2014 slowly wraps up, we have about 10 days to go. As we all take a well deserved break from working and settle down for the holidays, I think it is wisdom to start drawing up plans or at least thinking about how to set out in the new year.
Let us hit the ground running!
By January 1, 2015 (which is actually less than 2 weeks away), it will be too late to start drafting a plan for the new year. Are your 2015 plans ready? What is the ONE thing you need to get done in 2015? What is that ONE project that you must start?
The best time to start planning it out is NOW.
To help you get started, you can reply this email as always if you would like us to rub minds together over your new year plans. What are you cooking up? Let’s talk!
This is free consultancy!
Watching The World
Get your hands dirty by immersing yourself inside your business at the early stages. That is how you can develop a total mastery of every component of the business.
Do not run your business abstractly seated inside your air conditioned office while your staff work it out under the sun. It is a balancing act, sure. As a founder your major work is actually to focus on the bigger challenges of building the company. The key to being in the thick of it is to know when is the right time, and when to keep your distance.
When you delegate everything, you stand at risk of missing out of the little details of the business and you will not be able to really scrutinize the operations of your staff.
To run a company, you of course need to delegate, but pick your spots and continue to roll up your sleeves and get dirty. You’ll see the entire organization follow that lead.
Watching The World
BlackBerry, a Canadian company was one of the pioneers of the idea of making phones do more than just phone calls and text messaging. BlackBerry heavily dominated the smartphone market, then they watched as the iPhone and Android mobile ecosystem stole their territory.
The problem BlackBerry had was that they lost their soul. By soul, I am referring to the very essence of the company, the real mission that birthed the company in the first place. Because even though BlackBerry, iPhone and Android phones were all called smartphones, the difference seemed clear to some of us.
BlackBerry was for communication, they had the best device for communication. The best feature of a BlackBerry was its LED light that indicated when you had new messages. No app in the iOS or Android stores can do that! While iOS and Android were building entertainment devices, devices for you to play games, watch movies, take (and share) pictures (and selfies) and surf the internet, BlackBerry had a solid communication device and their mission then was to simply keep building better devices while retaining the soul of their company: secured effective communication. They goofed.
BlackBerry failed to realise that some people still needed smartphones built for work, not games! I do a lot of work on the go, my primary device for communication is not the 10 inch tab I hug around all day, it is the BlackBerry Curve 4 my elder sister gifted me a while back. When I was on the go and couldnt access my PC, it was my (outdated) BlackBerry device that kept #TMP going! I never look forward to the day I would be forced to type out really long articles on my touchscreen devices.
BlackBerry started making touchscreen phones too, they started making their devices look and work like iOS and Android devices, they where so obsessed with competition that they lost every regard for their own identity. Over time, they lost more ground.
Things became to turn around when they hired a new CEO who has decided to revisit the company’s past and retrace their steps. By doing so, They unveiled the BlackBerry Passport, a phone so weird looking that only BlackBerry could have built it, yet looking at the phone and the thinking behind it, you can feel it will be tremendously useful to guys like me, people who work on the move! Yesterday, BlackBerry announced the BlackBerry Classic, which keeps the advancements of the company’s BlackBerry 10 phones, but brings back some aspects of the older models. They include the row of hardware navigation buttons above the trademark physical keyboard.
In our businesses, we must never become so obsessed with competition that we then lose respect for what makes us unique in the first place, we should avoid the temptation to disregard our mission and muddle it up with what the others are doing.
I have used BlackBerry as a case study, but this challenge is something we face everyday in every sphere of life. When that happens, just like BlackBerry, the best way to move forward is to take a step back. What was the last successful original idea we executed? Where did we get it wrong?
It is much too early to determine whether BlackBerry’s new approach is working. But for once, it feels good to many people to know that their is a real alternative to the market leaders, an alternative that is not just about the price and hardware quality. In all honesty, This BlackBerry Classic looks like the smartest move Blackberry has made in years.
The Naira is falling.
The oil and gas industry is the base upon which Nigeria’s economy stands, so when a combination of the shale boom in the U.S. and weaker demand worldwide pushed the price of oil down, Nigeria got hit in a pretty bad way. About 75% of Government revenue comes from our crude oil sales. So when oil prices fall, oil revenue falls too, and that’s bad for the economy.
If you generate revenue in Naira and incur costs in dollars, this is a bad time for you. Any activity that has you converting Naira for Dollars will hurt you way more than a few months ago. Given that Nigeria is heavily dependent on importation, importers have to pay for their imported goods in dollars and dollars just got more expensive, the cost of their goods have increased overnight. This is why the prices of goods have started increasing in the local stores around you, the situation will lead to inflation.
On the other hand, if you earn in Dollars and incur costs in Naira, you will wear a bigger smile to the bank.
Watching The World
It is not just Nigeria, Russia is also having a helluva time.
Russians are reportedly bum-rushing malls to swap cash for washing machines, TVs, or laptops—anything that seems as if it might hold value better than paper money, whose worth is evaporating in real time.
Books should be 200 pages
Blog posts should be at least 500 words
Banks should close by 4PM and remain closed by weekends
Books should contain only text and pictures but not videos
Businessmen should be men
Everyone should go to school and find a job upon graduation
Architects should not advertise
There seems to be a mould, an expectation of how things should be, how things should run or be done around here. Everything around us seems to have this mould, a mould you must fit into or you would get rejected.
Find your should and make it go away. It is broken and only exists to stop you from exercising the new and better ideas inside your mind.
