3 Smart Steps to take to Grow Your Startup

… Want to grow your startup and you don’t know what elements to focus on? The road to success is different for everyone, however, this article highlights some factors you should consider to grow your business… 

By Azugbene Solomon

Are you taking the right steps to put your ideas into action? How well are you prepared before going into entrepreneurship?

Did you know that only 50 percent of startups survive more than five years? Unfortunately, many startups fail to achieve product-market fit. Without a smart growth strategy in place, startups have no clear roadmap towards long-term success.

Entrepreneurship offers a lot, especially, if you know how to easily get your new business off the ground. However, do you know what it takes to create a business that you believe will serve a need for the public successfully?

The fact is that starting a successful business is not as easy as eating cake. This is a journey you mustn’t start if you don’t have an idea of where you are going.

While you’re anxious to get started, you will realise you’re just another name in a sea of competition. This is why you have to build your brand and develop relationships within and outside the business. This is one of the best ways to gain access to customers and grow your business.

How to grow your startup to the maximum

Do you know how to grow your startup to the maximum? Do you actually know how to keep your company moving forward with smart business expansion principles?

So, how do you start? What elements should you focus on? The road to success is different for everyone, however, position your startup for sustained success and build a growth strategy that actually works by following these simple steps:

1. Network and connect

Some of the most successful businesses have professional ties with other companies in the industry. By developing a network of professionals, you can turn to you have more resources at your fingertips to grow your business.

Networking allows you to share knowledge and ask questions of like-minded professionals. Also, it creates an environment for opportunities and opens you up to other markets and connections.

  • Attend Networking Events and Trade Shows
    There are often networking events for startups and entrepreneurs that you can attend. You can find out about these events by following organizations on social media, joining professional groups and organizations, and checking regularly at local hotels where such events are often held.
  • Host your own event
    There’s no better way to introduce yourself to the professional world than to host your own networking event. With the use of digital tools like a conference app and social media, inviting and updating guests won’t be much of an issue. During the event, you have the opportunity to showcase what your business has to offer and build lasting connections.

2. Build Awareness

Being known among other businesses is a must, however, you can’t grow your business if potential customers don’t know you exist.

Brand awareness is an imperative and continual part of growing your business. As a business owner, you can effectively leverage social media for brand awareness and sales.

While some of this is done by providing quality service, a lot of building brand awareness will come from your ability to market your business. Two common areas of marketing are traditional and digital:

  • Traditional Marketing
    This is your typical marketing tactics that have been used for years. This includes marketing methods like using business cards, flyers, promotional products, signage, cold calls, commercials, radio broadcasts, and other solutions to spread awareness about your brand.
  • Digital Marketing
    Whether you have a physical business location or you run your show from home having a strong online presence is imperative to building brand awareness. A reliable website, social media accounts, blogs, and compelling content all play a crucial role in your brand’s ability to reach your target audience.

3. Develop Relationships

Relationships building is very important when it comes to entrepreneurship. As a business owner, for your business to grow, you must focus on the core purpose for your success – your customers.

When startups take the time to develop authentic business relationships with their customers, they are put in a position where they can better serve them.

This thus results in long-term relationships and repeat business. But how do you develop a positive relationship with your customers?

  • Learn more about the customer
    The trick to selling your products or services is appealing to the needs, wants, and/or interests of your customers. It is imperative that you not only know who your company can best serve but how you can best do this. Customer satisfaction surveys, interaction through social media, and research can help you to learn about your customer.
  • Provide quality services
    You can’t very well expect to develop strong relationships with your customers if you’re not providing quality service. Customer service should be a huge part of your business strategy to grow. Focus on ways to provide friendly, simplified, and convenient services to your customers. Go above and beyond what is expected to ensure that every encounter they have with your business is a good one.

Conclusion

As tartup, like a little baby, has to be nurtured with utmost care and intuitive outlook.

However, while putting in the effort to your brand and products, it’s also important to take smart steps that’ll make the long-run totally worth it at the end of the tunnel.

Hence, smart up and apply the above effective tips to your startup to watch your brand soar beyond bounds.

