Lets me now share with you 10 fundamental business and life lessons I learnt from the forums I attended in March 2012. They were a great learning resource, great platforms for networking and events that kept me focused as a student, entrepreneur and as an employee.
1. 1.Learn new skills to get remain relevant.
Each one of the speakers that spoke shared a story of how he/she worked smarter to get to the next level. It’s so fundamental and basic; so important .If you are stuck at the same level in your career, only learning new skills can propel your career. If you are already into business, to take your biashara to the next level you need more skills. To impress the clients you already have you need to offer them more; this calls for more skills. The beauty of this you don’t need to spend a fortune to learn each new skill as there are countless free forums that you can attend and various professional self help groups that you could be part of .YouTube has several how to do it tutorials, Download and listen.
2. 2.Seek the right clients:
I know this sounds rather weird; but we all know of those difficult clients, people who send you work last minute and expect it done in two days, guys or companies that don’t pay you on time and such. These clients don’t deserve to be in your portfolio. We are at times so desperate to take in anybody who seeks our services and as a small business owner you want to grab it! Well I before I learnt how to selectively pick clients I would run up and down Nairobi from one meeting to another, I was misused, just because someone calls you in an urgent need of some service doesn’t mean you should leave all you were doing to attend them. Learn to differentiate between what’s important and urgent. PRIORITISE. I know of guys that select brands they’ll work with. It has to be a motivated market that’s ready to pay for your services; not clients who pay peanuts and demand amazing work. Deal with guys who see the value in what you do!
3. 3. Hype doesn’t pay bills.
With Social Media here with us, some of us really do make so much noise. Well it’s good to brand yourself as the expert in something. Everyone has now joined the Social Media bandwagon but tweeting daily doesn’t bring food to the table. Some of us are lucky to get media coverage for PR; well great. However being visible doesn’t pay bills. So take the next step and seek business. Ask for it. If you spot somebody who could benefit from what you do…Take a bold step, pitch and ask for a deal. Specify clearly what they are doing wrong, problems they are facing, give them solutions and give recommendations. This will earn you money.
4. 4.Seek Advice.
A good number of graduates and business owners feel very sharp. We have all made terrible mistakes simply because we didn’t seek an honest opinion or advice from someone who has done it. We get so passionate about what we do but then we forget it’s not about what we can do, it’s about what the clients need. For advice I don’t mean engaging the services of the expensive consultants, get someone within your range of affordability. You also don’t have to go this way, if you invite me for coffee or lunch, I’ll definitely share a lot of what I know on Social Media, branding and how to seek jobs wisely. We overlook this a lot. However whenever I need help I simply ask to meet an expert. Could be as simple as a booking an informal appointment. Fortunately almost everyone wants to help; it doesn’t have to a well known guy who is very busy. Approach people who see value in also spending time with you. For it to be mutual both parties have to benefit. Mentors too help here a lot.
5 Keep a resourceful network.
For me to know about all these opportunities and what’s happening where and when I keep a very resource network. Could be as simple as following someone on twitter; they post events, vacancies or opportunities available. That’s how I manage to be on the loop.
The friends you also hang out with determine what we get to know, so hang out with the right people. Befriend the well connected friends. Remember for guys to send you these; they got to know clearly who you are, aspirations and this is where personal branding comes in. Finally the relationship has to be mutual; if you also come interesting events or opportunities share them with others. Invite your pals too to some of the free events you come across.
6. Apologize & Deliver.
While in business, workplace or even in school, we don’t always deliver. Once in a while you submit shoddy work late at work; you don’t pay your suppliers on time or deliver on your promise all through.
If you anticipate it’s going to happen, please commit well in time and apologize. This helps build trust. Remember for guys to do business or work well with you they got to trust you, so be honest with your clients. Admit when you cannot solve a certain problem or deliver as promised.
7. Maintain a Keep In touch System
These are communication points. How do people reach you? If you are on Social Media; check your accounts regularly, respond to emails, return calls you miss. This is very crucial for any successful business owner, job seeker or student. If guys regularly seek your help you have to respond on time.
Research shows that before someone makes a purchase, he or she needs 12 touch points. When an inquiry comes in , you should respond on time and when the client goes quiet please do a follow up. Don’t be nagging. If you send proposals call to check whether the recipient got them. Most of us lose deals because we didn’t do enough to pursue the chance. People buy when they are ready; I have been on several pitches where the client went quiet for months only to call back after a few months.
8. Be easily understood.
Once in a while we write emails or proposals in a technical language. You may do it to sound qualified, but remember the client’s needs solutions, so please communicate in an easy language that people understand. Be clear; stipulate what you are offering and how it helps them. Communication is key, so are other soft business skills such as presentation skills, public speaking skills or dressing.
Make the right impressions.
9. Don’t be greedy!
At this level; please don’t quote prices depending on how your clients look or from what companies they come from. Leave that to hawkers! The same applies to business men who want to supply everything; stick to what you can perfectly do. Once in a while people do ask me help them fill certain vacancies or help them get suppliers for something. I don’t take up everything, so please don’t be that hustler who does everything! Do you have that friend that you can’t tell clearly what they do? We all use them to help us seek cheaper options or alternatives. They might be well connected but rarely will you use such a person to provide certain important services. People want to work with experts. So position yourself as one in a certain area. Don’t be the proverbial jack of all trades but a master of none!
10. Think Biggest!
Each and one of the speakers spoke about he or she started small and worked his way up! Most of us don’t have a vision of what we want to be. If you want to be big, there has to be a plan. Other times we feel like the successful people are special in a way, we also don’t believe that we can do it. It’s very sad, I have huge dreams and aspirations and I am not afraid of sharing some of my big dreams with the right people because I have already conceived the idea and believed in it. Just make sure you don’t become a procrastinator, work towards your goals, and break them down into smaller pieces. Take the leap of faith and go for it. Seek to be the best in what you do, become irreplaceable, don’t worry about cheaper competitors who don’t deliver. They will not be open for long, yes they’ll get one off business deals but by the nature of what they deliver, their business doesn’t have repeat clients. No referrals or good testimonials. For you to be the “Go to Person” when people seek help you got to give people value for their money!