Mastercard Index of Women Entrepreneurs 2018 recently conducted a study on female entrepreneurship and African women came out on top! As much as the world might see Africa as a destination for aid and help the truth on the ground is that African women are focused and dedicated to running businesses.
The Mastercard Index of Female Entrepreneurs looks at woman’s ability to make use of the opportunities given to them through their local environment. It is based on knowledge and financial assets, women’s advancement and supporting entrepreneurial conditions.
Ghana led the pack with the highest percentage of female entrepreneurs at 46.6%, something that can easily be attributed to the policies being made by the Ghanaian government to improve doing business in the country. Other countries to note here are:
South Africa 18.8%
Here are the findings for the rest of their survey:
Women’s advancement outcomes.
Women’s progress and degree of marginalization economically and professionally as business leaders, professionals, entrepreneurs and labor force participants.
South Africa 54.6%
ACCESS TO KNOWLEDGE AND FINANCIAL ASSETS
Gauges women’s progress and degree of marginalization as financial customers and academically in terms of academic enrollment, as well as an indicator of women ability to borrow or save for business purposes and support given for SMEs.
South Africa 84.3%
SUPPORTING ENTREPRENEUR CONDITIONS
Looks at how supportive entrepreneurial conditions are either enablers and constraints of women business ownership including ease of doing, quality of governance and cultural perceptions.
South Africa 60.6%
WHAT KIND OF FUNDING IS OUT THERE AND WHICH ONE IS BEST FOR YOU?
Most people want to start a business but don’t take the jump because they lack funding. Ask any aspiring entrepreneur what is stopping them from realizing their dream of being a successful business owner and the most common answer you get is lack of funding. The startling thing is most entrepreneurs don’t know what kind of funding is out there for them. When you say you want funding you have to know exactly what kind of funding you need.
There are different types of funding for the different stages of the business life cycle. Let’s look at the types of funding available for you;
- BOOTSTRAPING. A lot of entrepreneurs overlook this but it’s the best way for most best small businesses to start. If you have an idea for a business which can start small its strongly recommended you work your way up and avoid debt by bootstrapping in your early years. Bootstrapping is using savings or any amount of money that you must start or grow your business. You don’t need to borrow any money from the bank or any other institutions.
- OVERDRAFT. This is usually the second-best option to use especially when you want to avoid getting into too much debt. An overdraft is an ideal way to ease your cashflow problems. What happens here is you go to your bank and ask for an overdraft from your account and you pay back in a stipulated amount. You don’t have to pay the full amount once its gets into your account like you would after a normal negative balance, you only pay interest. Bear in mind that this facility like most other debt financing is offered to businesses that have been running successfully for at least one year.
- BANK LOAN. This is the most common financing option. It is exactly what it sounds like, it’s a loan from your bank. Most start up try drawing up business plans to approach banks for these kinds of loans, but the truth is banks very rarely give this type of loan to start ups. Banks like security and would rather bet on an established company and offer them a loan instead of giving new businesses. To secure a loan from a bank you usually also need to put up collateral in the form of a fixed assets which the bank can attach if you default on your loan. Best to try out for this kind of funding when the business is established.
- DEBTOR FINANCE. You can do this through your bank or lending institutions. This type of financing is best for a business that needs working capital. The bank or financial institution you choose to work with will borrow your money against your debtor invoices. So, say for instance you are owed $ 20 000 in invoices, you take this to your lender and borrow against this pending money for immediate expenses/ cash flow and they will recoup the money you would’ve borrowed when the invoices have been paid.
- ANGEL INVESTORS. Angel investors are people who have surplus cash they are willing to use to invest in growing businesses or startups in exchange for some equity in the company. This type of investors usually work in groups and offer not only money but mentoring experiences as well. Angel investors have a higher risk appetite than banks and most other lending institutions. They are also the next best funding alternative after friends and family. They are responsible for funding great companies like Alibaba and Google.
