By Okello Okello
Welcome to Silicon Valley! This is where entrepreneurs, start-ups, and stable businesses show their abilities to go against all the market odds to be on top. I presume that you are on this page, reading this blog because either; a). You are a start-up business man or an entrepreneur or b). You are running a stable business and would like to know more about business leadership. If the former, then you are in the right direction to make it to Silicon Valley, if the latter, then you are on the right page that will show you how to boost your revenues, net margins and efficiency.
As a founder and Executive Director of a registered International Not-for-Profit organization for over 5 years now, I have met the normal business hurdles that every entrepreneur meet especially as a start up and this is also the stage where most entrepreneurs fold their tents, throw in the towel, give up or any other phrase you can think of that applies. Patience they say is a virtue, but you do not want to be over patient when it comes to business. Stir up the waters, cause ripples, get to know your competitors, and always be a head of them but always never be the first person to launch a new idea. As an entrepreneur, you have either met these challenges or you are yet to meet them and I hope this blog will help you navigate the ordinary challenges every business person meets out there.
1. Stay on the Acceleration Line. Have you ever asked yourself why the acceleration line joining a highway is long enough to get you to a maximum speed of over 90km/hr? The reason is, they want to reduce the number of accidents and inconveniences that come with people joining a highway at a low speed. The same applies when you are starting a business, give your self enough time to hit the maximum required speed. Most entrepreneurs think that they are going to make their first million immediately they launch their business. I am not saying it is impossible, but it is always very hard to get to that level.
Therefore, make sure you have enough funds and resources to pull you through your first months if not years you are starting. Give yourself a minimum of 6 months without any income when you are a start-up since nobody is going to buy your product or service the very first time you launch it. Never be discouraged. Keep holding firmly until you start seeing the revenues then hold even tighter.
2. Network. If you’ve been keen on my posts, you will realize that I talk a lot about networking. In business world, you need people! Can you remember one of the 5Ps in your marketing mix? Yes People! You need them. One of the oldest puns put it this way, “birds of the same feathers flock together”. Network with like-minded people, listen carefully to advises they give you, involve them in your strategies, have a business mentor, ask questions and act on everything they say that you think can benefit your business.
Networking is not all about passing your business cards to people in a conference, if it is a one day conference, my advice is, never talk to more than 4 people. Get to know the two or three you are talking to very well, build a connection or a bond. Let them know how your business can help them improve, show interest in their businesses and at the end of your conversation, give them your business cards and then email them in less than 24 hours and let them know how pleased and happy you are to have met them.
3. Be Part of Your Community. Did you know that there is a homeless program in your city? How about that youth rehabilitation center? That church you walk by, that school your nephews go to, check out for volunteer opportunities and you never know who you will meet there. It is also an easy way of connecting with your people. As much as you want to get external support, always work at being accepted at home.
4. Big Heart. Business is about helping people. Use what God has blessed you with to support people who are in need. There are upcoming entrepreneurs who also want to make it in life. Support them. What goes around comes right back around. Be a mentor to young investors or those who aspire to be like you. Share with them ideas including this blog 🙂
5. Prepare for Competition. My principle is, If you cant beat them, then plan to get them beaten. That might sound too ruthless but this is what I mean: Competition should not make you quit the game. Form partnerships, merge with your competitors, follow their foot steps and do what you do best.
6. Social Media. Do you have Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn? If you do not have any of that, know that your potential customers are there and again watch what you say on social media. Do not market there, engage people with your product or service. Be sensitive on what you post, never insult anybody even if they attack you. Remember what Niccolo Machiavelli said? “So much depend on reputation, guard it with your life.” Whatever you post on social media reflects who you are inside. Be nice to your followers and keep them engaged.
8. Speak in Events. Sign up for speaking events and practice your speaking skills. Not all entrepreneurs are good speakers so do not stress if you are not a speaker. All you need to do is to train your brain muscle that you can do it. Take it as a challenge, find at least a place to speak and share your ideas at least once a month. Once you are competent in it, speaking can become your strongest and free marketing tool. Some people earn a living from speaking, you can do it too.
9. Write. Nobody is born a writer, but you have been writing from kindergarten. You really do not have an excuse to say you cannot write. You really do not have to write the wisest blogs or books. Just write! You never know what will be helpful to your readers. I did not think deeply about this blog. Just practice until you nail it.
10. Never Give Up. They say go big or go home. But I say “go big or go bigger.” Never lose hope when it comes to entrepreneurship, be creative and try new things. An idea might not work but if you keep trying, hopefully you will find the one that takes you to another level. It is just a matter of time.
Please if you found this blog helpful, share it on your social media, follow, favorite and let other people learn from it too. That is the spirit of entrepreneurship. We are here to support each other. No one knows everything that is why we share, exchange and learn from one another. God bless you.