Does Your Business Plan Reflect Your Vision?

Most often, we hear about the word vision when drawing out business plans and marketing campaigns. For some people writing their vision statement is more a less a competition of how well written or how powerful it sounds. How often do our visions reflect our dreams and hopes?

The Oxford Dictionary defines VISION as “The ability to think about or plan the future with imagination or wisdom” I see it as the application of wisdom to your dreams.

The first question is Do we dream?, If we do, what do we dream about? Are our business plans a reflection of these dreams? At the rate or with the direction our companies are taking, do we see the possibility of achieving our dreams.

When working with a client on starting a new business adventure, the first thing I’m interested in is the VISION. Having a beautiful business idea is great but doesn’t stand a chance without a real vision. Your vision builds a clear map and puts highlighted arrows directing you through the maze of life. A clear vision protects your business from the ‘trial and error’ phenomenon.

The keywords in the Oxford dictionary definitions are THINK, PLAN, FUTURE, IMAGINATION and  WISDOM. I strongly believe that being able to take out time to actually think through, reflect upon what you want out of your business, reasons for  running this business would not only help you succeed but guarantee a sustainable growth.  Give yourself the opportunity to dream about the missing pieces. Be creative! Since it’s your vision most people may not share it or believe in it as you would. That is where the application of wisdom comes in; knowing who to seek counsel from, and how to interpret these dreams in order to have a real-life reflection.

Jack Welch, the former Chairman and C.E.O of General Motors once said ” Good business leaders create a vision, articulate the vision, passionately own the vision, and relentlessly drive it to completion”

A vision isn’t really complete till it’s clearly written down, properly articulated and understood by you. Till it is a clear picture of your dreams and hopes that you can see constantly and without any form of confusion.

Let’s return to the drawing board! It’s time to DREAM, THINK, and Plan for a sustainable future. 

photo credits: http://www.pexels.com

 

 

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20 Definitions of Marketing

This article is a collection of marketing definitions from experts and is dedicated to all those that are curious to know what “MARKETING” is all about.

  1. Philip Kotler defines marketing as “the science and art of exploring, creating, and delivering value to satisfy the needs of a target market at a profit.  Marketing identifies unfulfilled needs and desires. It defines, measures and quantifies the size of the identified market and the profit potential. It pinpoints which segments the company is capable of serving best and it designs and promotes the appropriate products and services.”

 

  1. American Marketing Association defines marketing as the activity, set of institutions, and processes for creating, delivering and exchanging offerings that have value for customers, clients, partners and society at large.

 

  1. Julie Barile ( Vice President of eCommerce, Fairway Market) defines marketing as traditionally the means by which an organization communicates to, connects with, and engages its target audience to convey the value of and ultimately sell its products and services.  However, since the emergence of digital media, in particular social media and technology innovations, it has increasingly become more about companies building deeper, more meaningful and lasting relationships with the people that they want to buy their products and services. The ever-increasingly fragmented world of media complicates marketers’ ability connect and, at the same, time presents incredible opportunity to forge new territory.

 

  1. Peter Drucker: “Marketing is not only much broader than selling; it is not a specialized activity at all.  It encompasses the entire business.  It is the whole business seen from the point of view of the final result, that is, from the customer’s point of view.  Concern and responsibility for marketing must therefore permeate all areas of the enterprise.”

 

  1. Jay Conrad Levinson of Guerrilla Marketing fame defines marketing is any contact that your business has with anyone who isn’t a part of your business. Marketing is also the truth made fascinating. Marketing is the art of getting people to change their minds.  Marketing is an opportunity for you to earn profits with your business, a chance to cooperate with other businesses in your community or your industry and a process of building lasting relationships.

 

  1. The Chartered Institute of Marketing defines marketing as the management process responsible for identifying, anticipating and satisfying customer requirements profitably.

 

  1. Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania defines marketing is the process of anticipating, managing, and satisfying the demand for products, services, and ideas.

 

  1. Anne Holland (Publisher of http://www.whichTestWon.com) regards marketing as the umbrella covering research, branding, PR, advertising, direct response,promotions, loyalty, demand generation and more.

