Entrepreneur Magazine Feature: Marketing Your Startup

The September 2017 edition of Entrepeneur features some marketing lessons we got from building WordStart and doing some client work. We often get so focused on clients that we forget treat ourselves and our startup as the client – or better. I know that things certainly fall through the cracks with focus sometimes all over the place.

This piece takes many hits and misses into account, as well as some experiments that we embarked on outside of budgets where we were able to collaborate and test some ideas.

I would love hear your what works for your marketing. What hacks do you have that we can learn from?

Entrepreneur magazine piece - September 2017 Get the September edition of South Africa’s Entrepreneur magazine, look out for page 59 and come share your thoughts. Or tweet me on @Mongezi.

Support your marketing and become a thought leader

With the economy being as it is, more companies cutting budget for communications and the saturated marketplace, how do you further differentiate yourself and support your marketing?

This is one of the questions I constantly grapple with and I shared my take in the January 2017 issue of Entrepreneur magazine. Please take a quick glance below, get yourself a copy before they run out and share your opinion.

Become a thought leader - by Mongezi Mtati

Become a thought leader – By Mongezi Mtati on Entrepreneur

 

Five Things To Consider When Starting A Business

Sunday Live, a talk show on SABC 1 recently me to talk about some of the pains and joys of starting and running a business. The viewers started calling in later during the show, some with valid concerns and the rest seemed to think money was their ultimate challenge. There is no getting away from the need for capital when you start, but in most cases, plans tend to not reflect the realities of growing a fledgling business.

Most things that contribute to growth can be learned, let’s get into some of the things that you can consider if you want to build a new business:

1. Capital is the least of your problems

Take capital out of the business idea equation, have you got everything else that you need to build on your idea?

 “Huxley Don’t make excuses and Don’t talk about it. Do it.” ~ Melvyn Douglas

In his book Art Of The Start, former Apple chief evangelist, co-founder of Garage.com – a seed-stage and early-stage venture capital fund – and now the chief evangelist for Canva, Guy Kawasaki encourages startups to bootstrap. His advice, which I also lean towards, is that entrepreneurs should consider starting as a service business while they build their offering and test it in the real world.

Art Of The Start - Guy Kawasaki

The notion that capital makes a business is one of the killers of many great ideas that never get to see the light of day. Don’t fall into that trap.

2. Entrepreneurship is a lifestyle

In the movie Horrible Bosses 2, the side-splitting team starts a business and, following a TV interview, they get their first client. The client also happens to be a billionaire who gets them started with a huge order. Up to this point, this is the story that most of us buy into when thinking of starting a business. Aside from the great idea that we bet on, it’s also the notion that slot machines will pay out sooner than the usual salary run.

There’s another side. A side that does not get mentioned a lot. This alternative is seeing entrepreneurship as a journey, one filled with successes and some false starts. Part of the fulfilment is in building the idea and the value that it creates in the marketplace, not just the money that is likely to come in boat-loads. That is not to be confused with going against making a decent living, which takes us to the next point.

Are you ready for the change lifestyle which includes working late nights and early mornings in the early stages?

3. Put the mask on yourself first

How often do you ignore flight attendants as they take passengers through the all too familiar ‘pre-flight safety demonstration’? They tell you about the mask that drops if the worst happens and they mention that you should put the mask on yourself first, then help others – not vice versa. While this happens, most people send their last few text messages or check the time.

I struggled with this when I first started, I wanted to take others along with me and help them without realising that there was a fun and equally challenging journey ahead. A journey that needs the business owner to make a mask from nothing and put it on themselves first.

 

4. Build on an idea that you believe in

This seems easy enough when thinking about it. Of course you believe in your idea, you wouldn’t be thinking of taking this course of action if that weren’t true, right?

Wrong.

The sense of belief should be closer to a form of madness. This is what converts others to your world-view and how you do things.

When the iPhone 1 was released, there were mostly Nokia phones and other companies that did not have touch-screens. They were well known. They owned the market. Most of us had one of their devices.

Over time, for most of the world’s population who now use iPhones and Android, these were adopted. We all wonder how we coped before and forget that we thought the iPhone was a fad. Now people wait for the next launch and delay their upgrade.

