It was a captivating Seminar…
I made up my mind that nothing was going to hold me down from attending this seminar
Boy! I needed it dearly. As I drove into the parking lot of the Pan African University in Victoria Island that Saturday, instincts told me that I was in for a great time.
Without much waste of time, the programme started and promised to be as practical as possible. We all had been told to get an internet enabled laptop so we could get along as fast as we could. It promised to be an interactive session and it indeed was. The programme started and we were all so turbo-charged for it.
The facilitator, Dr. Anderson started out with questions
Did Facebook advertise? Did WhatsApp advertise? Is your business, service, product worth it? Is it valuable? What led GTBank to have the largest fan base on Facebook? NAIJ.com (owned by Russians – Gosh, I don’t believe this) has 1.3million fan base on Facebook?
What did they do right?
NAIJ.com built a web portal with unique content and continued to offer high value to its teeming visitors. NAIJ is doing content marketing and leveraging on that to create great online business opportunities. They have a great data base of over 1million subscribers.
Now Back Home
It took close to one year to get our acts right starting a business – I had to take time to make the business kind of settled on the inside before launching forth to the outside world.
To me, I felt marketing or sales efforts were useless when you get the customers and you cannot deliver on your promised value. It was better to take the time to get it right because as the popular saying goes: “you don’t have a second chance to make first impressions.” That mattered to me a great deal.
A Great Business Satisfies Clients
He was like the only customer I had on earth. Guess what? My friend, Peter, hadn’t even paid me for the job but I was always fine-tuning it to the best of my knowledge at the time. Anytime he came in, he would tell me to open the CorelDraw file and after the file was opened, he would comment: “This is Jollo.” He could find no other words to express his love for the design and I was excited, fired up to ensure I delivered the very best to him. I was indeed happy he loved it.
He confided in me that the design was a very great inspiration for him to finish his book. And yes he did finish the book –that to me was a great milestone design achievement.
This is the attitude businesses online, offline should carry today. Business is not all about money. It is about customers and the number of customers you can satisfy would bring the desired profits want.
Get It Right
Get it right first before launching out is important to me. I know that the perfectionist thing could affect us. I know that the analysis paralysis thing can set in at any time. But I don’t also like customers coming around and hissing and murmuring under their breath due to poor or mediocre service. I’d rather not tell anybody about what I do than tell them and they meet me in the process of trying to grapple with something they thought I was set to offer in a seamless way. You don’t advertise when you are not sure of delivering on value you promised.
Work On Your Internal Systems
Great businesses are all about systems. You need to put the right system in place to ensure you thrive in your online business. Systems like Sales, Marketing, Accounting, Administration, Customer Care etc. Yes I know that, based on our Nigerian peculiar situation, you would mention the fact that can small businesses afford all these? Well, the idea is to structure your business to accommodate such system when it grows to justify bringing these systems in place. For a start, you could go with part-time services in areas you know you need.
What Makes A Great Online Business?
You may have multiple strengths, but you have to start with one thing. Don’t be afraid to streamline to one thing and face a particular target audience you know you and your team can effectively satisfy. Remember that business is not all about making money but about people and meeting their needs in cost effective ways.
If it’s a product you’re coming up with, ensure you have full blown knowledge and passion about that product. If it’s a service ensure you are delivering on value on a consistent basis.
Don’t be vague in your quest for your business. I think there’s really no need starting out a business based on assumption and not on people’s real time needs. You will be amazed at what analytics can prove to you (right now, jump into Google Keyword Planner and input your website URL and check out the results especially the keywords that Google think your website is all about).
Surprised about the results? That’s what Google thinks your business is all about –sorry they call the shots here.
Even your website that you think you’re targeting a particular niche might just be missing out totally on traffic because you’re just optimizing for what people are not interested in. So as you move on, you just get totally frustrated. No hope is lost. You can still tweak back to what you really stand for and then keep in track with all the relevant things you need to do to rank top on that niche.
LOOK AT WHAT OTHERS ARE DOING
You could really be overwhelmed by the number of people doing what you want to do when you find out that people are really interested in it. Take time to look at what the very first person on your niche is doing right that is keeping them at the top and try and do same and you’ll see yourself climbing up gradually. In the process, work out your unique selling proposition. You’re different, find out how over a long term process.
You are different from the crowd. There are billions of businesses online today, how do you plan on individualizing (permit me here please) yourself? Branding is important; value delivery is the key thing. I shared some detailed post here about branding yourself here.
GET THE WORD OUT
If you’ve got it, flaunt it. Be everywhere telling everybody that cares about your online business and how you are delivering valuable products and services. Explain in details what’s in it for them, what they stand to gain in the long term if they patronize you. Add your website to every directory and search engine that you can find. Get into forums and chat rooms. Today, word of mouth is still a great marketing tool.
Do PR marketing where it applies. Use testimonials of satisfied clients
DO UNTO OTHERS…
Find ways to treat your constituents, customers, associates, partners, colleagues well
Well, it’s true that some people don’t deserve a good treatment but leave that to them. Do your part. Treat them well. I have a very beautiful piece of frame in my home that reads: “The Golden Rule: Do unto others as you would have others do unto you.” Regardless of how harsh our environment is, treat your customers well –even when they don’t deserve it. I assure you that their experience you’re your online business is going to sink into them that you’re kind of different.