- VENTURE CAPITALISTS. Venture capitals are funds managed professionally to invest in companies with huge potential. They ae best for companies too big to be called a start-up but still too small for bank financing but generating good revenues. They also offer mentorship and invest against equity and exit when there has been an acquisition or an Initial Public Offering (IPO). You should take note that venture capitals are in the business of buying and selling companies and usually have no intention of staying tied to you for more than 5 years. When you approach these individuals make sure you give them their exit strategy.
- CROWDFUNDING. A new way to raise finance which has emerged because of how we interconnect on the internet is crowdfunding. Entrepreneurs will put a detailed description of their business and their funding needs on a crowdfunding platform like Kickstarter or GoFundMe. They mention they’re goals, plans for making profit, why she needs funding and how much etc. and people on the platform read the idea and contribute money towards it if they find it interesting. The advantage of crowdfunding is it generates interest around your business idea which will also serve as a marketing strategy.
- ENTER CONTESTS AND APPLY FOR GRANTS. This is one way most entrepreneurs overlook in their search for funding. Sometimes it’s because of low confidence of the business idea and other times its just lack of access to knowledge. There are several pitching contests around Africa and the world that you can be a part of. The best thing about these is that you don’t need to sell off equity of your business or pay back the money given to you as the money is usually a prize or a grant given to you to expand your business interests. You will also get some decent media coverage when you participate in these competitions which is an added bonus for you.
Hopefully now you have a better idea of what is available to you and which funding alternative you should opt for.
TRADITIONAL MARKETING VERSUS DIGITAL MARKETING SOLUTIONS
As an entrepreneur you’ve probably been faced with this dilemma at one point or another. Should you go for traditional or digital marketing when choosing how best to put your brand forward? The most likely scenario is when you start thinking of things like marketing you research on the costs of newspaper adverts billboards and so on. But could advertising online be a better option for your business? Let’s find out.
Before we go into this any further let’s start with defining traditional and digital marketing. Traditional marketing is the type of marketing we grew up around. It’s the radio and television adverts, billboards, magazine adverts, fliers and brochures etc. Digital advertising on the other hand is advertising online in the form of email marketing, social media adverts, google adverts and more.
Now that you know what digital and traditional marketing is let’s try to get into more detail about them so you can figure out what’s best for you.
Digital marketing is the new kid on the block. We all know the internet has made it easier for us to connect all over the world, it has also made it easier for us to conduct business with people from all over the world. Because of this, digital marketing is cheaper than traditional marketing as no physical travel or effort has to be carried out. Advertising on digital ca start at less than USD 5 and reach a much wider audience.
The internet has no real physical bounds and marketing through it allows you to reach a wider audience quicker and easily. As long as the potential customer has access to the internet, your marketing campaign can reach them.
Communication is two-way
This is probably one of the biggest differences between digital and traditional marketing. When marketing online your potential clients have a chance to immediately reach out by commenting or direct messaging you to ask questions or share reviews of your products. You can actually interact with clients in real time which can be useful in helping you fine tune your product offering.
Targeting is More Direct
Digital marketing platforms allow you to be as specific as you want to be with your adverts. If you want your advert to be put in front of women aged 40 to 65 who are grandmothers and live in Lagos and are interested in cooking and homeware, all you have to do is choose those options in the advert set up page and your campaign is directed to them.
Small and medium businesses usually work on a tight budget and the flexibility of digital marketing budget setting might be a great option for them. You get to choose how much you want to spend per day depending on the reach you will have in those days.
You could go Viral!
Now who doesn’t want to trend? When going viral and trending is used the right way in business you will get people talking about your business and marketing it for you continuously or at least whilst you are trending.
Results Are Easier To Measure
With digital advertising comes analytics. These will show you how many people clicked on the link, where they are, if they proceeded to buy your product and on and on. You get to know if your campaign is working or not faster and know how to adjust accordingly.
The Information Stays Permanently
We’ve all heard that we should be careful what we post or share on the internet because it is forever. This effect is a big advantage when it’s for business because your marketing material and posts or shares will stay on the internet until you choose to take them down. This means anyone can still view them long after the promotion is done. They might not be targeted anymore but they will be available.
