.
The business has been able to successfully sell a product/service and make money (profit) from its audience.
Systems and processes within the business are reproducible on a commercial scale.
A business that has not attained a proof of concept is not necessarily failing.
However, such business has most likely not been able to clearly identify how to make money from an audience on a commercial scale.
None of this applies to me, what can I do?
To increase your business’ potential for success, it is important to look out for proof of concept before scaling up commercially. The proof of concept verifies important assumptions about the business and reduces the risk involved in taking a small business/startup into the mainstream market.
Here are some parameters to consider when checking for proof of concept in business.
Revenue/ revenue growth rate
Number of customers/clients/users
Customer/clients/users growth rate
Systems and processes
Total amount invested in business
Return on investment
The result from the analysis of these parameters says a lot about the potential of a business idea that has been set in motion.
These parameters can also be used to see how well a small business/startup is doing. This is why recordkeeping/bookkeeping is important in business, it lets you keep track of progress. If your business is funded by personal funds/friends and family, I recommend checking these parameters as you use the bootstrap model to develop your business.
I have been a fan of Mary J. Blige since my childhood in the early 90s and have taken great inspiration from watching the way that she has blazed trails, set trends and overcome adversity, both in her career and personal life, from then even up till now. This, in addition to the fact that her songs tend to surround themes such as female empowerment, make her a favourite.
With a title like “The Strength of a Woman,” her upcoming album seems set to carry on this important discussion. So, to celebrate, I was inspired to share 8 markings of a strong business woman through some of my favourite Mary J. Blige lyrics:
1. “Take Me as I am or have nothing at all”
There is a saying that goes “if you try to please everyone, you’ll end up pleasing no-one”. Although it can be tempting to make your business all encompassing, one of the things that Mary teaches us about strong business women, through songs such as “Take me as I am,” is that they remain authentic.
When I say this, I mean that they are self-aware enough to know where their talents lie and who they can best serve. In other words they niche down.
An example of this can be seen via the overlap and differences between She Leads Africa and my blog. Both cater to women but they have different niches- in that SLA caters to business women whereas my blog caters to Christian women. Some of the benefits of having a niche in this way are that:
It allows you to play to your strengths
It allows you to work with the kinds of people you like to, making your business a joy rather than something you dread
It sets you up as an expert in your particular field, making you the “go to” person in your niche or specialism
Being seen as an authority has a positive effect on profit margins
2. “All I really want is to be happy”
Through songs like “Happy,” Mary shows us that part of the reason strong business women are able to be so authentic is because they know what makes them…well…happy! Not only that, these women have developed goals; so, they know what they want to achieve in future.
They also honour their dreams by going for them. This knowledge of self may have been hard won- especially if it was something that they didn’t always have- but, once it’s developed, it is what guides their business practices.
3. “No more drama”
In songs such as “No More Drama”, Mary is teaching us that strong business women refuse to tolerate negative entities. This is because they’ve battled through too much to make their businesses what they are today to let another person destroy it with negativity.
They are, however, also wise enough to know when the “drama” is coming from within (through things like fear, self-doubt or negative self-talk) and so will do the inner work needed to shake those things off to progress as well.
4. “Hate it or love it the underdog’s on top and I’m gone shine, homie, until my heart stops”
Sometimes it is not possible to eliminate negativity because it is coming from a family member or colleague, for example. Through songs such as her remix of 50 Cent’s “Hate it or Love It,” Mary teaches us that in such situations, we always get to choose how much we are willing to be affected by other people’s opinions or attitudes.
We may not be able to control nay-sayers or “enemies of progress” (as we Nigerians would call them), but we can control our own reactions. Strong business women realise that, and so they refuse to slow down, give up or let anybody steal their “shine”.
5. “…As long as it’s you by my side, I’m stronger”
In addition to breaking away from the negative sources in their lives, strong business women seek positive relationships and collaborations. According to another Mary song, this means relationships that make them “Stronger”. As already implied, this entails being around people that:
Love you for you (only suggesting alterations be made to contribute to you growth and progress, rather than make you feel “less than”)
Support your goals and dreams
Are positive sources of influence.
By the same token, strong business women are able to do and be the same for others (in the knowledge that a win for one sister is a win for us all and does not detract from them in any way).
6. “In each tear, there’s a lesson…”
Through songs such as “With Each Tear” Mary shows us that strong business women are constantly learning, even if the teacher comes in the form of a mistake or failure.
They roll with the punches, extract the lessons from that season and use it to become better rather than bitter.
Tweet: Mary shows us that strong business women are constantly learning, even if the teacher comes in the form of a mistake or failure
7. “I can see in colour, the first sign of spring…”
Mary demonstrates, through songs like “I Can See in Colour,” that strong business women lean towards such optimism because of a hope and faith in God, or another higher power, who means them good and not evil. This gives them a sense that everything, including bad things, happens for a reason; that even if the bright side of a situation is not immediately apparent- it will be.
They also understand, in line with one of my favourite songs (Total Praise by Richard Smallwood) that, that higher power is the source of their strength in the first place.
8. “[I] put my life all up in these songs just so you can feel me; so you can get the real me”
I’m going to end this ode to Mary J. Blige and strong business women with the song I began with- “Take Me As I Am”. In it Mary sings the words in the title of this 8th point. When we share these things with others, we let people who have the same challenges know that there is a light at the end of the tunnel.
In being unafraid to share the good, bad and ugly of her life with her fans through her music, this is exactly what Mary does- teaching us that strong business women encourage and build others up. They use their platforms for good and live in such a way that they inspire others.
For me, that’s empowering Christian women by promoting the contributions of strong women of faith (both past and present). What is it for you? Once you know that, like Mary, you’ll know your purpose.