Dear Nation Builder; 3 realities you will need to accept.

So you are about to launch that initiative, movement, campaign or action to either elect leaders with the right values, who are accountable to you and your fellow citizens to thrive there are 3 realities you will need to come to terms with.

1 - It is a marathon, not a sprint, never underestimate the journey you are about to embark on.

The journey you are about to start will be nothing like you have ever done before it is not as simple as opening a new twitter page, creating a hashtag, opening a WhatsApp group and adding up your passionate friends or building an app or a website. To provide context, it took 60 years for Nigeria to gain her independence, and another 39 years for the country to fully transit into its currently shaky democracy. The freedom we enjoy today took time, the blood and sweat of our fathers and mother, they dreamt of a better Nigeria and paid the price. Now you are about joining a line-up of people who fought to move our nation forward. Today, If they were alive, they would say to you, “hey kid this is a marathon”. Just like in every marathon, your energy will fail you, your passion may run dry at a certain point, but do not give up, keep your eye on the prize.    

2. Don't be discouraged when you hit road blocks.

On the journey, you are about to embark on or you are currently on, you will face a lot of roadblocks. Team members will fail to deliver on their obligations on time or even mess things up at the wrong time, PR disasters will occur, and you will make poor decisions in the heat of the moment. You may receive death threats. There may be an attack on your property, assets, family, and crisis will erupt that will make you question why you started this journey in the first place. The very people you are trying to liberate may rise against you and unjustly accuse you. You may not be successful in getting your ideal candidate elected or ensuring your demands are met, in your first try. In all you do, please do not give up, because the fact that you have decided to take up this mantle is victory. Each action you take, no matter how little is a small win, that collectively when we all do our part, and it all comes together, as a generation, as a nation, because of your action, we will all be a lot closer to the goal of taking back our country.

3 - Never underestimate the forces at play

There are people, organizations and even national actors who currently benefit from the status quo, and will do whatever it takes to keep it that way. They’ve spent resources to build and acquire power, they are organized, they will not sit idly and watch as you try to take it from them.

 

Whatever unimaginable action you can think about that, they will take it without breaking a sweat. I am stating this not to scare you, but so that, you are not surprised when the frying pan meets the fire. 



Are you working on getting accountable leaders elected? To achieve success, 11 factors to consider

As we journey toward the next election New initiatives, movements, campaigns and actions are cropping up with a mission to elect leaders that are accountable to Nigerians. Dear nation builder to achieve success, there are 11 factors to consider.

1. Collaboration & Synergy (Centralized Decentralization).

Irrespective of your position in regards to the #EndSARS Protest, you can agree that one of the crucial variables that led to its success in terms of mobilization and engagement was that power and decision making were decentralized, there was no central leadership. People took ownership of the movement and did what they thought was best. It gave birth to new ideas, innovations and actions that made it difficult to stop the protests by going after its leaders.
I am sure that this framework will be applied in 2023 and beyond as Nigerians organize to elect the leaders of their choice. For starters the fact you are reading this means you have an idea on what you want to do or you are thinking about it, so do thousands of other people like you, they may even have a similar idea. Therefore, there is a need to eliminate the duplication of efforts and ensure that individuals and organizational actions are coordinated and complementary.

It is time to reach out to leaders like you, meet and engage with like minds as you launch that new idea or initiative. To ensure success there is a need to develop a framework that enables people and organizations who share the same goals to come together and collaborate while maintaining their independence.

2. Think Strategy, learn and keep an open mind.

There is a need to plan, think and act strategically, the game of politics is powered by strategy not emotions, aspiration or passion, key players in politics spend millions of dollars to engage experienced consultants with years in experience with winning elections for their candidates, they have data, money, power and they are organized. Please do not fall for the trap of simplistic thinking or solutions in regards to how you intend to achieve your goals; such as If only we get young people to vote, if only we unite around a candidate, if only we start a political party, a protest, or whatever new idea you can come up with etc. The reality is that in trying to craft a strategy, most times as individuals or organizations, we are influenced by our thinking, education, experiences, resources and world view. Our background has an impact in regards to the solutions we propose and can hamper our ability to see the big picture, the world as it is and the various variables that are at play.

Even as I write this, I understand that some of the proposals I have up here are a reflection of my experience and world view.

Think strategy, seek knowledge, collaborate with those with more experience, learn, question the status quo and ensure that before embarking on this journey, you have a well thought out strategy that will enable the success of your mission.

3. An Inclusive, Issues driven movement powered by policy.

A lot of the conversations around 2023 especially amongst young people currently revolves around, voter education, getting behind potential youth candidates, launching a party and thinking of ways to organize. It is crucial that as we embark on this journey that Issues and Policy take centre stage.
We need to first start by properly articulating the issues that need to be addressed, craft the necessary policy instruments and recruit candidates that will deliver on them. In crafting these issues, we need to ensure it is inclusive and that it is a reflection of the interests of everyone, irrespective of their sex, age, region, religion, status, world view and realities etc. There needs to be a rigorous debate and discussion on issues like restructuring, gender-based violence, the right of women, Security, Police Reform, ASUU, Education, Power, NNPC and Fuel subsidy, the Economy, local government autonomy etc. The outcome of this discussions will be a set of issues and policy demands from citizens at the local, state and government level addressed to those who need our votes, their is also need for an agreed framework to hold them accountable if they fail.