 

  1. Deborah Weinstein (President, Strategic Objectives): Marketing builds relationships between consumers and brands. The many disciplines that go into the process, together create a brand personality designed to be compatible with the target. Marketing romances the consumer in the hopes of establishing a long-term commitment. This takes persuasion and nothing moulds opinion like the third-party endorsement power of PR.

 

  1. Bill Tanner (Senior Director of Strategic Research, A. H. Belo): “Marketing from a scope perspective is anything that modifies the perceived value and/or desirability of a product or service. From a function perspective is moving the demand curve to the right, reducing the elasticity of demand.”

 

  1. Mark W. Schaefer (Executive Director of Schaefer Marketing Solutions) regards marketing as influencing behavior to get more people to buy more stuff, more often, for more money.

 

  1. David Meerman Scott (Bestselling author of Real-Time Marketing and PR) defines marketing as understanding your buyers really, really well. Then creating valuable products, services, and information especially for them to help solve their problems.

 

  1. Michael Puican (Associate Director of Corporate Training, DePaul University): “Marketing strives to connect a product or service with a market for that product or service.”

 

  1. Patrick Prothe (Marketing Communications Manager, Viewpoint Construction Software) defines marketing as all activities designed to attract and connect customers with the products and services they need. Includes inbound and outbound marketing tactics across all channels – one-to-one and one-to-many. Ideally, marketing fosters a long-term relationship, includes the entire customer brand experience – i.e. support and customer service. Marketing starts with the design of the product itself and extends through post purchase.

 

  1. Steve Dawson (President, Walkers Shortbread Inc.): “Marketing is products that don’t come back and consumers that do.

 

  1. Sharon Mostyn (Assistant Vice President, 1st Mariner Bank) defines marketing as an integrated, multi-channel (online and offline), customer-centric process used to define, segment, reach, and convince potential clients to purchase your product or service, followed by analyzing the metrics to refine your strategy and repeat the process as needed to optimize the ROI (return on investment).

 

  1. David W. Mischler (President, Altascend Consulting) defines marketing as the art and science of creating demand to drive profitable growth.

 

  1. Ann Z. Marshman (Executive Director, TheLeadersCouncil.com): Marketing defines the business opportunity, identifies profitable customers and products/services that will meet customer needs, builds customer relationships, drives customer demand and communicates corporate or product/services value.”

 

  1. Augustine Fou, (Founder, Marketing Science Consulting Group, Inc.) defines marketing as the process of exposing target customers to a product through appropriate tactics and channels, gauging their reaction and feedback, and ultimately facilitating their path to purchase.

 

  1. Paul Kulavis (Managing Partner, Sterling Park Group) defines marketing is discovering what the prospect wants and demands and delivering it more efficiently and effectively than the competition.

While research existing definitions, I was amazed at how many definitions were out there in regards to the word “marketing”. I realised the two common denominators in most definitions, are the references to products and services meeting customer satisfaction, as well as being profitable. The big question today is, how many companies are actually satisfying customers with their products and services? the begs the question of How successful is today’s marketing?

photo credits: http://www.pexels.com

 

 

Lets’ Define Business!

I realized recently, how difficult it could be to define certain ‘common’ business terms even with professionals like my humble self. There are some business terminologies we use almost everyday but can hardly explain what they really mean.

Therefore, I would be spending much of my time figuring out definitions for common business terms. These definitions would be from dictionaries, experts, and as usual my opinion. Lets’ start with the commonest and most basic of them all; BUSINESS.

What is Business?

Dictionary Definitions

www.oxforddictionaries.com : A person’s regular occupation, profession, or trade.

www.businessdictionary.com: An organization or economic system where goods and services are exchanged for one another or for money.

www.merriam-webster.com: 1. Purposeful Activity 2. a usually commercial or mercantile activity engaged in as a means of livelihood.

www.investopedia.com: A business is an organization or enterprising entity engaged in commercial, industrial or professional activities.