One thing we can’t ignore is the trust people have for traditional adverts over digital. The rise on online scams and fake advertising that is easier to do online has also not made it easier for digital adverts to gain peoples trust. Most people will believe and subscribe to something in the newspapers than on Facebook for example.
Whilst on the topic on trust we need to acknowledge that traditional advertising is more familiar. This is especially true if your target audience is more senior. People look out for television adverts or billboards, they know they are adverts. Some don’t even realize the difference between an advert and a general post on social media leading them to ignore the posts.
Being able to take home a flier or a newspaper cutting is a big advantage. Traditional marketing is tangible which a huge bonus is for the marketing segment that believes seeing is believing.
It’s Been Around
Traditional marketing has a long history and has stood a lot of changes throughout history. It is time tested. It works and has the track record to prove it.
It might be best to consider having both marketing options for you to get the most of your marketing efforts. Both methods have strengths and weaknesses but it’s up to you as a marketer or entrepreneur to decide which works best for your campaign.
INTERVIEW WITH ANELE MKUZO
- Tell us a bit about yourself. Where you grew up, studied, what you studied and where you worked.
I was born in the Eastern Cape, and moved to KZN when I was 8 years old. I was matriculated at Kingsway High School in Amanzimtoti, Durban in 2004. I n 2005 I went to study Business Science at Rhodes University, which I subsequently changed to a Bachelor of Economics. I completed my degree through UNISA. In 2017 I graduated from GIBS for my Post Diploma in Business Administration.
And have been accepted into UCT’s GSB to do my MPhil in Inclusive Innovation.
The most significant was working in the enterprise development academy at GIBS. I designed entrepreneurship development programs for hundreds of entrepreneurs from different industries.
- What made you decide to go into business?
I noticed an opportunity in the market and decided to pursue it. I get to work on what I’m passionate about every day.
- How did you pick the field you are in now?
I thoroughly enjoyed working with entrepreneurs when I was at GIBS, and I knew I wanted to work in a space that encompasses education and entrepreneurship.
- You were nominated for Mail and Guardian top 200 young South Africans in education category. How were you selected and how did this nomination influence your leap into entrepreneurship?
I was nominated (they don’t reveal who nominated you). It really gave me the confidence boost to explore the option of starting my own business. But also showed me other young people doing extraordinary things in our country.
- For most entrepreneurs the hardest thing is getting start up finance. How did tackle this problem when starting your business.
I received grant funding that assisted in getting things started.
- How many entrepreneurs have you helped to date and how do you find and select people to work with?
In our 17 months of trading, we’ve upskilled almost 200 entrepreneurs.
We usually have an open call to entry or tap into our networks when there is an opportunity for entrepreneurs available.
- Education for entrepreneurs is sometimes an ignored field with more emphasis being put on people just starting a business without being given the tools they need to succeed. What do you think needs to be done to shift focus from throwing entrepreneurs into the deep end to actually equipping them before sending them of.
The education about entrepreneurship needs to start at Primary school level. That is when mindsets start forming. The possibility of entrepreneurship as a career must be tackled at a young age. With subject matter that includes elements on starting, growing and sustaining a successful business.
- What have you learnt now that you wish you had learnt when you started and how did you come about this lesson?
When starting a business ensure you have the right systems and processes in place. Those systems must assist you in making credible business decisions. Example if you have good financial systems, you’re able to make informed decisions about the direction of your business.
- Where do you draw strength to keep going especially during the bad days?
I always believe that, “this too shall pass”. I try by all means not to dwell on the things that are beyond my control.
- What have been the biggest challenges in your business and how have you managed to tackle them?
New business development is always a challenge. Securing new clients is difficult and takes time. I’ve made sure that our current clients are serviced well so we have repeat business from them.
- If you were to give entrepreneurs who are aspiring to be in your field a simple piece of advice, what would it be?
Do your research of the industry, and make sure you have an offering that’ll differentiate you from other organizations.
Topic: Women trading in Africa
For: Afro Queen Business Magazine
By: Maria Immanuel, International Trade expert, Namibia.