“Stay hungry, stay foolish.” – Steve Jobs

As daunting as this may seem before you start, it’s something you cultivate as you build your idea. Before you begin collecting assets, no matter how small, check competitive business insurance quotes online as this will ensure that you have a sense of what you need to set aside to secure your assets in the foreseeable future.

5. Be prepared to ask for help

Building a new business without some of the resources that we are told we need is enough and it does not have to be. Find someone who has walked the path, someone who has built something meaningful in business, or an aspect thereof. Most people are willing to offer their insight and give guidance.Whenever it’s possible, find ways to collaborate which helps to strengthen your business offering and give you access to more clients and customers than you alone can find.

Helping Hand

There is a lot more this list and, at times, too much research can lead to never starting and building what the world needs. These are some of the things that I find to be true as I speak to many other people who have started and expanded their businesses over time.

What has been helpful for you? What took you from an idea to what you are working on today?

Build Your Business Idea at Lean Startup Machine in Johannesburg

If you’ve spent a few weeks (months or years) around the block working towards building an idea into a business, you might have also heard many business buzzwords. If not, don’t bother with them. It’s not the buzzword vocabulary that builds startups, it’s the work. Afterall, small business challenges don’t care for how much you speak of scalability or anything else that was used at a seminar this week.

Look below for most of the buzzwords that you might have heard before and ignore them as you read on. Deal? Go!

Lean Startup Machine Johannesburg

Business Entrepreneurial Buzzwords

 

The truth of the matter is that it’s nimble, lean businesses that start well and thrive for longer. In the spirit of steering clear of the flavour of this week’s jargon, the simpler you keep your offering and the quicker you test – the easier it becomes to prove your model and go to market. Or to fail fast and hit the ground running. These are some of the lean startup principles which gained massive traction following the release of Eric Ries’s book The Lean Startup.

Since the book was published in 2011, the Lean Startup Machine built a community to put some of its principles through real-world testing and proof. Part of the iAfrikan team have joined forces with other local minds to bring those principles to Johannesburg. Now you can you can pitch your idea, test it in the real world, with real potential customers and collaborate with would-be team members.

You can also test new ideas for an existing business, or use these principles in your business to build a day-to-day lean startup culture. It focuses on what’s important now to test if the idea is viable and enables you to take it to market – with the least amount of unnecessary fuss in the process.

Companies Google, Facebook, Dropbox and other global organisations use the lean startup principles. It’s a way thinking and executing work in your business.

Does this sound like something you would want to learn and include into building your next idea?

Is it something you would like to cultivate as a way of thinking in both your life and business?
Lean Startup Machine, Johannesburg
If not, this is where you read on before sending this piece to that forward thinking friend. To you, forward-thinking friend, click here to register and share the love. Let’s say you know another two forward-thinking people and all three of you want to attend, you can use the promotional code ‘flashfree’ to get one free ticket.

What you are paying for

The Lean Startup Machine weekend is not a conference, it’s a whole weekend of both practical learning and testing some of the new concepts. It includes both keynote presentations and being matched with a team of people who either gravitate towards to your idea, or whose ideas appeal to you.

The team that implements the lean startup methodology the best stands to win an incubation deal.

You will:

–          Pitch your idea for feedback

–          Work on a high level plan test your idea

–          Go outside to speak to potential customers and find out if the idea would work.

–          Build webpage that would showcase the product, service or idea.

It will be an interesting weekend that promises to far surpass most (if not all) conferences you’ve been to.

Are you in? Register here: http://ctt.ec/fM8HF+

If you buy two tickets, you’ll get the third one free by using the promotional code ‘flashfree’.

Get Your Business Featured SABC 1’s on Making Moves

Last week I was contacted by the Making Moves team about entrepreneurs who would be interested in getting featured. Since I’ve got nothing but love for you, I thought you might be interested. Or least know someone who would benefit from the TV appearance.

Your Business on TV

About Making Moves

 

Making Moves, is an award winning SABC 1 television show that profiles young entrepreneurs in South Africa. The show is on its sixth season and will air on SABC 1 to a million loyal viewers on Monday 5th May 2014 at 13:30.

