Big Company Strategies for Start-ups/Small Businesses to adapt

Running a small business has its pros and cons, the same as running a large corporation.

Large corporations may have endless resources to implement and execute elaborate and detailed strategies as they have hundreds of great minds constantly devising new ways to grow their business.

Whereas in a small company, you have to keep overheads lean, hence, there is no massive budget for strategy sessions with great minds from Ivy league schools. In a small business, the entrepreneur is the great mind and the world is your Ivy league degree, you have to make do with what you have.

But how exactly can you do that? I highlighted some solid, foolproof strategies that big corporations employ to achieve massive results and successes, which can be applied to your small business on a lean budget.

 

Market Segmentation

Enterprises spend millions annually on research to find out what market segment their products are best suited to. Market segmentation is important in every business as knowing your customer is the key to finding your market, which consequently leads to sales.

You need to know who your customers are, where to find them and how to reach them.

 

For small businesses, market segmentation helps you focus on a particular demographic or geographical area, thereby allowing you focus efforts on being the market champion in that market segment.

To figure out your market, small business owners should ask questions like who is your ideal customer? Which customers are you avoiding? What markets are the most profitable?

Answering these questions would help entrepreneurs prioritize and apportion resources to market segments that have the highest returns.

Marketing Funnel

A marketing funnel is basically a fancy term for all the points in your customer acquisition strategy where you contact prospective clients.

As a prospective customer moves down the funnel, the better your chances of converting them into a paying client. Big businesses have a large team and budget to automate and implement this process, with small businesses on a lean budget, you can adapt this technique by being intuitive to your customer’s buying pattern.

Ask yourself,  how does a customer find out about your service? How often do they come to your page? When do they buy?

What motivates this purchase? Asking yourself these questions gives you a clearer understanding of how to move your customer from being aware of your product to become paying clients.

 

Partnerships That Work

Large corporations usually cut deals with their counterparts that their customers can benefit from, small businesses should employ this tactic.

By bundling your services with another that complements you and your customers, you rake up good points with your clients.

For instance, if you sell hair extensions, you can offer your clients free hair care products, this would cause clients to be more inclined to your products, or event decorators could team up with an event space to offer a bundled service to customers.

It’s about leveraging what you’re good at, not trying to be everything to everyone and giving your customer a more wholesome and rewarding experience.

Chief Sales Officer

Enterprises can afford to pay several people bucket loads of money. Especially people who work just to think about how to execute more sales every day. These people have access to real-time data and analytics.

The data is what helps them make sensible insights, that make executing a large number of sales a reality.

On the other hand, for small businesses, it is usually hard to have more than one person in this role. It is of utmost importance to have someone who is constantly thinking of ways the company can generate revenue.

You must always know who your customers are, where they are and know what they want.

As you scale, have more people in sales and segment each section of the market the person should be handling.

By focusing on the customer and how to make them advocates, generating sales and loyalty. Most businesses have grown to become big businesses.


  If you’d like to get featured on our Facebook page, click here to share your story with us.

9 Business Lessons from My First Year of Business

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.

 

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.

5 tips on how to handle difficult clients as a startup business owner

As someone in the business of cloth making and operating a business which is barely a year old, I have had to deal with some clients who are the human versions of ‘bitter pills’.

If I did not absolutely love my business, I would have closed shop the first time a client made me cry. Yes cry.  And I know that a lot of us as start-up business owners can actually relate (if you can’t, then I hail you).

The good thing about having difficult clients, as a start-up business, is that they toughen you up. They teach you lessons and help you create boundaries and principles.
Here are some tips that have helped me deal with difficult clients as a start-up business.

1. Understand your clients

Your business will attract different personas with different values and backgrounds, and all of this will play a part in their business interaction with you. At your first meeting or consultation try getting a feel of your client, they are most likely there to try/ figure you out as well. Your first job for them might not turn out right, but the feeling they have around you might bring them back for a second try.

2. It is not worth the effort.

I am talking about screaming. Sometimes I think the bane of the cloth making business is when styles are being referenced in pictures. When your client has made a request, which you then try your best to fulfill, it can be pretty frustrating when they begin to have an attitude. The worst is when the client says “this isn’t what I wanted”.

Oh boy! There are so many sides to this particular story and so many ways this can go. But, despite the strong need to defend yourself and react in like manner, don’t.

Yelling right back at them will solve nothing and frankly is not worth it.

 

3. An apology does not make you foolish

Even if you are right, a riled up client is not going to listen to your explanation and definitely not to excuses. Apologise and apologise again. Eventually they will calm down (even if it takes days) and may realize their mistake. Don’t hold your breath though.