Follow me on Twitter @aameML
Africa has the most women entrepreneurs in the world. Female entrepreneurship in Sub-Sahara Africa is estimated to be the highest in the world at 25.9%, while globally is 10%. As many women entrepreneurs emerge, they provide a powerful tool to drive economic development and unlock an untapped segment of many African economies. A country can only create opportunities through policies and legislations. However, if these policies and legislations are not crafted and implemented to accommodate the needs of women in trade, then they can equally deny them opportunities to grow which further undermines their contributions to the growth of the economy.
So how can African governments unlock the economic value held by women in trade?
One has to look at the landscape in which women in trade participate and identify opportunities for growth. Generally, women in trade are mainly participating in the informal economy, whether in the domestic market or cross border trade. In Namibia, a recent study by the Ministry of Labor, revealed that, 70% of women are employed in the informal sector. The challenge faced by many African countries is the lack of timely and up to date data on the informal economy and since policies are crafted based mainly on formal data which is available, this inherently disadvantage African economies to derive maximum value from the larger population of women in trade.
At the continental level, we speak of the informal cross border trade. Again, much of the informal cross border trade in Africa is driven by women. For Namibia, the informal cross border trade is happening mainly with Angola, Zambia and South Africa. According to the Namibia Statistics Agency (NSA) a study on Informal Cross Border Trade was conducted in 2015 and revealed that the informal export value was recorded to be USD 916 000 while the informal import value was USD 108 00. While market dynamics are changing every day, the NSA has not released any follow up study on the informal cross border trade ever since. It then becomes difficult for one to analyze the growth trend of the informal cross border trade and this undermines the economic value contribution by this important segment of the economy in formal reporting and decision making. This indirectly affects the growth of women in trade.
Some of the commodities traded in the informal cross border trade by Namibia includes, exporting of fish, clothing and textiles, building materials, meat, vehicle parts and bicycles and food staffs such as dairy products, maize and mahangu flour and toiletries. On the other hand, imports include, alcoholic beverages and tobacco, clothing, jewelry, and vegetables.
In domestic market, the informal sector is characterized mainly by the food services, textile manufacturing, retailers (boutique owners), art and craft as well as Agriculture. Those in production like textile manufacturing and agriculture requires special assistance to scale up production and supply the formal market. Boutique owners who are largely women, are participating in international trade as they fly to countries like China to source their stock. Governments need to recognize them as such and empower them with international trade rules so they move their products with ease. Often women boutique owners are losing because African custom and excise rules are stringent to small businesses and don’t recognize them as formal traders to move products across the globe. Access to movement permits and trading licenses is partly what is hindering the growth of the African boutique industry which is employing many other young women.
With eyes on the African Union to promote intra-Africa trade to boost African economies, African countries have to find practical ways to upscale production in the informal market and also boost informal cross –border trade. By prioritizing the development and growth of the informal economy, this directly addresses challenges and bottlenecks experience by women in trade. It is therefore important that deliberate measures are implemented to assist informal businesses graduate to formal trading. This can only be achieved if more money is spent in research and development of the informal economy. Regional integration will remain stagnant if it does not promote regional informal cross-border trade. Ideally, this is the entry point of gender mainstreaming and addressing gender equality from an economic perspective.
PS: to be continued….Next issue.
How can we service our clients better & grow our businesses?
Our businesses have been labelled as those who fail, those who make mistakes, those who don’t deliver excellent customer service. Synergize Management was formed to help our businesses to deliver exceptional customer service and change the narrative that currently exists. We believe that by helping businesses in places where they lack, we will put them in a position where they can deliver exceptional customer service and grow. Here are tips to help our businesses to deliver excellent customer service.
- Respect: Most of us are brought up on respect. We know what it means to respect a person, we also know how to treat people with respect. When you are offering a service to people, it is imperative that you respect them. Respect their time, respect them for choosing you. We shared a link detailing points under respect: https://spark.adobe.com/page/vH6ZfUPazoo1M/
- Demographic: Know your clients and the environment you are serving in. Make it your business to understand what influences the people of that place, what drives their behaviour, what do they value. Learn to include yourself in the environment you serve.
