5 Business lessons from one customer at a time

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I have found nothing more educational in business than engaging with customers. My career span comes from an environment where customers were such an effective sound board in everything the organization did. The involvement of real customers in your business pushes it to a much productive, effective and a new level.
As a new kid in the block, I am making use of the learnings in shaping my business. The lessons learned from customers are ranging from Service Research, product improvements, competitor intelligence and customer experience.
1. Customer Experience – Customers who are bold in sharing their experiences about your business give you an insight that is rare and expensive. This experience is an opportunity to get to know the emotional side of your business. It helps you perform a number of activities to enhance or improve whatever experiences customers are experiencing. This engagement helps you to re-look at your customer service strategy and ensure that it is still relevant to deal with the kind of customers you have in your business. This focus eliminates all poor performance areas and pay more attention to good experiences customers are sharing with you. Getting experiences from customers who know more than you do is also an important educational tool for your business that is still growing. Be receptive to such and encourage it.
2. Customer Service Strategy – Service strategies are created with a customer in mind. They are there to increase customer relationships, eliminate all unnecessary huddles between your business and the customer. Engaging with customers gives you a platform to assess your strategies, rectify and improve whatever needs to be improved. Customers become the perfect sound board in giving you the correct feedback about what is and not working. Taking the time to engage with customers gives you a perfect platform to gain a competitive advantage over competitors that are neglecting customers. Their feedback is a key to gaining insight and it empowers you to improve critical customer aspects in your business.
3. Product/Service Pricing – As a new business in the market, you turn to use various number of pricing strategies. Pricing strategies for most new incomers at a lower level of their entrepreneurial journey are sometimes misaligned and detrimental to the new business. More often we over price products and services because we want to break-even quicker. This approach has a negative impact on customer’s pockets and makes it hard for your business to attract and retain customers. We all don’t get things correct the first time, but listening to customers gives you direction in terms of how your prices are structured. Customers will always inform you if they are the correct target market or if your products or services are under or over priced. Your attention to such feedback allows you to make required adjustments.
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4. Market Changes or developments – Your customers are your competitors customers, they don’t belong to you alone. They are your eyes and ears out in the environment, They often get the first hand experience and are willing to share it with you. This is free information and education on what is happening in their industries or other industries. Once you make the time, they are always willing to share. This information is quite valuable to your business and provides continuous study of your competitors.
5. Competitor insights Customers are your big competitor analysts and are sure willing to tell you what you are not doing but your competitors are doing. Although they sometimes use this insight as their negotiation power to get more value. Paying attention to what they are saying about competitors is gold to you as a business owner. Encourage it and make use of the feedback to assess if you are still on track.
Business owners often think that someone else must engage with customers on their behalf. They come into business and be swamped with a lot of things except engaging customers. This is a big mistake for both small and big businesses, customers are the main drivers of your existence and they decide if you stay longer in business or not. Spending time with them ensures that your business is definitely productive and profitable, but more over, is sustainable.

Impact of LEADERSHIP visibility in the business

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So how have you showed up in your business today, have you showed up with your best foot forward or just as your usual self? These are some of the questions your employees and customers ask everyday in your business, they wonder if they will ever see their leader lead the day, let alone the business throughout the day.

Growing up in big corporates, I have learned the impact of leadership visibility in business. having left the corporate environment and embarked on entrepreneurship, i have come to appreciate the fact that entrepreneurs are juggling many balls at once, everything else on their plate is a pressing matter, it requires their attention. Despite all these daily demands, they still need to make the time and effort to show up in places that are most important,’Their business’.I have appreciated how some leaders have innovated their leadership visibility in the 21st century. How customers and employees have grown from seeing their leaders being visible, just to enhance their work and customer buying experiences.

  1. First hand experience- There is no better learning about your business than to get it from both your customers and employees. This experience allows you to see things from both the employee and customer perspective. it allows you to understand your business fully and improve your problem solving and decision making on certain business aspects. It provides you with valuable insights that can help your decision making process to improve customer and employee touch points in your business..

  2. Develop crucial relationships- with both customers and employees at the same time. Most customers feel appreciated when engaging with the organization from that level. This becomes a stored experience for them and they sure share it with their families and friends. Employees get an opportunity to connect with their leaders at a much deeper level. This connection creates a special level of motivation and employees are able to address issues, share ideas and share customer experiences both positive and negative. this engagement provides leaders with first hand experience and the opportunity to improve their business.