 

A piece of advice for candidates planning to run for office, don’t build your agenda in a silo or think you know what people want from research conducted by think tanks alone. Go on a tour where you listen and engage with the citizenry, hear their problems, listen to their pain on a personal level, understand the issues that matter most to them, based on this experience, you can then proceed to draft your agenda.

 

We can take a lesson from the Sustainable development goals, in regards to the methodology used in its conceptualization and how it is now a rallying goal for the world.

In essence, for 2023 and beyond, we need to craft an inclusive Agenda and vote in candidates who adopt that agenda as opposed candidates simply going by the benevolence of their hearts and faculty to tell us what they think we need or plan to do if elected.

4. Local before federal approach.

The nation is currently structured such that the presidency wields a lot of power. It is therefore not a surprise that a bulk of the ongoing conversation revolves around channelling a majority of our resources towards effecting change in Abuja. I am of the opinion that there is a need to embark on a down-up approach. Politics is local, a lot of bad governance, that is holding us down can be traced to the people who are our brothers and sister, they are from our villages, they attend village meetings, we know their children and family members, we sent them to represent us, instead, they leverage our collective ignorance and lack of concern to steal our allocations and divert contracts designed to transform our communities. We must start by holding them accountable. 

From an organizing perspective, for as low as 70,000 votes, you can change your local government chairman. In 2019 a state governor, that oversees Nigeria’s economic epicentre won with around 736,000 votes in the last election, a majority of those who voted, managed social media communications, manned situation rooms and conducted a grassroots campaign for these politicians were young people.

 

Imagine in 2023 that LGA officials, State senators, and governors, are helmed by people who truly represent us, imagine the progress that we would have secured. 

Instead of solely focusing on how to change Abuja, we will need to change the conversation to how can I as an individual drive good governance, in my state and local government by ensuring fellow citizens like me vote in local leaders that will work for the people.

Our leaders need to know that it is no longer business as usual?

5. Engage in efforts to educate Nigerians on how power works, so that they can hold the right people accountable and make better voting decisions.

Building on the last point, there has been an uneven focus on the role of the presidency in shaping development outcomes, to the detriment of ignoring other crucial players who wield significant power that affect our daily lives. For example, the core functions of a local government include pre-school, primary and adult education; public health; town planning; roads and transport; refuse collection and disposal; cemeteries and crematoria; environmental protection; sports; leisure and open spaces; and religious facilities. Imagine what will happen if those we elect at the local level can deliver on these responsibilities. There are issues facing Nigeria that are as a result of bad laws, and policies that can only be addressed by the Legislature but we instead focus so much on the presidency, this is not to state that the executive arm of government does not wield a lot of power. I am alluding to the fact that there needs to be proper education of the populace on how the government works and who they ought to hold accountable for any demands they have.

Aside from improving the effectiveness of our engagement, an educated electorate will ensure that all players are aware that they cannot hide under the cloak of the incompetence of the executive as an excuse to fail to deliver on their responsibilities.

6. Grassroots organizing & Voter sensitization.

A majority of us live in a bubble, we’ve got a job, can afford a smartphone and data, and we can get things to trend on Twitter and Instagram. Sadly the majority of those we need to engage, are not on these platforms and no matter how we try to understand their realities we can’t.

To succeed as a movement we will need to break our bubbles and go on an aggressive charm & PR Offensive targeted at engaging those in the grassroots. They do not understand our big English and they don’t care about the change and good governance English we speak, they know that you will not be there for them when they need to pay their child’s school fees and that you will not be there for them when they’ve starved for 3 days. They see you send your kids to school every day in your Toyota and travel abroad for vacation. They have less faith in you and the ideas you spew. They have more faith and listen to their pastor, chief priest, imam, the village head, market leader, community leader, Gang leaders, friends, the popular local radio station, local celebrities, and sadly their local representatives who may oppress them etc. Your viral youtube video, campaign, trending hashtags do not affect them because they cannot even see it in the first place etc.

To take our country back we need this set of people to make the right voting decisions. To achieve this we will need to first get down from our gated communities, zoom meetings and tweet chats to understand how to reach those in the grassroots and figure out a way to move the needle to our advantage.

7. Develop a plan to combat the big 4, Tribalism, Religion, Ego & Greed.

If you have not watched this video by  Mr Atedo Peterside please do, he made a powerful statement which I am paraphrasing as follows “The 5 per cent who rule us can do so because they deploy a divide and rule tactics”.  The people who are currently at the helm of affairs can control us using the big 4 Tribalism, Religion, Ego & Greed.

They will weaponize the big 4 against your movement and use bad actors and strategies from a spy’s playbook to stir up and feed ethic and religious sentiments. A majority of Nigerians are hungry and have lost hope in the system and will take whatever they get from whoever it is that gives them the next meal, that is why in every election you come across news of politicians spending billions of naira to rig elections and pay voters to vote for them. 

 

You will need to factor this variable and figure out a way to combat this threat.

 8. Candidate, sourcing, vetting, endorsement, campaign support and accountability framework.

To successfully take our nation back we would need to find the right candidates to support and rally around. Their needs to be a well thought out framework to differentiate those who are in the game simply because they are power-thirsty, and those who are committed to serving the people who elect them. It is fallacy to think that young people are not corrupt, or will not rise to become the next oppressors when they get into power. Our wins as a movement can be grossly dampened in the scenario whereby the same people we fought to elect to turn around to behave and act like those we rallied around to get rid off for non-performance. 

 

We will need to create a framework to enable us to find the right candidates, vet them against a chosen set of criteria, endorse and provide support to their campaigns. We would also need mechanisms to hold them accountable and punish them if they fail to deliver on their mandate.