Definitions by Authors & Experts

James Stephenson: “Every human activity which is engaged in for the sake of earning profit may be called business.”

B. W.G Wheeler: “An institution organized and operated to provide goods and services to the society, under the incentive of private gain”

L. H. Haney: Human activities directed toward providing or acquiring
wealth through buying and selling of goods.”

Afuah Allan (2004): “Business is a set of activities undertaken to create a way to develop and transform the power to goods or services that consumers want.

Glos, Steade and Lowry (1996): Business is the sum of all the activities organized by the people who engaged in commerce and industry that provides goods and services to the needs of maintaining and improving standards and quality of their lives.

Musselman and Jackson (1992): An activity that meets the needs of society and the economy and the company is organized to engage in these activities.

Prof. L.R. Dicksee: That business is a form of activity that is primarily intended for the benefit for those who seek or are interested in the occurrence of the event.

Wow!!! So many definitions to pick from. Lets’ see,what are the common factors or denominators found in these definitions?

  1. Activity: These definitions clearly state that a business  is an activity or endeavor.
  2. Purpose Driven: Also clearly stated is the fact that these activities have to achieve a purpose. Which could be for profit, improving standards and quality of lives or to satisfy consumer wants and needs.
  3. Goods & Services: A running theme is the provision of goods and services in one form or another.

Lets’ feel free to define business in our own words in the comment box, as well as critique the existing definitions above.

In your own words “WHAT IS BUSINESS?”

Photo credits: http://www.pexels.com

The Fear of Starting Your Own Business

This post is to the future entrepreneurs out there. As much as I really love the concept of entrepreneurship, it’s my belief that not everyone is meant to be an entrepreneur. That said, I acknowledge the fact that most people are scared to start out on their own.

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As a Business Development Consultant, I’ve come across several individuals looking to set up their own businesses but can’t just seem to muster up the courage to do so. I’ll attempt to outline two possible ‘fear factors’ for future entrepreneurs below.

  • What if I fail?: Most of us wonder about many unforeseen circumstances and get really scared when we can’t find answers to most of these never ending questions, we fear the unknown so much that we find it easier not to start at all. To all those scared of business failure, my question to you is WHAT IF YOU SUCCEED? What if your business thrives? What if most of all these unfortunate circumstances cooked up in your mind never happens? I believe we could conquer the fear of failure, by believing and working towards success.
  • Who would be interested in my products and services?: Arguably, this is a justified question to ask oneself before embarking on a business endeavor but it becomes a problem when this question consumes you till you are too scared to begin. Question I usually ask start-up clients are; what problem does your product or service solve? How unique are these products and services? How well can you deliver these products and services? A really good way of conquering the above mentioned fear factor is to begin by answering these questions.

Let’s quickly go over some great advantages of starting your own business:

  • Job Security: You are your own boss, which means you have the liberty to do things your own way and no one gets to fire you.
  • Creativity: Being your own boss allows for proper expression of your creative juices.
  • Financial Independence: Although start-ups aren’t easy they can be very profitable with proper business planning.
  • Job Creation: It’s really satisfying to know you are helping this world become a better place by employing others.

Though this list is just the tip of the iceberg, it’s important to note that this is no quid pro quo, letting go of your fear allows for you to benefit from the joys of owning your own business but this only work with proper business planning and implementation.

I agree starting your own business can be a daunting task and lots of businesses pack up in their first year of commencement but as Dale Carnegie wrote; “If you want to conquer fear, don’t sit home and think about it. Go out and get busy.” and one of my favourites by Stacey London, a well-known Fashion Consultant;

“Don’t let fear or insecurity stop you from trying new things. Believe in yourself. Do what you love.”

 

 

Importance

There’s Dignity in Labour 

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It’s become increasingly common these days to find people looking for shortcuts in business. Unfortunately, there is none. In my opinion all successful business tips are incomplete without hard work.