  3. Opportunity to engage- with both your staff members and customers about anything that could enhance their experience of association with your business. It also allows you an opportunity to understand things from a social level. you will be amazed of what you can learn when interacting with people from a social level, in their own environment, while embracing their natural behaviour. Engaging leadership uncoveres a lot of value from both customers and employees. It creates a favourable platform for all to give feedback, whether positive of negative. This feedback provides leadrship in the business with a clear understanding of what is going rights and what is not.

  4. Commitment renewal-  everytime leaders are visible in their businesses, there is high level of commitment renewal. This renewal is predominantly from employees who see and regard this visibility as an inspiration for them. Leaders should not under estimate the power of one minute talk with employees or customers, it does more to people in terms of motivation than any extrinsic reward you will ever offer. Committed employees give more in terms of productivity and customer engagement and service. As for customers, they committ to supporting the business by continuing buying products and services offered by the company.

  5. Self Learning- for leaders who are making and taking the time to be visible. There is an opportunity to understand the business from people who are engaging with it on daily basis, either from customer or process perspective. There is nothing valuable than this level of learning for leaders in business. this is valuable and inexpensive learning that will allow you as an entrepreneur to improve the manner in which you solve customer’s problems in the market.

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In recent years we have seen leaders extending their visibility to social media platforms. This has allowed leaders a much bigger opportunity and impact in responding to pressing challenges in their businesses. This type of visibility also enhances the level of engagement with both employees and customers, thus improving relationships and confidence in the leadership of the business..

The impact leaders can have;

  • Share Business plans- I am a strong believer that if your employees cannot communicate your plans or strategies to clients, then your strategies will fail. Share as much as possible with your employees about what is happening in the business from a strategy level and what is to come.

  • Knowledge Transfer – Ensure that the correct knowledge is consistently transfered to your people to empower them to make certain decisions. this knowledge must also be transferred to customers who are interested in this knowledge. This could be product/service knowledge or process knowledge customers are looking for. Leaders can have a significant impact in doing this in their businesses.

  • Coaching –  Perform the “on the spot” coaching, it is more effective that you can imagine. it allows you to improve gaps immediately. This is also a big motivating aspect for employees as it increases their confidence in doing their work.

  • Develop Employees – Small businesses are constrained in terms of resources. As an entrepreneur, ensure that you have correctly structured development plans for their employees, especially in the decision making roles in order to correctly empower them. This development will help to alleviate some of the unnecessary pressures so that you can focus on working ‘On’ your business than working ‘In’ the business.

Small business owners and entrepreneurs can learn a lot from this engagement. They can capitalize on this knowledge and make a much bigger impact in their immediate space by influencing decision making and driving performance and business culture. This visibility should not just be physical and non productive. it should be to lead and engage the entire business from all angles, from customers to business processes.

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5 Steps to Customer Centered Business

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Customer centered businesses know that the right “Customer is king”, there is no doubt about that phrase, and it has been around for a very long time. I have listened to people in organizations putting a number of spins into the phrase such as ” a paying customer is king” or “a profitable customer is king”. Whatever spin you want to put in, the fact is that customer centered businesses are much more successful than those who are running after making quick money.

The right customer – this seems to be a big issue for most new business owners who are just coming into the business field. The challenge of not taking the time to segment and target customers properly is a killer in business. Knowing your customer before you even open the doors of your business is key. Business people just rush into making money without understanding the basics. Knowing who your right Customer is plays a big role in the success of your business. Successful businesses are spending enormous time and resources in understanding who their right customers are. Their success, profitability and sustainability is not by mistake. Small business owners can build their businesses around customers and succeed. Here are 5 steps that can help you achieve that:

1. Knowing Your customer – Products and services are designed and targeted to customers, but not all customers. The moment you spend time in understanding the type of customers you want to interact with and service, the better the prospects for your business. Invest a lot of time in identifying and knowing this customer. Know their age, where do you find them, their education, what do they do, what kind of jobs do they do, who do they socialize with, where else to they buy your products/services. This basic information will help you profile your customer the right way.

2. Customer Engagement – A bigger part of customers centered companies  is through engaging with your customers. Customer connectivity is key, make sure that you are connected to customers either in person, online or through social media platforms. Sometimes business owners neglect this aspect of their responsibility and hope that someone else will do it for them. Take the time out and engage with customers physically. This engagement with customers is gold to business owners. This is where your  growth and real learning comes from. Engaging with customers open doors to opportunities. It allows you to understand the value of your products to customers, pricing, competitor analysis, product innovation, product distribution and overall business efficiencies and effectiveness. Customer centered businesses get all this education for free.

