In most business start-ups, there comes a time when the entrepreneur or founders need to consider engaging outside help.
This is often the case where the entrepreneur has no previous business experience or training, or in the case of inventors of new technology or innovations. The selection of outside professionals must be consistent.
Reasons why professional advisors are hired:
- To provide specialist knowledge that gives a business an accelerated knowledge acquisition.
- To provide a professional service that does not exist in the organisation, or that is needed for a specified period of time.
- To stimulate solutions to specific problems and scenarios.
- To confirm or give best advice to project plans or future direction of a business. Sometimes professionals are a “sound board” to test years of experience.
- To give constructive criticism, analysis and challenge thoughts.
- To facilitate the search for ideas and solutions with existing team members.
- To introduce and train on systems that may improve a business’s efficiency.
- To access a network of business or government contacts. Sometimes this can lead to contracts and opportunities.
- To bring in an experienced “outsiders” evaluation and point of view.
- To provide training on cutting edge technology and processes.
Where to find Professional Advisors
The internet offers a great place to start when looking for any professional service providers. Trade journals and magazines also offer great leads on experts. However, since most advisors consider themselves “experts”, personal referrals from your trusted network of business owners or family can be useful.
Most small business owners are also advised to have a “business mentor” and this is often a good place to start.
The first step to follow is that of a due diligence or reference checks on potential suppliers. This involves asking for past client references as well as professional accreditation bodies.
This will range from tax advisors, accountants, financial planners, legal, information technology, human resources, payroll, marketing experts and any other specialist skills required by a business. It is important to try engage professionals with a good track record and references.
Professionals should never solely be engaged purely on the basis of price. It may also be best to avoid professionals that work with direct competitors in competitive areas such as marketing and research.
It may harm your business to receive very similar advice to that which your direct competition may have equal access to.
Another major consideration is price. The price of a service must be within market related ranges. Sometimes, a small business will choose to select a premium service provider in order to try and engage the best experts and lessen the risk of business failure.
It is often the case in some specialist areas like marketing and financial planning where a business owner would pay a premium for the best advice or use professionals with small business specialisation.
Professional advisors must be accessible when needed. This may seem obvious but sometimes selecting very popular or overloaded professionals may actually harm your business. Where possible, an entrepreneur must choose a professional near a geographic location if their physical presence is required.
With improving communications and the internet, if physical location is not an issue, you can even find an international service provider. However, a thorough due diligence is an absolute must.
The African Perspective
It is important to try and always consider local market conditions and laws when using consultants which are bringing ideas from developed markets like The United States and The United Kingdom. Some tried and tested methods in these markets to not work or enjoy the same measure of success in South Africa.
It is therefore best to bear this in mind and ensure that where such professionals consult, they are able to adapt to local conditions or an African business perspective.
Contractor vs Consultant
One definition is that the Consultants role is evaluate a client’s needs and provide expert advice and opinion on what needs to be done, while the Contractors role is generally to evaluate the client’s needs and actually perform the work.
However, these terms, Contractor and Consultant, have become mixed up over the years and at times have been used interchangeably. Especially when the Consultant, after having given his or her professional opinion or advice on what has to be done, then enters into an agreement (contract) to provide the services required. At that point the Consultant may be said to become a Contractor.
No small business enjoys the advantage of having all the professionals it requires from start up. External professional advisors are an added and necessary addition to the staff of any business. Indeed, big business often relies and utilises such skills.
Entrepreneurs must therefore embrace these service providers to provide a mitigating factor to avoid every entrepreneur’s worst nightmare, that of business failure.
3 Companies With Memorable Slogans, And How To Create Your Own
Three companies that have enjoyed these benefits as a result of creating memorable business slogans are Nike, Carlsberg, and Apple. Let’s look at each one now.
A good slogan serves many valuable roles in business. First, it reinforces recognition of your brand. After hearing it a few times, your consumer instantly thinks of you when hearing it again. If it’s catchy enough, they may even find themselves saying or singing it in their head, reinforcing your brand even more.