Reference
1. 3 Smart Steps to take to Grow Your Startup and Take it to the Max by Onaplatterofgold.com

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Business’s SMEDAN trains Nigerian youths on E-Business

The Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency of Nigeria, SMEDAN has organized a one-week e-business youth training and empowerment programme for 230 youths across some states in Nigeria to enhance youths to better utilize ICT skills.

In a statement from the head, corporate affairs unit of the agency Ibrahim Mohammed stated that the training was aimed at addressing youth unemployment in the state as the programme provided skills and knowledge for the teeming youths to enable them become self-reliant and economically independent particularly in the area of information communication technology (ICT).

The statement added that at the end of the training, participants are expected to learn how to do businesses online, market their goods, and provide services as well as proper usage and management of social media platforms.

In his remark the Director General of the Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency of Nigeria, SMEDAN, Dr. Dikko Umaru Radda who was represented by Alhaji Abdullahi Aliyu Musawa in Katsina state noted the importance of ICT to the MSMEs sector of the economy, hence the decision of SMEDAN to inculcate the spirit of ICT into entrepreneurs in the country.

He urged beneficiaries to take the training with all seriousness and be committed to learn all the necessary skills and knowledge on e-business and to also utilize the facilities they will receive from SMEDAN at the end of the training.

Sixty-eight (68) youths, two each, drawn from each local government of Katsina state participated in the training which was also conducted in Osun, Bauchi, Kogi, Akwa Ibom, and Ebonyi states.

At the completion of the training, each participant received a laptop and other internet facility gadgets.

The participants expressed their gratitude and appreciation to SMEDAN under the leadership of Dr. Dikko Umaru Radda whose gestures brought to them this opportunity and they promised to utilize judiciously the knowledge and empowerment packages they received from SMEDAN.

Source Daily Post

Cameroon: Youths drilled on entrepreneurial skills in Yaounde

By Ariane Foguem

17 young entrepreneurs are currently been drilled on entrepreneurial skills in a two-day workshop in Yaounde, at the end of which 3 will be selected to represent Cameroon at the 2019 pitch-up competition in Morocco.

70 at the beginning, only 17 managed to find their way into the net of the fortunate candidates to take part in the first part of the pitch-up entrepreneurship competition organized by Hub Africa, a platform that connects entrepreneurs with world investors, capitalists, and mentors.

The two-day workshop consists in reinforcing the entrepreneurial capacities of these young entrepreneurs in domains such as ability to convince, posture, presentation of project to name but these, so as to secure a win at the final pitch-up competition in Casablanca Morocco come June 2019.

The sectors from which the 17 projects were chosen are amongst others agriculture, finance, e-commerce and tracking.

Launching the competition in Cameroon, the Secretary General of the Ministry of small and medium size enterprises, Mme Marthe Chantal Mbajon representative of Minister Achille Bassilekin III, lauded the initiative that gives exposure to young African entrepreneurs.

The Pitch-up competition which is at its 7th edition will run under the theme, “Open innovation, a lever for African Small and Medium size enterprises.”

Source Journal du Cameroun

Invest in capital market, SEC tells Nigerian youths

By BluePrint Newspapers

The Securities and Exchange Commission, SEC, has encouraged Nigerian youths to invest in the capital market instead of indulging in gambling.

Acting Director General of SEC, Ms. Mary Uduk who stated this in Abuja said there are various products and funds available in the Market that would appeal to the youth populace in Nigeria.

Uduk therefore encouraged them to take advantages of these opportunities and invest wisely.

According to her “We have mutual funds and it covers every asset in the capital market. Whether it is money market, insurance, capital market, real estate, infrastructure among others. The youths can invest in these, rather than leave your money in savings account you can invest in mutual funds. It runs like savings account and after three months you can withdraw your money same way as you do with the banks.

“You don’t have to go and gamble, there are so many products in the capital market that they can invest in rather than going to gamble and losing their money.

We have various products that are very attractive where they can invest their money.

The Acting DG disclosed that the Commission has commenced investor education and enlightenment for Nigerians to understand the benefits of these funds which gives more interest that saving money in bank accounts.