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3. Customer Service – Is improved when customers are at the center of your business. This also gives you an opportunity to develop and implement every business strategies and processes with a customer in mind. Your business will always be aligned with what customers are demanding over and above just products and services. Make sure that your business is ready to provide services to customers. Structure your business with processes and systems that favour the customer in terms of service delivery, this indicates that you are open for business and ready to serve customers.

4. Customer Retention – It is cost intensive to look for new customers, especially if your business is still at an introductory phase and making strides to grow. Building your business around customers retains profitable customers. It allows you to continuously improve the value of your products and the processes of delivering that products efficiently to customers. Implementing customer focused strategies can sure improve the retention of valuable customers. This retention of the right customers gives you a competitive advantage to grow your business organically. It allows you to increase the share of wallet by cross selling, up selling other products or services.

5. Customer Feedback – In the world of digital technology, it has become critical for your business to be 100% wired to social networks. This enables you to understand what customers are talking about, what is their new thinking, buying behavior, what are they saying about products, services in general, competitors, market trends etc. Participate in those discussions, provide solutions and education if you can. Always give customers feedback on complaints and requests. Poor customer feedback is the biggest complain for most businesses. Businesses do not make the time to listen or give customers feedback.

The moment you take the time and do basic things to improve customer experience. You are sure putting them at the centre of your business. You are guaranteed to run a well engaged and a profitable business in the long run

Reflection – 5 Steps to Effectively learn your business

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Most often we dont have the time to stop, look back and learn from the road we have travelled. This process is called a “reflection” process. Reflection is the way we learn from an experience in order to understand and develop practice – Jasper. This is when we connect the dots backwards and learn from experiences we have gone through. Reflecting on experiences is the most effective way of learning, whether as a personal growth or business growth. As a business owner, you are expected to plan your business for the year ahead. Taking the time out to reflect on what has happened in the past year gives you a much more valuable  data to work with in your planning process.

Look at the following 5 reflecting tips before you engage in any business planning for your business:

1. Purpose and Vision – Running a business can stop certain parts of your life completely if you are not aware. Taking the time to reflect on your business purpose and vision helps you to ascertain if the business is still in line with the bigger picture as intended. it also helps to establish if all activities you have done in your business supports the purpose and vision of your business. This reflection allows you to rectify what has gone wrong, align what has been misaligned, enhance what has worked well and improve what needs to be improved. Reflecting on your Company Purpose and vision helps you to have a much clearer picture of what needs to happen while developing your business.

2. Company Values – Most successful businesses are value led businesses. If your business is built around values, it is crucial that you stop and revaluate your values. One of the effective methods of doing this revaluation is to reflect on both your personal and company values to determine the alignment of these values. Reflecting on Values ensures that your conduct and employee’s conduct is still in line with your company’s values. Most small business owners disregard the elements of values in their businesses. For entrepreneurs that are growth and impact focused, values are critical elements of their business continuity and sustainability. Reflecting on values and your experiences around them keeps you in sync with the behavour and practices of your entire business.

3. Goals – What have you achieved for the year that has passed, is it in line with what you have planned?. Identify all that needs to be improved in the planning process and have an action plan on how to improve. Reflect on the goals and how you have gone by to achieving your business goals. What have you done differently to see phemoninal results, what can you do differently in future to maintain the same level of results?. Reflect on whether your goals are still in line with your vision and purpose. Make sure that you are still pursuing the right things that will lead you to success. Reflect whether you have achieved or not, learn how you have achieved certain goals and understand why others were not achieved and device an action plan that will help you achieve in future.

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4. Your Leadership Impact – What has been your leadership impact in running your business. Remember that your business is the reflection of your leadership. Do you think you have led the business effectively to the direction in which you want it to go?. How has your leadership been to your employees and customers?. Look at what have you done well, what can you develop going forward and what are the key learnings on your leadership as a business owner. All these elements form an important part of reflecting on your leadership and its impact on the final results.

5. Personal Growth – Dont neglect to take out nuggets for yourself in all this. Reflecting on your growth as a person makes you a much better leader and an entrepreneur. Understand what has just happened and identify critical experiences and how you have dealt with such experiences. What are the take outs and areas of development, How will those make a difference in shaping your journey going forward. Personal development should be prioritised at all times, there must be a deliberate personal development plan in place to help you develop as an entrepreneur. Invest resources and time in achieving this as your success as an entrepreneurs is dependent on it.

Share some of the results of your reflections with your employees and help them to do the same process. They will help you with a set of extra eyes and ears in building your business going forward.