9. Media, News and Communication plan to combat misinformation, fake news, manage a crisis, educate and engage voters.

In the wake of the Lekki shooting if you watch the reportage from traditional media houses, you would think that all is well and that the nation was at peace. If you watch NTA, you would think that the government is doing a good job with the mandate entrusted on them by the people. It is no longer news that the media has a very significant role in shaping beliefs, perceptions, feeding ideologies and influencing behaviour. We are what we consume. The people in power understand this and have invested heavily in this regard, they currently own or have interest in some of the top media houses you can think of, and have some form of influence in their editorial decision. They are also investing heavily to set up online squads of keyboard warriors and trolls whose sole goal is to spread disinformation, misinformation, exploit our tribal and ethinic sentiments and conduct information warfare designed to whitewash the activities of their principals, discredit their opponents and sow discord. 

We would need to figure out a strategy to combat their whims and ensure that the voters, the people who need to hear our message hear them. Interestingly the people who work for these media houses are young, the journalist who publish reports, the bloggers and webmasters who manage forums, the cameramen and presenters are made up of young people we need to aggressively engage with them and ensure that they understand they have a crucial role in delivering the nation of our dream. This is aside from the aggressive campaigns and outreaches we will engage in to ensure our voices are heard.

10. Fundraising and Financial accountability.

Elections are expensive, according to an audit conducted the APC and PDP spent 7.7 billion combined on the 2015 elections. Irrespective of how passionate we are, we live in a society where cash is king, and money can heavily influence the trajectory of your campaign, from media coverage, billboards, logistics and improving your operational capabilities, securing professional services etc. Running for office is no small financial endeavour, there are scenarios where people have ended up going bankrupt in pursuit of their political ambition. To succeed in getting the right leaders elected, you need to raise money, a lot of it. The advantage you have compared to those you are up against is the fact that the movement is run and powered by passionate people. You would therefore have a higher Return on investment for every naira spent. Figuring out how to raise funding is crucial to the survival of your goal.

11. Advocate for electoral reform, develop a framework to watch the vote, and a strategy to dismantle the vote-buying and rigging machinery of established interests.

Getting the right people in office can only be done through the ballot. We would need to ensure that trusted and reliable candidates can get their party nominations and go on to win the elections. Currently, our electoral process is broken and is in dire need of reforms we need to fight for these reforms. There is a high prevalence of rigging, vote-buying and malpractices conducted by polling officials and some resident electoral commissioners. A handful of people in a room can subvert the will of the people, and our judicial system is heavily compromised. 

The silver lining is that young people are usually the tools deployed by those who oppress us to steal elections, from corrupt NYSC poll officials that connive with party officials to thumbprint on ballots, to thugs hired to intimidate voters and disrupt the process the list goes on. We need to critically develop and execute a strategy to ensure that our hard-fought efforts are not stolen from us by shady electoral officials. 



Embracing the barriers to market entry.

Running or managing a business in Africa is not for the faint-hearted, it’s a lot like digging for gold.  To put this in context, Nigeria Africa’s largest market is ranked 131 in the ease of doing business, according to World Bank’s Doing Business 2020 index. It is a market that even the bravest of entrepreneurs and investors still struggle to understand or navigate.

Today we’ll share an insight we’ve shared with some of our clients, this insight has enabled them to navigate difficult times.

So let’s begin. Have you ever wondered why we have so many airtime recharge voucher sellers but only 4 major telecoms companies?  Or why it is easier to import and market cell phones than it is to set up a phone manufacturing company?

Think about it, if it was easy, everyone would have done it, but the reality is that for every industry, there will always be a barrier to entry.

UNDERSTANDING THE BARRIERS TO MARKET ENTRY

Barriers to entry in any market are the major obstacles that make it difficult for entrepreneurs to start or grow their business in a given market.

  • A barrier may be securing the necessary certification or navigating your way through complex government regulation such as tax policies or raising enough startup capital for your business to launch and thrive. It could even be that you need to build or acquire a certain type of technology or secure a patent to bring your product to market.
  • For some businesses, it may be that the economies of scale apply significantly which means that they can only break even if they produce in large quantities.
  • For others, they need a reliable supply chain network that guarantees efficient access to suppliers and distribution channels from day one to succeed, or the industry they are in, is already so competitive that they require a stronger or unique selling point to be able to respond to the competition.
  • For some, it may be that they need to acquire top talent to power their business operation but they are operating in an industry with a shortage of skilled talent… the list can go on.

In summary, there will always be barriers… and the reality is that the larger the market opportunity, the tougher the barriers and hurdles an entrepreneur will likely encounter. These hurdles are constant and they affect all players in any given market.

What this means is that whatever difficulty you may be experiencing in your business, you are not alone, your competitor is experiencing something similar or may have experienced something similar in the past.

What then is the winning formula to scale these barriers?

STRATEGIC INSIGHT- IT IS ALL ABOUT PERSPECTIVE.

The principal strategic insight here is that you are not just competing in your industry for clients and customers or who can capture the largest market share, but you are actually competing on who can surmount the unique barriers to entry for your industry.

You are competing on who can raise more money before they run out of cash, who can get that government certification faster, who can grow their distribution channels faster, who can recruit the best talent etc.

In every market, there are those who succeed and those who don’t. Winners or losers in any market are decided by those who surmount the barriers unique in their industry better and faster than their competitors.

