4 Reasons why an effective On-boarding process will help you keep your employees

On-boarding is a process of integrating a new employee into the organization. We all mistake Induction for On-boarding, while the former ends in one day. Onboarding usually lasts for about six months till a year depending on the company.

Empowering an employee through an effective onboarding process to think and act like the CEO would go a long way in retention and business growth. Click To Tweet

Here are some things to note about onboarding:   

1. A good Induction is the first step to retaining your employee.

Induction shouldn’t be just a storytelling session about the company rather it should integrate the staff to the company’s vision which will enable them to run with it.

You would save yourself a lot of headache in micromanaging your employees if you can ensure they are well aligned with the vision. Induction shouldn’t be one-off, there should be a frequent induction program which should cascade to each department and roles.

2. It helps employees think like a business owner

Empowering an employee through an effective onboarding process to think and act like the CEO would go a long way in retention and business growth.

The mindset of a CEO is much more than completing tasks or meeting up with deadlines; it’s about the growth of the business.

Each employee should be able to align their functions with the growth and success of the company.   

3. It protects and improves your company culture

A good company culture improves employee productivity which in turns drives business growth. An underlying factor for an organization’s culture lies in its Values and purpose.

I’m talking about the REAL core value that forms the basis of major decisions and strategy. A proper communication during the onboarding process will prevent future cluelessness by an employee in the future.

4. Having a documented process to drive uniformity makes it more effective.

It’s not enough to assume to think that line managers are helping the employees integrate better. Documenting the process starting from the induction and ensuring line managers are held accountable for following the process makes it effective.

I have realized that the competency of the person managing the process goes a long way so Training is advised.

With this points of mine, I hope I’ve been able to convince you why you need to revisit your onboarding process or create one if you never one before now.

This article was written by Yewande Jinadu


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The Art of Customer Service every business should adopt

As important as branding and advertising are, one of the most important elements of selling a product/service is customer service.

Excellent customer service puts your business ahead of the competition as it is something that is often missing from the a lot of countries, especially the Ghanaian business model.

Small businesses tend to jump straight to digital marketing or advertising without taking a moment to fully understand their business model and industry and how their product (or service), pricing, place (online store or brick & mortar store) and people (service personnel) intertwine and affect the overall brand and ROI.

In case you didn’t know, people are one of the most important aspects of the business, that is service personnel across the production line or yourself if you are running a run man show.

Customer service does not begin and end at the point of transaction and as a small business owner, you must consider the pre-purchase experience, purchase experience, and post-purchase experience

So what does this mean for your business? 

Pre-purchase experience

This refers to the experience your customer has with your brand before they decide to purchase anything. Is your website appealing? Does it have enough information to allow the customer to make an informed decision – or are your photos outdated? How is your advertising?

Are people speaking positively about your brand?

Purchase experience

This is the actual moment of transaction where you exchange the product (or service) for payment. If you run an online store, you must consider your interface – is your website easy to navigate? How does your customer pay for their purchase – do you have Mobile Money integrated? Can they use a Visa Card?

There are many services in Ghana that allow you to develop a website that allows your customers to shop online. A personal favorite is Storefoundry, it works very well for small businesses in Ghana.

If you run an actual brick & mortar store, what is the ambiance like? Is it easy for customers to locate the products in your store? Are they on high shelves and do they always need an attendant to help?

Is your store so small that your customers can only come in one at a time? Is your shop attendant interactive, willing to help and offer alternatives? Or are they constantly on their phone?

Post-purchase experience

This covers your follow-ups and interaction with the client after the transaction. Are you bombarding them with irrelevant SMS messages and emails? If you provide a delivery service, was your delivery driver dressed appropriately?

Below are practical tips you can put into action to make sure your customer service is top notch.

  • Recruitment & Training – Recruitment and training is the beginning of providing excellent customer service. Even if you are running a run man show, you need to stay up to date on customer relationship trends and train yourself to always put the customer first.  If you are hiring others to handle the customer interaction, make sure you hire people who know and understand the vision of the brand and are willing to be brand ambassadors both inside and outside the workplace. Personnel must also be conversant in the industry-speak as well as in the product itself, in order to serve as a salesperson.
Hiring the right people will allow you to build the right company culture that is well aligned with the brand Click To Tweet
  • Go the extra mile – The data you collect from your customers serve many purposes. One of the main ones is to compile a mailing list for your newsletter but another important use would be to study your customer’s purchasing habits and stay a step ahead of them all the time. Group your customers by date of birth and send out a personal message to them via text message or Whatsapp, which has become a popular medium for business communication in Ghana. Get to know your customers personally, are they parents? Do they celebrate religious holidays? Make sure to reach out to them accordingly.
Reminding customers that you have them on your mind will make them feel involved with the brand. Click To Tweet
  • Feedback is key – Receiving feedback from your customers at least once a quarter is important. Simple tools such as Google Forms or Survey Monkey are helpful for designing easy to use surveys which gives you direct feedback from your customers and clients. This way, your clients feel involved with and connected to your brand.