New Employee Induction – 6 Fundamental steps

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Welcoming new employees in an organization is an important process that most organizations don’t dedicate time and effort to do it right. This is the most neglected responsibility by both the organization and managers. Big organizations have human resource capability that design and deliver induction programme to new employees. They sometimes get it wrong or don’t do it at all. This has a negative impact to the new employee in the long-term.
Induction is the process of  assisting new employees to integrate into the new organization. This process is important in providing an employee with the basic information and skills they require to be successful in performing their new job. Induction is the first of the three processes that must be spread over a period of time.
Small business owners are faced with different set of challenges they need to overcome in inducting new employees. The lack of human resources in small companies forces owners to perform the induction process themselves. It is not easy, especially if you do not know how. The first week is crucial in providing an employee with important information before they even start working. The first week must cover the six fundamental steps:
1. Deal with Anxieties – This is probably the biggest benefit of induction. Changing or starting a new job is a stressful activity for the employee. It comes with a lot of anxiety and uncertainty that creates discomfort for the new employee. The effectiveness of the induction process eliminates some of the anxiety for the candidate. The sooner you address concerns and questions , the better the employee will feel and be empowered to make informed decisions. Clarify The job with the new employee, this includes the scope and the scale of the job. It also includes the discussion of the employment contract and the conditions on the employment contract.
2. The bigger Picture – Managers must articulate the bigger picture to new employees in terms of the company purpose, vision, mission and values. This is an important part of integrating an employee to the company. The employee must know what the company represent and where and how is it going to get to the desired state. Values must be broken down in terms of behavior and conduct, and be emphasized to the employee. This is the first set of introducing the culture of the company to an employee.

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3. Company Structure – The structure must be broken down in terms of who sits in the structure. The hierarchy and who reports to who. The roles must be explained and how do they connect and align to the bigger picture. This understanding of the structure makes it easy for the new employee to understand the company in terms of its leadership. Who is responsible and accountable for what in the company. Depending on the size of the company and if whether there are departments or not. if the size is big and there are branches in other areas, this information must be shared with the new employee. Never assume that the employee knows.
4. Products/ Services – This aspect is often neglected by most people when conducting an induction. This is an ongoing process that takes place at different times of product/service cycle. The basic understanding of what the company is offering to customers should be provided to an employee. Managers must not shy away from sharing product/service knowledge with new incomers to the company.
5. Target Market – Your new employee must know about the customer your business is servicing. They must know where to find that customer, how old is that customer, if your customer works or not and what to say to that customer when they come across it. The customer profile of most small business is not clearly defined, hence is not shared with employees. business owners must invest time and effort in profiling their target market and making sure that right customers are known by all employees.
6. Job alignment to the bigger Purpose – The clarity on the job must be extended In relation to the purpose of the organization. New employees must understand how their jobs impact the bigger picture. This increases focus and eliminate waste in performing the job. Most managers do not create this alignment with new employees, they think that clarifying the job only is enough.
Managers and owners in the small business environment are compelled to perform all these tasks in order to integrate new employees effectively to the company. they must also remember that induction is the first step into fitting the new employee in the company. It’s an ongoing process, care and dedication must be exercised in planning the programme and its delivery. Once done properly the first time around, a number of problems will be eliminated going forward. It is a very valuable process for both the employee and the employer if done correct.

Effective Business Collaborations that add Value

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2016 has been one fulfilling year in terms of learning from business collaboarations and coming into reality with the business environment. Part of this fulfillment is the ability to share all these learnings with those who are thinking of starting their own business journey. Starting your own business is a thrilling process that is overwhelming at times. New comers in the business landscape are faced with large number of decisions before hitting the ground running. bigger part of these decisions are not limited to segmentation and targeting, market developments and getting closer to the target market, Finance, creating networks, building effective teams etc. The owner is further faced with dealing with internal structure of the business, making sure that all is in place while trying to run his business. Most of these activities are done from a silo mentality by the owner. This is probably not the best option for those who have not experienced the value of effective collaboration with other businesses.

As a small and less resourced business, I found myself doing more and more of everything, swamped with lots of activities i should not be spending time doing. When an opportunity to collaborate came through, i thought that would lessen some of my painful areas. I jumped into the opportunity and neglected the basic fundamentals of collaboration.

