Friday, December 29, 2023

How strong are your beliefs?

Strategy is not just what you do but what you do not do. It’s crucial to know what your brand stands for and who your market is. Don't be seduced by going after a different segment if it doesn't fit your brand. Just because you see competitors doing well there or that is a growing fad. Losing your core and trying to win them back would be costly.

What should you not do?

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Thursday, December 28, 2023

How deep is your expertise?

Some companies expand vertically. There are many successful cases. But if you see these examples and decide to expand vertically, make sure that it is for the right reasons.

For example, if you produce coffee beans and have problems marketing them and still have unsorted operation issues; ensure you become competent in these first.

Don’t open a café hoping that your café uses your own coffee beans. Firstly, you haven’t overcome your own marketing weaknesses. Secondly, you haven’t solved your farm operation issues.

Without foundational competence, you will drown both businesses.

What do you need to fix?

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Wednesday, December 27, 2023

Is it going to be easier?

Some companies want to move from B2B to B2C. Yet others think about moving from B2C to B2B. Each has its own sets of challenges and each has its merits. Both require good strategies and a set of excellent execution in order to win. One is not easier than the other to gain more revenue and profit.

Focus, and then scale. Be damn good at one thing before moving to another.

How tough will it get? 

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Tuesday, December 26, 2023

Is that all you are going to do?

Low prices don't guarantee you will sell better.
You will be surprised that not every entrepreneur knows that. You still need to market your product. Your distribution needs to be right. Your product needs to be right. The customer experience is another aspect to consider. Even then, you need to know which segment of consumers will resonate with what you have decided to integrate to extract value from the market.

What do you think marketing involves?

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Friday, December 22, 2023

How complex do you think it is?

Simple calculations
can reap big results.

If revenue is good, make sure you know which items sell well and which are more profitable. You want to be able to leverage on this information. If you know this, then it’s a gentle reminder. If you don’t, or have never done anything, it’s time to get to know these figures.

You need to make informed decisions. This analysis helps you make your decision sharper - what to do more, what to cull, what new product/service to introduce.

Have you broken them down?

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Thursday, December 21, 2023

Are they right?

It's good to listen to your customers. But they are not always right, no matter what you have been taught or have heard.

You are not obliged to implement everything that your customer tells you. Do what is best for your business to thrive. Listen but analyze. Listen but use wisdom when implementing. Good intentions does not always reap good results. Good decisions do.

What’s your call? 

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Wednesday, December 20, 2023

How heavy will it be?

As long as you are the founder of the company; you own the business and its challenges. You may have mentors, coaches, trainers, sifus, and gurus. They can guide you. Teach you. Train you. Show you. But they won't be able to hand hold you. You will have to learn and do what's right for your business. You will have to carry the weight. The burden is yours, and so are its fruits.

Who’s gonna carry it?

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Tuesday, December 19, 2023

Who is your client?

We often hear from entrepreneurs that they created another company because the current company needed a client. As an example, a coffee powder manufacturer opens a coffee shop. I know it sounds funny to some of you but we have met more than 10 cases like these over the years. Mind you, there are successful manufacturers who eventually decided to expand downstream. These are businesses struggling to establish a foothold in their core industry and finding it challenging, but decided to “expand” by “creating” a “client” for their main business.

Focus on the basics. Learn to segment your market and then choose a target. Once you have chosen the target learn how to get your products and services into their hands.

Will your left and right pockets become bigger?

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Monday, December 18, 2023

Are you a bank?

We met a prospect last week. He told us he would start on a project as soon as he got the verbal agreement that the contract would be signed and that the PO will come. He said the lead time to close an account is long, hence when it shows absolute signs of being closed he starts the project. Needless to say, he has a huge cashflow issue.

You should not finance the client. You need the cashflow. Get the PO & payment before you start work. Doing work before all these crucial paperwork signals to the client you are desperate. The next time you will get a lower value contract. Don’t assume your client has no money and the process for payment is long. If they need it, they will get it done.

What are you in business to do?

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Friday, December 15, 2023

What’s the difference?

Some business people see others doing well and starts analyzing what makes them do well. They probably isolated five to ten factors, and then decide that they will replicate it and hope that they will do better. Chances are, they won’t.

You can isolate as much as possible what others do but you will still be imitating. You can learn what are the success factors but you will still miss out on how these factors are combined and in what dosage. You can have Gordon Ramsay’s beef Wellington recipe and you can watch him do it on YouTube a hundred times, but you will still not be him.

Get inspired by others’ success. See what they do. There is nothing wrong in it. Learn it. Then add your own spin. Do your own homework. Make your business different. Eventually, you will still need to stand out and not be a me-too. With you and your ideas as the key differentiator, your business now has an even bigger and better chance of succeeding.

Do you stand out? 