 

4. Agree to disagree.

 Sometimes we come across clients who seem to block out all explanations and suggestions. Agreeing with them in the moment will save you the headache. You can drive your point home, later, with facts.

 

5. Be honest no matter what

 It can be difficult sticking with the good side when your client acts like ‘the boss of the underworld’. But, I have had really annoying clients come back and say they appreciate my honesty. In spite of who your client is, compromising on morals is never the best route to take, for any business.

 

P.S: Remember: your client is your boss!


What are your top tips on how to handle difficult clients?

Let us know here.

Facebook Live with Deliwe Makata: How to run a startup while completing your studies (Sept 13)

Getting an education should not be a barrier to pursuing your dreams early in life.

Com’on, we’ve gone past that time where we had to wait for graduation to start a business, master a new skill, or even start making trips to the bank…

Deliwe Makata is a living example. Currently an undergraduate, she founded Women Inspire, an empowerment and capacity building network for young women and girls in Malawi.

Deliwe has trained over 250 Malawian girls and conducted over 50 face to face mentoring sessions with girls, about issues relating to personal development.

You can start your career or business while in school. Learn how. Click To Tweet

Join us on Wednesday, 13th September, as we host a Facebook Live Chat with Deliwe, who will be sharing her advice on starting a company and pursuing her passion while completing her studies.

Register below to have access to this opportunity.

Some of the topics we’ll cover:

  • Founding a company while in school
  • How early self-development has helped Deliwe to train young girls in Malawi
  • 3 keys to balancing your studies and side hustle

Facebook Live Details:

Date: Wednesday, September 13th, 2017

Time: Lagos 1pm // Lilongwe 2pm // Nairobi 3pm

Where: facebook.com/sheleadsafrica/

Watch here:

“She Leads Africa Facebook Live with Deliwe makata – Founder of Women Inspire, Malawi. How to run a startup while completing your studies. Join the She Leads Africa community by visiting SheLeadsAfrica.org/join!”

Posted by She Leads Africa on Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Watch the first part of this video on our Facebook page.

About Deliwe

Deliwe Makata is a writer, speaker, and highly ambitious leader, with aspirations of getting into international public policy-making. She is the founder and executive director of a women empowerment organization called Women Inspire.

Women Inspire is dedicated to improving the lives of women and girls, both locally and internationally. Through training & mentoring women and girls in the areas of education, human right advocacy, capacity building, leadership and decision-making positions.

As a speaker, Deliwe has inspired many through her motivational appearances with international organizations, such as AGE Africa.

Deliwe is also an exceptional final year student currently pursuing her undergraduate degree with the University of Malawi, Chancellor College, studying Arts in Humanities.

Are children the enemies of progress?

How do you balance the priorities of having a child and building an empire? Click To Tweet

Being a woman is one of the greatest privileges I feel I have been given in this life. We are all aware of the history of oppression that women have suffered in the past and the many women who fought off the oppressors and paved the way for us.

Now we delight in the possibilities and opportunities presented to us, to carve out our own destinies. I once heard someone say, “Some of us (women) have become the men we dreamt of marrying”. That is certainly an ode to all you badass females kicking down doors and handling your business. That is not to say, we don’t need our wonderful men.

Should my time upon this earth be up very soon, I will forever be proud of starting Demur and hope to be counted amongst those badass women who have kicked down doors and shaped history. I know I have started something that will forever live on.

Along with that, one other thing that I know I want to leave on this earth when my time is up, are some little Noreen’s. Some beautiful children who I can help mould into pleasant human beings who will also go on to make a significant contribution to the world during their time here. I also want to be able to chase them around whilst I’m still young and fit.

Is it selfish to want to build something first and delay starting a family? Click To Tweet

Putting your empire building on pause

Whilst I am working hard to build an empire and ensure I have all my ducks in a row, the little Noreen’s project is not an urgent one, but it’s one that’s on the agenda. Never mind the fact that I’m fast approaching 30 and should I not reproduce soon, society will be looking at me with cause for concern as if I am some strange creature. The body clock theorists do not help much either.

I am surrounded by friends and family members who have given birth in the last 2 years. Not only have I had the joy of watching these beautiful children grow, I am also a godmother to three of these children. I can certainly tell being a mother is not an easy job at all from watching these mothers raise their kids.

Being a mother to a young child is very demanding. There are many sacrifices you have to make including for some women, putting their careers on hold. If you are in employment you get your maternity leave and various allowances but when you are going at it alone, can you afford to take a year or so out of your own business?

I have a friend who has a business that has just taken off and there are opportunities lined up that will only take her business higher. However, those opportunities require her full attention to go forward and now her partner is asking for kids. She asked me, “Can you choose between having kids and taking your business forward?”

