Business Lessons from the US Republican Nomination Race – Free E-book attached

Deear Entrepreneurs and 9japreneurs,

This is February, the second month of the year, telling us that January is gone for good. The year has started on an interesting note with the Republican Party in the US holding elections across the country to nominate its Presidential candidate. I have decided to draw business lessons from the current process on the heels of the wins by Rick Santorium and Ron Paul.

These two seem to have been the laggards in this race, always coming in third or fourth, behind the front-runner Mitt Romney and the Challenger, Newt Gingrich. Basically, this is similar to your competitors in the market place. If Rick and Ron had given up before now, they would never have achieved the wins recorded yesterday. Remember “Quitters never win”  and “Winners never quit”.

According to one website, Santorium whom is a devoted conservative stated that “Wow. Conservatism is alive and well in Missouri and Minnesota,” after his wins in these states. He might never have known if he quit. So, in your business practices, stay resilient, try out new products, marketing plans, business pitches and the like with a risk management mindset.

Develop a plan to attack the market challenger and even the market leader. Come up with innovative solutions that will delight your customers and keep them coming back to you.

As I leave you with these few thoughts, my pre-Valentine gift to my readers is the e-book 9 things Successful People do Differently by Heidi Grant Halvorson

 

 

 

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Tips for Managing Risk within your Business Venture

Most often, entrepreneurs and other small business owners think that only large businesses and multi-national corporations should be concerned about the subject of risk management. However, this is a very wrong notion as the impact of a risk exposure can be more fatal to smaller businesses than large ones. Remember that the large businesses have deeper pockets and can afford to write off big amounts as “extraordinary occurrences”.

This week, I wish to share simple tips that can aid with the management of risks faced by small businesses. Generally, risk management refers to the practice of identifying, understanding and mitigating occurrences that can prevent the achievement of business objectives. Thus, the most important thing is to have a clear understanding of what risks your business might face.

Understanding the Risks in your Business

On a general note the key risks faced by most businesses (regardless of size) include operational risks, credit risks, reputational risk and market risk. At a more specific level, this can include employee medical risk, IT risk, travel risks etc. The key to this understanding is to review all possible areas and identify the things that can affect business objectives. This process is referred to risk identification and assessment in the corporate world. “Assessment”, is used here because the business process owners usually go on to assess the identified risk in terms of its possible impact and likelihood of occurrence.

Simple Risk Assessment for Small Businesses

To achieve this in a small business setting, it would help to sit with your overall team, even the janitors and doormen in your employ and go through a structured way to identify all possible risks. Remember, during this process, no risk identified is stupid. After taking down all the possible risks, you can then rate it on a scale of 1-10 via voting to determine the risk impact and its likelihood. Naturally, the high risks will be at the top and vice-versa for the low risks.

Designing Mitigation Strategies

After identification and assessment, the next thing will be to decide which risks (usually the top 5, 10 or 20) to focus on. You cannot focus on all risks and should structure the mitigation process in a way such that the effort to be put in will not be more than the benefits to be derived. This is very key. All members of the team can contribute to suggestions for the mitigation strategies. Though, it is usually helpful if you get an external consultant at this stage, because they are independent and can come up with different and better ways of managing your business risks.

We will be glad to hear your feedback on how this helps and give your further suggestions at a more specific and personal level if you desire.

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.

Leverage the power of the Internet to boost your start-up

For a start, let us review some mind boggling statistics relating to internet – desktop and mobile – penetration in Nigeria.

As we speak, the country has over 43 million internet users, about the largest internet penetration in Africa. Nigeria is among the top three countries that uses opera mini in Africa and about 80% of all adults have mobile phones today. In conservative terms, it means you can cast a very wide net to target your products and services at over 50 million Nigerians, especially if your product appeals to the mass market.

By utilizing this internet power within Nigeria and across Africa, you can move your business to the next level.

Be in the face of potential customers by having an online presence

The very first step to building an online presence is to create a good website for your business. Free resources for websites include gnbo.com.ng and yola.com among others. These sites offer you ready made templates that can help you create a professional looking website within minutes. With as little as NGN 2,000, you can get customized domain names and up to 10 e-mail addresses on that domain.

The next step is to ensure that you keep your site alive, interesting and engaging. Infuse your site with new content related to your products and services at least twice a month. You must understand that customers will always remember a dynamic website that offers new things at every visit. Create a newsletter for your products and integrate links to social networks into your website. There is so much you can do to keep your website engaging, and we have mentioned just a few here.

Two 9japreneur run businesses that have greatly fascinated me within the internet space in 2011 are Dealdey and Wakanow. These start-ups are currently changing the face of e-commerce in Nigeria. Hopefully, I might run the profiles of the faces behind these businesses sometime in 2012. Apart from the exposure these companies gain from the internet, they have positioned themselves strategically as the link between buyers and sellers of products and services at unbelievable good prices.

Every 9japreneur must understand that creating a great product is very important and non-negotiable. Convince yourself that you will always buy that product and refer it to others. After this is done, then the power of the internet can take your product/service across the world without much stress. Top tips for keeping customers happy with a great product can be found here.

Apply these tips above for a start and see how it works for you. Visit back for more great tips next week.

Are you a 9jaPreneur???…Think Innovation

Hello there,

Are you proudly Nigerian? Do you run a small business of your own, function as a freelance professional in your field, or employ a number of people in your company within or ouside the shores of our great country, Nigeria. If so, I think you qualify to be called a 9japreneur. 9japreneur, a word coined by me simply means an entrepreneur whom is desirous of making profits from his or her business, while also improving the situation of our country and its citizens.

Personally, I believe that people with great business ideas have a great role to play in the transformation of the Nigerian economy. We will really need to draw into our inner selves to unleash that level of creativity that allows you to provide a revolutionary product at the least cost, while delivering great value. 

My aim, for a start using this blog as a medium, is to get 9japreneurs to think together, forge partnerships, brainstorm and deliver the much needed economic change to make our country a true giant of Africa and the world at large.

On a weekly basis, I will come up with tips, case studies, stories and all forms of creative writing that will inspire 9japreneurs to improve themselves, their businesses and also the people around them. Feel free to make comments and also inform me of topics you will like to read about. I will surely oblige you within a month.

Let me leave you with a saying that goes thus “BE THE CHANGE YOU WANT TO SEE”….

Check back here regularly for great 9japreneurship tips….Cheers