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Thursday, December 14, 2023

Are you easily distracted?

The best advice I can give you if you are just starting out on your business, or in your first 3 years if so, is to focus.

Focus. Get one product done very well before you decide to launch other products. You can have up to 3 variants in a product. But no more. Just make these 3 great.

Focus. Develop one brand and just use that brand. If you follow the advice above you will only need one brand.

Focus. On getting into as many distribution points a possible. Physical presence is key. If you are delivering a service, besides accessibility start getting known.

Focus. On your operations and logistical issues. Iron out everything and make them as smooth as possible. They can make or break you at this stage.

Focus. On service and delivering value. You want raving fans that will fan the word of mouth for you. “Viral” is built over years no one tells you about.

Do you aim small? 

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Wednesday, December 13, 2023

Can they find you?

My team and I had the honor and privilege to interview with a view to help 20 SME entrepreneurs last week.

One point that sticks out seems to be an almost obsessive focus on branding. Don’t get me wrong. Branding is important. But at a certain stage, some other aspects of marketing are more important than branding. In many of these cases, distribution is key. Without maximizing physical availability, your efforts in branding and awareness is just going to waste.

Build the physical presence. Get in the sales. With sales, you have cashflow. With cashflow, you can run stronger branding campaigns.

What should you focus now?

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Tuesday, December 12, 2023

Do they appreciate it?

Releasing content out there, regardless whether it is an FB post or a tweet; as long as it is not relevant, not original and not impactful to your audience, it is spam. You don’t need to score in all three. But do at least one well. Best is, of course, all three.

You are barging into someone’s life with your message. Make it matter to them.

Is it spam?

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Friday, December 8, 2023

Are you full?

There is this hotel that we frequent for workshops and seminars. Not because it is our choice, but because our client like to use it. It’s near their office. This hotel has not been refurbished for at least six to seven years. The signs of aging is too patent to ignore. The way they do their F&B has stagnated when compared to other hotels where standards have gone better.

We don’t know why it has not improved from both an ID and F&B stand point. Both important criteria for this sort of business. Our hypothesis is that it is not hungry enough. Business is easy as big companies are its neighbours making it convenient. Even though one big conglomerate has moved out of the neighbourhood. The business threats are obvious, but we think they are willfully blind because they are not starved. When you are not hungry why would you look for food?

Hunger is a blessing. Hunger makes you plan for the future so you don’t get caught being starved again. Hunger makes you improve because hunger is painful. Hunger teaches you to hunt because no one is going to feed you if you don’t hunt.

Can you stay hungry?

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Thursday, December 7, 2023

Are you obsessed with the wrong company?

Some entrepreneurs are just very obsessed with their competitors. They know everything their competitors do. I think sometimes they take “knowing your enemy” way too far. If you are one of them, perhaps it is time to focus on yourself. I would argue that the time spent on strengthening yourself and ironing out your weaknesses has far better ROI than your obsession with your competitors.

You can’t control what your competitors do. But you can control how strong you can be. When you are strong, enemies tend not to pick on you.

Have an eye on your competitor but you don’t be obsessed with them. Focusing on yourself will bring you better returns.

Do you know you? 

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Wednesday, December 6, 2023

What should they know?

exposes authenticity. Some people are afraid to show their vulnerable side. Some believe they should hide their “weaknesses”. Yet, others feel it’s not for others to know. Perhaps some think they will be exploited when they show their vulnerability. Truth is, by being vulnerable you are exposing your authenticity. People connect with others that are authentic. They want to know; you are like them too.

What’s there to hide

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Tuesday, December 5, 2023

Can you see it?

Give it time and allow yourself to be better each day. Even when the progress is not clear to you, work on it diligently. Learn to get ahead systematically. Put in the discipline so you can make small wins that cumulates to big wins. Small wins build layers of confidence too. You want to be prepared when opportunities knock. Take the idea of time, patience, discipline and being prepared seriously.

What’s putting you ahead? 

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Monday, December 4, 2023

Is it balance?

Perhaps for those who struggle with work-life balance should not approach it from a “balance” angle. 

I think most of the time it is more of a focus issue. When you spend more time with your family, your thoughts tend to drift to work issues. And when you are spending longer hours at work you tend to feel guilty as you feel you should be spending more time at home.

It will always be a constant struggle. Sometimes you will find the equilibrium and sometimes the guilt is too much to handle. But you must always find a way to adjust. Do your best to be in the present whenever you can. Focus on who and what you are spending time on. 

When with your family, savour it and be fully focused. When with work be fully focused too. 

The bad news is the struggle is real and it never ends. The good news is you will get better at it and accept certain conditions more.

Is it focus?

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Friday, December 1, 2023

Are you willing to suffer?

If it's a skill, you can learn it. If you can learn it, you can practice it. If you can practice it, chances are you can be good at it.

