Part 4 – Turning the Idea Into a Business

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Zinhle always talks to me about how foolish we must have appeared coming into the entertainment and business environment.

I remember many occasions where, when asking for help, it felt as if the people that we were approaching, did not really want to help us. Most of the advise just didn’t make sense. We were in impulsive victim mode and we were not even aware.

Then there was the day when I made a decision … I basically decided that I would take away what I could and keep going. It sounds like nothing but you have no idea how much a change in attitude can change your view of the world and your experiences. On the other hand, I think Zinhle is still traumatised by that experience. Everytime she sees an inexperienced young person feeling sorry for themselves, or throwing a tantrum about how no one wants to help, she gets annoyed.

The truth is this …

1. Many people want to help but they don’t have a lot of time and you might not even understand what they are telling you.
2. No one will be a bigger custodian of your dream and vision other than you. You are the one who needs to keep going and fighting.

The funny thing is that the biggest fight is with yourself. You will realise this over time, when you decide to keep it real and realise that your biggest challenge is with yourself , your resistance to change, your inability to spot your weaknesses and work on them and a whole array of other things. All these things make you look outward for blame but the dream is yours and usually no one really cares.

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Now, lets get to business …

Today, we are talking about a few things you need to be strategic about as a young entrepreneur. Most of the things you are moaning about can actually be addressed through strategy.

No business functions alone. You are affected by forces around you that you must recognise, plan for and deal with to be successful over the long haul. This simple exercise is called industry analysis (not people trying to pull you down).

Here are a couple of things you need to pay attention to as you examine your industry:

Make a list of major competitors in your industry and find out the following:

• Size
• Based on revenue
• Profits
• Relative market share on the markets you want to explore
• The different sectors they procure

Overcome barriers

This is the cover charge that makes it difficult for new competitors to join the party.

Examples of barriers:

• High capital cost
• Complex distribution system
• Economies of scale (the bigger you are, the more money you make)
• Strong customer loyalty, long term contracts, high customer costs associated with changing products.
• Distribution
• Organisation
• Raw materials
• New technology
• Regulation
• Patents

Rate these barriers based on how impenetrable you find them and on which side of the barrier you stand.

Examine technology in your industry

• How much and how fast do things change in your industry?
• Who controls the technology and how easily obtainable is it?
• Identify obsolete technology, current technology and future technology in your industry.
• How long were old technologies around for before they were replaced?
• Try and predict when new technology may become important to your business.
• Try and keep track of any copyrights, patent protection or special expertise that could influence the adoption of new technology.

Measuring markets

Competition comes down to customers and customers make up markets.

Just how big is big?

The size of the market tells you a lot about what is likely to happen to the market over time when it comes to competition.

Large markets are always big news and cant help but attract competitors. Smaller markets don’t get as much attention and because competitors can easily overlook them, they often represent business opportunities.

You have hit the real jackpot if you can turn a small market into a bigger market by discovering a usage gap – finding a new use for your product or service that no other company has thought of before.

Growing or shrinking

If large markets are great news, rapidly growing markets are greater news and competitors are really going to come crawling out the woodwork. A growing market offers the best odds for new players to gain a foothold and seat existing competition.

A shrinking market has competitors that are leaner, meaner and more fierce.

Identify the changes in the size of your market over the past five years, in terms of both units sold and revenue generated. If the market is changing rapidly in either direction, look for opportunities and predict the likely effect on both the numbers and the intensity of the competition.

What choices do customers have?

A quick survey of the similarities and differences among products and services in a market measures something called product differentiation.

In a commodities market place where each product looks pretty much like every other product you can bet that price matters to the customer, however, each product is different and offers customers something unique or special.

Take a hard look at the products or services the top three competitors in your market offer. How similar are they? In what way are they unique? Think about what you can do to differentiate your product, adding special features or offering value added services so that you can compete in ways beyond simply raising or lowering your price.

What about something different altogether?

Every now and again a new product enters the market and crashes the party, so to speak. Often the product will come from another industry and may even be based on a new technology.

Example: Advancing from fax machines to email.

The threat of product substitutions – new products taking over existing ones – is real especially in fast changing, highly competitive markets.

Thinking about what your customers did 5, 10 or even 20 years ago. Did they use your product or a similar one back then or did a completely different type of product serve their needs then.

Thinking about 5, 10 or 20 years into the future. What type of products or services may satisfy your customers needs? Although you cant envision the future, you can envision possibilities.

This may seem like a lot but this is the difference between the family business without a succession plan and building a business that will exist whether you are there on not. It is building a legacy, a business that will stand for what was once a passion turned into a business.

I hope it helps.

Spread love and stay blessed

Nomndeni Mdakhi
Change Catalyst

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4 Comments, RSS

  1. Siyanda.jako@gmail.com'

    SiyandaJ November 19, 2015 @ 1:26 pm

    Thank you for sharing this knowledge , I never missed it. You are a young lady that is comfortable in her own skin and selfless .You are one of a kind

  2. Adelaide.thank@gmail.com'

    Adelaide November 19, 2015 @ 4:56 pm

    Nomdeni gal thank you so much for ur wonderful advice. My sister and i have taken that big step of turning our passion which is cooking into a business. We have gone so far as to register a company which was a success. We now at the point where we are in need of funding so as to begin. One problem is we do not have any contacts and dnt really know which doors to knock on. If you could kindly set me off in the right direction i would be really appreciative.
    Looking forward to some feedback from you.
    Thank you so

  3. mhlaulic@gmail.com'

    Carol Mhlauli November 19, 2015 @ 6:05 pm

    Thank you Nomdeni for sharing such a profound information. I always look forward to your articles, turning an idea into a business is not a walk in the park, It requires constant learning and also growing as a person as well. I started a number of successful businesses and am learning from you everyday. You are doing such a noble thing to share information which many people out there charge for. May God reward and bless you in abundance. cheers!!!

  4. thandeka.banda@yahoo.com'

    ThandekaB November 23, 2015 @ 9:42 am

    Truly inspiring.. Thanks for sharing Nomdeni. God bless you.

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