There are number of benefits for small and start-up companies to enter into collaborations with more established companies. These benefits are not limited to:

  • The tremendous accelerated growth of both the owner and the business.
  • Business people turn to learn a great deal of knowledge and the know how from established companies.
  • This know how spreads from business processes to market development , customer base building and any other critical aspects of the business that are crucial to your success.
  • acknowledging strengths and developmental areas, and ask for help when necessary. help is always at an arm’s length when required.
  • A platform to combine resources and solve customer and business problems more effectively with well resource businesses

There are however some dark and blind spots in this process that you need to be aware of, not everyone is in it for a common goal. Be cautious of these;

  1.  Choose your collaborators wisely –  Ensure that you take the time to choose companies or people you want to collaborate with. Understand more about your potential collaborator and the value you seek from them as well as the value you want to give.
  2. Be careful of collaborating with people whose competencies and skills are not clear. Never jump into a relationship with someone without spending time in establishing their core skill,value and how they are planning to work with you, especially if its individuals and companies that are similar to your situation.
  3. Also note that people have their intentions when in comes to collaborations. Pay extra care into some strange  behaviours that are developing during this process and engage them immediately.

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Your Responsibility

  • Make a collaboration a strategic element – New owners wake up and decide to enter into collaborations or business alliances without addressing the “why” and “how”. Ensure that you have strategic reasons as to why you want a part of your business to be involved in collaborations.
  • Don’t just expect value, also give value – I have come across people asking to collaborate and end up being value takers instead of reciprocity. This is a bad practice and should be avoided at all costs if your intention is to grow in business.
  • Make your intentions clear – Let your collaborator know exactly what you want to achieve from the collaboration. Expect the same from people you are collaborating with. Be upfront about your intentions and avoid surprising your potential collaborators with practices that are not in line with their business.
  • Act with integrity and be honest – This is one element you should practice in any business or personal dealings. Practice honesty all the time, especially in a relationship that is trying to accelerate your business to the next level. Most incoming businesses lose this aspect and focus on quick material gains and forget the long-term and a bigger picture.
  • Say ‘No’ – Never be afraid to say “No” to someone or a business if you are not comfortable with either the person or the proposal. You will always find those who will take advantage of you and want to swing money out of you. be careful of such people and say “NO” if you come across such situations.

The next time you seek to collaborate with a potential company, ensure that you have prepared yourself and know exactly what you want from the collaboration. also Remember that:

  • An effective business collaboration is a relationship of business reciprocity, it is not a one way street. Know how will you play a role in that relationship.
  • Business collaboration is like any other relationship. it requires time, effort and commitment for it to succeed.
  • Customers are a crucial asset of any business. they are constantly protected from the competition or anything that threatens them. Respect these customers if you are given a privilege to access them. they are not yours, they belong to your collaborator.
  • There is no business that will open its doors to you to have free access to its customers. It costs Businesses resources and effort to acquire customers. Be honest to the collaboration and don’t poach customers, it’s not worth it.
  •  You will get rejections and empty promises in most instances, celebrate those and move to other well receptive opportunities

Collaboration is not just an exercise that a business should find itself in, it is an imperative strategic element that should be planned, performed consciously by the business owner. Once done effectively, it can make wonders for you and your business in future.

Trouble Maker S.A, House Music Group From Kwa-Mhlanga, Mpumalanga

Background

Trouble Maker S.A is a Kwa-Mhlanga based House music group established in 2006 by frontFannie Ngobeni AKA Mantjingelani and Mandla Msiza AKA Ndevu. This energetic and high performing group has performed over 300 small and middle sized events across kwa-Ndebele and its surrounding Areas. They are not new comers in the music and performance scene. Having grown up in Kwa-Mhlanga area; Trouble Maker S.A has become a local household name in the Kwa-Mhlanga and surrounding areas. They are known for their exhilarating dance moves and energy on the stage. “We are Trouble Makers when it comes to our craft.” This confidence has won the hearts of their fans and commanded respect from some of their peers in the local music scene.

Music Career

The members of this group started their music careers as upcoming solo musicians. Like any other artist in South Africa, especially the music industry, they had to learn their way up. They decided to join forces in 2006 and formed Trouble Maker S.A. In 2007 while they were launching their music career as a music group, they decided to dance for Sisco-T, who is one of the well-known Hip Hop artists in the Kwa-Ndebele area. He allowed them an opportunity to introduce their songs through opening for him at his gigs. Fannie and Mandla continued working in the entertainment scene as both dancers and musicians. They have also worked with a large number of well established artists in the Mpumalanga and other provinces. Some of these artists are not limited to Sisco-T, Mr Nice, Trade Mark SA, Patrick J. They have shared the stage with the likes of: Oskido, Dr Malinga, Teargas, Pro-kid, DJ Cleo, Sisco T, Chomi, Thulibathi, Big Naz and Trade Mark RSA. This experience has allowed them an opportunity to learn and become this vibrant crew they have become. “We cannot concentrate in a smaller environment anymore, we want our craft to be appreciated by a bigger audience and we feel that we have what it takes to achieve that”. This level of commitment has separated Trouble Maker S.A from the crowd and they are indeed on their way to achieve their aspirations as national and mainstream artists.