The key differentiating factor that separates winners and losers in any industry is perspective. It has a lot to do with how they see and react to these barriers to entry irrespective of their industries.

LOSERS see these barriers as a challenge, as a problem they have to surmount.

WINNERS, on the other hand, see these challenges as an opportunity, they understand that their success depends on their innovative ability to surmount these barriers better than their competitors. So they embrace the hard and turn these challenges into their competitive advantage.

Which category do you belong to?

Nigeria has been projected to be among the world’s top ten economies by 2050 with her GDP pegged at $3.3 trillion. Entrepreneurs who are able to brave the storm stand a chance to profit immensely from this market.

 



Linkup app - leveraging technology to improve SRH outcomes for young people.

We have good news, finally, after a couple of months of working on a project for the amazing team at Education as a Vaccine a non-profit organization, we are happy to announce that an updated version of the linkup app is on the app store, you can go and download it here.

Young people are constantly faced with situations where they have to make life-changing decisions about their sexual and reproductive health (SRH), yet a majority of adolescents and young people lack access to the information and services required to make those decisions, leaving them vulnerable to coercion, sexual violence, sexually transmitted infections and unintended pregnancies.

So with funding from her partners, EVA came up with the idea to build a Youth-Friendly Services Finder App- Link Up, they reached out to our team at Endgame The Strategy Company to build this app.

And we delivered, the app connects users to youth-friendly health facilities closest to them, the app enables them to speak to trained counsellors on issues surrounding their Sexual Reproductive Health.

The key idea behind the updated version is simplicity and improved user-friendliness”.

  • Users can find youth-friendly healthcare services centres by location and by the services they provide.
  • The app also allows users to speak to trained counsellors on issues surrounding their SRH remotely.
  • Users can also rate facilities/service providers. This puts them in control to be actively involved in the improvement of the quality of services rendered and received by them. Hence they are not just passive users but active contributors to the quality of services rendered at these health facilities.

Linkup app was developed to encourage the information-seeking behaviour among young people, while providing access to accurate and non-judgmental responses to SRHR issues to reduce high-risk behaviours that may lead to HIV, STIs, unplanned pregnancies and complications from unsafe abortion.

It was a privilege for us to be entrusted with the task of developing this app for the team at EVA, The Linkup app is one amongst many others to come, the ultimate goal for the app by EVA is to leverage technology in their bid to achieve their mission to improve the health and development of children, adolescents, and young people.

To download the Link-up app click here.


Is your new business idea worth your time and investment ? Predict it's viability with this simple checklist.

You have just stumbled on a brilliant idea for a new business or startup and you can’t wait to launch it? Hold that thought. The reality is that starting a business is quite easier than running one.

It can be an unpleasant experience as an entrepreneur to invest your time, finance, and resources into starting a business only to watch it fade into obscurity and eventually shut down after a couple of months or years.

Financial experts say that about 80% of Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) in Nigeria fail within the first five years of their existence and the failure rate for startups in Nigeria averaged 61% between 2010 – 2018. There is a myriad of reasons why startups and businesses fail but the viability of a business idea has been shown to play a key role in propelling business success even under harsh market realities.

To increase the success rate of your business idea, we’ve compiled a list of 10 critical questions to help predict the viability of your business idea before you invest time and money into it.  

1. Demand:

Is there a real demand?

At the crux of it all, startups and businesses generate revenue by providing solutions to the needs of their customers in exchange for money. To survive, a business or startup needs to be satisfying a real market need and, there needs to be a group of customers willing to purchase that solution at the proposed asking price. There’s a real risk of a business becoming “just another cool idea” if there is no demand for it. To ensure long-term success, you will need to validate your business idea by testing if there is a demand for your solution in your market, before investing your resources to start that business or startup.

 

There are several ways to conducts these experiments, you can build a minimum viable product like a prototype, conduct interviews, and surveys, get pre-orders, conduct a feasibility study, etc. The goal of the entire process of demand validation is to gather feedback and data from potential paying customers on the available demand for your solution.

2. Total Available Market.

Is there a high demand for your solution to be profitable? What is the size of the total available market?

For a business or startup idea to be deemed feasible, the demand for its solution must be large enough to justify the necessary investment needed to make it operational. To buttress this, imagine spending N10m (ten million naira) to open a gas filling station in a community, only to realize that there are only 50(fifty) homes that use gas cookers, and, the average amount they spend monthly to fill up their cylinders is N5000 (Five thousand naira) as a result the maximum revenue you can generate per month if they all diligently patronize your business every month, without going to your competitors is N250,000 (two hundred and fifty thousand naira) but, you spend roughly N500,000 (five hundred thousand naira) every month on running expenses. What the above scenario suggests is that, not only will you not recoup your 10million naira investment, you will certainly operate at a loss of not less than N250,000 (two hundred and fifty thousand naira) every month. The reason is that your TAM is not large enough. TAM is an abbreviation for Total addressable market. It is the maximum revenue a product or service can accrue in a given market if there were no competitors.

Having a strong grasp of the TAM size for your business or startup solution before launching is crucial because it will provide you with clarity on the revenue potential of your business, and enable you to decide if it is worth pursuing. It is also useful in convincing investors to invest in your business. So, What’s your TAM?

3. Timing.

Is the timing right, does your idea meet the moment?

