Starting a business
Running a business on passion is incredibly more arduous than working for someone.
People in Ghana generally have the ”is the business for my father?” sort of attitude when it comes to giving their 100% to someone else’s job.
Yes. Running your own business can be frustrating; especially when you start from scratch, barely knowing your left from your right and having to learn on the job. But that’s why this article was written, to make the road a little less scary.
Don’t start a business because you’ve run out of options.
What are you offering?
I have always wondered why a bunch of traders selling the exact same things will all line up at the same place, trying to appeal to the same customers. What you want to offer is important. If you want your business to go past three months, find a gap in the market and fill it. There are two ways this can go:
a. What you are offering is not on the market yet
b. It is already on the market but you’re adding a twist to it.
An example of (a) is the hoverboard. It was new, exciting and refreshing and everyone wanted to try one. ‘New’, ‘Never done before’ is one way to sell.
An example of (b) is the invention of the multi-coloured pen. You no longer have to carry four different pen colours. You just need one and you can get green, red, blue and black.
Businesses that are planned last longer. Why? Because they set targets, they have goals, they know their mission. Passion is not enough fuel to run a business. You also need a lot of planning, weighing of pros and cons and not rushing into deals. Everything you do, every change you make should be geared towards your business long term goal. Set milestones so you know how well you’re doing and remember to celebrate when you cross one. It doesn’t mean cross all your Ts and dot all your I’s but at least have the basics, the foundation of your business, drawn out.
Your product can’t be for every one. That’s one tough crowd to please. Specify your target market from the onset. Because your branding: tone, design, execution etc will be geared towards them.
The more you can pinpoint your targeted client, the more focused your marketing efforts will be to reach them.
Invest in good branding for your business. Even before you go and see a design firm or a branding agency, do your own research. By researching, you know what will work for your business and what is just pretty. You will know what will keep your brand anchored to the local market and what will let it cross borders. A good branding firm will give you a design that will align with your company’s goals, values and target market. Your brand should be something you can live and breathe, not something you’ll have to struggle to portray.
The mistake some clients make is to let their pre-conceived notion of what their logo should look like or what colours it should be overshadow the expert’s advice. Black may be your favourite colour but that does not mean it is the right colour for a children’s store.
A good name is better…
Your brand should tell a story. Your business name should be more thought out than random; created with the business in hindsight than a name that just sounds nice. “Does this name add value to my business?”
“Will it stand out on the international market?”
These are some of the questions you should ask yourself when choosing a company name.
Put yourself out there.
Everyone is on social media nowadays. The different platforms allow you to target different sections of people, tastes, age group and interests.
Build a serious social media presence for your business where you can engage directly with your target market.
While social media is important, the traditional ways of getting clients still work. Attend events and network. This is one great way of selling your product or service while letting your personal carry the message. Websites are also critical as they make your business look legit. Try the yellow pages as well. Even though physical yellow pages are basically nonexistent, there are online classifieds where you can advertise your business for free!
Starting A Business was written by Efua Dufu for the Thrive blog.