Current Projects

Trouble maker S.A is currently busy with their debut single calledtrouble maker CD“Ïs’shimane” (https://www.dropbox.com/s/tp8qn044qgl46eq/Troublemaker%20S.A_Is%27shimane%28original%29.mp3?dl=0 )  to be released in May-06- 2016. This single is the beginning of their musical milestone as fully fledged performing artists. Mantjingelani and Ndevu feel that it is the perfect time to take their music career to a different level. Their bigger goal is to be national artists, capture the home audience and entrench their brand in the mind of South African music lovers. The group will embark on National Media campaign to promote and create awareness around them and their debut single. The single will also be supported by the launch and followed by tours around the Mpumalanga and other provinces. “We have been behind the scenes for far too long”, it is their time to show fans and Mzansi what they are capable of as recording and performing artists in the local music industry.Continue reading “Trouble Maker S.A, House Music Group From Kwa-Mhlanga, Mpumalanga”

Reflecting on 2013 personal container and lessons learned

imageThere is one trend that is consistent every year, the trend of making New Year’s resolutions. Resolutions are simple personal goals we come up with for the year ahead. We treat goals  differently as individuals. Some of us take them as a personal and private activity that cannot be shared with anyone. While others feel no need to keep them private. Goals are different for each one of us; we put all sorts of things down and work towards achieving them. We usually get fascinated at the beginning of each year, motivated, enthusiastic and ready for action. At the end of the year when we review what we have achieved, we come up with  intelligent answers as to why we did not achieve.

These goals are ranging from:

  • Getting Married,
  • Buying a new car
  • Changing a job
  • Quit smoking and alcohol and the list is endless.

My 2013 Container I am one of the people who make resolutions every year. for me this is just a promise that I make to myself every year. I usually take yourself as a second person when making this promise. I treat it as if the second person I have made this promise to is expecting me to deliver the promise on the set date. In my container for 2013 I had a number of things, some were achieved in 2013 and others will be achieved in future. I make sure that when I make these goals, I only focus on few, especially those that will open opportunities for other goals. The following were my goals in my container for 2013:

  • Education
  • Business
  • Growth
  • Social
  • Family and Personal

Some of these goals are small and achievable in the short term, and others are big and achievable in the medium to long term. I also make sure that I keep my timeline within 12 calendar months to complete or start a goal.

My goals are CSMART: C= challenging S= specific M= Measurable A= Achievable R= Reachable T= Time bound. This keeps me motivated and willing, to put more effort into driving actions that will lead me into achieving these goals. I don’t make goals on things that are business as usual, but I make sure that I accelerate those that are already part of my life. I always prioritize goals according to the level of my strengths and opportunities. This gives me enough freedom to be effective and efficient in executing goals that I am pursuing. I have noticed people spending more time on things they know they will not achieve with their current strengths. I rather spend 95% of my time and resources on things that are within my reach (strengths), than spend 95% of my time on things that I know I won’t be able to achieve. I find this method working for me and I am effective when my allocation is within my strengths.

I like sharing my resolutions with those who are close to me. I often have a session with both my mentor and my coach around resolutions at the beginning of the year. It helps to have someone motivating and holding me accountable on the things I want to achieve. It also attaches a level of seriousness and commitment to those goals. I find people having a long list of goals, and not sharing with anyone.

Reflecting on 2013 container: Reflection is an important skill I have learned this year, it allows me to take stock in all the components of my life. It allows me to put things into perspective, appreciate what has gone well and acknowledge what has not gone so well. It also gives me a moment of measuring all the activities I have committed to and put that tick where necessary. I use this technique all the time, every week I make sure that I look back and see how things have gone. This allows me to pick up celebration and shortfalls quicker and deal with them appropriately. I am able to have an opportunity to review certain things before embarking on the way forward.

2013 has been a great year for me, a year of achievements. I have achieved at least 80% of the things I wanted to achieve in all the categories. In some instances I have achieved more than I have planned for. This year presented me with so much, I have grown so much in 2013 compared to other years, and I am grateful for that. There are also areas I did not achieve and I have intelligent answers for those. Those I did not achieve, I will prioritise them in 2014 and deal with them accordingly.

2014: This will be another opportunity for me and you to give it another shot at those resolutions we were unable to achieve. It will be another chance to pick up where we left off in 2013. This time around, let’s have a maximum of five goals that we can achieve, instead of having 20 that we cannot achieve. I have my five goals for 2014 already, and I am happy to share them with this community.

