Oghenekevwe Omotosho: I started Oh Wow Popcorn in my kitchen, now its selling across Nigeria

Oghenekevwe Omotosho is a graduate of computer engineering. She obtained her B.Eng at the Enugu State University of Science and Technology, Nigeria. She is also a creative thinker and serial entrepreneur.

Kevwe is the CEO and creative director of the unique popcorn brand – Gimme Oh Wow Popcorn & Events – makers of the popular Oh Wow! Popcorn brand. She is married with three children.

In this article, she talks about how she turned her passion for popcorn making into a business, and how she’s overcome challenges along the way.


How did you discover your passion for popcorn making?

Oh Wow Popcorn started in my kitchen. I used to make popcorn for my children and also used it to entertain guests at home. Also, I enjoyed creating new flavors of popcorn especially indigenous Nigerian flavors.

I got excited by the idea of making popcorn art and I offered the service of displaying a variety of flavors at every event, live popping or delivering to clients at their convenience.

 How did the brand Oh Wow Popcorn come about?

I realized it was going to be a business for me sooner or later when I started getting positive feedback from friends and family.

I made samples and took to my children’s’ school to do a little market research and their response was encouraging. So the journey began, it has been a massive adventure since then.

Oh Wow Popcorn was formally launched on the 14th of February 2017 and to the glory of God, we have successfully weathered our fair share of what I call teething challenges. We keep on learning our lessons on this great entrepreneurial adventure and we have come out stronger and better for it.

We are proud to have revolutionized the popcorn and snacks making industry in Nigeria - @ohwowpopcorn Click To Tweet

Do you run your business full time? What did you do before starting Oh Wow Popcorn?

I am a serial entrepreneur, I already had a few other businesses including  Myfoodsupplies and I Sabi Work before my passion for popcorn lead me to start oh wow popcorn. I am currently running the three businesses.

Popcorn making may seem easy, but what major challenge have you encountered since launching, and how did you overcome them?

It has its own challenges. The most challenging was getting a business partner. I thought working with a partner would ease the pressure of running three businesses, but unfortunately, things didn’t work out as planned.

I took the bull by the horn and threw myself into building my businesses by training my staff and restructuring my time.

Another key challenge we have faced is getting acceptability for our brand of popcorn which is different from what Nigerians are used to. We have however been able to overcome this challenge.

Knowing that there are many other popcorn brands in the market, how do you make sure your brand is unique and set yourself aside from the crowd?

We stand out from other brands by being original, unique and creative. Our customer service is also excellent.

 What are you most proud of about the Oh Wow popcorn brand?

We are proud to have revolutionized the popcorn and snacks making industry in Nigeria.

Since inception, we’ve invented and introduced never seen before flavors like Kilishi popcorn and kulikuli popcorn into our specialized popcorn, and candy floss catering for various types of events.

We saw a great potential and are happy to fill the space, by making our clients’ events come alive in previously unimagined ways with our tasty and colorful creations.

When it comes to marketing, how far across Nigeria has your brand gone, and where can your products be found?

Although we are based in Lagos Nigeria, we receive orders from other parts of the country, such as Ibadan, Abuja, Ondo, and Benin.

I took the bull by the horn and threw myself into building my businesses by training my staff and restructuring my time - @ohwowpopcorn Click To Tweet

Beyond popcorn production, what else do you do as a brand?

We also cater for candy floss, ice cream, waffles, meat pie, chinchin, zobo etc.

What is your staff strength currently, and how do you manage them?

We currently have 4 permanent staff, and we also get temporary workers when necessary. I make sure everyone knows his/her job responsibility and concentrates on doing it.

How do you manage your work-life balance, as an entrepreneur?

I delegate duties to my staff and I try as much as possible to limit my work to some specific hours of the day, especially our social media management. Immediately my children get back from school.

I concentrate on being a mother and a wife, I take them through all their assignment, eating and gist time before bed. Once they’re asleep, I round up my social media engagement for the day.

What’s the next step for Oh Wow popcorn?

The next step for oh wow popcorn is to have a presence all through key cities in the country and the world at large. We look forward to being the number 1 popcorn brand in Africa catering for all types of events.

 Any advice for people with this same business idea?