Idealab’s founder Bill Gross analyzed several hundred startups, from big successes to failures in a bid to figure out the most important keys to startup success. He considered idea, team, business model, funding, and timing. He realized that timing accounted for 42 percent of the difference between success and failure. To explore the concept of timing, a significant reason for the current traction experienced by most fintech companies today can be attributed to several factors. Most importantly, it can be attributed to the fact that in the past 10 years, internet penetration and smartphone adoption has seen an increase. If you had an idea to start a fintech company that needed to run on smartphones 40 years ago during the era of NITEL, your timing, would probably be wrong because the market at that point will not be ready for your product.

The reality is that, if you put yourself out there too early, the market may not be ready for you and you’ll struggle to gain traction. If you open the business too late, somebody else may beat you to market and steal or render your business dead in the water before it even gets going. So, do you think the market is ready for your idea?

4. Execution: Experience, Expertise, and Team.

What is your level of knowledge and experience in the industry you will be operating in, and do you have the capacity to assemble a competent team?

As a startup or business, your ability to execute your business idea can make the difference between successfully getting your product to market and running out of money before you gain traction. The experience and expertise of the founder and the founding team is a crucial component in deciding the ability to execute on a brilliant idea. To provide context, a former bank or tech lead in a bank trying to start a fin-tech company will probably do better in that industry than if they decided to start a healthcare company because they have significant experience in finance than in healthcare.   It is advisable to launch a business in a sector you are familiar with and have adequate experience in, with a team with the necessary expertise to execute the idea. A brilliant idea executed poorly will fail. Remember, an idea is only as good as its execution. 

5. Passion & Motivation.

What’s the main motivation guiding your decision to launch this business idea?

Are you setting out to solve a problem you are passionate about or is your new venture a means of survival? A good way to know if you are passionate is by asking the question, “is this business something I will gladly work on for free?” The reason you will need to be passionate about your business is because, entrepreneurship is hard and it entails delaying gratification, the returns might take years to accrue, the only fuel capable of keeping you going during tough times is passion. Without passion you will not be able to inspire others to believe in your ideas, passion drives you forward, it will give you the courage to leave your comfort zone and give the business everything you’ve got. Passion will play a critical role in deciding the success of your business.

6. Government Policy & Regulation.

Do you have the necessary certifications to run your business and is the current government policy in your advantage?

The effect of government policies on business and startups cannot be understated. For example, if the government impose more taxes & duties or adverse polices on a particular sector then the profit margin of this sector will go down, this, in turn, will have an adverse effect on business operating in that sector and vice versa. A very good example is the ban of motorcycle hailing companies in Lagos in 2019 and the adverse effect it had on motorcycle hailing companies, another is the shutting down of Nigeria’s land borders in other to curb smuggling and the adverse effect it had on importers. To operate in some sectors you may need certain permits, certificates, or licenses. Some sectors are currently receiving a lot of attention from the government compared to others. It is very crucial for you to thoroughly analyze the current government policy and regulatory requirements in your target industry before you launch to avoid swimming against the tide. So what regulatory requirements would you be needing and do you have them? If not, how and what wll it take to acquire them? 

7. Competitive Positioning and Advantage.

Will you be launching in a crowded market, if yes, do you have a unique selling point and strategic positioning that differentiates your business or startup from other players in the market?

Launching just another generic business is a sure route to bankruptcy in the long term, you might succeed depending on the industry you operate in and forces at play but to gain traction and become a market leader in a crowded marketplace, you will need to have an advantage over competitors by offering consumers greater value. You’ll also need to “differentiate” your offering and win mindshare in the marketplace – you need to be known for a certain “something.” Figuring out your competitive positioning and advantage in the marketplace before you launch is critical. What’s yours? 

8. The threat of Substitutes, Competitors, and ease of copying.

How easily can your unique selling point be replicated by competitors?  Are there better substitutes for your solution?

Is your business solution a direct copy of an already existing business idea that has proven successful? Even if it is, is it a 50x improvement of what is already existing? Can the unique differentiating factor of your business be easily copied by competitors? The fact is that if your unique value proposition is very easy to duplicate. That means it will be more difficult to maintain a unique position in the marketplace for a long time. 

You also need to factor in the threat of substitutes in your industry as you design your value proposition.  The availability of a substitution threat affects the profitability of any industry because consumers can choose to purchase the substitute instead of the industry’s product.

9. Revenue model.

How will you generate revenue?

A revenue model is a company’s plan for making a profit. It identifies all the channels you intend to generate revenue from. The products or services you will sell, at what price and expenses, and to what target market.  It is very critical for you to consider all possible revenue channels for your business idea. The more diverse your revenue channels, the more revenue you can generate over time. The business model canvas is a very useful tool to help you plan and clearly define your revenue model.

Defining the revenue model of your business idea will also help you develop a clear sense of what funding is required for your business.

So what does your revenue model look like?

 

10. Funding strategy.

How much do you need and how do you intend to raise money to fund the business?

Before you launch it is critical to have a plan that factors in the financial requirements your business will need over time and how you are going to raise money and resources in order to carry out the objectives of your business.  There several ways to raise money, from bootstrapping, angel and venture capital, loans, convertible credit, grants and many more.

A primary reason why businesses fail is a lack of funding or working capital. To learn more on tips to raise funding for your business, Check out this article

 


Leveraging customer retention & loyalty to drive growth.

Interestingly a majority of strategies deployed by most businesses are geared towards acquiring new customers with less focus on retaining acquired customers.  Some businesses lose clients as much as they are acquiring new clients. Their sales funnel can be likened to a basket that no matter how much water is poured into it, it’ll always be empty.

Here are 4 key reasons why customer retention is a very important objective for any business.