In business, always ensure to deliver on your promises. Do not promise what you can not deliver, when you do, you damage your brand and lose our trust. The old mantra of “under promising and over delivering” is a really safe way to play the game.
The list of businesses that have failed to deliver on their promises is a very long one.
When your services works as advertised without any hitch, excited customers will become your chief publicists and they will spread word about the business even without been asked. Word of mouth is the most effective method of marketing, in this modern times, smart marketers work out how to help satisfied customers spread the word and reach more people.
From the little research several people have done in the Nigerian e-commerce scene, the main challenge is that the promise of e-commerce; which is search, click, buy and get it delivered fast is not fulfilled. A new e-commerce operation can start today and leap frog all the existing players if they can deliver on this promise. But what is really mind bugging is that rather than the business owners to sit up and fix their businesses, they would rather dole out more resources into more publicity, making more noise!
When it is working as advertised, it becomes really hard for competition to blow you away. Google remains king of the search and Facebook remains king of social networking because their services work well and there is no reason to switch. If the goal is to find information quickly and Google Search does a decent job every time I use it, why would the average user need to ever Bing anything?? (Bing is Microsoft’s heavily marketed search engine. It was launched in 2009 and it is yet to make a threat to Google’s search business)
I still think a new Telco provider can arrive in Nigeria and seriously damage the current leaders because people have issues with every telco operator out there over unfulfilled promises. And with the number portability service, the old strings are now cut off. People can port whenever the right ship comes around.
Which businesses around you are not working as advertised and as such has left a gap for you to creep in? Which promises have your made that you are not living up to?
Watching The World
Everyone seems to agree that man is a spirit, he has a soul and he lives inside a body. We also understand clearly that the spiritual realms we cannot see controls the physical realms, this 3-D world we can see.
If all these are true, why are we not trying to approach our business and daily endeavors from a spiritual first point of view? I have observed that these days, our approach to tackling the various challenges we face is too mental. We completely ignore the spiritual aspect as if we were Godless or ignorant of the “devices of the devil” or both.
I think two (2) committees should always be set up to tackle any challenge that the society faces: a Think tank where you sit all the professors, experts and “original” thinkers. Then a Prayer tank where you gather together people who can pray, I am convinced that if you bombard the problem from both ends: the spiritual and the physical, you get the problem solved faster.
The irony of the situation is that the more educated you are, the less likely you are to believe in all this spiritual nonsense. And then also, the very spiritual people also rarely develop their mind by acquiring real education. In fact, someone the other day drew up charts to prove that only people with very low IQ believed in God (I decide not to waste your time by linking to the story). But we must come to realise that this is the reason we have so many people that are not properly balanced, they are tilted towards an extreme.
The brilliant dude wants to hold meetings and brainstorm with experts about how to get the project started as soon as possible. He is discussing funds, resources and available manpower, without regards for available Godpower and whether he will face any opposition from the gates of Hell. He fits clearly what the Bible says in Psalms 14:1
“The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God. They are corrupt, they have done abominable works, there is none that doeth good.” – Psalms 14:1 (KJV)
It is a fool that does things without any regards for God.
On the other hand, I know of many people who want to start businesses, or take their existing business to the next level and all they also do is to pray about it. This is also erroneous! You must acquire knowledge to get it done. Just because you have prayed does not mean you so not have to learn about branding, marketing and basic business accounting.
We also should stop over simplifying miracles, just because God gave you an assignment to save the world does not mean you just build a boat and dump the animals inside. Noah needed to figure out a lot of things! It is not as simple and straight forward as most people seem to think it is. Just because God is backing you up does not mean you can just build a boat and dump in some animals and food and expect everything to be in order.
A man like Noah must be really meticulous and pay attention to detail. Noah was a Scientist, Inventor, Engineer, Botanist, Biologist, Geologist, Mathematician and Physicist rolled into one. He did not just worship God and pray for things to get done. His mind was so powerful that God could use him to build the ark.
We need to run our lives with this kind of mindset, simultaneously developing both aspects of our lives and we will be able to truly get ahead in whatever we are doing.
You should forward today’s #TMP to a friend who might find it relevant, do that after uploading the contents into your own mind first.
Be flexible. Not rigid
Always walk around with a mindset that you can come across a better idea today and that you will be humble enough to admit it is a better idea and you will submit to it.
Be flexible in business dealing, human beings are not machines. I can easily program the most powerful machines on the planet to do anything I want; furthermore, I can actually set rigid rules like power on at 8AM, power off by 4PM. You do not do that with human beings, do not do that with clients!
Be willing to bend your rules (within reasonable limits) to suit the situation. Offer a compromise, find a middle ground! Don’t be rigid!!
Many business empires have collapsed and will keep collapsing just because someone somewhere stayed rigid and turned away the customers.
Watching The World
Instagram tops 300 milion active users, now likely bigger than Twitter
What are you really selling? Are you sure you properly understand the business you are operating? Confusion in this issue will not allow you to ask the right questions you need to ask that will lead you towards the right answers that will move you ahead.
For example, retailers need to understand that their product is neither the Coca-Cola bottles, nor the yards of cloth. What they are really selling is the customer experience.
Would you buy a chilled bottle of Coke from anyone or a particular vendor who treats you well and offers you a nice place to sit? Many shady female retailers take this idea to the extreme by selling themselves literally, but I can assure you that it doesn’t have to be that way!
The key points to think about is this: When everybody in the world can offer what I offer, what would be different about me? How would I stand out in this crowded marketplace??
The answers you arrive at describes what you are really selling and this is the major feature of your business that you must improve.