I always did something I was a little not ready to do. I think that’s how you grow. When there’s that moment of ‘Wow, I’m not really sure I can do this,’ and you push through those moments, that’s when you have a breakthrough. – Marissa Mayer, CEO of Yahoo
International Women’s Day took place on 8 March with an exciting over-arching theme of #makeithappen. I was inspired to write a piece that would highlight this call for action particularly in business.
To the potential businesswoman lurking in the shadows, waiting for that golden opportunity, this one’s for you. Today is the day to overcome your fears, to be a powerful businesswoman that contributes to our beloved Africa and the world, to make a difference in your community and to ultimately #makeithappen. Here are 7 steps to crack it as a businesswoman!
Step 1: The Concept
“Passion is energy. Feel the power that comes from focusing on what excites you.” – Oprah Winfrey
Your business should be fueled by something. Making money or making a difference if not both. Passion. The starting point is a differentiating concept. Think digital, technology, finance, media… The point is, think creatively and think out of the box. Your concept should also be complemented by your expertise and experience. Nothing beats competence.
Step 2: Establish your Customer Value Proposition
Customer Value Proposition (CVP) is the value that you promise to your customer in return for the payment received. When establishing this, always be guided by your customer’s core needs. You should constantly ask yourself; Why would a customer value my product or services? Why would a customer opt for my product and not the competitors?
Coupled with the CVP, should be the Value Delivery Systems (VDS). This is the way that you will deliver the value to your customer. Establish the VDS with a focus on product (what), people (who) and processes (how).
Step 3: Hunt for Opportunities
“People don’t take opportunities because the timing is bad, the financial side unsecure. Too many people are over-analysing. Sometimes you just have to go for it.” – Michelle Zatly, Co-founder of SoundFlare
You have to start finding the gaps in the market. A successful businessman (I’ve had some of the best business convos with men) once told me that once he had conceptualised and defined his business model and established his customer value proposition, he would:
- do his research by reading the strategic objectives of companies or government agencies
- where he saw a gap or that these were not being fulfilled, he approached senior management (speak to the right people!) with a powerful value proposition and provided consulting services that solved the right and relevant problems.
By seeing the gaps, opportunities arise to bring the right products and services to your market.
Step 4: Make Your Business Accessible
Your business needs an identity. Business cards and an informative, easy-to-follow website are a must when starting off. Make it easy for people to access you and your services.
Step 5: Hire the Right People
Initially, you will probably be running the business on your own but as you grow, ensure that you hire the right people that will help you run a professional and reputable business. If needed, leverage off of your networks (see below). If anything, don’t compromise on this.
Step 6: Stabilize Your Client Relationships
“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” – Maya Angelou
I really believe that the best way to get business is through building relationships. This will be the differentiator between an unsuccessful and sustainable business. Over the course of you not only delivering on the promise, but exceeding client expectations, the trust is earned. Trust equals stability, stability equals sustainability.
Step 7: Build Your Network
You will ultimately be the advocate and face of your business. Organisations such as the Business Women’s Association, Mbewu Movement, SAWEN and the AWCA, really aim to connect women and bring out the best in each other. Join these networks to be inspired by other successful women. To hear about their struggles so that you never, ever give up. To ultimately find ways of building synergies with like-minded women.
Throughout all the steps and at all the phases of your business, you will be seeking funding. Funding improves your cash flow, gets the bills paid and will be the key factor that fuels your growth and expansion. Consider the Absa Women Empowerment Fund as this is specifically targeted at businesses that would not qualify for funding under the “normal” stringent banking lending criteria.
It’s also important to get the right financial advice throughout your journey. It’s as easy as going into a bank, asking for the “Business Banking” division, opening a business account and being allocated a banker that will walk your business journey with you.
Always remember, the Working Gal can also be a successful and powerful businesswoman. There are no limits! #makeithappen