I will advise you to start small, start with what you have. You may have to give a free service to showcase your work to potential clients. Your first impression can make or mar your brand

Nurture and grow your business through the early years just as you would nurture a child.

The most important tool you’ll need is your passion and drive to keep moving when the chips are down and it looks like you’re getting nowhere.

Be creative, be original, be unique.

Fill in the gap. Before the end of the year,…

I would like to have finalized all plans for the maiden edition of Oh wow popcorn day. It’s an event that would help us give back to our community. It has been scheduled for January 19th next year.


Sponsored Post.

 

10 lessons I have learned since quitting my job to start a business

It’s been almost two years since I officially resigned from my job at a top consulting firm to start a business. For the last 20 months, I have been filled with either extreme anxiety or euphoria and sometimes, both feelings have coexisted from running my own business(es).

It has been an experience like none I had had before, extremely excruciating, but also immensely fulfilling.

Taking the leap to quit a comfortable job with potential for growth was not a difficult decision for me to make. I grew up believing I had the “Midas” touch — that everything I touched would turn to gold. I was optimistic.

The prospect of extreme success was very exciting. I wanted to build the next Bloomberg or the next Warby Parker, in fact, I was like a child on their first day to school.

And interestingly — my entrepreneurship journey has been more of a school than anything I had imagined.

Here are just a few of the lessons I have learned and feel anyone planning on quitting their job to start a business should know.

regina king black girl magic GIFAbout to quit your job to start a business? Here are 10 lessons you should learn from @Kazville Click To Tweet

1. Do not quit your job unless you have actually started your business

Yes. They say no one wants to work for a part-time CEO. But no one wants to work for a broke business either. If I could do it again, I would wait till my business has clear-cut cash flows before I take the leap. Sometimes strategy works easier and more efficiently than hustle.

2. Have enough savings to last you at least a year

Nothing sucks like having to invest in a business and worry about your house rent at the same time. Stowaway enough cash for yourself to survive for at least a year before taking the leap.

And by “survive” I mean your budget should also have an entertainment budget line — to fund those business coffee meetings and social gatherings.

 

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Do not start a business thinking your business will feed you from Day 1 because the reality is that it won’t. And yes, some people will argue that you can never save enough. I disagree!

3. Your 9–5 job is just as important to your dream as your dream itself

I have read a lot of social media articles bashing employed people for building other people’s dreams instead of their own and I feel that these “motivational” quotes and articles are in such bad taste.

A lot of my progress and support have come from connections I made while at my job. My job taught me so much about managing my business and through it, I interfaced with top CEOs and management people that have since become personal friends and supported my business.

My first client came from my former employer. I am mentored by my former boss. The beautiful people modeling Wazi glasses on our website are my former workmates. If I had not had that job, I would not have much mileage today.

Sometimes strategy works easier and more efficiently than hustle - @Kazville Click To Tweet

4. Start a business you understand

Nothing takes longer and costs more than a business you have no experience in or understand. I cannot begin to count how much money I wasted paying ‘experts’ to make me furnaces that did not even work or molds that were defective.

Image result for confused gif

Don’t even get me started on how much time I wasted back and forth with excuses from the said experts as to why work was not getting delivered on time.

Although I eventually pulled the business model off and actually started to make revenue, I think it gets any entrepreneur more mileage, success, and fun doing something they actually know and understand.

5. Get a mentor or two

I have been lucky to have mentors throughout my entrepreneurship journey. They have not only offered me invaluable entrepreneurship advice but have also opened up their networks and shared their skills. They keep me accountable and on my toes every time I slack.

6. Keep your business simple

Always keep your core business simple. Simple to implement. Simple to understand. Simple to pitch. Simple to share. Simple to scale.

Innovation does not always equate complexity and just because your concept is complex does not mean it will be profitable.

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7. Do not stop learning

The best investment you can make is an investment in yourself as an individual. Of course, we have heard success stories of people who have made lots of money with no education.

But education and business success are not mutually exclusive. As long as you have the opportunity, learn as much as you can. Do that online course. Take part in that workshop. Do that masters. Do that professional course.

Granted, you may not need the degrees and certifications in the short run, but they will come in handy later and add to your credibility.