She also urged those already invested in the market to register to claim their dividends electronically as a means of reducing the unclaimed dividends profile.

Source BluePrint

Equity Bank, GOAL Uganda Partner To Empower Youths Through Financial Inclusion

By Moses Kayigwa

Equity Bank (U) Ltd and the DYNAMIC (Driving Youth-led Agribusiness and Microenterprise) program in their continued quest for financial inclusion have launched a partnership to bring access to formal financial services closer to the youth through Equity Bank’s agency banking and digital finance model.

This was announced by the Equity Bank Uganda Executive Director Mr. Anthony Kituuka, Jennifer Williams Country Director, GOAL Uganda and the DYNAMIC Program Director Netsaalem Gebrie at a media conference in Kampala on Wednesday.

DYNAMIC is one of the Mastercard Foundation’s Youth Forward Initiative being implemented by a consortium partners led by GOAL Uganda, Mercy Corps, Restless Development and Voluntary Services Overseas. The program targets 125,000 youth between the age of 15-24 in Northern Uganda.

Equity Bank has already completed preparations to expand conventional and digital financial literacy trainings as well as variety of banking services to thousands of youth and other farmers in Northern Uganda in the districts of Lira, Abim, Kaboong and Agago.

“This was made possible because we share the same ideals on entrepreneurship and job creation. We are aiming at economically and socially empowering young people between 15 and 24 years in the selected districts by facilitating youth access to and usage of formal and non-formal financial services”, said Mr. Kituuka.

The partnership agreement which was signed recently will strengthen ongoing efforts of GOAL Uganda’s market systems development initiatives to creating opportunities for youth in agribusinesses and off-farm enterprises in the said four districts of northern Uganda. In addition, this will also opens up opportunity to Equity Bank o offer financial and technical advisory services to enhance the competitiveness and dynamism of young Ugandan entrepreneurs.

“The growing youth population in Uganda is a great opportunity for the country’s economic development. Creating decent and dignified employment and self-employment for this young population is our main objective in DYNMAIC program. The partnership with Equity Bank will definitely help to achieve this objective” said Jennifer Williams Country Director, GOAL Uganda.

As one of Uganda’s top lenders operating out of over 35 branches, 38 ATMs and other numerous e-channels, this is in tandem with Equity Banks’ unique solutions to supporting small businesses and entrepreneurs to building sustainable businesses. The Bank will train and strengthen the capacity and understanding of financial management, financial planning, budgeting, customer care practices and bookkeeping agents and their staff and on a broader perspective the Community Groups and the Youth Development Groups in the areas served by its agents.

Equity Bank is one of the fastest growing banks in Uganda and most recently rolled out agency banking services. The bank currently has a network of more than 2000 agents that have been recruited across the country to drive financial inclusion and offer innovative, inclusive customer-focused financial services.

Source The Tower Post

These 5 Skills Are More Important for Entrepreneurs Than Any Fancy Degree

By Bill Green

One of the great fallacies about building a professional career is believing where you went to school dictates how successful you become.

This is one of the most heavily debated topics in the business world: the effective return on investment for attending college and/or pursue an MBA. Now, I’m not saying formal education is a poor investment, by any means. For many people, school is an opportunity to “know what you don’t know,” and that in itself makes it a worthwhile pursuit.

Where people make the mistake, however, is in thinking the degree itself is all that’s needed.

They believe that because they attended the classes and passed the tests, then where they went to school will carry them to professional success–and that’s simply not true. As someone who didn’t end up graduating from college, I can tell you firsthand that over decades of building businesses, it’s the working skills I value in my partners and employees over a fancy resume. I would much rather hire the kid who has tried and failed, than the one who passed his or her classes with flying colors, but never attempted to put their theoretical knowledge to the test in the real world.

This is a topic I speak about at length in my book, All In. Again, I’m not saying a formal education or an MBA is a waste of time or money. Just make sure that, in addition to building your resume, you make it a point to acquire the following 5 skills.