 

  • Appearance – You and your staff’s appearance is one of the most important elements in building a strong brand. Ensure that staff (and yourself) look the part at all times. Customers appreciate a smile and a helping hand, as difficult as it may be on some occasions.

The best way to make sure your customer service is on point is to align the pre-purchase, purchase and post-purchase experience to ensure a smooth transaction!

Go forth and provide an excellent service!

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5 Work-Life Balance Tips For New Entrepreneurs

You know that popular quote that says that the first year of business for any entrepreneur particularly a solopreneur is usually the hardest? Well, nothing can be further from the truth.

What they also didn’t tell you is that in that first year, in order to get things rolling, you might lose yourself to your business. This also includes but is not limited to your family, friends, network and social life.

Depending on your perspective, this might seem like an investment in the long run. After all, the first five years are the most pivotal point of any business. After that, it’s supposed to get easier.

But does that mean you have to wait until your business has fully taken off to get your life and have a semblance of work-life balance?I think not.

Here are five simple work-life balance tips that I have found works for new entrepreneurs.

Separate your business from your personal life.

This might seem like a walk in the park but believe me, it is easier said than done. In a bid to be always available, accessible and offer excellent customer service, the thin line between your business and your personal life might be blurred.

So, it is key to separate them. This can be as simple as getting a different phone/WhatsApp number for your business. This way, you’re not tempted to respond to messages that are not urgent outside work hours.

Determine your work hours.

As much we live on the internet, it can be tough for internet-enabled businesses to switch off for the day but it’s important for work-life balance.

Entrepreneurs are known to work around the clock but by determining your work hours you are giving your business structure and leaving out time for yourself and your life.

Make plans ahead

It’s one thing for you as an entrepreneur to not have a social life, it’s another thing entirely to not make plans outside your business.

The great thing about making plans ahead and following through with your family and friends is that you’re completely distracted and not tempted to work. No matter how little it might seem initially, it means that out of your super busy schedule, you are making time for your loved ones and that is one of the keys to a balanced life.

So, draw up a special calendar and slot in some dates and fun activities for the next three months. This gives your friends enough time ahead to prevent a clash of schedules.

(SLA TIP: Google Calendar is your plug)

Observe public holidays

As an entrepreneur, it’s so easy to become a workaholic. But as much as strong work ethics are admirable, it’s important to know when to take a break to re-energize and avoid burning out.

One of the most simple ways you can achieve this especially when you don’t have the luxury of taking vacations yet is by observing public holidays.

Turn off your work phone and emails. If possible, stay off social media and cultivate a habit of resting.

Learn how to rest

Everyone has their definition of rest but one thing is certain, it does not involve work. One of the key things I learned over the Christmas holidays is the ability to sit down and do absolutely nothing.

As difficult as it was initially particularly for someone that has worked all year, by the time I got into the state of inactivity and idleness, it was refreshing to truly rest.

Try it and see!

As a compliment, you can also find passive non-work related activities (such as listening to audiobooks) to pass the time.


Got some advice for new business owners and entrepreneurs? Share your advice with us here.

Your very first steps to becoming a CEO

Life doesn’t get better by chance but by change!

We all know the job business goals aren’t the easiest feat to accomplish. We may feel as though we are simply just pawns in an older generation’s game of chess, but what we must learn is that it is truly about how you play the game.

Being able to control your own fate will ultimately lead you to what you want. Here are some things to realize and ways that you can market yourself to others.

Enough Excuses. Build your Image. Life is a business and you are your own CEO! Click To Tweet

Be your own brand


Be unique, create an image that identifies you and differentiates you from others. Over time, this image becomes associated with a level of credibility, quality, and satisfaction.

Know how to sell the best version of yourself and position your image that will be favorable to all.

Know yourself.

Get feedback from others and learn as much as you can about how you come across. Then you can accurately target how you appear in a crowd and what you need to work.

 

Stand Out From The Crowd

Our differences are what make us unique. How we discipline our self is very important, and those who understand and practice the art of discipline can channel impulses into something of substance.


