Nnanke Essien is a visibility strategist and business transformation coach. She helps individuals with awesome ideas, products and services to get seen and found by their ideal clients.
She does this using a 5 step visibility building process to build an effective and efficient visibility roadmap. Nnanke believes that the path to success is littered with awesome but poorly marketed ideas, hence her mandate is to support businesses find this sure pathway.
She is a John Maxwell Certified coach, a HR professional and a visibility builder round the clock. She has been supporting start-ups and businesses since 2007 even through college.
Why is it important to stay visible?
If nobody knows you exist, nobody will buy from you. It’s really that simple, you must always find a way for your ideal clients to remember that you exist. We call it top of mind awareness. In other words, if at any point your client has a need, your brand name should be top of mind.
How can brands stay visible despite strong competition on social media?
Truthfully, social media isn’t going anywhere and the earlier business owners understand this and take ownership the better for brands. Firstly, to stay visible, brands must adhere to a stellar mindset.
Beyond this, brands need clarity on why they are in the business. This is in terms of the business mission, vision, values, identifying their business playing field (niche), their core message and their brand positioning on the value chain.
Brands also need clarity on their ideal clients. Who are the people whose lives and businesses will be transformed by virtue of the fact that this business exists?
Understanding the client’s exact needs, desires, challenges, what they need to transform, lifestyle, spending power and motivation is key to business visibility success.Finally, brands can also stay visible by authenticating their authority in the market. Having consistent, attractive and meaningful bio’s on their social media platforms can contribute to this. Their bio must contain relevant information on who the brand is.
Also, nurturing communities i.e groups, leveraging on content and becoming an information reservoir for clients can be a great way of authenticating authority. In all of these, consistency and building revenue generating models, systems, processes and assets are key to success and visibility.
What are your top three tips for business owners to incorporate into their brands?
Have a consistent brand voice and visual appeal that is easy for people to spot and recognize.
Focus on building relationships using KLT (Know, Like and Trust) techniques like live videos, Instagram stories, guest appearances et al.
How can women balance putting themselves out there while not appearing too forward?
Woman know what you want. Don’t do things out of compulsion or pressure. The woman you buy shoes from didn’t shy away from her calling, the woman who sells human hair didn’t shy away from her calling.
Recognize your hustle. Validate it! Look for a group of persons or coaches and mentors who can help you identify your hustle, find your sweet spot, stay there, flaunt it and own it.
What do you wish more entrepreneurs knew about today’s changing marketplace?
I wish they would spend more time actually researching than copying and wasting endless time doing idle and non-income generating activities. Behaviors are changing. The spending power of your ideal clients is changing. Algorithms on all the social platforms you are using are changing.
You have been working for five years, in this time you have set out a plan to help you become a Motherland Mogul. The plan is getting into the business. You have gone as far as saving up for a couple of years to finance your to be start-up.
Recently, you have been toying around with various business ideas, the idea that encompasses both your passion and need to make some extra cash on the side wins.
You have looked at the various ways you can implement this business idea and realised you need a partner to do so. This could be because you are a good accountant but for the business to be a success you need a partner who will be the face of the business.
Or you are the sassy lady who is good at communication and drawing in the customers, and a manager is needed to make sure all that money you are raking in is properly managed. So currently the idea and the money are in place the only thing that remains undone is getting a business partner on board.
What are the things that you should consider to ensure you end up with the right person as a partner in your business?
Sharing the Vision of the business.
At the beginning, the business is usually just an idea. If implemented correctly, it could impact your lives and those of your clients tremendously in a positive way.
The person or people you choose to work with as partners in the business must own the vision of the business as much as you do. If your partner does not agree with you on the levels to which you want to take the business. They will always have negative vibes on the job that will result in your business losing money.
A partner is part of management, and if they are pessimistic with regards to the business, the employees will notice and get demoralised. The vision is the business. It’s what positions you strategically against competitors.
It is thus a prerequisite that before you decide to partner with someone on a business, be in sync on where you see the business going to in three months’ time or in five years’ time.
Honesty and Transparency
Honesty is a virtue that is a must-have in business. Individuals who are shrewd and unscrupulous ruin your business. You could have been saving for a really long time to start off this business or you got a loan from your bank to get it running.
Therefore, you cannot afford to lose the money or destroy your business name. It is therefore necessary to vet the person you intend to partner with. Inquire into the person’s character from others who have worked with them prior to you considering to partner with them.
If the feedback is positive you have a partner. If not, find your business train another station to disembark, as this one is a definite NO!