Just because your business concept is complex does not mean it will be profitable - @Kazville Click To Tweet

8. Beware of the busy bee syndrome

Many times entrepreneurs get busy with everything. Busy driving to meetings to discuss new ideas or running up and down to make meetings that add no value to their business. They are always busy trying one idea after another day after day and applying to every startup competition.

Busy busy busy busy.

Busy does not always equal efficiency and entrepreneurs need to treat their time like they treat their money.

9. Grow some thick skin

If anyone had told me entrepreneurship would make me lose sleep in the middle of every night for a week straight, I would probably not have started.

I have wanted to give up an average of twice a day over the last one year alone. As an entrepreneur, something will hit you so hard you will want to close shop and with your tail between your legs, go ask for your job back.

You will hear terrible things about yourself and about your product and get aggressive competition. Your workers will go on strike, and your most trusted ones will leave. Trust me, you will want to give up.

But every day you don’t, your skin grows thicker and you go harder. Eventually, it gets easier.

10. Do not be a parasite

Over time, I have learned that as an entrepreneur, you are as good as your network. But sometimes we forget and become the parasitic types of entrepreneurs.

Always calling people only when we need favors. Keeping people’s phone numbers only to tap into who they can introduce us to. If you want to build a strong network, add value to it. Call your advisor just to take them to lunch to talk about anything but your business. Buy a present for your neighbor’s dog.

Offer to connect other people in your network to each other. Encourage someone to apply for that opportunity. Buy another entrepreneur’s product.

Whatever you do, always add value to the people in your network instead of only being on the receiving end.

This article was written by Brenda Katwesigye


Brenda Katwesigye is the founder and CEO of Wazi Vision Limited a company incorporated in Uganda that builds eyewear and construction material from recycled plastic.

She is passionate about creating sustainable and affordable solutions for critical health care and housing challenges.

Brenda is an Alumni of Vodafone’s FLANE program, a 2018 Westerwelle Foundation fellow, a 2016 Mandela Washington Fellow and has served on the Regional Advisory Board of the Young African Leader’s Initiative (YALI) and the Board of the STARTS Prize of the Ars Electronica.

Self-Care Tips For a New Entrepreneur –Don’t Let The Internet Rush You

Before now, the term ‘self-care’ used to be reserved for ‘me time’. A period to relax, rejuvenate and basically just pamper yourself usually as a reward for an excellent work or just after a hectic week in Lagos.

But now, the definition of self-care has expanded to other dimensions to encompass not only the physical but every other aspect most especially your mental well-being.

As a new entrepreneur, you would be doing yourself a great disservice if you are not actively looking after your mental health. No matter how seemingly glamorized entrepreneurship has become in recent times, it doesn’t change the fact that it is hard and tedious.

Even though you would spend a lot of your time questioning your decision, it can be incredibly rewarding.

But how do you get to that point? How do you ensure that you are in the best state of mind to produce excellent work? What are some of the things you can do sharpen your focus, increase your productivity levels whilst blocking out any distractions and preserving your mental health?

Just because everyone is doing something or going a particular route doesn't mean it is right for you Click To Tweet

Don’t let the internet rush you

Like every other quotable quote, you have probably seen this quote littered all over social media specifically on Instagram. It’s one of those quotes that has deeply resonated with me.

With social media, it is even harder. Left, right and center, someone is raising some attractive funds and the next thing is a fancy office space with a view which for you, is still in a 2-3 year plan.

Or someone is getting recognized on a distinguished list or is being flown on an all-expense paid trip to speak at an event. Calm down! Take it easy. Don’t raise your blood pressure for something that would still come eventually.

Face your work!

Don’t compare yourself

See one of the worst things you can do to yourself as an emerging entrepreneur is making comparisons. It can literally crush you. No matter how much is in the media, you cannot adequately know a person’s journey. You have absolutely no idea what they have gone through to get to where they are.

Don’t play yourself by comparing your journey to theirs.

Don’t rush yourself

Just because everyone is doing something or going a particular route doesn’t mean it is right for you. If it doesn’t align with your business goals, no matter how attractive it is, stays away from it. It is what exactly it is.

It’s a distraction.

Prioritize

One of the key skills you need to learn as a new entrepreneur is time management. It is literally what spikes or kills your productivity levels. Effective time management can be as simple as creating and sticking to a daily to-do list.

