Before you start a business

I am loving your feedback on last week’s article on how to be an effective influencer and how companies can use influencers to build sales.

Two weeks ago, I got a text from an unknown number. The person on the other end of the line was a lady beautician.

She wanted advice on a dilemma she was facing. Since I was on a 30-kilometre drive I gave her a listening ear. She mentioned that it has been her dream to establish and run her own business, but did not know when the right time was to quit her 9 to 5 job to pursue her dream.

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She also needed to know how she would balance the profits and losses in the event she quit her day job.

Before I could give my advice, I needed to know how far she was willing to go to make the dream come true.

To my surprise she had already paid and renovated the working space, it was just a matter of strategy and plan.

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Sometime back, I wrote about planning; you might have the perfect plan but when your execution is poor then your plan becomes useless. I had to prepare her mentally for that.

Then in the midst of out conversation, she said something interesting and encouraging.

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She said, “let me get a different pen this one is acting up.” She was actually taking notes and questioning every point I threw her way. I was impressed by her willingness to learn.

Be in touch

Whenever you are starting a business that needs the owner’s touch, you need to be present so that the clientele relates with you. That’s the model I put in place with my companies.

I ensure that during the pitching to investors, I am present. When pitching is done, I leave it to my team to handle.

Here are a few pointers I gave to the lady who wanted to venture into retailing beauty products.

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Product Quality

Beauty is a global illusion that has created a multibillion industry. Look around and you’ll see so many people who have made millions from it; from celebrities to unknown individuals.

So the first thing to look at is the product quality. The moment a client falls in love with a beauty product depending on how it makes her look or feel, that’s the beginning  of a long term relationship. Which means revenue for you, so never compromise on quality.

Loyalty and pricing

Whenever women love a brand, they stick with it. That depends again with pricing.

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I advised her to take some time and learn about pricing and how best to price depending on her target audience.

Growing up, I remember every time we went shopping for Christmas my mum pointed out shops that had a big discount sign. We almost always shopped at places which offered discounts. When I grew up, I noticed that these shope were either giving a five per cent discount or even less.

The discount is a psychological bait that makes consumers want to buy because they don’t want to miss on a sale. This eventually reflects in your sales.

Dream big, start small

We all have big dreams but not everyone is willing to start small. She mentioned the capital that she had and that she was willing to pump it all in the business.

I advised her to ‘start small, where you are with what you have.’ If you have little capital which cannot service your entire dream business at a go, it is prudent to move in phases. What that does to you and your business is that first you learn the ropes of the trade and by the time you pump in the next 33 per cent then you know what to adjust rather than just putting every egg in the basket.

In this case, she would do herself justice if she took a portion of her capital to buy some products to test the market. Once you see what the market wants then she can bring in more stock.

She would also do well with samples. Have you ever walked in the supermarket and there is a kiosk sampling products? They are testing the market.

Gesture

Customer is king and this will not change. The way you handle your customer will determine the type and length of your relationship. I advised her to gift her customers. The gift doesn’t have to be expensive.

It could be applying makeup on a customer using the products she is selling, or helping her find the right product for her skin type. Alternatively, she could throw in a reusable makeup remover with every makeup item she sells. Small gestures do go a long way.

Follow up

This is one area that many companies leave out. Following up on user experience gives the company useful feedback. This information will give you insight onto which areas of the business to improve on. Negative feedback is just as important as positive feedback.

All the best in your business. Next week we tackle how to grow with the customer.

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