Embrace Knowledge.

A wise man once said knowledge is power, more powerful than physical strength There is no end to knowledge. There is no limit to what a person can learn. Even big problems can be solved if we have the knowledge of solving it.


By knowledge, it opens us up to possibilities and you will learn to realize that those possibilities that once seemed so far away are actually attainable and endless.

Be confident.

Believe in yourself it boost, only when you believe it you can do it,

When you truly believe you can create what you envision, when you’re not afraid of the obstacles, that confidence will automatically make you stand out from the rest.Love yourself. It has nothing to do with ego, but a confidence within you that elevates your relationships with everything else. You’ll stand out by being modest but happy with who you are.

 

Try not to Fake it till you make it


Never disconnect with who you truly are. It is easy to do things when you are your true self. 

Most people know when someone is being fake, even from a first impression. It’s almost like speaking to a person and even though they’re wide-eyed and smiley, you know they’re not listening to one damn thing you say or care about what you have to offer and instead are only thinking about their own personal benefits.

Love yourself. It has nothing to do with ego, but a confidence within you that elevates your relationships with everything else. You’ll stand out by being modest but happy with who you are.


Cultivate emotional intelligence.

A lot of smart people don’t know how to manage their emotions or relate well to others.

Emotional intelligence attracts people who are looking to connect with someone who has their act together and who’s competent and capable.to work toward a deep understanding and hear what’s being said beyond the words.

You will stand out in any situation if you become a person who listens from the heart.

Take A Chance


Often, we know what it is we want to do, but we still don’t do it. Why?

We are innately risk averse and afraid of putting our vulnerability on the line. Risk-taking is the ultimate way that marketer achieves success. Products go through a life cycle and that first innovation stage is important and involves risk-taking.


Be prepared. When an opportunity turns up, the person who is ready and able to be part whatever needs to happen will always stand out.

 


Got a story or an article to share with us? Share your story with us here.

Traits to Consider Before Settling on a Business Partner for your startup

You have been working for five years, in this time you have set out a plan to help you become a Motherland Mogul. The plan is getting into the business. You have gone as far as saving up for a couple of years to finance your to be start-up.

Recently, you have been toying around with various business ideas, the idea that encompasses both your passion and need to make some extra cash on the side wins.

You have looked at the various ways you can implement this business idea and realised you need a partner to do so. This could be because you are a good accountant but for the business to be a success you need a partner who will be the face of the business.

Or you are the sassy lady who is good at communication and drawing in the customers, and a manager is needed to make sure all that money you are raking in is properly managed. So currently the idea and the money are in place the only thing that remains undone is getting a business partner on board.

What are the things that you should consider to ensure you end up with the right person as a partner in your business?

Sharing the Vision of the business.

At the beginning, the business is usually just an idea. If implemented correctly, it could impact your lives and those of your clients tremendously in a positive way.

The person or people you choose to work with as partners in the business must own the vision of the business as much as you do. If your partner does not agree with you on the levels to which you want to take the business. They will always have negative vibes on the job that will result in your business losing money.

A partner is part of management, and if they are pessimistic with regards to the business, the employees will notice and get demoralised. The vision is the business. It’s what positions you strategically against competitors.

It is thus a prerequisite that before you decide to partner with someone on a business, be in sync on where you see the business going to in three months’ time or in five years’ time.

Honesty and Transparency

Honesty is a virtue that is a must-have in business. Individuals who are shrewd and unscrupulous ruin your business. You could have been saving for a really long time to start off this business or you got a loan from your bank to get it running.

Therefore, you cannot afford to lose the money or destroy your business name. It is therefore necessary to vet the person you intend to partner with. Inquire into the person’s character from others who have worked with them prior to you considering to partner with them.

If the feedback is positive you have a partner. If not, find your business train another station to disembark, as this one is a definite NO!

Hard work and Resilience

Start-ups are a mountain to climb on their own. The faint-hearted cannot survive this climb. Setting up a business from scratch is not a walk in the park. A partner will share in the business profits. This means they have to put in the work and the time needed to get the business to the top in your chosen field.

There are qualities that you will compensate for each other but working hard and smart is not one of them. One could be unquestionably talented but if they never take time to create and get their skills or work to the market no one will ever know of their talent.

Moreover, if you partner with a lazy person you will shoulder the whole burden of the business which beats the logic of having a partner in the first place.