As an entrepreneur, it can be very overwhelming to do everything but listen, as much as you can do ANYTHING you put your mind to, let’s face it; you can’t do EVERYTHING.

Pick one hustle and maybe one side hustle at a time and stick to it.

Mind Your Business

Last but not the least, in the age of information overload and over-sharing, guard your heart and mind your business. Celebrate the small victories and the silent achievements.

Your time will come.

Lebogang Motlalekgosi: You need these qualities to start a crocheting business

Its evident that nowadays, our young moguls are doing what they are passionate about, rather than what the status quo dictates to them.

After completing her BA in Humanities, with a major in sociology and environmental science, Lebogang Motlalekgosi struggled to find a job, but that did not break her spirit as she decided to use her crocheting skills and follow her passion.

She became a mogul at 27 years old when she started a crocheting business, and she seems to be doing quite well. “Being able to crochet things people can use in their daily lives is what gets me falling in love with it every day”, she confesses.

Ms. Motlalekgosi states that she does not limit herself when it comes to her crocheting business. She makes a variety of product that suit a wide range of audience, from baby booties, blankets, as well as wearables for kids and adults.

Motlalekgosi says she draws inspiration from everywhere, but she started this business because of her sister who is one of the people who believe in her.


“I learned how to crochet when I was about 9 years old Click To Tweet

Which four qualities does one need, in order to venture into this unusual business?

 

1. Patience: Crochet is about math which may mean counting tons of stitches and it can be quiet exhausting especially when numbers are not your friend like me.

2. Creativity: Possibilities are endless with crochet. There is so much one can make from clothing to décor items. You just have to be willing to keep re-inventing and learning.

3. Determination: Like with any other business, you need to be determined to make it a success through research, investing your time, and energy.

4. Love: I believe by pouring your heart into everything, fall in love with your craft and others
eventually will.

 

Where do you draw your inspiration from?

Inspiration is everywhere but I started this business because of my sister Johannah, who is one
of the people who really believed in me sometimes more than I believed in myself.

I am also inspired every time I finish a product because it not only boosts my confidence but it inspires me to want to learn more and make more products.

Work hard and work some more: Believe in your craft more than anyone else. Click To Tweet

 

What are the four tips you can give to someone who wants to venture into the crocheting business?

Research: Buy books and find other resources that will help you improve your craft.

Experiment: don’t limit yourself to just one product, try other things as well, it will do wonders for your confidence.

Don’t give up even when you feel like it: Especially when the math doesn’t add up, as it usually does when making a new product.

Work hard and work some more: Believe in your craft more than anyone else.

 

How do you overcome challenges?

Some of the materials are not easily accessible, but I overcome that by working with what I have and making the most of it.

 

What is your most outstanding achievement so far?

For me, every single order is an outstanding achievement. Nothing is more fulfilling to me than

watching a customer smile when trying out a product I made and telling me how much they love it because I pour my energy, love and time into every product.

 

Describe your typical Monday morning.

Haha, my Monday mornings are random in terms of activities. On one Monday I could wake up
and head straight to the couch and start crocheting while others begin with a little workout.

My evenings are usually characterized by preparing supper for my family, watching my favorite
series while crocheting.


Do you know of any entrepreneur with an unusual business idea?

Share their story here.

5 minutes with SheHive London 2017 speakers: brother and sister team Emeka & Ifeyinwa Frederick

Chuku’s is the world’s first Nigerian tapas restaurant based in London, fusing authentic Nigerian flavours and the best of Nigeria’s West African culture with the world. Founded by sibling duo Emeka & Ifeyinwa Frederick.


On founding Chuku’s

The sibling duo’s idea to create a food company, offering a variety of small plates of Nigerian dishes, was born out of growing up in a Nigerian household, and having friends who loved their home meals. This lead them to explore Nigerian cuisine, by fusing traditional recipes with food from their travelling experiences, and their experiences of being part of the diaspora.

 

Running the operations at Chuku’s

Every day is different for this team, with something new to be learned and done each day. They note that creating a routine is one of their main goals in the short term. But, their weeks are broken up into:

  • Shopping days
  • Cooking preparation
  • Events and logistics
  • Administrative tasks
  • Strategizing
  • Marketing

This is one busy duo, as we can see!