Hard work and Resilience
Start-ups are a mountain to climb on their own. The faint-hearted cannot survive this climb. Setting up a business from scratch is not a walk in the park. A partner will share in the business profits. This means they have to put in the work and the time needed to get the business to the top in your chosen field.
There are qualities that you will compensate for each other but working hard and smart is not one of them. One could be unquestionably talented but if they never take time to create and get their skills or work to the market no one will ever know of their talent.
Moreover, if you partner with a lazy person you will shoulder the whole burden of the business which beats the logic of having a partner in the first place.
Resilience is also key in your partner. Quitters run at the first sight of trouble. With new businesses, you will meet challenges that you never anticipated at the start of your journey. This will not mean that you quit.
Overcoming this challenges is exactly what you will need to do to solidify your position in the market.
Whether you’re a new business owner or been in the game for a while, you all have one thing in common: you need to be on top of your game. Real talk. This is why I’ve put together eight of some of the easiest tools in this technology-driven world to propel your growing business.
Hands down, this is a favourite technology hack. It’s a simple graphic tool with thousands of templates at your disposal. Canva is great for designing Instagram and Facebook posts, posters, letterheads, infographics; in fact, all kinds of graphics. It’ll make anyone feel like a graphic designer. Certainly fuels my ego.
There’s a mobile version available too; and it’s free. Happy customizing!
PicMonkey is my favourite photo-editing tool. There’s a free version with limited options, but it allows you edit, make collages selecting from a ton of templates, add text, resize and more. It’s also great for creating watermarks. You can choose the paid version if you require more features.
PicMonkey is amazing if you deal with a lot of content!
Hootsuite is gold. This hack allows you schedule and sync your content across your social media pages. You can mention other social media handles whilst drafting in Hootsuite (and see if they’re the right ones). It’s great for shortening lengthy links as well.
Save time by scheduling up to thirty posts at a time!
Calendly is a great tool for setting appointments. It’s a convenient way to send your availability to clients by sending them your link through which they can book a slot. Once the client books, you will receive an email confirming this. It will also be added to your calendar on Google and send you a timely reminder.
Maybe I’m just really lazy, but I use Office Lens to scan all my documents when I’m away from my desk. It’s great for emailing copies of documents on the go and is a lot tidier than using the camera on your phone. With Office Lens you can crop and make simple adjustments, save and even convert to Powerpoint or PDF.
What are you still waiting for? Download this tool now!
Fiverr is a freelance site with a large pool of sellers offering services for a lean $5 and upwards. There are basic tasks you may wish to outsource as a business owner, to enable you focus on your core. Browse through Fiverr for services such as business writing, video, branding, graphics work. There’s also Fiverr Pro for more technical, professional work.
Trello is amazing and absolutely easy to use. It’s like a little personal assistant that helps you keep track of the work you and your team have scheduled. You can update plans for the team to see and move across different stages. You can make checklists and add key team members to activities.
Major hack here! This helps sort out your business accounting with an annual fee. You can keep track of payments, send invoices (and include your business logo), manage different customers’ finances. It can also be used on multiple devices. The best part is all your data is backed up.
It’s quite a technical tool so you’ll need to undergo a tutorial or training!
I got you covered with these technology hacks to meet your business needs from graphics, to accounting, to personal organisation, but there are tons of other good ones. So make sure to research and ask around.
Let us know here, which other technology hacks you love!
Entrepreneurs create their own future—they own it! Think of all the new technology and ideas that have come to life over the past few years. Those were all once just an idea but entrepreneurs brought those ideas to life. Yes entrepreneurship is Life. Entrepreneurship is a way to bring your passion to life as you help make people’s lives better.
Sounds great right? Here are a few steps to becoming an entrepreneur!
Start where you are with what you have! The distance between you and the greater you is: action! Part of starting a business is conducting thorough market and product/service offering research. Evaluate your idea; the more information you can gather about the potential demand for your product or service, about your competitors, and about the needs and wants of your prospective customers, the more successful you are likely to be. Remember: 80% structuring 20% implementation.
Love and believe in what you do
Do what you love and you will never have to work a day in your life,doing what you love is freedom and you will always do great.
The biggest difference I’ve noticed between successful people and unsuccessful people isn’t intelligence or opportunity or resources. It’s the belief that they can make their goals happen. Believe in yourself and become unstoppable- nothing will work if you don’t . The first step towards action is saying ‘I can’.
Adopt an all-or-nothing mentality
Whatever you do, don’t give up, why go at all if you are not gonna go all the way?? It always feels better after every step because it means you are one step closer. The secret behind entrepreneurship is doing what others are not willing to do.