Resilience is also key in your partner. Quitters run at the first sight of trouble. With new businesses, you will meet challenges that you never anticipated at the start of your journey. This will not mean that you quit.

Overcoming this challenges is exactly what you will need to do to solidify your position in the market.

10 ways to end a business year

In the course of the year, entrepreneurs can get consumed with loads of activities that it becomes difficult to keep track of all that’s happening.

The end of the year is the time when most business activities wind down,  therefore, it’s a good time to pause, take stock, plan and take a position for the year ahead

Here are 10 things to do to make that happen:

1. Review your financial statements (balance sheet, cash flow, income statement) and prepare tax returns.

You need to know:

  •  If your business is profitable
  • How profitable your business is
  • Where all the money that passed through your business in the year was spent
  • How much the business owns
  • How much the business owes
  • Exemptions you can get on taxes

2.  Review business expenses. Its important business expenses are directly linked to the bottom line of the business.

 

3. Compare financials from the year before to that of the current year. Pay attention to any rise or drop in figures, investigate reasons for them.

 

4. If you have made a very good profit for the year, this would be a good time to consider buying or replacing any equipment that will directly result in increased revenue.

 

5. Reconcile your goals for the year with your achievements; take note of goals you could not achieve. Also, be careful not to discard these goals instead try to find out why you were unable to, and devise new ways to go about achieving them.

 

6. List and celebrate major accomplishments, you can share with your staff, this should motivate them and make them emotionally invested in your business.

7. Reward your employees and customers, it does not have to be much, could be in form of bonuses, gifts, personal notes…

Also get in touch with your vendors/suppliers and inform them of any change in the business that might affect them.

 

8. Pay attention to your numbers; identify your metrics, this varies from business to business – website analytics, the source of customers, customer growth rate, customer return rate/retention, subscriber list, downloads, number of monthly orders e.t.c.

Identify patterns of growth in such areas, trace down these patterns to identify much bigger opportunities and devise ways to multiply effects of these patterns.

9. Review your systems, operations, and processes. This is a good time to review and update (if required) contracts, license agreements, and technology, Identify your strengths and work on your weaknesses.

 

10. Create a vision for the coming year, based on this vision, set goals, write down your action plan and ways you intend to implement these plans.

Hope these tips help you end the year with sufficient knowledge of your business even as you prepare and position yourself for growth and opportunities in the coming year.


How are you wrapping up the business year? Share your ideas with us here.

Webinar with Ehime Akindele: Expanding your business and sustaining growth (Apr 22)

As an entrepreneur, having the funding and knowledge you need to get your business rolling is one thing, surviving the fierce competition and unpredictable economy is another. But as a true #MotherlandMogul, when the going gets good, you know it’s time to expand.

Now what’s your game plan? Relax, we gon’ show you the way.

Join us on Saturday April 22nd as we discuss the steps to owning and sustaining multiple businesses. We’ll be chatting with Ehime Akindele, CEO of Sweet Kiwi frozen yogurt who founded Your Way Foods and set up three businesses all under age 30.

Learn the skills and abilities you need to survive in business. Webinar with CEO of @sweetkiwie Click To Tweet

To survive in this changing world, there are some business rules you need to follow. Ehime left her banking career and decided to start her own business in Nigeria, launching the first frozen yogurt company in the country.

This webinar will teach you everything you need to know about business sustainability and capacity building.

Register below to get the exclusive link to the webinar.

Some of the topics we’ll cover:

  • Capacity building: The skills and abilities you need to survive in business
  • What you need to know before expanding your business
  • 6 ways to sustain business growth
  • 5 do’s and don’t for female entrepreneurs looking to expand

Webinar Details:

  • Date: Saturday, April 22nd, 2017
  • Time: 8:00am TX USA // 2:00pm Lagos // 3:00pm Johannesburg

Watch here:

About Ehime

Ehime Eigbe-Akindele is the founder and managing director of Sweet Kiwi Frozen Yogurt. She has a BA (Honors) from London metropolitan university in Business Information Technology and International relations.

She began her career with Amnesty International, then moved to Citigroup in Dallas, Texas and worked in their banking group, before she moved back to Nigeria and founded Sweet Kiwi.

Ehime is a Goldman Sachs 10,000 women scholar, a public speaker and has taken part in several motivational speaking events to inspire youths and not-for-profit organization called ‘Hands in Lagos’ with an objective to foster the spirit of volunteerism in the country.

The fork in the road: Choosing the right business structure

Once you have decided to start your new venture, it is imperative that you choose the right business structure for your company.

