To succeed in business, you need Self-Awareness, Client Awareness & Market Awareness – Nnanke Essien

Nnanke Essien is a HR professional and a business consultant. Her experience in business began when she was 14 years and helping her mom with her crayfish business.

Since then she has been a business partner to many business owners leveraging on her experience in providing strategy and human resource solutions for diverse industries including manufacturing, oil, and gas, consulting, communications, retail, energy, education, etc.

Her core is transformation, (people, process and culture integration) and her superpower is helping businesses with interventions for value-based/profitable visibility, resonance, growth, and sustainability.

In this interview, Nnanke Essien talks about her introduction to business consultancy and her just-concluded event for fashion entrepreneurs.

You recently organized an event for fashion entrepreneurs. What triggered it?

The dream began for me in December 2017, when I began to observe the behavior of attendees at a goal setting hangout. It was fascinating watching folks create their vision board by tearing pictures from magazines and posting them on cardboards.

My analytic head kept wondering if this was just a fun activity or it made sense to them.

I knew something had to prepare them for this experience to be worthwhile and useful and that thing was beyond the five-hour business lecture they had just received.

Fast forward to March 2018, one of the participants at the event sent me a lengthy message beginning with “coach how can I be visible? I have tried everything and nothing seems to work”.

I immediately put on my business growth doctor hat and began to teach.

I spoke to her about the psychology of her business, her products, her promise, the right platforms for her, promotion style etc

Alas! her reaction simply showed that what I was saying didn’t sound like the solution she wanted, she just wanted a quick solution to help her be visible.

How can fashion business owners optimize their businesses?

The fastest way to optimize your business is through service and collaboration – @gnnanke Click To Tweet

While growing up, my church used to be in a location where spare part dealers were dominant. I used to marvel at the apprenticeship structure, a young boy will learn and aspire to be like or even greater than his master.

Likewise, new fashion designers should take time to learn under someone they aspire to be like not for three months but for an extended period, where they can gain mastery.

There are a lot of advantages to this model. They gain undisputed mastery and get leverage riding on the positioning of that person they learned from. The market also trusts them faster and they have a reference point and a benchmark for success.

They exhibit great business success skills because of their learning process.

I don’t believe in quick fixes, I believe in sustained consistency over a period of time – @gnnanke Click To Tweet

You are guaranteed to get results. Don’t be in a hurry to get on the gram and then begin to run helter-skelter with the excuse that the fashion industry is over saturated

Know what you want to be visible for, find out what the leaders in your space have done to get to their positions, mirror them especially those that align with your values, get results and remain on top. 

The biggest question for me was “how can we be a part of the solution?”

So in 2019, we began planning in earnest, The business leaders breakfast meeting, a platform where we bring the best minds (leaders) in business to share insights and experiences as well as to equip business owners with knowledge that will prepare them for the massive opportunities in these industries.

The mandate for us was simply to create a market space that encourages inclusive growth especially in a challenging operating environment like Nigeria.

We positioned our platform as a catalyst (incubator) to help entrepreneurs have access to market, access to untapped opportunities, access to financial services, to even just dream big, know that their dreams are possible and position their brands for global leverage.

For us, It is our utmost desire to see SME’s go from struggling businesses to growing businesses, from no systems to systems of optimal productivity, from business underdogs to business leaders, from zero productivity to optimal productivity and finally, businesses that contribute strongly to the local and national economy.

We wanted to bridge the huge divide between business leaders and business freshers. To build an ecosystem of support, collaborations, and access to opportunities within and outside Africa.

We had Mai Atafo, Valentine Ozigbo, Joycee Awosika and Adaora Mbelu headlining our first event

What key lessons do you wish more fashion business owners knew based on what was learned at the event?