Slogans also share a little bit about your company. For instance, if your slogan is funny, it says you have a sense of humor. If it contains your goal or mission, it tells the consumer what is important to you. Some slogans share the problems the company is trying to solve or the consumer its trying to help, making it easier to identify the target market.
Finally, a slogan sets you apart from your competitors. It differentiates you from all of the other companies who offer similar services to you. And if it’s memorable enough, it puts you ahead of them in your consumer’s minds.
Three companies that have enjoyed these benefits as a result of creating memorable business slogans are Nike, Carlsberg, and Apple. Let’s look at each one now.
Company #1: Nike – Just Do It
Though many people use Nike’s ‘Just Do It’ slogan as a reminder that they can do amazing things if they just put their mind to it, its author, Dan Wieden, reports that this line actually has a grim beginning.
In fact, it was an idea he derived from a statement made by Gary Gilmore, a double murderer who, before being executed by a firing squad exclaimed, “Let’s do it!” Still, it has stuck in consumer’s minds and is undoubtedly one of the most memorable slogans of all time.
Related: Registering a Trademark
Company #2: Carlsberg – That Calls for a Carlsberg
Initially, Carlsberg’s slogan was ‘probably the best beer in the world.’ Many consumers came to know and love this slogan; however, in 2011, the company rebranded and created a new slogan: ‘That Calls for a Carlsberg.” The goal of this new slogan, according to CEO Jorgen Buhl Rasmussen, was to encourage the consumer to do good things and then enjoy a Carlsberg after as a reward for a job well done. Both have stuck in the minds of consumers, albeit with some discrepancy as to which one is most preferred.
Company #3: Apple – Think Different
Apple is a company known for thinking (and creating) outside the lines, so its ‘Think Different’ slogan fits it perfectly. According to Rob Siltanen, creative director and managing partner at the company that helped design this Apple pitch, though there are many accounts of how this slogan was created, its true inventor is Craig Tanimoto. Siltanen says that Tanimoto came up with the idea to use black and white photos of some of the most revolutionary people and events of all time and, atop each one, simply display the words ‘Think Different.’ Catchy, right?
How to Create Your Own Memorable Slogan
These are just three examples of how creating a memorable slogan can help your company get — and stay — in the minds of your consumer. So, how do you come up with this type of campaign?
One option is to get some of your company’s best talent together and see what slogans you can come up with. Have everyone submit one or two ideas and talk them out. See if any jump out at you and, if not, use them to inspire you to come up with even more possible ideas.
Another alternative is using a slogan generator. This enables you to come up with a simple, memorable slogan using keywords related to your brand. Just go through the list and of results and see which ones stand out. You could even pick your top two or three and let your social media followers vote as to which one you should select.
If you find yourself at a dead end and unable to come up with a memorable slogan, or if you lack the creativity or the time, you can also hire a marketing firm to help. Give them a little insight about your company and see what slogans they create. It may cost you some money to take this route but, as companies like Nike, Carlsberg, and Apple have taught us, a good slogan can really propel your brand.
Dear Family And Friends Of Entrepreneurs…
Young entrepreneurs often struggle to establish their businesses as they are not getting the support they need. Sometimes it is not only the obvious support of financiers and supply change developers which is lacking –but also not having that critical “home-ground support” can negatively affect the success of your venture. How can family and friends support entrepreneurs?
Entering the market as a newbie entrepreneur is a brave step, and having your family and friends share in your vision for success is critical. Once you have convinced them that being an entrepreneur is in fact “a real job” – one that requires a lot more sacrifices and hard work than a salaried worker – you can continue to encourage them to support your journey, to ultimately share in your success.
Get a job
In some communities, being an entrepreneur is not recognised as a profession. Therefore, those who pursue enterprise development are seen as irresponsible or lazy as it is not regarded as ‘real’ employment. Societal pressure to attain certain material possessions thus prevents them from pursuing their true passion.
This kind of resistance discourages a lot of entrepreneurs, making their pursuit for success even more difficult.