1. Save Money On Marketing

It costs significantly more to acquire a new customer than it does to retain an existing one. For new clients, you have to deploy a barrage of marketing campaigns whilst spending more money trying to reach them to convince them to patronize your business. If you do not retain them once you acquire them, it means you need to always spend money on marketing to stay afloat. So to save your money and reduce your marketing expenses it is important you deploy efforts to keep your old customers who are already familiar with your products and services.

2. Get more Repeat Purchases from Customers.

Loyal customers will use your business regularly for purchases and tend to spend more money. Existing customers are 3 to 10x more likely to buy than a cold lead. A valued customer trusts your business and believes that you offer a superior service compared to competitors.

3. Free Word-Of-Mouth Advertising

Repeat customers are more likely to tell their friends and family about your business and its products, and customers respect the opinion of those close to them. Customers are happy to tell people about the excellent service they received or a product that they enjoyed. A successfully retained customer is much more likely to refer to other customers. These referees cost less to acquire and have a higher lifetime value than customers gained from other ways.

4. Retained Customers Will Provide Valuable Feedback

Customers that you retain provide valuable feedback. 97% of consumers said they are somewhat likely to become more loyal to a company that implements their feedback, while 55% of consumers said they are not likely to continue being a customer of a company that ignores their feedback.

Customers who make frequent purchases from your business will know which areas of your business could be improved.

LEVERAGING CUSTOMER LOYALTY

There is significant potential for expansion and revenue growth in cultivating consistent client-satisfaction that will build a level of customer loyalty that can translate to third-party promotion for your business. These redirects focus from only pursuing client acquisition to ensuring that you have in place the right client retention strategies.


8 factors to consider, before launching an e-commerce venture.

1. The Goldrush: The Market is Growing.

Despite the pandemic, in the first quarter of 2020 Jumia, an e-commerce Company operating in 11 African countries gained $31.79 million in revenue from 6.4 million e-commerce orders. According to Statista, it estimated that Africa’s e-commerce market size will grow to $29 billion by 2022. The market is growing.

But that’s one side of the story, around 2012-2015 the news of multimillion dollars investments rounds closed by e-commerce companies was everywhere, as a result, several entrepreneurs were motivated to start an e-commerce business, today a number of these companies have shut down their operations and Jumia is still operating at a loss, despite posting large numbers and securing millions in investments. This trend is as a result of the barriers to market entry. 

2. Barriers to Market Entry.

Accessibility, infrastructure, finance and cultural factors prevent e-commerce businesses from scaling in Nigeria and across the continent. According to a Statista, the smartphone penetration rate is around 10-20% of the Nigerian population have a smartphone device (this number is improving for the better), these devices are a crucial component needed to seamlessly access e-commerce services.  A majority of those with smartphones have trust issues when ordering from e-commerce companies. The logistics and delivery industry is still in its infancy, and depending on the scale of the business, there may be a need to secure significant investment to successfully run an e-commerce business. To succeed, you will need to develop a strategy to surmount these barriers and a host of other odds.

3. Start with a niche.

This is important during the early phase of a business, for example, Amazon the most valuable e-commerce company in the world started by selling books before expanding into other product categories. Start with a single product category, it will enable you to figure out your operational processes and test the market with leaner resources. 

4. Marketplace or Direct to customer storefront model.

You will need a business model for your store, do you want a marketplace where other sellers can sell their products or a direct to consumer storefront that enables you to sell directly to your customers. Each model has its pro and cons, choose wisely. 

5. Choose the right platform.

If you’re a small business, it is advisable to start small, by leveraging Facebook, Whatsapp, Instagram and twitter shopping functionality, you can also list your products on existing online market places like Jumia and Konga. For medium-sized businesses or businesses with a large inventory and significant resources they can opt to build an e-commerce site with Shopify, Woocommerce, Magneto and other solutions, these platforms provide access to customer data and a host of other functionalities. 

6. Sourcing, logistics, delivery and customer experience.

Some entrepreneurs spend their resources focusing on the look and feel of their e-commerce website, the products in their store and marketing to the extent that they end up putting less emphasis on figuring out the logistics and delivery framework of their business. Sorting orders, ensuring your customers get their products on time is a crucial component of your business that you’ll need to figure out. 

7. Competitive Positioning.

Unlike offline stores where customers have to drive or walk in to get to a new store, if they are not satisfied with your service offering, with online your competition is one click away. The competition is fierce online, to thrive, you need to define your competitive advantage and position. 

8. Marketing and Advertising.

You will need an effective eCommerce advertising strategy that leverages offline and online channels to gain traction. Paid advertising will make up a significant part of your eCommerce marketing strategy and significant resources will need to be allocated to consumer education and trust build depending on the scale of your proposed operation. It is also important to figure out a way to reduce your customer acquisition cost and create top of mind awareness for your brand. 


Is your business positioned for the level of growth you’re seeking?

So after receiving a barrage of text messages urging me to patronize an eatery I usually go to for launch, I decided to do so, I walked in and there was a long queue, I shrugged it off and decided to wait my turn, but sadly the queue was not moving, I could see that the sales attendants were struggling to deal with the high influx of customers, they were botching several orders and therefore had a lot of angry customers to deal with.

I was one of those angry customers, I had to wait for around an hour for an order that should have taken 10 mins. Having patronized this eatery before I could testify to the fact that they were doing very well when they had fewer customers, but sadly it was evident that they were struggling to cope with the high influx of customers they got after their latest marketing campaign.