Take small steps toward your goal
Be specific about what you want to achieve and devote your time to it; draw up an action plan and follow every step. Affirm with faith and feelings that your goal has already been achieved.
Check your direction, then learn from your mistakes
“Life is like a compass. When you set your goals correctly it will take you to the right direction”. Mistakes have the power to turn you into something better, and experience is the best teacher. Admit it, learn from it and move forward
“ The greater you awaits you”
Are you an entrpreneur, let us know how you built your business?
Patricia Majule started the business of manufacturing and supplying of custom party supplies, box packages, favors & gifts in 2014 and has recorded tremendous growth since then.
Her idea was born when she noticed that most people in Tanzania were importing paper supplies from abroad, instead of investing in machines becoming manufacturers. Through her business, she has been able to provide quality products made in Tanzania, at lower prices.
She takes us through her journey so far and how she’s changing the face of the Tanzanian manufacturing industry, whilst protecting the environment.
Tell us about your business and the idea behind it
My business trades as Unique Favors Tz,; we make products and provide services ranging from décor ware, gifting and gift supplies. Our products are used for parties, functions, events and can be customized for non- celebration uses, such as, business advertising and branding.
The company began in 2013 as Unique Gifts Tz, and at the time we were specialising in gifts. But, we expanded our product line and changed the name officially, and registered as “Unique Favors Tz” in 2014.
What ways are you contributing to the protection of the environment through your product type?
One of the products we make at Unique Favors Tz is uniquely designed cardboard, made by using the leftover egg shells from chicken eggs (maganda ya mayai in Kiswahili language).
Egg shells help curb environmental waste by reducing the waste that would have probably been increased by throwing away eggshells right after usage.
In Tanzania , eggs are consumed in large quantities due to the existence of many small scale entrepreneurs selling them in kiosks and bars, and also due to the fact that chicken livestock farming is popular in Tanzania.
Secondly, we use paper products to package gifts, as opposed to plastic.
Plastic bags are known to be a form of waste which cannot decay; which is why there has been a movement by the government to reduce and completely ban the use of plastic packaging in Tanzania. In five to ten years, my products will have contributed significantly to curbing environmental pollution.
What strategies have helped your business grow these past few years?
What opportunities lie in Africa and how much are young people tapping into them?
I’ve always believed that Africa is full of opportunities and many of them are hidden in industrial operations. Firstly the industrial sector is one of the most untapped sectors in Africa, especially by local natives, yet the most rewarding sector.
Majority of the youth dare to start a business with a focus on the retail phase, but they lack the courage and resilience to grow their businesses to an industrial level. Many other youth reach the idea level and fail to proceed to the implementation level.
Tell us the setbacks you’ve faced in the course of establishing your business and your survival method(s)
Most of our product line and service offering is very new and unique to our community. Therefore, we have spent a lot of our time educating them in order to get buy-in.
At times raw materials which are needed for production are scarce; coupled with price fluctuations, this tends to be a challenge.
In our society it is not normal for people to see you developing a product and being in industrial, especially at a young age like mine, so there is a belief that somebody else could do my job better, and hence there is little support and a lot of bad-mouthing.
But ,at the end of the day our survival methods are to: be courageous, patient, and resilient and know that as long as we are being ethical and legal, everything is fine. Society will catch-up later.
What great success has your business recorded in the past few years?
Our business has been successful in so many ways. Firstly, by introducing new unique products to the market, we got a very positive response from customers, which lead to significant company growth. Also we have been able to create temporary and permanent jobs to majority of the natives in Tanzania.
What makes your business unique?
The products we manufacture in- country, the paper party supplies and the egg shell cardboards, are customised and very unique because everything is made from scratch. Most of the party supplies in our country are fully imported from China, so they tend to have common styles and lack that unique style.
A lot of things compete for an entrepreneur’s time, especially during the early stage of business. Therefore, it is important to make sure that you have an ‘A- team’ working in your business. As such, as an entrepreneur knowing how to build a team for your business is of the utmost importance.
Building a business with the wrong set of people can cause major setbacks for the business. You need to ensure that you select members of your team carefully; be thorough with the hiring process.
Here are tips to guide entrepreneurs through the process of how to build a team for your business.
Have a strategic vision for your business
Have clear objectives on why you need a team and what you expect from each member of the team. This gives you a clear idea of what to look out for when building a team.
Startups are hardly ever the first choice for job applicants
The pay and job security in startups is low compared to corporate institutions, this further narrows down the talent pool available for small businesses to hire from. Locate communities (online and offline) where potential members of your team hang out; social media, networking events or your personal network. This can help you easily find people with a passion for what you do, such people can be easily trained to get the job done.