  1. Tie your fashion business to a bigger vision
  2. Be an endless learner
  3. Seek continuous improvement
  4. Focus on excellence and excellent service delivery
  5. Understanding your business model and reviewing it consistently is key..I can’t even stress this enough
  6. Stay on top of industry changes, be aware of global trends that impacts your business locally and adapt accordingly
  7. Network more
  8. Don’t be afraid to express your creativity because you assume the market won’t respond
  9. Don’t be afraid of collaboration and scale
  10. Keep your promise to your tribe, never compromise

The value pyramid is divided into three: the bottom 30% (no go area) the middle 70% (the average, normal space where most people play) and the top 10% (where the leaders play).

What’s your advice to a struggling fashion business

You don’t need more visibility or brand awareness storms (with loud music and an open truck) to build a profitable and sustainable business, what you need is people who can’t stop raving about what you do…

I call it “raveonance” rave+resonance.

You can’t achieve this without self-awareness (understanding why), client awareness (understanding the who) and market awareness (understanding the what and how).

The best place to start is to understand whom you do what you do best for, why you do it, know yourself and these people like the back of your palm and —then start creating something those people love.

Nnanke Essien: The Visibility Expert

Nnanke Essien is a visibility strategist and business transformation coach. She helps individuals with awesome ideas, products and services to get seen and found by their ideal clients.

She does this using a 5 step visibility building process to build an effective and efficient visibility roadmap. Nnanke believes that the path to success is littered with awesome but poorly marketed ideas, hence her mandate is to support businesses find this sure pathway.

She is a John Maxwell Certified coach, a HR professional and a visibility builder round the clock. She has been supporting start-ups and businesses since 2007 even through college.

Why is it important to stay visible?

If nobody knows you exist, nobody will buy from you. It’s really that simple, you must always find a way for your ideal clients to remember that you exist. We call it top of mind awareness. In other words, if at any point your client has a need, your brand name should be top of mind.

How can brands stay visible despite strong competition on social media? 

Truthfully, social media isn’t going anywhere and the earlier business owners understand this and take ownership the better for brands. Firstly, to stay visible, brands must adhere to a stellar mindset.

Beyond this, brands need clarity on why they are in the business. This is in terms of the business mission, vision, values, identifying their business playing field (niche), their core message and their brand positioning on the value chain.

Brands also need clarity on their ideal clients. Who are the people whose lives and businesses will be transformed by virtue of the fact that this business exists?

Understanding the client’s exact needs, desires, challenges, what they need to transform, lifestyle, spending power and motivation is key to business visibility success.Finally, brands can also stay visible by authenticating their authority in the market. Having consistent, attractive and meaningful bio’s on their social media platforms can contribute to this. Their bio must contain relevant information on who the brand is.

Also, nurturing communities i.e groups, leveraging on content and becoming an information reservoir for clients can be a great way of authenticating authority. In all of these, consistency and building revenue generating models, systems, processes and assets are key to success and visibility.

What are your top three tips for business owners to incorporate into their brands?

  1. Have a consistent brand voice and visual appeal that is easy for people to spot and recognize.
  2. Focus on building relationships using KLT (Know, Like and Trust) techniques like live videos, Instagram stories, guest appearances et al.
  3. Leverage on content that your ideal clients need.

How can women balance putting themselves out there while not appearing too forward?

Woman know what you want. Don’t do things out of compulsion or pressure. The woman you buy shoes from didn’t shy away from her calling, the woman who sells human hair didn’t shy away from her calling.
Recognize your hustle. Validate it! Look for a group of persons or coaches and mentors who can help you identify your hustle, find your sweet spot, stay there, flaunt it and own it.

What do you wish more entrepreneurs knew about today’s changing marketplace?

I wish they would spend more time actually researching than copying and wasting endless time doing idle and non-income generating activities. Behaviors are changing. The spending power of your ideal clients is changing. Algorithms on all the social platforms you are using are changing.

What is the next step for you in 2018?

I want to have intentional positioning. This will include focussing on my visibility cure show and collaborating with industry veterans.