- Client’s Needs: The reason why you’re providing a service is because there’s a need. Know what your client needs and how do they need it. Study your clients so that you can anticipate certain behaviours and be able to deal with any inconveniences promptly.
- Feedback: Your clients are the most important people when it comes to feedback because they have used your service and they have dealt with you. So, when they complain or compliment you, keep that feedback for your own growth.
- Listening: Listen to your clients, listen to the industry you are working under. Listen to potential clients. Listening is a skill that will grow your business outside your plans. You will improve your service, you will improve your product and improve your business overall just by listening. Some ideas will be born while listening. Word of mouth is still an important source of marketing. If you listen to your clients, you are also listening to your potential clients.
- TCF: Treat your customers fairly. Do not judge your clients or treat them differently just because some have a large following on social media or they are your friends. All your clients are equally special and should be treated well. Have a standard of how you treat your clients, monitor your employees and teach them if they fall short.
- Evaluate: After you have done all the above-mentioned points, evaluate your business, yourself and your employees. See what is going well, what is wrong and what needs to be fixed. Evaluation will always keep you on your toes because you see where you come from, what you did to be better and where you are.
We don’t encourage people to get in business for wrong reasons. There must a need you are satisfying or a need you are going to make us aware of that we were not paying attention to. Where there is a need you are serving, you are bound to evolve because people evolve. If your customers want your product a certain way in 2018, best believe in 2020 there will be requiring it in a new/different way. It might be the same product, but other things surrounding how they access and consume it would have changed
Synergize Management’s existence revolves around improving customer service and changing the narrative in which Black owned businesses are portrayed. We believe that before we can rate your level of customer service, we must first check if you have all the required resources to deliver exceptional customer service. It does not make sense to rate you without checking first if you have received enough assistance in growing and positioning your business. We must all understand that we exist to help people, without people our businesses will not grow. In dealings with people, be human.
Ayanda Msomi (@AyandaBeing)
Founder of Synergize Management (@SynergizeSA)
WOMAN ENTREPRENEURS-THE STRESS THAT GOES WITH BEING THE “BOSS”
Women face different challenges when it comes to Business
Woman entrepreneurs, face an entirely distinct set of challenges from men when it comes to dealing with anxiety and stress in business. Most commonly, it is argued that women entrepreneurs have to make trade-offs between their work and family responsibilities. Studies across the world have demonstrated the link between family responsibility pressures and lower growth patterns among women owned businesses. The vital importance of a supportive family environment is crucial for a successful woman entrepreneur. Women are still raised to be people pleasers and to put others before themselves. “Studies have identified five internal drivers,” “which can become a script that women start to follow all the time. They are: please others, be perfect, be strong, try hard and hurry up.”
In fact, female entrepreneurs are often more demanding of themselves than the most domineering boss. While many men react to stress by making poor lifestyle choices that put them at higher risk for heart problems, women’s health appears to be directly affected by stress hormones themselves and if a balanced between work and life is not maintained, eventually she will lead to Burnout status.
One recent survey reported that millions of professional women claim to be skating along the edge of burnout, otherwise known as Burnout Syndrome-The Silent Threat.
What is Burnout Syndrome (BOS)?
Burnout is a state of chronic stress that leads to:
A) Physical and emotional exhaustion
B) Cynicism and detachment
C) Feelings of ineffectiveness and lack of accomplishment
When in the throes of a full-fledged burnout attack, you are no longer able to function effectively on a personal or professional level. However, burnout doesn’t happen suddenly. You don’t wake up one morning and all of a sudden “have burnout.”
HOW TO CREATE A WINNING BUSINESS STRATEGY IN AFRICA
Africa is home to so much opportunity and potential which no wonder why a lot of investors are eying the continent as a great place to make money. The continent is one of the most diverse regions in the world and for you to be successful you have to fully understand how doing business there actually works. This applies also to entrepreneurs looking to sell their product to a new market. Just because you are African and your strategy has worked well in your country doesn’t mean it will work across the continent.