You can’t chase two rabbits at the same time that’s for sure.

The choice to take a career break and have kids or try and juggle both is a personal one. No one can choose your destiny for you, not even your partner. For me personally, I feel, if I was to have a baby in the next year or two, one is going to have to suffer. It’s either I will not be able to give my child the full attention she deserves (I really really really want a girl first by the way) or I will not be able to fully commit myself to Demur. So, I am seated here asking myself the same question as my friend, what do I want more? To some people that is an absurd question to even ponder about.

You cannot compare a baby to a business. Although to a certain extent it often feels like I have a baby already. As much as I can delegate things to other people much like leaving your baby at the babysitters, you still must make sure that the baby is looked after. You must protect your baby, you must protect the integrity of your business. I cannot go on holiday yet without worrying or checking in on Demur, just like a Mother who has left her child at home.

You can't chase two rabbits at the same time that's for sure Click To Tweet

So, can my friend say to her partner, “Baby I want a child but you are going to have to wait until I finish building my business,” When will that be though? I can certainly understand why some women chose not to have children at all. Oprah once said she chose not to have children because she knew it would get in the way and well look at the incredible empire she has built. There is no telling whether she would have had the same level of success had she chosen to have kids.

You can have your cake and eat it too

On the other hand, there are women who show us that you can have it all. Beyoncé had her first child when she had already created a wonderful legacy and went back to business and there is no doubt she will get right back to business after the twins.

I once read a quote by Shonda Rhimes, where she said: “Motherhood is not about shrinking down, it’s about showing your kids how to be a powerful woman.” For Shonda Rhimes that means juggling being a mother and running her Shondaland empire. How do you balance the priorities of having a child and building an empire? Is it selfish to want to build something first and delay starting a family? Success is a long winding road, what if it takes you 10,20,30 years to get to the level of success you want, before having kids?

I’m often asked, “Why don’t you want to have children now?” and my honest answer is, “I am building privileges for my children so that when they are born they will want for nothing.” With what I am building, I hope when I have my kids I can devote all my time to them. I hope to have built Demur to a level where it can run without me and I can afford to take a maternity leave without any financial constraints. I hope to be able to attend as many sports days as possible, stay at home with my children for sick days, cook their favourite meals and sit there and listen to their long-winded storytelling. These are the joys of being a mother I want to fully commit myself to and enjoy fully.

On the other hand, I also get asked, “Why do you want to have children?” I want children because I want someone to carry on my legacy when I’m gone, although I must admit childbirth does not look like fun. The thing is I know I can have it all but perhaps not all at once. It’s more of a question of what do I want more and when do I want it? Can I afford to put my dreams on hold for a year or two to start a family? Is it wrong to think of children as a hindrance to my dreams?

Lessons from Chenesai: How to be authentic organic entrepreneur

chenesai
Entrepreneurship is not just an activity, it is a lifestyle committed to the development of the dream Click To Tweet

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.

To be a successful organic entrepreneur you need to always see the glass half full Click To Tweet

3. Be solution driven

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.

It is important to never think of challenges, I live in solution mode - Chenesai @Inspire2Aspire Click To Tweet

5. Honour your time

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!

Public Relations vs. Advertising

In PR, The “public” is anyone who ever has/will form an opinion about the client Click To Tweet

What is Public Relations?

Public Relations is a strategic communication process that builds and manages mutually beneficial relationships between Organizations and the Public. The “public” is anyone who ever has or ever will form an opinion about the client.

These could include clients, potential clients, members of the community, the media, online fans etc. Public relations success requires a deep understanding of the interests and concerns of each of these and how to effectively address them through Publicity.

What is advertising?

Advertising is the act of announcing, praising or drawing attention to a product, service or event in a public medium in order to promote sales or attendance.

What are the similarities between Public Relations and Advertising?

PR agencies and advertising agencies share the same goals: promoting clients and making them seem as successful, honest, important, exciting or relevant as possible.

But the paths to achieving this are different.

PR & advertising agencies share the same goals but different paths to achieving them Click To Tweet

How is Public Relations different from Advertising?

Newspapers, radio and TV stations (especially local ones) are always looking for fresh story ideas, particularly those with a “human interest” angle.

A PR professional crafts press releases resembling a compelling news story, making it clear why his client’s product, service or personal history is important. The goal is to fulfill the journalist’s requirement for news while enhancing the client’s image in the public eye.