Get them to buy into it. This draws commitment and builds passion in them to drive the vision.
The aim should always be to build a single unit
Each individual on the team should be dedicated to not only accomplishing their own tasks but that of their team mates. Team members should be able to wear multiple hats and adapt to the ever dynamic nature of startups. Introduce them to online tools for better organization and efficient communication internally and externally.
Team members should go beyond people on your payroll
Build your team to include people that provide you with support – advisory, investment, emotional (family and friends), vendors and a customer network.
Put together trainings and team bonding sessions
Create a work environment that rewards creativity and nurtures resourcefulness.
Do a thorough background check
On social media as well as google. This gives you an insight on what kind of team player they will be. It lets you in on what their views on life might be, as well as their character and moral conduct. Take this seriously as character/attitude is an important factor to consider when hiring as a startup.
The kind of positive energy members of your team can draw from.
If you don’t feel good about hiring a particular person on your team, don’t! If a candidate has all it takes for the role, but you feel off about him or her, let the person go. You always have to be on the same page with members of your team.
Want to do business in Africa successfully? Learn how to break down barriers and prove your worth.
On Friday, October 13th,Sneha Shah – Managing Director of Africa for Thomson Reutersshared with us how the African business landscape is currently positioned for female entrepreneurs, and how you can take advantage of it.
Sneha has initiated partnerships with leading international market development, and works in close collaboration with public and private sector organizations in each country, to tackle the opportunities and challenges around financial and capital markets development.
Sneha Shah joined Thomson Reuters in 2001 in New York and has held several global leadership roles across the financial and media business units in operations, product development, and technology.
She was appointed Managing Director of Africa for Thomson Reuters in April 2015, and leads all of the financial, risk, tax and legal businesses across the region, providing data, automation and digitization solutions to financial institutions, governments, and corporates.
She is responsible for driving the profitable and sustainable growth for Thomson Reuters in Africa in a manner that contributes positively to the region’s economic development.
Born in Kenya and having worked in many African countries, Sneha is particularly passionate about initiatives that help empower Africa’s success.
Sneha is a member of the Board of the US Chamber of Commerce, US-Africa Business Center. She is also a member of the Young Presidents Organization (YPO) and the African Leadership Network (ALN) and has been actively involved in several initiatives of the World Economic Forum (WEF) on Africa, including the Partnering Against Corruption Initiative (PACI) (current), and the Global Agenda Council on Governance (2014 to 2016).
Prior to joining Thomson Reuters, Sneha was a commodities trader for Cargill in South Africa and traded money markets and foreign exchange at CFC Bank in Kenya. She holds a BA (Hons) degree in Politics with International Studies from the University of Warwick in the UK.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Early this year, I had a conversation with a colleague, and we both agreed that the ultimate goal of most millennials was to be their own boss. According to a survey that was conducted by America’s Small Business Development Centres, over 61% of millennials believe the best job security comes from owning your own business.
In my opinion, this is a welcome development. More entrepreneurs mean more job creation which in turn leads to an even distribution of wealth, hence reducing the household to poverty ratio. Having said that, it must be stated that not everybody can become a successful entrepreneur without undergoing some level of training whether as an employee or receiving formal (or semi-formal) education. It is quite impossible for you to suddenly acquire the skill set required to become a successful entrepreneur without learning from someone.
Presently, there is an ongoing, albeit subtle, disparagement of people working as employees. The condescension is astonishing, you wouldn’t believe it. Employees are now seen as sell-outs; people with little or no ambition. In their haste to put down employees, most people forget that the most successful entrepreneurs in the world were once employees. And the reason for their success can be partly attributed to the skills they acquired while working under someone.
I came across this quote by President Donald Trump which I think is very apt for this post, “Watch, listen, and learn. You can’t know it all yourself. Anyone who thinks they do is destined for mediocrity”. In the same vein, you can only be a great leader by being a follower. Working as an employee can provide you with tools that you need to start-up your own company.
Business contacts and networks don’t magically land in your laps. You have to make a conscious effort to put yourself out there.
By working as an employee, you are able to access the pool of professionals and resources you will need in the future. Never underestimate the power that comes from knowing people and having connections that will act as your referral sources when you do start your business.
This cannot be over-emphasized. One of the key reasons why most start-ups fail is because the entrepreneurs didn’t have the necessary experience or knowledge about the sector.
A friend who wanted to start a clothing line had no idea what such venture would entail. Her solution was employing someone who had experience. The danger with this is that you are essentially running a business where you know nothing, thus leaving yourself open to failure.