As much as Africa is a complicated market to fully understand there are a few strategies you can adopt to make sure your business excels in the region.
Like any other new market or venture its best if you do your research first before entering the market. Know everything there is to know about the region and about the country and city you want to open shop in before you set up. Each country is different, with different ideologies, laws, infrastructure etc. so you need to understand your market before you enter.
The best way to do this is actually going on the ground and doing your research. Don’t just go through a few google pages and assume you know all there is to know about the market. Because Africa is not fully online you might miss out on some important insights if you just rely solely on the internet.
Failing to do this can lead to you making avoidable mistakes that can cost you not only money but your reputation as well.
You should also make sure the products you are designing work for the African market or the specific market you want to sell to. Something that works in Zambia might not be a big hit in Senegal. When designing these products or services don’t be cheap and go on making products that are substandard because it’s for Africa. Respect the consumers like you would in any other country.
On the topic of making goods for Africa it is advisable to do research on appropriate pricing. Most businesses fail to be successful in Africa because they get the pricing wrong. Africans are price sensitive people and interpret pricing differently. Some will view a premium price as a rip off whilst others may see it as a signifier that the product or service is of good quality.
Research on a payment method that will work for your market. If you are targeting Zimbabwe for instance, a country which is currently going through a cash crisis you need to understand the different types of payment systems in use. You can’t ask people to pay via credit cards in a market that may have half of the population unbanked. Systems differ per region and you have to understand all of these systems. Also find out how you can get your money out of the country when you need to. Some governments set high penalties for taking money out of the country and this can heavily affect your bottom line.
Another thing to consider when setting out a strategy to do business in Africa is logistics. The continent is not as connected as it should be and this affects how you move your goods from one point to the next. Be prepared to have your own form of transportation or even to construct necessary infrastructure for bigger projects.
To make it in Africa you have to be ready to play nice with local companies. Don’t enter a market and think just because you have brought all the great ideas you don’t need the help of the locals. Local companies understand the market much better than you probably ever will and can be a valuable partner when trying to reach the consumer or when you need to tap into local networks.
Lastly you should invest greatly in education your consumers about your product. Africans need to see and experience something before believing it. That means you should be prepared to go to the people and show them what you are all about. Interact with them and be available to answer they’re questions. This builds trust and helps establish you as a brand to consider.
HOW TO GAIN RESPECT FROM MALE CO WORKERS
We’ve all come across this at one point. You get that promotion you’ve been dying to get and you realize you have entered the boys club. How to you get them to listen to you. How do you get them to value you as a coworker and even more how do you get them to follow instructions from a female superior? Do you start watching soccer so you get something to talk about during lunch break? Do you throw out all your skirts and invest in more pant suits? The options are many and but not all of them work and not all are necessary.
Here are a few guidelines to use to start when you want the boys club to start listening to you.
- Actually do the work. Put in the hours and prove your worth to the team. Don’t think that just because you’re the woman appointed in the team to do something you automatically get a gold card and a pass off everything. The easiest way to be respected is to actually earn the respect. When you prove you deserve to be there by showing that you are good at your job people will respect you. This doesn’t mean you should slave away but just do the work that needs to be done.
- Dress for the occasion and be confident. Unfortunately women are still severely judged by how the dress. If you want to be taken seriously in the workplace you have to make sure you look the part. Dress like a successful woman and people will start seeing you as such. Ooze out confidence and be certain of yourself and people will listen when you talk because they will feel like you know what you are talking about. They will trust your opinion.
- Don’t sleep your way to the top. This just had to be said. Word gets out in the office and if you make a habit of sleeping with guys senior to you for a promotion your colleagues will not respect you, and rightfully so. They will feel like you are in the position you are not because of merit but because of who you slept with. And if you think you can keep it under wraps, you can’t. Just don’t do it!
- Don’t be a man-eater. Well this is almost the opposite of being the woman who sleeps with her superiors. You don’t have to be mean or rude to command respect from men. No one likes a bulldozer and no one likes an ice queen. Stay level headed and you will earn their respect.
