How are you increasing your chances of thriving as a business?
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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.
In the never ending chase for new business, proposals that fall by the wayside and delivering our best work – I tend to neglect the business. This is not in the ‘I spend more time in bed’ neglect, ain’t nobody got time fo dat. It’s in doing less of the things that we are likely to deliver for clients.
Clients look at what you are doing for yourself, as a business and an individual, whilst on course to making a decision about whether to buy from you or the next guy. This certainly doesn’t speak to all industries, it’s largely applicable for creative work. Not that many people care how one shop owner likes to have fish and chips in comparison to their the competitors.
The more time we spend pitching and writing up proposals, we leave the business to fend for itself. Blogs posts become less and less. Facebook updates decrease and we drop balls. What if those interactions, like the next client meeting, were taken as seriously because they are part of your marketing?
As I meet with more clients and would-be clients, I realise how they look more into our work than what we do for other clients. They are more interested in how our work achieves what we aim for. If what you do is a labour of love, schedule it and commit as you would for a client deadline. That’s what the first few weeks of 2014 have taught me, again.
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.
Following an interview on Entrepreneur Magazine, I got a surprise call from KayaFm about a chat with Stevie B. When we do the work we love, we rarely document the process and this interview was one of those wake up calls for me. Stevie B asked questions about building a startup based on what we did at WordStart, whether we have a team and how we market. Here are some hacks I suggest you use for your business:
Have a quick listen to the interview I had on KayaFM with Stevie B. If you have any feedback, please share it in the comments below.
Did you ever start something that was exciting at first, something you thought ‘well this is it’? That something, that project, then started eating away at your time. Or, you just downright avoid it because you’ve inadvertently fed it with expectations that turned it into an obese monster that foams at the mouth for more.
That is what I have been experiencing lately. I avoided writing on this blog because everything had to be perfect. The stars needed to align and inspiration? Well….when the stars align inspiration comes by default. In another post I wrote about how overrated inspiration is vs. being consistent. Raise your hand if you find it hard to take your own advice.
Letting go of the monstrous expectations we have of ourselves and the “projects” we dream up is akin to losing a great friendship that no longer serves its purpose. In the long term, you later realize that it was the best decision you ever made.
A friend recently posted something on Facebook about giving yourself permission to walk away from things that creep you out. Walking away seems simple enough, the challenge is walking away from the things you started. The ideas you breathed in to. Those are near impossible to let go of, but we should.
Be the villain
In Batman, we know who the hero is and the villain is the guy who reeks havoc on Gotham City. Bane, my favourite character in The Dark Knight Rises, is not Batman and in the end you want the hero to win.
What if the hero and the villain are both the same person? What happens when you have to cut ties with that small community project down the road, which helps cute little kids when your fledgling business suffers because of the time you spend there? The roles have suddenly changed, Bane is no longer someone external. It’s your turn to be Batman and save the day, but that might mean you may soon be unable to make a living.
Slay your monsters and get to work
Instead of my writing being the fun pastime it once was, it became a painstaking chore that had to be perfect every time. The more things compete for limited time, the less likely we are to do the ones we are not passionate about.
In ‘Do The Work’, Steven Pressfield talks about the resistance and refers to it as all the things we experience which prevent us from producing our art. That resistance for me was perfecting every post, it’s not putting something out there ‘til everything is perfect. That was my monster and I’m going out to slay it every single day going forward.
Do The Work is a book that shows you what resistance is and how to overcome it. Read a quick review here and go slay those dragons.
What are your monsters? What resistance are you grappling with and how are you dealing with it to keep your passion projects alive? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.
Many moons ago, when I started my first blog, the idea was to write about anything entrepreneurial I stumbled upon. That ranged from local innovative businesses, to starting a monthly business networking talk called the Netweb Event and later NetwebTV.
The idea behind these concepts was to work on every single one consistently whether I had earth-shattering ideas, or not. They were started as concepts that one could say were borne out of inspiration. They weren’t, in and of, themselves a guarantee that I would be inspired every week.
Simon says: Do It
Some of the top bloggers, authors, entrepreneurs, artists and speakers I follow have a simple formula and that is ‘Do It’. They all advise people to do it, and do it daily. Do it consistently.
So whether you are an entrepreneur, artist or a writer, the only way to summon more inspiration quicker is to stay on course. It seems we are all waiting for that one moment the clouds will part, and suddenly out nowhere we will take the world by storm.
Wikipedia describes inspiration as: Creative inspiration, sudden creativity when a new invention is created.
The idea of doing something daily, or as often as possible, ensures that you (a) get better every time and (b) you get more innovative ideas to improve yourself at it. That enough to summon more inspiration, more often.
In my experience, you are more likely to get an earth shattering idea when you do something regularly. When I wrote daily, the ideas came more as and when I wrote more.
How do you summon inspiration? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
Image by: photosteve101
For our non-South African readers: Potjiekos – is a stew prepared outdoors in a traditional round, cast iron, three-legged pot (the potjie). From Wikipedia.
“You see those small bubbles, you have to cook it with small bubbles” he explained to 4 year old Josh. Unlike such gatherings, there weren’t copious (bordering on illegal) amounts of wine. In fact, there wasn’t any wine at all.
As it turns out, over the past 2 years, Philén Naidu expected meetings with his sponsors to be fruitless. Afterall, he had been to such meetings before. In the past, he had to bring proposals and paperwork. Sound familiar?
When you’ve built a project, even a business, over time you expect meetings to be similar. This was different, it lasted 10 minutes without paperwork. (A 5-minute introduction, and 5 minutes about his project.)