STICK YOUR NECK
Everything rises and falls with the leader they say. As the head of your online business, you need to come forth and commit yourself to what your online business stands for. Tell the world about your unique proposition and how you plan to CONSISTENTLY bring that to bare for your audience. Find out that unmet need and commit your life and your team towards solving it.
I’ve had close friends that are designers tell me that they plan on doing business when they leave full time employment. Then I go further and ask: What sort of business are you thinking of? One said he’ll get into the foodstuff business another oil and gas while some said they’d go back to school and study law.
Well for me I tell them, I’m going to stick with what I love doing best and what has kept me going all these years –design.
You see great firms stay focused on what they know and can do very well. Yes it’s true that you should diversify and all that but then entering an entirely new area demands a whole lot of time to learn what obtains in that industry. Take time and imagine the number of years it takes to really get grounded in any particular industry before you can even think of succeeding in it. It takes time except if you’re going to just jump in and most probably get your fingers burnt.
Good, successful online businesses just keep growing and expanding into relevant, familiar territory. If you’re diversifying, diversify into a niche that is related to what you’re already doing.
JUST DO IT
Don’t just say it, do it. If you’re out to satisfy the client do it. Don’t allow analysis-paralysis to set in. Just go about it in the most simplest of ways you can. A friend once said the definition of success is “getting things done.” If you set an objective for yourself and your online business, just get it done. If you’re supposed to attend an online marketing seminar to help boost your business; write a blog post; record a video; do a business proposal; prospect on new customers, do all you can to attend. Do something every day, no matter how small towards moving your life and business forward. The keyword is “DO.”
We get really so paralyzed these day with talk: television talk shows, radio talk shows, interviews, comments, complaints, rants on social media, it’s just overwhelming sometimes that I feel like just shutting down. How many things are we really getting done to move our business forward? It affects everybody. We could easily get caught up in this hullabaloo that we lose focus on things that really matter.
GREAT, NOT NEW
Great ideas are not necessarily new ideas. There are no such things as something new. I will prefer you come to me to tell me of an improvement on a certain product or service than tell me you have something new to offer. There is really nothing new under the sun. The only thing is you may not have information about it yet but it’s not anything new.
If you’re willing to really apply yourself to improve your online business, there are many existing ideas for products and services that you can discover, improve and repackage. Look around online businesses in your niche and take the time to discover something they are not doing right. Take that thing, improve on it so much that people seeing it would say: “where in the world have you been?” and then make noise about it.
Honesty, as the age long saying goes, is the best policy. It could be hard with the prevailing situation in Nigeria to be sincerely honest but then you need to make that commitment to be honest with yourself first, your team and then your customers.
Your online business is a reflection of you. Make honesty the key thing here especially when you’re going to be dealing with people you don’t know or may not see. With your honesty, you build trust over time and then people begin to reckon with your products and services and then buy from you. Be honest in your dealings with your first prospects. Take time to explain to them what you stand for and keep the relationship. Don’t allow any form of suspicion.
There is a key I love to emphasize: “under promise and over deliver.”
In my former place of work as the head of the design/prepress unit, I tried as much as possible to download to my team everything I know. If I found out something new, I simply informed them and taught them. When they grew up strong in those areas, I simply start delegating and that frees up a lot of time for me to focus on critical creative tasks. If it’s a technical issue, I even take time to document how I went about solving the problem just in case any other staff within the department encounters such.
Trusting your team with your idea is a sign of strength, not weakness. A lot of people get apprehensive when they have to delegate. The fear of “supposing he outruns or outshines me?” Supposing management finds out that the guy he trained is up to the task, won’t they just sack me? A lot goes through the minds of the one that delegates.
But one thing is true, you are better than the level you are willing to assign to someone else. So if you hold strongly to a certain level, you are proving that you are not ready or qualified for the next level. When you delegate, you free up space to move higher up the next level and to the next greater thing you want to do with your life and business…If it’s all about levels this is how it starts.
The ability to delegate will also free up your time to focus on the higher level tasks which should not be delegated. Tasks like communicating with staff and customers should not be delegated.
It’s really important to know the why of your business and find ways of communicating this to your team for a successful online presence. What is the vision in the first place and how do you plan on bringing others to run with the dream?
Communication is key for success of an online business because people want to be in the know. Don’t keep your team or customers in the dark, find ways to explain to them what you’re all about with your online business.
Remember you’re not dealing with engines alone but real humans that sense and feels what you’re all about.
On Light Mood
Work environment doesn’t have to be so official that you can’t go a bit ‘crazy.’ Hey! I don’t mean that type of craziness o. What I mean is creating an easing environment that puts off tension.
Learn to laugh it off no matter the tension around. Your computer system may crash at the verge of completing a project; a client might turn out very difficult; a partner may turn obstinate; your website might not load due to server or hosting difficulties; sales may turn out very low in all these put up a positive outlook.
Don’t allow these external factors sink in to demoralize you and your team. Keep the positive energy running. Find the humor in every struggle you and your team goes through. The work environment needs to be happy and healthy. Make it a point to crack jokes with your team and encourage personal discussions of weekend plans and trips and even games.
Rounding it Off
Amidst all and more you may learn about, the summary is ensure you satisfy the client that is willing and able to patronize what you have to offer and continue doing so to remain in business.