It offers you the opportunity to be featured on national television, gives you a profiling opportunity to potential new customers and it’s targeted at a 18 – 35 year old audience. Your story is an inspirational one and we hope that through sharing the steps you’ve taken to create jobs in South Africa, viewers will be inspired to do the same.  

We invite you to participate and show the nation the great work you are doing in your business and on your journey as a leader in South Africa.

Is this you or someone you know?

Should you make it through the selection and interviews, you’ll also receive; a business coaching session and up to R20 000 worth of business support. The appearance will reportedly give you exposure to a million viewers and radio interviews with some SABC run radio station.

Submit your company profile to makingmoves@bonngoe.tv or call 010 590 3108 and press 1 for production.

Does it sound like something that you or someone in your network would would want to participate in? Share this post with them, they may end up being that friend in high places. And we all need that friend. Plus, you don’t even need to send me shout out, unless you do.

Risk Being Wrong

Next to the fear of failure, equally crippling, is the fear of being wrong. Most people, I believe, want to do good with their initiatives. They want to make the world a better place, in one way or another.

 

Superhero wall

Superhero wall

 

On Friday I read this blog post about Chris Anderson’s book, The Long Tail, which I enjoyed. It was one of the books that opened my eyes to the evolution of the web, especially the social web, as we know it. The post is about a report that says Chris Anderson was wrong – a whole report to disprove a theory that marked a change of perspective in how we view the way people interact with products on the web.

 

Admittedly, my perspective is slightly skewed because I’ve read Chris Anderson and did not go into the report in detail. Whether the report is right or wrong, someone else will debate that, it just got me thinking that the risk of being wrong cripples people to inaction.

 

When someone is wrong, or has failed, society vilifies them and discourages others who have that sparkle in their eye. We point fingers and shoot at the stake, those individuals who worked towards slightly tilting our perceptions about the world. The young man or woman who dared to go out on their own to build an organisation that didn’t work is butt of all jokes. She hides away because we snigger about the fact that she tried and didn’t make it. We defend the status quo and break her – and others like her – down.

 

Society needs more people with near daunting dreams, with a different perspective of the world, the ones who will change society. The next time you meet someone who dares to dream up a new world, support their cause if you can. Lend a hand and help them along.

 

It’s the ones who dare to be wrong that change world. The ones who are always right almost rarely ever change the world. They remain comfortable critics in their high places. The ones who DO make the world a better place and face the most resistance.

 

= = =

Wrong turn picture by sonson on Flickr

Superhero wall picture by marymactavish on Flickr

Exposure: paying bills since…….

….the first person offered it, the other one accepted and a store owner took it as currency for products and services.

It seems exposure is increasingly becoming the new currency, or an old one, depending on which side of the fence you are. Let’s face it, the work you do – and get paid for – gives you the same amount of exposure that non-paid work gives you.

No one ever thinks ‘that Maserati Gran Turismo Mc Stradale,  I drooled over, I wonder how much exposure they’ll accept for it’. All this exposure cannot be quantified and the Maserati Mc Stradale won’t make you happy forever. Okay, it might.

In a world where currency is made of exposure, we’re all rich and everyone high-fives everyone else for all those non-paying gigs we had. The ones where people get awards because everyone talks about all those appearances they made. One where we celebrate how much the stock market has improved and you can buy a stake in some of the top performing Fortune 100 companies using an estimate of all the eyeballs that have seen you.

Man cannot live on exposure alone.

======

Photo by Cédric JANODET on Flickr

How To Harness Innovation In Business: Q&A With Innovation Leader Ravi Chhatpar

[This was originally posted on Ideate]

When building a business ‘innovation’ is spoken about as something you need apply – and in many instances – it refers to the use of technology. Ravi Chhatpar, one of the speakers at the TEDx event in Johannesburg , speaks to Mongezi Mtati about inspiration and focus, and how to harness innovation in your business.

Ravi’s experience spans clients across industries including BBC, Cox, ETS, GE, Microsoft, Prudential, and Virgin Mobile. Ravi has also authored publications for the Harvard Business Review and the Design Management Institute. Ahead of his presentation at TEDx Johannesburg, Mongezi asked Ravi to share some of his insights about innovation in and for business.