The time you spend creating a model, in this case a community project, reduces resistance. It may be surprising when it happens, but it does.
The small bubbles, like slow but gradual movement, cook perfectly and it could take 5 minutes for drastic change to happen. Keep at it.
When I met Lindsay – our first guest blogger – she was more than keen to share her experience as a communication specialist. This is her guest post on listening to your customers and converting potential ones.
By: Lindsay Grubb
I grew up in a home where none of us stopped talking long enough to take a breath. We were certainly not really listening to what the other person was trying to say. I doubt we’re unique in any way. There are a lot of people out there who suffer from the same quirk.
The first question I always ask my clients is, “What are you trying to say?” It is an important question whose answer is critical to the formulation of their entire communication plan. It is an answer I need to listen to very carefully, so that I know what I need to do to help them find their voice.
How well are you listening to your customers?
Do you really hear what their needs and wants are or are you making assumptions, and putting words in their mouths?
Imagine you have a shop where you sell hats, bags and jewellery, and a customer is eyeing a particular bag, but she seems unsure about taking that next step. This is the critical phase where she will potentially convert from a mere browser, to being a paying customer, and swiping her card.
You watch her as she turns the bag over in her hands; her tactile senses seem to be enjoying the experience. She opens the bag and looks inside at the compartments and plays with the zips. She closes the bag and takes one last look, before shaking her head and putting it back on the display stand and leaving the store.
You just lost a customer. How could this have been avoided? What should you – as a supplier – be listening to and looking for in communications from your clients?
Making the connection
Imagine the scenario differently now. You see the customer looking at the bag, and you approach her, smiling:
Shop owner: “Good morning Ma’am.”
Shop owner: “I see that you’re interested in our Cleo handbag and I wondered if I could assist you. The Cleo is an excellent quality product and one of our best sellers. Did you have any questions about the bag that I could answer for you?”
Customer: “Actually, I do like the style of the bag, I was just wondering if it came in any other colours. I like the red, but I was really looking for something just like this in green.”
Shop owner: “Unfortunately we only received this style in red, but can I show you a bag that is very similar to the Cleo, which we have in two shades of green. Perhaps it would suit your purposes? What is it that you are looking for in a bag – is it all about colour or did you need it to fulfil more of a specific purpose for you?”
Customer: “I have this particular outfit and I have been looking everywhere for a bag to match. I have a bag at home, it’s the right colour but it’s huge and everything tends to fall down in the middle of the bag and I cannot find things easily or quickly. I keep losing my car keys in there.”
The shop owner takes the customer to the Chloe, a bag in a very similar style to the Cleo and hands it to her. The customer picks the bag up like before, and runs her hands over the mock crocodile leather outer. She opens the bag and checks inside and smiles.
Owner: “The main difference between the two bags is that the Chloe has two extra zip pockets inside for all those little items like your keys, that often get lost in these carry all style bags. I hate it when I arrive home at night and spend ages looking for my house keys. I feel so vulnerable scratching around in the dark and I forget to do it before leaving for the trip home. With these compartments things are easy and quick to find. It just makes things so much neater.”
Customer: “This is exactly what I’ve been looking for! I think the darker green will go better with my outfit. I have this thing about matching the colour of my bag and my outfit. All those pockets will be perfect as I can separate everything I need and will be able to find them quickly! Thank you so much, I will take it!”
It is so easy to make a difference through your interactions, to engage your customers and to really hear what they are really saying when they give you feedback.
Some quick and easy ways to learn more about your customers needs and wants:
1. Ask them what they want – Rather than making an assumption, try asking your customer what they want. If you have it, tell them. If you don’t tell them you will see if it is possible to get it and then do your best and communicate your progress with them regularly.
2. When your customer complains listen to the complaint and take action – take time to honestly assess what your customer has complained about. Don’t take it as a personal attack – use it as a learning tool going forward.
3. When your customer compliments you listen to the compliment and take action – thank them and use it as a learning experience
About the Author
Lindsay Grubb is a passionate communicator with 15 years experience working in fields including advertising, public relations, conventional and experiential marketing.
In addition to running L Communications, Lindsay is a freelance writer who has been published in the likes of Mamas&Papas Magazine and on numerous local and international websites.
She also runs Hiccups and Giggles SA : a parenting website – for parents – by parents.
In July of 2009, I announced the Netweb Event for that month with a video give away sponsored by Missing Link. Little did we know that the prize would go to an amazing project I had been following for a while.
One Matchstick, a concept where the founder is trading a single matchstick till she gets to offices through a series of trades, is a lesson in innovation.
It was simple for us – start a competition that benefits small business and give it to the most deserving company after our delegates have voted. From that simple definition came being an MC at the premiere in Johannesburg, being in Cape Town for another and making interesting contacts along the way.
– You are as big or small as you think you are.
It ‘s because one matchstick that I went over 1000 kilometers away and made contacts I wouldn’t thought of on my own.
– Small has to do with efficiency than size.
The size of this project meant all we needed was a notebook, a DVD Player and a room of 30 people for it to be successful.
– Naming is very significant
We called the prize a corporate video when we gave it away, but Telana referred to it as the “One Matchstick Movie”.
You are invited to the “One Matchstick Movie Premiere” sounds better than being invited to the “Launch Of The One Matchstick Corporate Video” any Sunday afternoon. Yes, the Johannesburg premiere was packed on a Sunday afternoon.
If a single matchstick can make it happen, that changes the whole game.
Please view the One Matchstick Movie below.