Finding out who your real friends are
Financial support is the most obvious support needed by entrepreneurs due to a lack of capital and start-up funding, as well as irregular payments and long periods of being cashless due to procurement holdups and fluctuation in the market for your product or service. Not everyone will stick with you in these times – and that’s OK. You may end up finding out who your real friends are, and these are the people who will give you emotional and social support to keep you focused and motivated.
“I know a guy….”
Another issue is friends and family looking for discounted prices as they know the owner. This means that they don’t see the value of the product or service, nor do they respect the owner. By asking for products and services for free, or at a reduced price, they end up taking advantage of their relationship with the entrepreneur and do not financially support his/her the business.
So, if you have friends or family who are business owners, set an example by supporting them in the following ways:
- Be willing to pay the full price of the product or service offered.
- Be kind when giving negative feedback – make sure it is constructive.
- Compliment them on good products or service. Share positive reviews on your social media pages.
- Share and promote their business among other people.
- Be patient and willing to help them establish their businesses.
Be prepared to listen to their dreams, hopes and frustrations. Sometimes, they just need an ear to vent about a bad day. Support them with a word of encouragement to keep going.
Why Embrace The Struggle?
Entrepreneurial success hinges on your ability to approach challenges with the right mindset.
Self-help and business coaching advice is littered with platitudes, which makes it difficult for entrepreneurs to know what they should take to heart. However, one universal truism that most successful entrepreneurs attribute to their success is their willingness and ability to endure the struggle.
It’s a lesson I learnt first-hand when building our ad-tech and Facebook Marketing Partner business, Popimedia. One of our sternest tests came when we moved into new premises and took on more staff to accommodate our exponential growth. Then, amid new and significant financial commitments, some of our pipeline never materialised.
It was at this time that my son was born, and our family had just moved into a new house. To preserve the business, we were forced into retrenchments and directors didn’t take a salary for a while. And, with a lower head count it became difficult to deliver on client deadlines. Needless to say, my personal and professional level of discomfort was at an all-time high.
We reviewed our operations and streamlined where we could. More importantly, though, the experience taught us a number of invaluable lessons.
Lesson #1: Reframe your context
Our leadership approach, our business mindset and our attitude needed to be drastically reframed.
There is a quote that has always stuck with me, which is: “The antithesis of comfort is struggle.”
I believe a person is moulded by the way they deal with struggle. That’s why I’ve always been inclined to welcome a proverbial punch to the face, and use as a mantra the phrase, “comfortable being uncomfortable”.
Being “uncomfortable” forced Popimedia into rapid innovation – and it was this innovation that led to a sea-change in the business. We learned how to scale, how to improve service levels, how to do what we do better, faster, more efficiently.
As a result, and without increasing our staff complement, our year-on-year growth has topped 100%. What was, at the time, the business’s greatest challenge became its greatest ally, and our biggest lesson.
Lesson #2: Fail fast, and learn from it
Obviously, this approach is not about making life difficult for the sake of personal and professional growth. It’s about understanding what is: expecting it to be difficult and taking a constructive approach towards failure and struggle.
There is one guarantee in business: you will experience failures, and you will struggle.
Central to this is your ability to recognise your failures for what they are, and quickly. This allows for a rejigging of processes, attitudes, operations, and sometimes even objectives.
My personal attitude to failure was reframed by simple sales stats. I came to understand that rejection was inevitable – but when it does happen, it brings with it opportunities. I always ask: “Why don’t you want my product? How is it not meeting your needs?” This way, “failure” is transformed into an opportunity to better understand the market and my clients.
This feedback loop has proved crucial, and allowed us to become what we are.
As an entrepreneur, the pressure never ends and you’ll never ‘arrive’. At Popimedia, we’ve come to embrace every opportunity that takes us out of our comfort zone. Working through failure is the foundation on which the entrepreneurial spirit is forged. It is the willingness to try again following a rejection, or to keep grafting knowing that there’s no guarantee of a pay cheque at the end of the month.
And doing so with the ‘chutzpah’ – the sheer audacity – to endure the hardship through mental toughness and a passion for what you do, becomes your greatest asset, because when you get comfortable, you become complacent… and complacency will work you into irrelevance.
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