I always felt that virgin airways just came into existence and BOOM !!! It was a hit!!! This was until I read Richard Branson‘s book "losing my virginity". In this book he explained how he failed at several businesses because he applied the scattered gun approach in his professional life. He started a magazine company as a school dropout and failed. Records state that since his inception as a business man in 1966, he has created 300 companies under the virgin brand which failed drastically. In the book 50th law, 50 cent also stated that he had to sell illegal products on the streets of his neighborhood for years, risking his life in order to survive. He realized this was a bad path to take and with more focus on his music, he eventually got discovered by Eminem.
The media makes it seem like success is paved by following a predictable pathway however it is important to note that only few of people’s failures are usually highlighted by the media, thereby blindsiding individuals trying to understand how success works. In most cases, startup companies usually hear a lot of "you can‘t make it" affirmations from people. There is the expectation for business owners to start from the scratch but also humans are sometimes impatient to ride through the whole journey of success with you. This shouldn‘t be a discouraging factor because it is actually okay to take some rides in life alone. If the startup company has little or no capital to brand their ideas, the look down from people may even be more pronounced. It‘s common to see people trying to associate with only already established brands. Also, when a company has kick started, there would be days when sales don’t occur for days, weeks or months. These things happen and instead of brooding and thinking of packing up, it is often better to seek expert advice and conduct even more research on what may be wrong in terms of your product branding, customer service rating, product pricing etc.
To further elaborate on this topic, I would like to give a few PNN Lifestyle tips on how to be successful in business. First and foremost, consistency is a trait every start up entrepreneur must develop. As a business owner, it is your duty to ignore this lack of supportive people and focus on the primary reason why the company was established. Have a strategic plan and try your best to follow through because I must say the early days may be hard for some, whilst others have it easy. There are certain actions which need to be practiced consistently by business owners and they are as follows:CREATIVE ISOLATION - There would be times when you would need to indulge in creative isolation and this should be something you practice at least twice a year. Take time out from the crowd to go through a huge amount of introspection and observe the source of your motivation. Is your motivation intrinsic or extrinsic? Are you in the business world to make an impact or are you here to compete irrationally and compensate for a void lacking in your personality? You would need to ask yourself if your business is growing or stagnant. You also need to ask yourself whether your personal image has been upgraded. Are you able to get a bit of the comfort you desire once in a while? These and many more questions should be tackled during your time out period so that your personal rebranding is not done in vain. Creative isolation is also important because it is likely to reduce the rate of burnout one may experience. Research shows that women are more likely to experience burnout because of work-life balance issues. To avoid being highly exhausted at work, it is highly advisable for both males and females to take breaks in order to research suitable work-life balance practices that suit their personal lifestyles.
PRUDENCE - In my opinion, buying that Gucci bag worth $2500 is totally not worth it during the first few years of your business. If I could take back the hands of time, I would put back every penny I made upon inception of my business right back in my bank account and re invest. Key word here being reinvest, because most people just keep the money in the account so they could see it grow and remind themselves that there is some money in the account. As a startup, there is so much to be done and it wouldn‘t be wise if your personal needs are conflicting with your company needs. Invest in a consultant to show you the ropes and employ efficient staff to help move the business. Most people always want to do the initial stages themselves and this is fine if company analysis shows that there is no need for workforce expansion. But if the need be, always invest in more efficient staff.
PUNCTUALITY - "Madam / Oga has not come to work yet" is one reply that irks my soul especially if the reason for such lateness is highly trivial. I think the dream of most people is to open their businesses so they are not answerable to anyone and so they could do whatever they desire. But order is something that would look you in the face in almost all aspects of life. It is okay to go to your business late if your reasons are legitimate but if you neglect punctuality so much under the clause of "I am the boss", you may be setting a bad example. As a company owner you need to immerse yourself in the established company culture, see yourself as a staff and serve your customers like you would expect your staff to. You need to lead by example where the need be. Come down from your high horse and act like you are working for someone and put in as much effort like a staff being monitored by a strict scrutiny board would.
The product of your company should be nurtured and presented in the best way possible. There would always be a million companies doing the same thing you do, but your zeal to be different would set you apart. Being different doesn‘t have to be expensive and at such I would give you some PNN Lifestyle tips that successful companies employ.
- The Extra Touch - Successful companies always take their branding one step further. For example if all cake companies supply their cakes in white cake boxes, one seeking to have competitive advantage could make red cake boxes or use a color that has never been used. There are several colors; one doesn‘t have to go with the crowd. Set your own trend and be the red cake box company. If I ate cake from a red box I‘d automatically imagine that it‘s the sweetest cake just to psyche myself that I spent my money well.. (laughs).
- Company environment - Sometimes I walk into restaurants or supermarkets and immediately I just want to walk out. Like several consumers out there, I tend to pay attention to details. The flooring, the scent of the environment, the amount of dust on tables and the general outlook of the environment is very important. Business owners should also take time out to mentor their staff on personal image. They should emphasize the importance of looking sharp and tidy. When staff uniforms get worn out, it would only be empathetic of the company to change them so they feel good as they serve customers.
- Talent management - Most companies upon inception have no penned down foresights of how they want their staff to operate to produce maximum quality. Talent management in this case could be defined as the act of recruiting, training upon inception and indulging in continuous learning and development programs whilst in operation. These trainings ensure that the staffs are up to date in several aspects. Several companies in Nigeria have poor customer service call centers as well as poor on-ground customer representatives. A few days ago, the parcel for an order I made got missing in transit and to be very honest, the customer service representatives over the phone showed that the company lacked coherence, organization, company culture, training and stern supervision. Imagine the nerve of the company to call me a day later asking me to please rate their company? My response as you all predicted correctly was this- your performance rating is 1/10!
- Job rotation - Believe it or not there would be staff that could gang up and not show up to work. When this happens what happens to the company? What happens if key officials go AWOL? Are there any proactive measures already put in place. Would the absence of these people completely destabilize your company? Every entrepreneur should have maximum training about their business. Participate in some of the courses that the staff take part in. Also companies should learn to apply the theory of job rotation. Job rotation means that you train your staff in several positions to learn additional role descriptions asides their duty to add variety to your company. This also helps in times of emergency so everyone is not stuck looking at each other‘s eyebrows in search of solutions.
Remember, the path to success is unpredictable but a little planning and pro activity never hurt nobody!