Hear the Chuku's team speak at SheHive London 2017: https://sheleadsafrica.org/shehivelondon2017/ Click To Tweet

Long term goals…

Their long term plans include:

  1. Finding a permanent space to offer their food.
  2. Establishing a chain of mainstream Nigerian tapas lounges.
  3. To become a UK household brand name.

 

What trends keeping their eyes on…

  1. The evolution of technology in the food space and how it continues to evolve and disrupt the market.
  2. The rise of healthy meals and food, which their already onto, with their delicious tapa’s.


To learn more about the creative Nigerian foodie duo, get a ticket to our SheHive London event on the 24th of September.

How to choose a business name

Many entrepreneurs have lost great opportunities from having the wrong business name Click To Tweet

While some entrepreneurs are lucky enough to choose the right names for their businesses on instinct and impulse, many have suffered great losses and lost great opportunities from having the wrong name.

Today’s business space is crowded, it is therefore important that entrepreneurs take conscious decisions that set apart their businesses apart in the market place as well as protect it for the future. A business name is one of those decisions.

In business, it’s important to choose a name that sets you apart, one that will last. Every business should have a name that is catchy, a name that sticks. Put some thought into the name choosing process for your business.

Here are tips to guide you through the process of naming your business.

Every business should have a name that is catchy, a name that sticks Click To Tweet

Decide

Decide on what you want the name of your business to communicate; you want your name to convey your objectives as a business.

Choose

Choose a name that not only appeals to you but your target audience, your business name should be meaningful to your target audience.

Relate with your audience

Pick a name that your target audience can relate to on an emotional level; a name that triggers an emotion in your target audience.

Avoid unusual spellings

Stay away from unusual spellings; new forms or spellings of existing words can make it difficult to locate you on the internet.

Be mindful of translations

If you decide to go with a quirky or abstract name; check to make sure it does not have a negative or unpleasant translation in any other parts of the world.

A good business name can quickly get you the right attention your business requires Click To Tweet

Think of the future

Avoid names that can restrict the scope or expansion of your business in the future.

For example, you might start out making dresses for the Lagos weather. Avoid names like ‘Lagos Dresses’ because as you grow and expand, you might decide to start making skirts, tops, trousers for people across the world. When that happens you do not want to confuse your audience/customers.

Say no to long names

Avoid names that are long and confusing, you want a name that is easy to spell, pronounce and remember.

Be unique

Go for a name that is unique to you. Depending on what’s relevant to your business, you might want to do a business name search, trademark search, simple web search, social media search to see if the name is available for use on these platforms.

You do not want to start up a small business and when it’s time to go big, you realize there is a company somewhere with the legal rights to stop you from using the name, imagine what that can cost you. It’s better to go for a name that is available on dot com (.com), if you can afford to, you can buy the .net, .org, .info domain or any any other domain that can distract traffic from your website.

Visualize it

Try to visualize what your name will look /sound like in various adverts – print, radio, television.

A good business name can quickly get you the right attention your business requires, implications of the wrong business name, however, can be fatal, from losing investment opportunities to litigation: so much can go wrong from a seemingly simple decision.

If you are just starting out in business, you should consciously pick a business name.

Depending on how far gone you are in business, repairing a wrong business name might have to involve re-branding This costs money and should be done with the help of a good branding expert as it can also go very wrong if not done gradually and with caution.

7 effective strategies to start any organisation: Lessons from Julie Nixon

You have to prepare a plan to execute your business solutions. An idea will remain that until it's put into action Click To Tweet

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”.

Marketing strategies

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.

As you're getting your organisation out there, you also have to work on yourself by getting a mentor Click To Tweet

4. Invest in the organization

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.

Be prepared to start small unless you already have your funding Click To Tweet

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.

Take advantage of every opportunity to connect with others & learn to stay in touch Click To Tweet

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.

The scramble to the top: 8 things overlooked in a fitness entrepreneur’s journey

People have to see to believe that you are capable of transforming fitness goals into a physical reality Click To Tweet

The hustle is real. Becoming a fitness entrepreneur may be one of the hardest career choices a person can make because of the required level of patience and discipline accorded to success in the fitness industry. People often overlook the journey of a fitness entrepreneur owing to the fact that they are not privy to the behind-the-scenes footage in their lives.

