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7 Steps for Starting a Social Enterprise

 Have you identified a problem in your community which you can solve using an effective business solution?

Do you have stirrings inside of you that continually push you to start a social enterprise?

Then, read, eat and sleep the seven tips laid out by Devon Ysaguirre on Forbes.

These seven tips are very good pointers towards helping you start your Social Enterprise.

Tell us how it goes.

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Business Lessons from the Football Pitch

The 2013 African Nations Cup tournament is underway in South Africa and entered its knockout stages today. Starting today, there is no second chance for any team. The team either wins or loses; progress to the next stage or board the next flight home. You might ask! What has this got to do with my business venture?

To be successful in business, especially for start-ups, you have to appraise your venture like a football game every now and then, constantly looking out for punishable mistakes and devising strategies that will keep you on top at all times. Some of the tips below are not only useful on the football pitch, but can help ensure that your venture stays successful in the market place regardless of the competitive landscape.  

  • First and foremost, It’s never over until it is really over. Be it a proposal to win new business, a new project, customer acquisition, new branding etc. Never take your eyes off the goal and ensure that you and your team remain motivated till the very end.
  • Understand what fatal mistakes you should never make in business. Certain mistakes can lead to revenue loss, reduction in market share, reputational loss etc; but ensure that everyone on your team understands the type of mistakes than can take the company under. Also, be sure to avoid repetition of these seemingly small mistakes as they can continually erode value and weaken the business. 
  • Make good use of open opportunities (counter-attacks)
  • Never be comfortable with a 1-0 lead. Ensure that you are fully aware of what the competition is up to. Constantly get feedback from your customers and incorporate the feedback to improve product and service delivery.

There is so much to learn from football games as a business person. Keep that mindset of having only ninety minutes and you will run a much more nimble and responsive business venture.

More tips soon….Comments welcome….

Social Enterprise in Nigeria/Africa – A vehicle for driving positive change in society

One of the most classic quotes of all time is that of Mahatma Gandhi which states that “You must be the change you wish to see in the world”. There is no better time than now to fully utilize the wisdom in these words.

Viable social enterprises are springing up in different parts of the world and the field is increasingly attracting traditional funders and individual investors. In addition, a special “impact investing” movement has gained popularity, while traditional companies are consistently showcasing their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and sustainability efforts in order to remain in the good books of the citizens.

As an individual, you can contribute your quota to driving this change and making the world a better place in any of the ways listed below:

  • Starting up or partnering to build an innovative social venture within your means.
  • Choosing to build your career with a company that impacts the society and environment, in addition to giving you a rewarding career.
  • Supporting the work of social enterprises by using and recommending their products (when they are of high quality and truly meet a need).
  • Volunteering with social enterprises in areas where you can contribute your expertise.

I have looked across Nigeria/Africa and spotted some businesses that are operating the social enterprise model without really knowing it.

One definition of social enterprise which i fully subscribe to is: “An organization or venture that achieves its primary social or environmental mission using business methods. Social enterprises harness the power of the marketplace to solve critical social and environmental problems.”

So, I urge you to take another look at your business model and confirm if you are operating a social enterprise or not. We can help you with a few metrics to determine this. This is very important as it might help you target specific funders for your venture. I am more than willing to help you clarify and point you in the direction of potential funders if you are running a social enterprise.

Comments welcome

Setting the Right Priorities for Your Business Venture in 2012

A new year is upon us again and this seems to be a busy time for most 9japreneurs. Usually, the beginning of a new year is viewed as a fresh start and a time of new possibilities. Most business owners will be busy re-strategizing and seeking the best way to move their business forward. However, if things are not properly managed at this time you might get overwhelmed and burnout before you know it, especially if your business is still in the boot-strapping phase.

We have highlighted below some great tips you can use to prevent this burn out and achieve maximum value from your effort by setting the right priorities.

1. Understand the direction for your business

The very first thing is to understand what you intend to achieve in this year. Basically, this will involve taking a look at how things fared in the past year, what you did right and wrong, a full fledged market analysis, competitor evaluation and opportunities for growth. There is so much to do in this regard.

My advice is that you focus on the top five internal and external factors that can affect your business while trying to better understand the direction for the year. This way, you can then narrow down to the actual goals and objectives for your venture in 2012.

2. Write down your goals and set realistic targets with timelines

Ensure that your goals for the year are written down, critiqued (by yourself and others) and refined to ensure that all possible areas have been covered. Then, you should set realistic targets and timelines for the achievement of these goals within the year.

Even if these goals are a carry-over from the last year, make sure they are written down so that you will not lose focus on any one.

3. Involve your team and delegate appropriately

If you have the luxury of a good team within your employ, the best you can do is to get them to participate fully in strategic activities as the year begins. Even though you have your vision for the company clearly set out, it is usually more rewarding if you seek their opinions or buy-in on the way forward. This way, they feel more respected within the company and will probably perform better on the tasks assigned if they were part of the formulation. Remember that “our budget” is always preferred than “my budget”, “his budget” or “her budget”.

In our usual manner and for the sake of practicability, we would love that you start out with these three tips and see how well it is helping you move forward as a 9japreneur. We would love feedback from you and also willing to help with any challenges you are facing as a business as the year begins.

Making the Best of your Holiday Season as a 9japreneur

The holiday season is here again and most people feel like kicking off their shoes and relaxing after a full year of hard work. However, this is not usually going to be the case for entrepreneurs….Mmmm…9japreneurs alike. I must tell you that the holiday season is a very good time to give your business a great leap.

Depending on what kind of business you are in to or what stage of development your venture is, the holiday season is usually a good time to win new customers, re-strategize on the business model and structure or generally take stock of what went down during the year. Basically, make sure you target each holiday season to give a lift to your beloved venture. Remember that there is a little feeling of difference in the air at this period and you and your team may also view things differently.

For instance, i attended a gym/spa opening somewhere around Surulere, in Lagos, Nigeria on 23rd December. It was a good time to start off such a business as friends and colleagues of the owner were invited to the opening by word of mouth without incurring any advertising costs. Opening discounts were offered until the 31st of December for the different services offered. This is a good means of attracting and retaining new customers, in addition to keeping the venture strong in 2012.

Some great tips you can work with for giving your business a leap this holiday season include:

1        Have a honest debrief session with yourself and your team to understand the things you did right and those that  were wrong. This will help to develop your areas of strength and improve upon weak areas.

2        Make a list of your complete customer base and endeavor to send them a Thank you note or Season’s greetings card. Put a personal touch to each card or note. You will be surprised at how much they will remember you in the coming year.

3        Start thinking of giving your business a visible online presence. If you do not have a website, build one. If you already have one, improve on the content and make it very user friendly.

There a several other great tips you could use out there. Since I like being very practical, I would implore you to try out these three for a start before December 31st. See how it works and contact me for more tips or create a discussion around them in the comments section.

 

Happy Holidays