The philosophy of dignity of labour advocated by prominent figures like Mahatma Gandhi states that, all types of jobs are to be treated equal. Irrespective of whether it’s intellect or labour focused. No job should be considered more superior to the other. John Cormack, one of the best engineers of our time, said “Hard work spotlights the character of people: some turn up their sleeves, some turn up their nose and some don’t turn up at all.” Personally, I’d prefer to always be counted among the first category of people(turning up my sleeves).

Presently, many Africans are fleeing the continent at all costs to seek greener pastures in Europe and North America. Let’s not forget that, Europe was once upon a time considered as backward and underdeveloped as some countries in Africa are today. I believe that the concept of “dignity in labour”; where all citizens were mandated to take up their own share of the responsibility of nation building, went a long way to making most European countries what they are today. It’s time we abandon the prevailing culture of “Get Rich Quick” schemes. Every successful business story was built on HARD WORK and EXCELLENCE. There’s nothing wrong in getting our hands dirty or spending quite a long time on a task if it means getting the job done in order to excel. There can be no development without hard work.

One of the best  coaches in history of American football clearly shared my opinion on hard work when he said:

“The dictionary is the only place that success comes before work. Work is the key to success and hard work can help you accomplish anything.”

 


 

My Top 3 Tips to Make Networking Seriously Easy (And a little fun)

I stumbled upon this write-up. It struck me as really practical and a great read.

I know, I know, networking sucks. It’s such an awkward experience: You walk into a room where you don’t know anyone and you’re supposed to magic up an interesting conversation and build a relationship in the span of a few minutes.

huh?

I’ve found that the more you network, the easier it gets because it becomes more natural, in turn making it even easier. Practice makes perfect. Every time.

But if you’re just starting to get the hang of it and don’t know how to shake your case of the awkwards, I’ve got three tried-and-true tips for you to feel confident walking in to any room.

Walk up to a small group of 2-3 people and ask, “Can I join you?”

You might be having flashbacks to high school, freshman year, when you were looking for a seat in the cafeteria and trying to figure out the friendliest place to…

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Customers Don’t Bite!

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My first experience in sales was way back in my early teens in Ghana. At that time, my mum was running a bakery(don’t get me started on fresh bread!) and had this bread van, the salesperson and driver used.

On this very day, mum asked me to go along; I’m sure she wanted to expose her daughter in her own little way to the world of trading. The Van parked at this busy spot and the sales lady had this small bell she kept ringing to attract customers. I was to approach customers and get them to buy some bread. Was I scared? YES! to the bone. Well, I mustered up some courage and approached someone. My first prospect was an older lady who declined with a smile, which gave me the courage to go on to the next person. Some people bought bread from me that day and some didn’t. I heard a lot of “next time” from most folks.

For an introvert like me, approaching strangers is no easy task. Maybe my young age helped with the kind declines I got, I can’t really say for certain. But that day I learnt two vital lessons.

  • Lesson 1: Approach every customer with a smile. It works magic in mos!
  • Lesson 2: Don’t give up! Just keep at it. Some may buy, others won’t. Next time they might. At least they’ve been exposed to the brand. A thought process has begun, that could in turn kick-start a chain reaction of possible future calls which could lead to new affiliations, partnerships and also some referrals.

It is perfectly normal to be nervous, uncertain or even scared of approaching someone for the first time. it could even be someone familiar. for some people, sales comes naturally to them, while some of us have to work hard at it.

Guess what? Customers don’t bite! Just begin with a smile.

 

 

Let’s Talk Business

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Those who know me, would agree that I’m more of a reader and a talker than a writer. That begs the question; why a business blog?

A great person once said: “learning is sharing” I am really passionate about all aspects of business. Name the field and you would find Faith(me), reading, listening to or talking about it. This is an illustration of my decision to start writing about this great passion of mine. Business can be said to be at the core of development; hence the purpose of this blog would be to promote global sustainable business development, with Africa, as the focus through:

  • Sharing of great ideas, opinions and thoughts.
  • Development and introduction of innovative concepts.
  • Counsel and encouragement of individuals, as well  as  new and existing businesses.

Please don’t leave me blabbering all by myself. Come on board and LET’S TALK BUSINESS everyone!