Of what use was their marketing campaign? given that not only have they lost my trust and that of hundreds of old customers, their inability to meet up with the demand from new customers meant that the customers they’ve just acquired may not likely return, as a result of their first interaction with the business. So what this meant was that the marketing effort that was designed to enable them to grow is slowly destroying their business.

This narrative sounds familiar. Unfortunately, there are too many businesses that go down this road, If you asked 10 entrepreneurs what they wanted, it’s highly likely that 6-7 out of 10 would state that they want more clients but the question that many of them fail to ask is – ‘’Is my business positioned for growth?’’

THE COST OF GROWTH

When most entrepreneurs think about growth what comes to mind is growth in revenue, number of customers or sales but here’s what growth also means – It means that if you are a team of 20, you may need to increase to a team of 100. If you were running inefficiently you might need to improve.

 

To begin the journey of seeking growth by thinking that growth comes with profit alone is a false premise because growth comes with more responsibilities. The profit comes when you have effectively been able to handle the demand for your services. In essence, to be qualified for growth, you must first put in place the necessary structure that will enable you to efficiently manage the projected increase in demand that will come with your new growth target.

GETTING READY FOR GROWTH.

 

So what do I mean? It means that before embarking on that marketing campaign in a bid to increase your customer base, you must ask very critical questions such as:
Is my business ready for growth? Do I have the necessary structure I need to deal with the new influx in demand for my services? Core elements like the strength of human capital both in quantity and quality and the presence of processes and systems that can ensure operational efficiency cannot be underestimated.

  •  On a scale of 1-10, how well do you manage the clients you currently have?
  • Do your clients complain about your services and at what frequency?
  •  Is your business efficiently serving the demands of your current clients?
  • What can you do better?

It’s is important that you are brutally honest in answering the questions above.

At Endgame – The Strategy Company before deploying our growth service package we measure our client’s growth readiness through;

  • A rigorous review of the businesses capabilities.
  • A dispassionate assessment of where they stand against these capabilities on two fronts- their level of operational efficiency and customer satisfaction.
  • An action plan to scale back in the less-critical areas, and a corresponding plan to redirect resources from these areas to more critical ones.
  • A series of targeted organizational interventions to increase speed and quality of decision making and delivery in the enterprise.
  • In the event, however, that the business is not ready for growth, a strategic plan is devised to position the venture for growth.


4 Important questions business managers will need to ask during and Post Covid 19.

On April 13th, 2020 the Nigerian government announced another 14 days lock-down, the dire reality is that after this extension there is no certainty that the lockdown will not be extended because the variables that led us to this point are still unchanged. For most business managers this is causing a lot of uncertainty, they understand that how they respond to the crises will decide the continued existence of their company and their position in the market place.

To develop and execute a cohesive strategy to survive the impact of the pandemic, business managers will need to change their approach and ask the right questions.

Instead of approaching the crisis from “it is all bleak and dark, what do we do to survive”, they will need to approach it from the perspective of opportunity, “the business environment is changing rapidly can we leverage this crisis to become dominant players in our market or increase our market share”.

As cliché as it might sound, in every crisis, there is an opportunity, the team at 54 Gene a biotech company based in Nigeria are a poster child for this school of thought, amidst the economic slowdown they raised $500,000 for a fund aimed at improving Nigeria’s capacity to carry out tests for COVID-19.

To thrive amidst this crisis business managers will need to ask the right questions such as.

 

1. What are the new market opportunities we should we paying attention to?

The market is changing rapidly, new business models are emerging, especially in sectors such as health, logistics, automation, entertainment, retail, and education; there is a rising demand for big data solutions for public well-being, especially for tracking, analyzing, and supporting timely public decision-making. Offline-driven businesses are realizing that they need to shift online completely or partially. There are new demands across different sectors that will need to be met, will you respond to them or continue business as usual.

 

2. Are there changes in consumer behavior that we can leverage?

There is an increase in the adoption of online shopping and Digital platforms that aid brand engagement and interaction. There is heightened price sensitivity and increase in health and hygiene consciousness, brand trust and loyalty is being defined by new variables, there is a rise in survival shopping and consumers are choosing availability over brand loyalty. The reality is that millions of consumers are experiencing the impact of the crisis on their finances and way of life, this is leading to changes in consumer behaviour that smart business managers will need to leverage in other to stay ahead

 

3. Are there new capabilities in the market place that we can integrate into our operations to improve our competitive advantage?

There has been a significant improvement in Logistics and delivery solutions, can it be integrated into your operations to reach more customers. There is an increase in the adoption of remote working technologies can it be leveraged to cut down on operational cost and hire top talent that was previously not geographical available. Webinars and e-Learning solutions can it be used in place of physical workshops to increase the number of attendance and reduce the cost of physically organizing training. Can video conferencing be used where possible instead of physical meetings? Can we use online consultation and scheduling apps to optimize client management?

COVID 19, is and will continue to lead to new innovations and increased adoption of existing innovation, businesses will need to constantly think about how they can leverage these innovations to improve their operational process and competitive advantage.

 

4. Do we need to pivot, if yes to what?

Recently hotels across the world are temporarily pivoting and converting their rooms to quarantine facilities, car manufactures are producing ventilators, some breweries are now producing disinfectants and sanitisers the list goes on. Due to COVID 19, some verticals are now obsolete or have or will experience a steep reduction in accounting profit temporarily or permanently. Business managers will need to access the value propositions of their firms and the market forces at play to decide to temporarily or permanently pivot and leverage new opportunities.