  • Focus on the growth of my business
  • Register for a scriptwriting course
  • Read 20 leadership material
  • Improve on relationships
  • Learn the television and movie industry (The business side)

I hope by the end of 2014, I will be talking celebrations with you, celebrating all we have achieved for 2014. Happy 2014…..

I never knew that online content was king

Understanding your online audience

Understanding your audience is crucial in choosing the correct content. It allows you to construct and send correct messages to your audience. I have learned that online writing is different from print and any other type of writing. The 76% of people who read on the web, read differently compared to those in print. They scan instead of reading the entire document or content. The more you know your audience, the better the chance of selecting the correct content for your audience.

Audience and the online content trust issues

Trust is crucial in driving correct traffic into a website. Trusted websites are content driven, not design driven. The look and feel of a website plays a role, but not as crucial as content. Well organized websites provide users with material that is frequently updated. It is important for website writers to know and ensure that content is updated all the time. There is nothing frustrating than going into a site and find that the content is outdated. When this happens, people lose trust and might not visit your site anymore.

Three primary online content trust factors

  • The content must be good
  • Properly researched and developed
  • The design must be simple
  • There must be few grammatical errors

The good online content is king, and spending time on searching good content will save you time and the audience. It is the combination of different factors that retain and attract audience to a website. As an Web writer you need to be aware of the needs of your online audience and meet them with good content.

South African music industry, lacking an Africa continent perspective

The South African music landscape is continuously changing, writing off our South African musicians.  SA artists are constantly dealing with market changes in both music and the business scene.

I had an opportunity to witness one of Africa’s music video awards on the 30th Novembera-pg-1 2013. This was the 10th year of channel O Africa music awards. These awards were held in Soweto Johannesburg, South Africa. The awards were opened to all artists in the Africa continent and most best acts in the continent were fully represented.

The awards consisted of 14 different categories, and consisted some of the strongest contenders in the continent. The competition was pushed to a different level and the strength of each was tested to the limit. Stephen Amanza commented and provided the list of all the winners on;

http://www.360nobs.com/2013/11/channel-o-music-video-awards-2013-full-list-of-winners/

List of Winners

  • Most gifted kwaito Video                                         PROFESSOR FT OSIKIDO & CHARACTER – Finger Prints [Winner]
  • Most gifted African (East) Video                             P-UNIT FT COLLO: You Guy (Dat Dendai) [Winner]
  • Most gifted African (West) Video                            P-Square – Alingo (Winner)
  • Most gifted Ragga/Dancehall Video                       P-UNIT FT COLLO – You Guy (Dat Dendai) [Winner]
  • Most gifted R&B Video                                              Banky W-  Yes/No (Winner)
  • Most gifted Hip-Hop Video                                      AKA – Jealousy [Winner]
  • Most gifted African (South) Video                          OSKIDO – Tsa Mandebele [Winner]
  • Most gifted Dance Video                                           MAFIKIZOLO – Khona [Winner]
  • Most gifted Afro Pop Video                                      THE SOIL FT ZAKWE – Linkomo [Winner]
  • Most gifted Duo/Group/Featuring Video             ZONEFAM – Contolola [Winner]
  • Most gifted Newcomer Video                                   KHAYA MTHETHWA  – Move [Winner]
  • Most gifted Female Video                                         ZONKE – Feelings [Winner]
  • Most gifted Male Video                                             Zeus FT AKA & TUMI – #DatsWasup [Winner]
  • Most gifted Video of the year                                   WIZKID – Azonto [Winner

The observation of current developments in the artistic and business side are worth mentioning and commenting on. I am also highlighting some of the business trends that are worth being noticed by our South African artistes.

South Africa, a golden gate to Africa

imagesbcs3xynxThere is a reason why the phrase “S.A a golden gate to Africa.” The past 10 to 15 years has seen companies flocking into South Africa. These companies have realised that their markets have become unbearably flooded, saturated and cannot achieve anymore growth over and above what they have been achieving. Moving into untapped markets is a perfect strategy to increase profitability and ensure survival for any business that wants to sustain its existence in the future. South Africa is an entry point to Africa, the fact that we have an economic potential is an attraction to a number of international companies wishing to invest in our economy.

There are number of reasons why this trend is increasing. According to; http://www.fdiintelligence.com/Locations/Middle-East-Africa/African-Countries-of-the-Future-2013-14?ct=true

South Africa is one of the economic powerhouses of the African continent; this country has been named African Country of the Future 2013/14 performing well across most categories, obtaining a top three position for Economic Potential, Infrastructure and Business Friendliness by fDi Magazine.  South Africa has consistently outperformed its African neighbours in FDI attraction since fDi Markets records began in 2003. Figures for 2012 build upon South Africa’s historical prominence as an FDI destination with the country attracting about one-fifth of all investments into the continent – more than double its closest African rival, Morocco. In 2012, FDI into South Africa amounted to $4.6bn-worth of capital investment and the creation of almost 14,000 jobs.