These are the things that ultimately make you a professional success story–whether you climb the ladder of a larger organization, or you build your own from the ground up:

1. Honesty (With Yourself)

Lots of people have ideas.

Students, especially, before stepping into the real world, tend to get caught up in their ideas. They love thinking about them, brainstorming them, and sharing them with their friends and family. Unfortunately, ideas without execution don’t go very far. And while there is absolutely value in coming up with great ideas, an idea cannot become “great” until it faces its first customer.

One of the most valuable skills you can acquire early in your professional career is knowing the difference between what sounds great in theory, and what holds real value to a paying customer or a loyal user. And the only way to acquire this skill is to try a lot of different things. The more you create, and the more you try to build yourself, the faster you will learn what people are willing to pay for and what they would rather do without.

You’ll learn how to be honest about whether your idea has real potential or not.

2. Leadership

Entrepreneurship, working within a startup, or being part of a smaller team within a larger corporate environment, all require some capacity of team interaction.

Many entrepreneurs or “intrepreneurs” (those who bring massive value inside larger organizations) tend to forget that the best business ideas in the world require more than just plug-and-chug execution in order to be successful. All execution requires teamwork, and all teamwork requires a lengthy list of soft skills in order to keep people motivated, focused, and loyal. One of those soft skills is the ability to communicate your vision and lead those around you to victory.

The best way I’ve found to acquire the skill of leadership is to put yourself in environments where you either have the opportunity to learn from a talented leader, or to be forced to step up and become a leader yourself. Ideally, you’ll have a number of both of these experiences in your professional career.

3. Discipline

The kind of discipline school encourages is not the same discipline the real world asks of you.

In school, the punishment for not being “disciplined” with your work is quite inconsequential, all things considered. You might fail a test, or get a bad grade for the semester. But when you’re starting a company, or working within someone else’s company and handling paying clients, suddenly the consequences become very real. Your mistakes can be measured in cash.

Taking the idea of discipline a step further, school plans the path out for you. What is much more difficult is determining where you want to head on the path, while simultaneously dealing with unforeseen challenges at the same time. Persisting in the face of uncertainty, pressure, or the potential of failure, requires a level of discipline that cannot be acquired in a semester.

Discipline is something that takes years to master.

The best way to get started, then, is to find as many things in life to become disciplined about. If you can become disciplined with your finances, your daily schedule, your health, etc., then you are creating the habits that will set you up for success.

4. Optimism

This is a skill many don’t consciously acquire.

But the truth is, entrepreneurship and professional advancement is tough work. Every day isn’t great. The wins are far less frequent than the losses. And it can be very easy to fall into a state of mind where your day to day is seen as stressful, overwhelming, and a pain.

Listen, if you want to make it to the summit, remember this: it’s all in your head.

The ability to be optimistic and positive, even in the face of great obstacles, is not to be undervalued. You’re the one who chose to pursue a path of success. You’re the one who wanted to build something great. You’re the one who chose this life, for yourself. So, don’t look for the bad, the ugly, and the stressful. Instead, look for things to be thankful for: like the fact that you even have the opportunity to pursue what you’re passionate about in the first place.

Optimism isn’t a weakness. Optimism is the state of mind that will give you endurance for the long road ahead.

5. Resilience

Last but not least, I firmly believe it’s imperative that every young individual find opportunities, any opportunity at all, to build the skill of resilience.

For me, I gained this skill-building my first company, Wilmar, starting as a teenager in a flea market. There I was, selling hand tools off of a fold-up card table prices–I heard the word “No” dozens of times each day. But when I would eventually hear a “Yes,” I learned the importance of resilience and persistence. Had I accepted the first, or second, or twenty-third “No,” I might never have built Wilmar, a company that ended up eventually being acquired by Home Depot.

The reason why I always take fancy resumés with a grain of salt is because a resumé doesn’t always show you how resilient someone is. Sure, I want to know where you went to school, but I also want to know about a time in your life when someone told you, “No, that’s not going to work,” and you pressed on anyway. Regardless of whether you were successful or not doesn’t matter. What matters is that you tried, and you became a little more resilient in the process.

This article was first published at Inc