Learning is the easiest part. It’s the practice that gets to people because it requires sacrifice. Sacrifice means pain. No one loves pain. So, getting to the last part of being good at it becomes elusive.

The good news is the world is filled with people unwilling to do the second part. If you are willing to do it, there is a lot of space in the third part for you.

Can you make time?

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Thursday, November 30, 2023

Are you the doctor?

I have two doctor friends I bother all the time with my medical questions and referral questions. Sometimes, these questions aren’t even from myself. They could be from other friends but because I want to help, I end up asking these questions.

Vivek and Paul, both childhood friends and specialists in their fields, would always oblige and would reply very quickly. This simple action inspires me because I know they are very busy people yet they take the questions seriously and reply promptly.

It got me thinking. We are all experts in our own field and with our very set of expertise. Inevitably, some friends will ask us for advice and opinions. Reply to them as quickly and as detailed as the time allows during that time. It may be a small thing to you but to the person asking for the piece of information, it’s an important one.

Are you willing to help?

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Wednesday, November 29, 2023

Can they be right?

When you feel physiological changes when someone challenges your deepest experience, beliefs, and opinions; it’s your body telling you to listen because your brain is blocking you from understanding. I am no scientist, that may not be how it works. But you get what I mean. When you feel your heart starting to race, your voice gets louder, and you get argumentative, it’s time to quietly say to yourself “They may be right.” Instead of arguing, ask clarifying questions. Take the answers home and mull over them. Let it simmer and boil. Then ask yourself if they are right? What can you adopt and adapt that makes your experience, beliefs, and opinions even better?

How can you be better? 

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Tuesday, November 28, 2023

It is time?

Every time you want to quit but don’t, you discover a little more about yourself. You learn to build endurance. You learn you can be creative, you can be better than the you that says, “This is it!”, and you have a lot more stamina than you think you have. There is a time to quit, but most of the time, learn to turn up, do the work, get better, and don’t complain (ok, maybe a little.)

Do you really want to quit?

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Monday, November 27, 2023

How do you work?

I was told by a friend recently; compassion is empathy in action. Pretty interesting, I have never thought about it that way. If you run a consultancy of some form, build compassion into your practice. Put yourself in your client’s shoes. If you are on the other end, how would you want to be treated? When you are relational and not transactional in your dealings, you build trust, you gain respect and lots of joy with it too. Money can’t buy these.

How does it work?

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Friday, November 24, 2023

Can you see them?

It’s a cold and calculated business world. You tend to accept that. So, you approach everything with skepticism and cynicism. But if this is your worldview, then you miss out on opportunities on people who wants to help.

There exist people out there who genuinely who wants to help you. Perhaps, they are the guardian angels sent to help you. Perhaps, it’s affinity; some Chinese calls it “yuan”. These people will help purely out of altruistic reasons. Few, but there are. Question is whether you recognise them when they appear. It’s whether you question their intentions when they start helping. It’s whether you act upon their help to bring yourself to the next step.

Will you turn them off?

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Thursday, November 23, 2023

Why are you losing passion?

If you are losing passion for the business you started and you don’t know why; may I suggest you start with your net profit? If your net profit is low and you can’t pay yourself as a business owner much, it’s very easy to lose passion. In fact, you start losing passion, patience and many more too. You have all sorts of excuses except the real reason you may not want to face. After years, you still aren’t taking home much. Start fixing how you can make a healthy net profit. Then see how money ignites the passion for your business again.

Are you making good money?

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Wednesday, November 22, 2023

How do you grow?

If you are doing well in one business, ask yourself what else have I not done to grow my business more? Have I optimised everything that the only way for me to grow is to look at another area?

Too often we see; especially SMEs that do well in one business for a few years and they start to think they should expand into other industries. Some are worse, they have barely stood firm in the filed they chose to compete in and they decide they will expand into another. So instead of being a winner in one arena, they end up losing in two arenas.

What else can you do better?

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Tuesday, November 21, 2023

Do you collect it?

Someone asked me “What’s your view of Big Data? My boss is very into it.” The context of the situation is that he was going to recommend my company to the boss. I think it was late, I was tired and the conversation was meandering aimlessly. Plus, I don’t have a lot of patience with management soundbites. I asked, “What data do you guys collect now? And how do you use it?” Ear-shattering cacophony of nothingness ensued.

If you don’t even make sure of data you have now, don’t bother with Big Data.

Do you use it?

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Monday, November 20, 2023

Can you save me?

Some businesses that are in trouble look to marketing and branding to save them. Yes, marketing and branding can, sometimes; if the diagnosis is done correctly. Often times, the issues that business owners face are multivariate. No amount of marketing and branding is going to save them. In fact, it may actually speed up their demise.