- Be formal and sure of yourself in all communication. Avoid using slang or being inappropriate when communicating in the office. When you are in meetings use strong rhetoric, words like, “I want to not I would like to”, “I recommend instead of maybe we should.”
- Don’t be afraid to lead. When you can take the lead take it. When you have come up with a great idea, say it out loud. Know when to give credit to the team but also when to take credit for yourself. No one takes a pushover seriously. You’re the leader so lead!
- Finally don’t let emotions get the best of you. This is expected of most women. We are seen as the weaker and more emotional sex. Don’t cry in front of staff when feeling overwhelmed or when something doesn’t go your way. Learn to use emotion and passion to your advantage but don’t let it show as weakness.
AS YOUR BUSINESS GROWS IT MIGHT BE BEST TO START CONSIDERING OUTSOURCING YOUR ACCOUNTING.
Unless you are a business owner who has a business degree or an accounting background doing the books is a real life nightmare for you. When you are smaller it might not be too hard to do as you may only have a few payments coming in and no real expenses. But what happens when your business starts growing?
Most business owners experience growing pains and find themselves in a position where they are too big to do their own books but also too small to afford a full time accountant. The most logical thing to do when in this position is to outsource your accounting needs. Outsourcing is basically finding someone outside of your organization to handle your books. This option is usually cheaper than having a full time accountant because the person you outsource to is able to work for multiple clients thus reducing their fee.
You also only pay for the work you need done. You can continue to send out invoices and quote clients (which is easy to do with invoicing software) and your offsite accountant can just make themselves available at the end of the month to balance out the books for the month. You can also just send to your accountant the financial information they need like bank statements and receipts etc and free up the time you would have used recording them. This allows you to focus more on what really matters, increasing your efficiency.
A very important positive that comes out of outsourcing is being able to reduce accounting errors. Let’s be honest you are a business woman not an accountant and because you are doing things out of your scope and especially things you don’t have a passion for, you will most likely make some mistakes which will give an even bigger burden come tax season. Things might be easier to handle and keep under wraps when you are a still small and a one man show but when things like payrolls and financing need to be added to the mix, things might get complicated.
If you’re not sure what it is exactly that you should be doing or how to outsource try looking up some local independent accountants in your area. You can also reach out to companies that offer accounting services on a more flexible basis. Understand what they offer and how much it will cost you and compare with your business needs. If done right outsourcing will save you and your business a lot of time and money!
SEVEN WAYS TO BOOST SALES!
Let’s talk about the ways you can create and increase sales in your business. Sales create money which needs no explanation as to how or why it is vital for your business success! Here are seven ways to help you achieve better sales and make more money!!
1. Before you start worrying about selling something make sure you have created a product that is on demand. It’s very hard trying to sell something that is not needed in the market. If it’s a new product that people don’t know or understand yet make sure you create the demand by convincing people that they need your product. Focus on the benefits your product has for customers, make this your selling point.
2. Know exactly who your customer is. Know their gender, age, what they like doing and how much money they usually spend. Having this information will help you focus your energy on your customer group and save you a lot of time and money going after the wrong people. This information helps in marketing, pricing and placement.
3. Brand your products well. No one including you wants to buy low quality products. Spend a lot of time and effort in creating and perfecting your packaging. You really don’t have to spend thousands of dollars on this, but at least make sure your product is presentable and doesn’t look like a school project by a 15 year old. Whilst we are on this, be careful about the name you give your product. Stay away from hard to pronounce names and anything that may offend people, keep your name short, simple and easy to remember.
4. Be careful how you price your products. If your price is too high people may not buy it and if it’s too low people may think its cheap quality. Do market research and find out how your competitors are pricing their products but most importantly understand how your customers relate price and product. You might be in a market where customers view a high price as an indicator of superior quality or where they see it as a rip off. Again know your customers!!
5. Entice the market by offering free samples, discounts and rewards for repeat customers. Human beings like to feel special and the average person doesn’t mind saving a few dollars when they can. Free samples give a nudge so people can decide on whether or not they want to buy and discounts make them feel like they are saving even if the product wasn’t in the budget to begin with. Rewarding repeat customers gives them an incentive to keep coming back.