According to; http://www.moneyweb.co.za/moneyweb-economic-trends/foreign-direct-investment-into-sa-down-24,

  • FDI flows into South Africa represented 9.1 percent of Africa’s total inflows in 2012.
  • South Africa’s total FDI inward stock stood at US139bn (R1.4 trillion) in 2012, representing 35.6 percent of gross domestic product (GDP), compared to 9.9 percent in 1995.
  • South Africa’s stock of FDI in Africa stood at US18bn (R181bn).
  • In 2012, FDI flows into Africa increased by five percent to US50bn (R505bn).

This information is telling us a story and giving us an insight we need not to ignore. Most companies have invested both capital and resources in the S.A economy, these companies have gone into a full trading scale in the south african business environment and have done this through share ownership in local companies such as but not limited to the following:

http://www.thenewage.co.za/103582-9-53-Absa_Group_becomes_Barclays_Africa_Group

  • Barclays Africa Group owning 62.3% in the Absa group. The transaction also came with the reorganisation of most of Barclay’s African operation under one roof,
  • US retail group Walmart had bought a 51% stake in Massmart Holdings [JSE:MSM] for $2.4bn.
  • China’s Jinchuan Group bought base metals company Metorex for $1.3bn and delisted the company.
  • Finally, the Chinese Investment Corporation had bought 25% of diversified group Shanduka.for R2bn.

These economic developments are shaping all aspects of business and sending certain massages to all role players. This market transformation also talks to our music industry and its artists.

SA artiste vs. Business trends

Musicians are now forced to think like business people, study and understand business trends and be able to make business decisions. This ability will ensure that their careers are supported by taking advantage of what is happening in the business scene. Artists have a responsibility to their careers and they must step up into understanding all these business and economic trends. Management companies and personal managers have a bigger role to play. This observation is based on pure business practices that exist in any healthy economy or business structure.

  Impact of market changes to S.A Artists

The market dynamics have forced themselves into the entertainment space, especially theblog-content4 music space. Talent alone does not guarantee success in the music industry, a record deal is no longer enough to position you for success. This is unfortunately the reality of the industry. Business acumen is therefore necessary to create a balance that is required in order to build a firm music career. The changes in the market are also calling for new thinking and ways of doing things. Those who still believe in the old ways of doing things will find themselves wanting, being pushed out of the game by those who are adjusting and receptive to new ways of doing things.

Music promoters have seen the gaps in the market and are collaborating with international counterparts to bring in international musicians in the country, capitalizing on the opportunities that have presented themselves. International artists have also expanded their sources of income and established new markets outside of their normal territories.

In 2013 alone, the country has witnessed the following acts:

http://www.news24.com/Tags/Topics/concerts

-John legend                            -Rianna
-Eminem                                   -Santana
-Maxwell                                   -Rick Ross
-Bruce Springsteen                 -Justine beiber
-Bon Jovi

The Africa continent business perspective

The Channel O Music Video Awards 2013 is one of the many instruments that act as an indicator in the music industry. Artists in the continent have realised the golden pot that is sitting in this continent and are beginning to talk about Africa more. It is also worth mentioning that some artists from other parts of Africa are coming into South Africa to seek market opportunities. This is a very promising trend from an Africa perspective and we would like to see it grow into future.

What I am not seeing though is our own artist’s making use of this opportunity. A handful of our SA artists are expanding into other parts of Africa, and are beginning to reconfigure their music to accommodate an African market, they are beginning to understand the universality of music from a business sense.

The perfect example is Mafikizolo’s collaboration with Nigerian artists for their heat song “Khona”, Zahara is also one of the visible examples, she has collaborated with artists such as BET, the award winning artist 2 Face Indibia from Nigeria, and Tresor from the republic of Congo. This model is not by mistake, but by design. There is a great awareness that South African music consumer is appreciative of good African music.

It is good and well to have trend setters, people who take risks and uncover opportunities for others to follow. It is also a concern to realise that a small number of artists are taking the risk of diversifying their music to create more market share in other parts of the continent. More African musicians are interested in the vibrancy of our music industry and are willing to collaborate with South African artists. in order to position themselves in the South African market. This is also an opportunity for our artists to position themselves in those countries or markets.

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