 

Q: We hear a lot about innovation and it seems like an ever moving target, how do you describe it?

Ravi Chhatpar: Innovation means different things to different people. It’s tempting to point to a new technology or breakout business success as signs of innovation, but it’s more important to define innovation from the human perspective. It must lead to a change in behaviour, typically because this behavioural change is creating new forms of value for the user or consumer. If your new product (or service, experience, business) is able to get people to behave in new ways, to be motivated to do things differently, then you have successfully created a solution to a deeply felt and poorly met need. It means this solution is creating value – both tangible and intangible – for the user or consumer. This is real innovation. Whether a new technology is involved or whether the business scales is an ancillary point.

 

Q: When working towards building something new or different, how do you do it without aiming to be different and instead build something useful?

Ravi Chhatpar: Innovation is not about being new or different, just for the sake of being new or different. It must be fundamentally centred around an unmet human need. The final form of the solution may be truly new or it may resemble what’s come before, as long as it meets the unmet need. While we tend to gravitate to things that seem very new, in reality innovation is always inspired by what’s come before. We learn from competitors, from what we see in other countries, from what we see in other industries, from what 2-person startups and mega-corporations are doing. Mashing-up, remixing and experimenting with what’s out there already often inspires the new.

 

Q: Some have said the next Facebook will be from Africa, do you agree? Why?

Ravi Chhatpar: I don’t think “the next Facebook” should be Africa’s innovation aspiration. Africa presents some very complex challenges that require specialized solutions that are difficult to scale. But if we find ways to scale localized solutions across markets, then we’ve truly created groundbreaking innovation. Take the oft-cited example of Kenya’s M-Pesa which is not directly replicable for a variety of reasons anywhere else. Other countries are experimenting with mobile payment solutions with varying degrees of success – some resemble M-Pesa – and some are very different. More successes will prompt more experimentation which will spread across markets. A continent with high mobile payments penetration, more than the developed world – even if it looks and feels and acts different in different countries – would be much more impressive to me than a single African Facebook.

 

Q: Without giving away too much, what will you be speaking on at the forthcoming TEDx Johannesburg?

Ravi Chhatpar: I’ll be talking about inspiration, which is such a fundamental component of the innovation process. Of course, inspiration is a massive topic in and of itself, so I’ll be focusing on a particular slice of it. That’s all I’ll say for now.

 

Q: How do you stay ahead of your last great idea?

Ravi Chhatpar: I like to switch industry and focus regularly. While it’s true that experience in one domain is valuable, thinking about the same problem space over extended periods of time will trade off expertise for freshness. Switching industries or focus areas provides a fresh start. Eventually, your mind starts looking for opportunities to cross-apply and cross-pollinate insights. How can a behavioural insight from a healthcare context be relevant to a financial context? This helps minimize creative fatigue.

 

Q: If it’s true that innovating is a mindset that be cultivated, where do we start in developing that mindset?

Ravi Chhatpar: What’s really needed is a deep cultivation of both right and left-brain thinking from an early a stage as possible. More importantly, this cultivation needs to be done in a way that doesn’t make the distinction between the two sides, to encourage a truly interdisciplinary approach. The creative side needs to be complemented with the analytical, the thinking needs to be complemented by the doing. Increasingly these divisions of labor that we see in our (older) generation is being replaced by younger talents who come up with ideas and make them real, who brainstorm wildly then sketch concepts and then write business plans, who experiment and prototype and assess results analytically. This is absolutely the right direction. Education should support this as early as possible.

Catch Ravi Chhatpar at the forthcoming TEDx Johannesburg on 15 August and find out more about his insights and findings.

Hire like Instagram, Facebook and Dropbox

Apart from the businesses they are in; Facebook, Instagram, Dropbox and Zappos know how to source and retain talent. Online MBA sent me this video below, which in less than 2-minutes, gives you the lowdown into how successful startups hire.

Company culture is what makes them common and, if anything, we all want to work with people who are similar – in some way – to us.

Have a look and share the love with your friends as well.

Which startups do you think hire and retain talent in a way that is worth following for inspiration?