Do research to find out if you should register as a sole trader, a limited liability company, or a partnership. Don’t rush to the Corporate Affairs Commission to register an LLC because your friend did and their business is profitable.

If in doubt, this piece will help you to make the right choice.

Sole proprietorship (“the lone walker”)

 A sole proprietorship is owned and managed by one individual—the owner. The owner is liable for the business’s financial obligations. For example, in some jurisdictions, as a sole proprietor, your business profits and losses are included in your personal tax returns.

Consequently, if your new venture experiences losses, such losses may offset your income from your “day job.”

The drawback of this structure is that you’re liable for your new venture’s liabilities. Which means is your personal assets (houses, cars, jewelry etc.) are on the line if you fail to repay a debt or run into financial trouble.  

If you love working alone and do not mind being personally liable for your business, this may be a good option for you.

But note that raising funds for your business as a sole trader will be difficult.Banks and institutional investors tend to shy away because of the risk of losing their investments if your business goes south.

Partnership

A partnership is appropriate if your new venture is owned by two or more individuals. Partnerships are named differently in different jurisdictions and vary in structure,  which dictates you and your partner(s) liability.

For example, under a general partnership, you and your partner(s) are responsible for the financial liability and daily operations of the venture. 

On the other hand, a limited partnership constitutes a general partner and a limited partner. A general partner owns and assumes the liability of the partnership, whereas the limited partner is the investor (the limited partner only provides the money!). The limited partner does not participate in the daily operations of the new venture and is not liable for the new venture’s debt.

Generally, a partnerships have a better chance of raising funds from banks and institutional investors than sole proprietorships.

More on partnerships

Thoroughly review the different partnership structures in your jurisdiction and determine what works best for venture, then if necessary negotiate with your business partner(s) and sign a contract. Even if your partner is your best friend.

Have these questions at the back of your mind when drafting the contract:

  • What is your business continuity plan if your partner leaves or dies?
  • What role will each partner play?
  • Do you want only one partner taking decisions on behalf of the company (e.g. taking out loans)?
  • How will you resolve conflicts between partners? (Stay away from litigation!)

There is no better time to agree on the terms of the partnership than during the early stages when everyone is excited about the venture. Sign the agreement during the honeymoon phase as it will be extremely challenging to agree on anything during the divorce phase.

Corporation

Like partnerships, corporations vary from one jurisdiction to another. Nonetheless, corporations are generally separate entities from their owners, and personal assets not at risk. However, there are some exceptions where a court could pierce the corporate veil and make make owners liable.

As with partnerships, banks and institutional investors are more likely to consider issuing loans or making investments. Corporations also have the benefit of raising funds by issuing stocks.

Limited Liability Company

A limited liability company has one or more partners (depending on the jurisdiction) and combines elements from partnerships and corporations. For example, all partners in a limited liability company can all participate in the daily operations of the business, but partners are not personally liable for the venture’s debt. What’s more, LLCs can raise funds from institutional investors and get bank loans.

Nonetheless, this veil of protection against liability is lifted if you personally guarantee the venture’s debt. 

You want to keep a clean slate? Here’s how to do that…

Once you have chosen a business structure, it is imperative that you register it with the relevant regulatory authorities. 

Contrary to popular belief, the Lagos Internal Revenue Services can track your Lagos-based business if your business fails to make relevant tax payments. 

Moreover, you do not want to give potential investors the impression of one who evades regulatory processes.  

Some practical steps to registering your business

1. Choose a name for the business.

2. Check with the Corporate Affairs Commission that the name is still available. In some jurisdictions, this search can be conducted online.

3. If it’s available, register the name or reserve the name (some jurisdictions allows for name reservations for 30 days).

4. After the name is confirmed, draft your legal documents e.g. Partnership Agreements, Memorandum & Articles of Association, etc. The Memorandum & Articles of Association should enumerate the purpose of the new venture, the name of the partners and their percentage ownership, the office address etc.

5. Register your company with the relevant tax authority and get a tax identification number.

6. If applicable, apply for a business permit/license.

In sum, the business structure you choose determines the extent to which you will be personally liable for your business debt, your tax liability, your responsibilities as a business owner as well as the required regulatory filings.

This is one of the most important early stage decisions you will make as a business owner so think through it carefully and decide what works for you!

In the next segment, we will discuss legal considerations when raising funds for your new business.

Have a question to ask? Write to us! We are listening.

Follow this series with Part 1 of Efe’s Legal Corner on The Best Way To Resign Your Job To Start Your Business