  • PR agencies, as opposed to advertising agencies, promote companies or individuals via editorial coverage. This is known as “earned” or “free” media stories appearing on websites, newspapers, magazines and TV programs as compared to “paid media” or advertisements.
  • Since advertising is paid for by the client, it is thus viewed with skepticism. Articles or TV appearances in respected publications have the advantage of third-party validation and are generally viewed more favourably.
  • Another huge difference is the price. Public Relations in the media is free if done directly by the company. PR firms also charge monthly retainers or can be hired for specific projects. Advertising can be very pricey when you figure the cost of the space or time plus the creative designs and production costs. And most advertisements need to be repeated several times before the consumer can be influenced.
  • Publicity has greater longevity than advertising. An article about your business will be remembered far longer than an advert.
  • Publicity also reaches a far wider audience than advertising generally does. Sometimes, your story might even be picked up by the national media, spreading the word about your business all over the country.
An article about your business will be remembered far longer than an advert Click To Tweet

Advantages of Public Relations over Advertising

Advertising builds exposure whilst Public Relations build trust. Advertising leaves a sceptical audience whilst public relations because of its endorsement by the media, validates and legitimises the audience.

Because it’s in their best interest to sell you more ads, advertisers tell clients what they want to hear whilst PR people who deal with crises, image enhancement and creation of long-term relationships, where your story often must be accepted by others (the media) before you obtain recognition, will tell you what you need to hear.

Advantages of Advertising over Public Relations

Advertisers maintain creative control of output whilst Public Relations has no final say in output which rests in the hands of the media.

Advertising uses visuals whilst Public Relations use language for persuasion. With Advertising, you are guaranteed of a placement in the media platform but with Public

Master the art of the side hustle in school

If you are an active person in school you probably have 2-3 things going on at the same time Click To Tweet

In university, it becomes important to effectively balance the primary purpose of being on campus (school) with every (and I mean every) other activity you have going on.

From my first year in school, I was always involved in multiple activities. I worked at the school’s radio as an OAP, I worked as an event host within and outside the school and the state. I worked with several magazines, writing for them, raising funds, planning events etc. I had obligations in church…phew!

In my final year, there was the main school project, several committees, freelance writing jobs, a sewing and a buying and selling business, a costume creative group, and of course church.

For a student, this is equivalent to having side jobs and a main job. In this case, the main job is school and that is your starting point. How do you juggle all of this?

1. Your primary focus will determine the spare time you have

Like it or not, love the school (course) or not, you are bound by your academic schedule. That is your 9-5. (Or 6.30-5 in some cases ).

When you have your school schedule (timetable ) down to a pat, then you can begin to fix other pieces in place.

2. Work smart,not hard.

Cliché but true. And no, I am not advocating for class skipping. It will go a long way to help balance your multitasking if you quickly figure out which classes are necessary, important, compulsory and useful.

I have seen students wait around for the next class, staying on in spite of there being no classes. They just hang around. Except when you are networking or gathering information, you don’t have that luxury.

3. Every second of the day counts.

Tick tock.

You work with time. 30 minutes is ample time to fix one or two things within a given period. You might end up wasting time if you have no idea how to effectively use the free moments you have.

4. Know those who can help you ease your burden.

In this case, the “who” will be your class representative. A cordial relationship with your class representative puts you in a position of information.

A typical day for me starts the night before. I call my class representative to ask for shifting class schedules, classes most likely not to hold, vital information and anything that will save me from making an unnecessary trip inside school.

A good school squad (if your squad is not in your class), is needed to cover up lapses in the case you get stuck conducting other business. They are your support team.

5. Follow a daily plan

My planning culture from school has helped me till this moment. I make a weekly plan, a very big one. It is colour coded to accommodate classes, meetings, jobs, church obligations, business and whatever I might have going on, including fun time (totally needed). Then I break them into smaller blocks by the days.

I then proceed to pen into my mini planner (small enough to fit into an average clutch purse) the activities that are high on the priority list outside school, because that is a constant. The list in my mini planner are the things I must complete. These are the jobs, clothes to sew, meetings, assignments, etc. You consult this planner like an Oracle on an hourly basis. Ticking off one completed task after the other can be fulfilling.

Finally getting yourself into a good head space each morning will go a long way to prepare you for your almost topsy-turvy day. Personally, for me to start a productive day, I need the following; prayer, exercise, a glass of water and a good breakfast.

NB: Priscilla’s all important bag contents for a work day

1. A tote bag (to carry everything!)

2. Bottled water

3. A fruit/chocolate bar

4. Bubblegum

5.Sunglasses

6. Slippers (for when I wear heels or loafers)

7. My planner

8. Any work related items

9. Earphones

10. Hand lotion

11. Lip gloss

12. Wipes and mini tissues

13. Pens

14. A cabman. He won’t fit into a bag but is necessary for mobility.

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!

question

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!