Most fitness entrepreneurs start out juggling their passion with another job in order to fund their lifestyle, gain experience and get professional certification. Here are eight considerations that are often overlooked in a fitness entrepreneur’s journey to career growth and stability:

1. Food and supplement expenses

A small fortune may be spent on food depending on fitness goals; weight loss, muscle gain or maintenance. Protein requirements vary per person depending on their body mass index and daily activity levels, so buying protein and multivitamins may be a major consideration.

Sometimes eating a balanced diet may dig a hole in your pocket but the results are totally worth it.

2. Blood, sweat, and tears

In order to stay relevant, you literally have to keep training. This could involve coming up with different challenges, hitting personal targets and diversifying your fitness regime to stay on top of your game.

A serious fitness entrepreneur trains at least five times a week and rests on other days.

3. Getting that perfect shot

It’s time to get into amateur modelling via social media. People have to see to believe that you are capable of transforming fitness goals into a physical reality. Sharing clear photos taken from a good camera is absolutely necessary to showcase your physique to a target audience of potential clients.

Early in one’s journey, a good camera phone may suffice but if you choose to engage your clients and audience through workout videos and short inspirational clips then investing in a professional camera will be worthwhile.

Building an army of loyal clients may take some time but requires consistent effort Click To Tweet

4. Client loyalty

Building an army of loyal clients may take some time but requires a show of consistent efforts on your part. Following through with a plan and holding yourself accountable for every bit of information shared on social media will build trust in potential clients and reinforce working relationships with existing clients.

Let’s face it, you have to lead by example; don’t expect your clients to be thrilled at their chicken salad dinner when you are actively sharing photos of Italian thin crust pepperoni pizza topped with extra cheese and a glass of South African wine.

5. Sponsorships

Becoming a sponsored athlete or fitness professional may not only be for the ‘elite’. You just need to position yourself to attract brands through social media and official websites. The companies that approach fitness professionals may not be in the fitness industry as they may be looking for an unexpected beauty icon or someone to drive their sales traffic.

Although it takes a while to get to this stage, doing what you love for photoshoots, working holidays and press briefings will give you a financial boost and expose you to greater opportunities.

6. Becoming a thought leader

Want to become the next Lita Lewis? Growing in your area of fitness expertise will allow you develop ideologies on a certain type of fitness goal or exercise. Trying and testing what worked for you in your fitness journey will spark peoples’ interest and increase your following.

This can be reinforced by testing your ideologies on yourself and a focus group to build credibility.

Maintaining relevance in the fitness industry can be likened to a product life cycle Click To Tweet

7. Competitions

Sports, physique or athletic competitions are great ways to advertise your personal brand, challenge your physical capabilities while escalating your career to a different level of professionalism.

Placing in a competition usually attracts endorsements from supplement and fitness apparel brands which may be in the form of money or free products in exchange for regular promotion and modelling.

8. Guest appearances

Making a name for yourself in the fitness industry requires you to actively network at fitness festivals and other related events. Popular fitness entrepreneurs may often have the chance to speak at health and wellness workshops or lead a corporate wellness event.

These appearances will ensure that your face becomes familiar to fitness enthusiasts and people that are just beginning their journey.

Maintaining relevance in the fitness industry can be likened to a product life cycle: a fitness entrepreneur will get to a stage that requires innovation to maintain steady growth. This phase is mentally and physically tasking but the benefits accrued are insurmountable.

Apart from growing in discipline and perfecting your time management skills, you get to be in the best shape of your life while turning your passion into profit! This career path may not be suitable for introverts or socially awkward people unless they are willing to grow in their confidence and interpersonal skills. Are you ready to step outside your comfort zone and embark on this journey?

13 questions to ask before starting a business

she leads africa shehive business
Do I need a business plan? and other common business questions answered by @BiznessVirgins Click To Tweet

Q&A time!

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There’s no perfect way to start a business, the key is to arm yourself with the right knowledge and set the ball rolling. And to help you set the ball rolling, we’ve answered 13 questions we’ve come across over and over again in relation to starting a new business.

1. How do I get funding?

The best way to fund a new business is to bootstrap (from personal savings/funds, family, friends and revenue generated by the business). Pitch your idea to close family and friends, get them to believe in it and fund it.