The reality is that while most business panic, some will thrive.

Will you panic or thrive?

The choice is yours.



Tips For Dealing with Unending Projects.

Have you ever been in a situation where a project scheduled to run for say one month, is already past the 6-month mark with no end in sight? Well, I have and as exasperating as these situations usually are, you know what they say about a problem shared right? So, let’s talk about this.

Unending projects could be as a result of several reasons, either owing to the client’s indecisiveness or changing project specifications, you name it.

But first, here’s what birthed the idea for this conversation. I recently attended the Abuja Interaction Design Foundation (IDF) UX meet-up, a remarkable UX designers community hangout hosted by Gordon Timehin, a key driver who serves actively in the Nigerian UX community.

Founded in Denmark in 2002, IDF is a global non-profit initiative and the world’s leading online community for UX design learning. They create accessible and affordable Ivy-League level design education. Essentially, they are driven to facilitate low-cost, high-quality global design education. And in over a decade, they have built and grown a sustainable collaboration and education platform and grown a global community that has reached over 454 local groups in 90 countries. You can check out what they are up to  (https://www.interaction-design.org/community).

At the event last week, varied conversations ensued but when this common question of shifting project timelines came up, It occurred to me that this conversation would prove invaluable for not just creative designers but entrepreneurs, businesses or anyone who manages or spearheads projects in the course of their lives work.

Let’s take a look at the insights shared by the really talented members of the UX community, these insights can also apply to any professional irrespective of industry. 

 

The Client Is NOT The Enemy

Most creatives or designers see clients as people to be dreaded or endured until the project is done and they get paid. One way to explain this could be the communication gap between the client and the design professional or entrepreneur who is tasked with articulating the client’s needs while at the same time balancing it with his/her creative and technical know-how.

To overcome the challenge of unending projects, it is important to first understand that the client is NOT the enemy. You may ask, how does this help?

Here’s what adopting this perspective does ; you are inclined to understand the client and his/her business. You want to understand where they are coming from, who they are as individuals and what they are looking for. Some clients are very imaginative and can easily articulate what they want, others can be influenced by several other dynamics. So, you have to understand who that client is and what makes him or her unique. Once you get this, dealing with the client becomes easier. When you understand the client’s psychological make-up and decision-making predilection, it makes it easier to engage them and transfer ideas to real-time designs or in your case, outlined project outcomes.

 

Know Thy Client And Their Business.

Secondly, you need to have a working knowledge of the client’s business. If you communicate your understanding of the client’s business and can discuss their business with them on a very relatable level, it builds trust.

It makes the client feel like they can trust your ideas because you have successfully presented a picture of one who understands the in and out of the business and not just the business processes but the internal dynamics of the specific challenges they are facing. For example, the lack or abundance of funds or what approaches they can appropriate to get the best value for resources expended.

 

Create Clear Project Scope.

Based on this understanding of the client’s business, build a very clear-cut project scope, that encompasses the deliverables, timelines, scale, relevant terms and conditions, payment plan and finances, processes and systems and the factors that affect execution. This should be as agreed upon by both parties.

Questions like, “What do we want to achieve with this project?” should be clearly defined. This should not just be verbally discussed, always create an email thread, proposal or some document, that codifies the agreement and can be used to hold the client accountable.  

Projects should have a clear-cut start and end date. In essence, let there be a contract that binds the relationship with expected returns on investment.

 

Break Down The Project Into Sprints.

Next, break down the project into sprints. These sprints are a measure of micro-deliverables of what we are set to achieve at what point and when payment should be expected.

This is such that when the project is extending past the slated time, there is a form of protection for you the project manager or strategist and at least payments have been made for achieved timelines and no payments are hanging somewhere.

These sprints can be broken down into hours, days, weeks, across preferably three, four instalments over the project timeframe. These instalments further help to cement the client’s trust, in that, one milestone is achieved, it closes, the next one continues, it closes and on and on till the end of the project.

 

Communicate Implications & Financial Cost For Significant Changes In The Project Plan or Implementation.

Every client wants the best for their project and would like to derive value from you. As such, some clients may introduce changes to the design or project plan as often as they experience light bulb moments.

Thus, you need to make the client understand the implication of every significant change in project design or implementation after the final agreement.

For every requested change in action, there is a reaction. This can either translate to a time cost or even resources. For example, if a client requests an additional design that wasn’t in the original project deliverables, you can inform them of the additional cost or extended delivery time frame.

Additional tips include;

-Reevaluate your goals as the project unravels: Update results, milestones frequently to paint a clear picture of what’s necessary and what’s not relevant in the project scope

-Anticipate the end of the project: Hope is a powerful thing, it fuels and energizes your mindset and keeps you running productively towards the finish line.

-Sometimes, put a stop: This may be difficult, however, it is advisable to politely end client relationships that are unpleasant and unhealthy, within good reason.

In doing so, ensure that there is a smooth transition between you and whoever is taking over the project. A stop in the project should not translate to a stop in your relationship. Also, communicate the reason why you are discontinuing the project.

More importantly, understand that the aforementioned guidelines culled from the UX community meet-up are not a one-size-fits-all and so it’s important that in addition to your understanding of your client, you learn to apply discretion in dealing with them, know when to be flexible and when to be rigid.

Nonetheless, you never err in trying to build a process. For where there is no process, anything goes.

I hope these guidelines prove helpful and ensure more fulfilling projects for you in the future!

Are there other tips you’ve adopted in the past? We’d love to hear in the comment section. Talk to me!