6. Communicate with your customers. The first way to do this is by advertising. This is very important if you want people to know about you and your business. Social media has made it very cheap to advertise and you can reach up to 400 people on an advertising budget of less than US$1 a day with Facebook and Instagram. Secondly talk to your customers. Find out if they are happy or if they have any suggestions. Customers like knowing that they are cared for.
7. Now that you have your customers, deliver to them on time. They have chosen you and expect the service you promised you will give. The fastest way to lose them is by not delivering. Not only will they not come back to you, but they will also advise their friends, family and the internet (it’s 2018 and very easy to pass information remember) not to do business with you making you lose not just one customer but a lot of other potential ones. On the other hand if you do a great job delivering most likely they will praise your business and become another form of advertising as well as a good review for future customers.
I hope this will help and guide you in acquiring customers and increasing your sales!
IN BUSINESS YOU SHOULD NOT BE AFRAID TO FAIL – TRUDY ZULU
We always encourage our queens to share their stories and motivate the next person. Trudy Zulu a fearless entrepreneur from South Africa shares her journey with us. If you also want to share your story on this platform email firstname.lastname@example.org
My name is Trudy Zulu. A 29 year old Born and bred in White river Mpumalanga. I run a company called Bylvia cleaning services with my partner Bongiwe Hadebe. Our goal is to one day be the leading hygiene specialist in the country and branch out to creating our own hygiene products.
My entrepreneurial journey started with my family, I’m from a family of entrepreneurs, and I think business is in our genes. I decided to take that leap of faith in 2014, as I had a background in beauty. That same year I met my mentor who told me ‘in business you should not be afraid to fail’ and I obviously did not understand what he meant at the time as I buzzing with passion, hope and excitement and my entrepreneurial journey ahead.
With no funding whatsoever I started offering make up services with the kit I had received from school. There are many things I learnt within the first year was that don’t over-promise on what you can’t deliver, doing so can ruin your reputation because word of mouth. Be realistic about the stage you’re at and work gradually within your means and BUILD. Have a clear goal and work towards it. Be sure of your vision before you launch to avoid doing many things at one time. Focus on one goal at a time and excellent in it before pursuing another.
I then found a space to run my business which was a crucial mistake as I had not yet done my market research in that area, nor had I developed a clientele base. Another crucial mistake was employing someone on top of it all. So in the end I was left with little equipment, not enough clients and a disgruntled employee. Not to mention that I now owed business banking fees with the threat to close the account. The point of running a business is not to enrich yourself only but to build a business that will sustain itself and create employment then also pay you.
I wish I had known this beforehand, by at least spending more time with my mentor or reading books, but sometimes we learn better when we go through these situations. These events, of course made me feel like a complete failure and I was conflicted because but I knew wired for a 9-5 and but on the other hand I was failing miserably in my business.
I then gathered up the courage to try again. This time in some form of partnership. It went well for a while and there was demand for my services and I managed to branch out to nails, massage therapy. But then I made the mistake of employing someone once again while I branched out for another form of income. This experience taught me that it’s important to be hands on in your business, work harder than those you employ because no one will put in as much as you the Vision bearer. Be careful who you partner with. Prayerfully consider a partner not excitedly.
This experience actually broke me because I came to a point of giving up, I swore that I would never go into business again. Failure seem to have been the order of the day for me, failed partnerships, failed attempts at securing investors, failed attempts and creating jobs, failed at financial insight. However the words I was told before I got into business rung in my ears. To not be afraid to fail, its part of my story and all this has made me stronger, wiser and more resilient.
I have grown from every experience and even those I have not mentioned. Now I can say I’m a business woman. I’m not where I want to be nor have I reached the goals important to me job creation being the top of my list as well as creating funding for education but I’m working towards exhausting my potential. I’m a black, strong, resilient, intelligent woman and this is just the beginning for me.
Although our company Bylvia cleaning services is growing stronger every day the door for the beauty industry is not closed for me, I’m still working on developing my own products and school. But with the right investors and timing it will all be unveiled soon.