However some businesses require high startup costs; such businesses cannot be bootstrapped, funds for such businesses can be acquired from investors, banks, crowd funding, grants …

2. What kind of business should I start?

Its always easier to go for something you know about, have talent and passion for.

Find your talent and passion, do your research, this makes it easy to identify the right kind of hustle for you.

3. How should I choose a name?

A good business name can quickly get your brand the right attention it needs. Put some thought into picking a name. Avoid random names or names that restrict you.

Go for a name that won’t confuse people about what your business does. A business name should set you apart and protect it. Search the internet, especially social media platforms to see if the name you pick is available for use.

4. Do I need a business plan?

When you are setting up a business on a low budget, you do not need a business plan. Simply do a lot of research, then put down your mental model for it. Be sure you reconcile this mental model with the bootstrap model as you go along, this will give you a working business model as you scale up.

In the case of a business with high startup cost, a plan is required to create structure; it is important that this plan allows for flexibility as you go along.

5. How do I employ?

For a bootstrapped business, at the beginning of the venture, try as much as you can to involve yourself with the various aspects of the business so you able to determine the skills required when employing. Except you are on the look out for a specialized skill, employ interns and smart inexperienced people, they are usually trainable and eager to learn.

For bigger startups that are run on business plans, you can hire human resource consultants to work out the employment process. To save on costs you can use professional networking sites like LinkedIn to find qualified individual for various job roles.

6. What licenses and/or permits do I require?

This depends.

Find out what permits, licenses or registrations clients/customers look out for in your kind of product or service. For certain businesses you can obtain permits/licenses from local councils at a minimal cost to operate within a particular scope, you can later upgrade the permits/licenses as you go along in business.

7. What do I need to know about book keeping?

Understand financial statements and bookkeeping terms; Balance sheet, income statement and statement of cash flow, net profit, gross profit, revenue, cash investment…..

Keep a close eye on your cash flow, cash investments, net profit and revenue. Software applications like Waveapp can be used for bookkeeping. Also keep record of your business activities.

8. Can I operate my business from home?

Again, this depends. Some businesses require a space where customers can come walk in while others do not.

This is one good way to save on cost as a start-up so except its absolutely necessary, work from home and let the business grow itself to acquire and maintain a work space.

9. Should I operate a franchise or start a business from scratch?

A franchise comes with structure, this reduces the amount of risk involved in setting up a business. On the other hand, a franchise requires a good amount of capital to set up, there are usually many clauses in the agreement and you never really get to build the business structure you want, instead you manage an already existing structure.

Before becoming a franchisee, make sure the model is viable in your choice area, work with a lawyer, make sure its something you are ready for otherwise simply start from scratch.

10. When can I expect to become profitable?

Most new businesses take up to a year to become profitable; Here are a few tips to help you stay afloat during this time

  • Keep your expenses low
  • Keep a close eye on financials.
  • Engage in quick cash transactions/turnover
  • Generate extra cash along the way by offering products and services relating to your business, make sure this does not distract you from your main business.

11. How will I cope with competition?

  • Always stay aware of what your competition is up to.
  • Regularly update your knowledge of what’s going on in the industry you operate.
  • Listen closely to customers.

12. How much do I pay myself?

Put yourself on a minimal salary; even if the business cannot pay you yet, keep a record of it, you can later convert it to sweat equity.

13. How do I pick a partner?

A partner can make or break a business, choose them with care. A business partner should complement you in such a way that makes the business stronger. A partner is supposed to bring in something you do not already have.

Have a good knowledge of who your partner is to avoid surprises, make sure you are aware of all the risks involved in partnerships. Make the partnership agreement tidy, involve a lawyer, please do not set up a partnership on a gentleman’s agreement.

Goodluck!

What’s proof of concept and why you should know it

Test a business idea before scaling up your business with this simple concept Click To Tweet

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.

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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

  1. The business has been able to capture its own sizeable audience.
  2. The business has been able to successfully sell a product/service and make money (profit) from its audience.
  3. 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.

To increase your business' potential for success it's important to look out for proof of concept Click To Tweet

Here are some parameters to consider when checking for proof of concept in business.

  • Net profit
  • Gross profit
  • 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.