Confidence and clear communicator
When you learn a skill and have mastered it (by doing it over and over again as an employee), there is a confidence that comes with the knowledge that you are a pro in that particular area.
For instance, working as a sales personnel in a manufacturing company. As a sales personnel, you had to learn how to sell a product. By doing this over a period of time, you become very good at it. When you eventually start your own product line, you are already a master of sales and this brings a certain level of confidence.
As an employee, you had to learn the art of good communication, what good communication looks and sounds like. Being able to communicate effectively makes a major difference, and this is a skill you will need when you start employing people.
Learning the art of budgeting
Truthfully, you don’t need to be an employee to learn how to budget your expenses. However, as an employee, you may have noticed that in order for a company to run effectively, funds have to be allocated for various activities.
You learn how to achieve more with less, and how to organise and think creatively. This is important because not all startups have huge capital to invest. You will need to do the important stuff with the little you have.
There is nothing as beautiful as learning from the mistakes of others, especially for entrepreneurs. So, as an employee, you would have noticed the flaws and the loopholes in the business. This will serve as a guide such that when you start your own company, these flaws and loopholes will be avoided.
So, these are the reasons why I believe that one of the best things an aspiring entrepreneur should do before starting up his/her company is to first work for other people.
Nkechi Adimora is the CEO of Ozi Express, a logistics business she started with her husband a little over a year ago. This startup is focused on local delivery of food, parcels, and errands within the city of Abuja, Nigeria.
Prior to this, Nkechi has run businesses ranging from retailing authentic human hair, a mobile clothes and accessories boutique, and a food vending stall. Although Nkechi’s educational background in International Relations and Development gained from Sussex University and School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) London seems a little different from her savvy and quest for business, she has successfully integrated these skills to ensure she runs her logistics business with class and excellence.
The young CEO shares with us some key things to note while keeping your startup running during the recession.
Let us be honest while it is somewhat fulfilling to become an employer of labor, it is getting increasingly difficult to find good employees. Somehow it seems like everybody wants to earn money but nobody wants to work. My employees are not the best but they all have one thing in common -they are very hardworking.
The business needed a lot more effort to keep customers which meant that we had no room to mock about especially since we now have an almost saturated market for delivery business. But they wake up every day and self-motivate themselves to work – and this helped us through the recession.
I began the business handling the customer relations myself – this meant that despite my regular day job, I spend an enormous amount of personal and family time responding to customers and ensuring that they were satisfied with the service I am providing.
Now I love speaking to customers – and sadly I feel that nobody can handle my customers like I do. This is because I can instantaneously take decisions in order to ensure customer satisfaction such as offer discounts, deal with complaints immediately and appease customers whenever my employees have delayed a delivery/errand.
I also always adopt the good old ”customer is always right principle” because my main goal is not the money but rather to keep them coming back to me. I had years of customer service related training and work experience right from when I was in University – from being an International Student Ambassador to call centre jobs in corporate companies where I sharpened my Customer Service Relations (CSR) skills to the core.
Now, this is one area where I am still not an expert in but I realize you do not need to be an expert to do simple numbers. I am very strict with monitoring the accounts (which I do myself).
I keep a simple spreadsheet which helps me track my daily income and expenditure. And this year when the recession really hit, I administered cost-saving strategies so as to keep our costs as low as possible in order to maximise profits.
When I initially started I offered very low prices for even far distances. In the new year, we announced a price increase to our customers which was between 100 – 200 naira.
Unbelievably, we lost a lot of customers even though the majority of them understood the reasons for our decision. But of course when you lose some you gain new ones and this was our case. We had to ensure the price was right so that we do not end up running a charity business.
Supporting Small Businesses
Every small business or start-up in Nigeria already understands that the environment is very unfriendly to our business. With this in mind, I consider small businesses when I want to offer discounts to my loyal customers. It’s simple.
If food company A has a product for 5 naira and my delivery cost is normally 5 naira, it does not make sense to me to charge him or her 5 naira for delivery. In such cases, I am usually willing to charge 2 naira for delivery. In my opinion, I am also contributing to support small businesses to achieve their dreams.
A lot of my customers now are startups/small businesses who have negotiated affordable prices for delivery that they feel their customers will be happy to pay (although not in all cases). Generally, in business, people only think of how much they can make out of it.
While this is not in itself a bad thing, I think that money should be the second thought – crazy as this sounds. The first thought could be passion, filling a gap or meeting a need…then comes the money.
Ozi Express is on Instagram as we continue to leverage on innovative ways to support businesses and grow our clientele.