Diagnose the issues correctly. It may well be marketing and branding that is the issue. But do proper diagnosis. Your business faltering may not be because you aren’t doing marketing right.

Is it the right solution?

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Friday, November 17, 2023

Who has to carry the load?

The consultant can’t carry all the load for you and your company. You and your team need to do the hard work of lifting the work and executing it. They can’t ensure that every initiative and implementation is done every week. They can’t be at every department’s work-in-progress meeting. You and your team must do it.

While you invest financially to solve the challenge, invest intellectually as well. You and your team. Be all in if you want success. Immerse in educating yourselves about the topic. Read books, asks questions, watch videos whatever works for you. There is a positive side-effect of this, you are constantly aware of the task at hand.

How will you carry the load?

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Thursday, November 16, 2023

Who is failing whom?

If you are a consumer-oriented company, then understand that the marketing department’s function is to deliver to the consumer.
In that sense, while it carries the most weight in extracting value from the market, other departments have equal responsibility to deliver to the needs of the marketing department. They are to ensure that marketing gets what they need so that the end consumer is happy. Happy to part with their money that will fatten your pocket. Sometimes the failing of a company in marketing isn’t the fault of the marketing department. It’s other departments failing to deliver to marketing so that they in turn can deliver to the market.

Is marketing a culture in your company?

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Wednesday, November 15, 2023

Why should I help you?

Sometimes you need to know when to keep quiet and listen
Then do what you have been told to do and execute everything. If you reached out to get a consultant because all the previous plans and executions have failed, then you owe it to yourself to listen and execute. This is especially true when you have never had decent results in the past.

Are you consult-able?

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Tuesday, November 14, 2023

Do you want to fight fair?

It’s never fair in business. You can and should use marketing as your competitive advantage. It’s an area in business where size doesn’t have a lot of influence on it. It all depends on your strategic planning. If you plan this well, you don’t need to have a fair fight with your competitors. Start by identifying the segments that exists within your market. Choose a target or two and along with that a position that you can win. That’s the beginning, now choose to execute the tactics which are your 4Ps and appropriate them to the targets you have chosen. Aim small, miss small. Don’t worry about going after a smaller segment as long as you can win there.

Can you create your own competitive advantage?

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Friday, November 10, 2023

How do you spend your time?

Spend 1/3 of the time learning and 2/3 of the time practicing to perfection the skill. Not 2/3 of the time learning and 1/3 of the time practicing to perfection the skill.

Better to find the right person to guide you and then spend most of the time perfecting your skill than to spend so much time looking for the right teacher and not having enough time to practice.

Are you confusing learning and practicing?

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Thursday, November 9, 2023

Do you want the fun?

Understanding that the challenge is the fun part of any obstacle is the hard part.
Once you understand and savour challenges as fun, it becomes easier. Easier. Not easy. It will still give you anxiety. Stress. Tire you and flatten you sometimes. But like a good workout program, that’s the fun part. It makes you stronger.

Can you accept the challenge?

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Wednesday, November 8, 2023

Are you becoming twins?

Be very careful when you are too focused on your closest competitor. You will start to mirror them. Unconsciously (sometimes purposely) copying in an effort to react to what they do. Eventually, you will lose your distinctiveness and differentiation. Soon every smaller brand will nibble on your market share (and those of your closest competitor).

If your market share and your closest competitor is shrinking and the smaller brands are getting your shares; chances are you both are too much alike.

How do you define competitors?

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Tuesday, November 7, 2023

Is cutting cost going to help?

Generally, when brands find it hard to increase revenue, they tend to cut cost. That creates a vicious cycle as lack of investment in branding results in lower sales.

The better solution is to increase your sales or increase your price. Who can you sell more to? How else can you add new consumers to the current ones? How do you reach a new segment? Don’t reach for the cost cutting lever until you have exhausted every possible scenario for increase consumers or increasing price.

Will increasing sales help more?

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Monday, November 6, 2023

What questions should you start with?

As we get into the last two months of the year and you may be planning for next year, here are some key questions to ask.

How do I grow my business? Where should the grow come from?

Do I grow my core business? 

    Do I grow within current segments?

    Do I focus on the fastest growing segments?

Do I grow outside of my core business?

    Do I see new products to current segments?

    Do I use company’s core competencies to get into new business?

How do I improve profits?

Do I improve revenue?

    Do I increase volume sold?

    Do I increase price?

Do I cut costs?

    Do I cut fixed cost?

    Do I limit variable costs?

These are the strategic questions to ask before anything else.

Do you like the answers?

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Friday, November 3, 2023

Why did they choose you?

If you believe in the concept of branding, then you have to understand that people choose a brand in ‘irrational’ ways. Just because you have a better product with better functions at a better price doesn’t automatically mean people will choose you. Once you understand these biases, you can harness it to your brand’s advantage.

What's the real reason they like you?

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