Business Questions Answered


Got questions on how to start or market your business in Zimbabwe?

I rarely get a chance to answer all the email questions I get – I can get really busy sometimes. Anyway, I took sometime out last night to answer a few of your most frequently asked questions that are not directly related to my products or services.

I haven’t gone industry specific as I would in a personal email so that the answers would be more generally useful. Here are answers to your questions.

1)     What If I Don’t Have Money to Start or Operate my Small Business?

So what? You have more options available to you than you think. For example;

  • List all the things you’d spend on if you had the cash. List the businesses that supply these services/products. Find out what they need that you have or can get and offer them a barter trade. If it sounds simple, that’s because it is. To be sure, not everyone will be interested, you may have to call around – but then again, in many cases you only need one or two people to say yes.
  • Borrow smart. Family, friends, other businesses, etc. Usually you want to borrow slightly more than you actually need, just in case. Negotiate for the best terms (time/interest). Alternatively, borrow from someone who can make use of the service you provide in your new business. This creates upfront or future creative repayment options for you. Avoid borrowing for things that don’t generate revenue directly.
  • Creative finance. Can you trade money for equity? Will they accept a delayed payment in exchange for higher interest rates?
  • Here’s an opportunity to setup your business without cash.

2)     When Is The Best Time To Start A Business?

When is the best time to plant a tree? Ten years ago. But the second best time is today. You can waste a lot of time trying to catch the perfect timing to start. In most cases you’ll only know how good your timing was after you’ve done it. You can’t tell in advance exactly which opportunities will come up and when. What you can do is be prepared when they do. I’m not saying be reckless, I’m just saying that often the best time to start isn’t when everything is perfect – in fact in many cases, if you want to grab hold of an opportunity, then you can’t afford to wait until it’s easy to do, because by then someone else has already beaten you to it.

3)     How Do I Start A Business In An Area I Know Nothing About?

You don’t. Business is difficult enough as it is, don’t further complicate things for yourself. Personally, I’d only do that under 3 circumstances

  1. That’s when you can partner, outsource, delegate your area of incompetence.
  2. When this area is very easy to learn is a short space of time.
  3. When I can innovate the business to minimize or completely eliminate the importance of the competence I lack.

4)    How To Transition From One Industry To Another?

  1. First step is to take with you everything from the old business that’s useful in the new (assets, employees, databases, relationships (contractual), brands (& all intellectual property) etc – Especially your key relationships
  2. Make Sure You’ve got the fundamentals & Note the 20%. 80% of business operations are directly transferable from one industry to another. For instance, accounting principles work the same no matter what business you’re into. Take special note of what’s in the 20%…what exactly makes this industry different in operations, marketing, management etc
  3. Start setting up the new business before you’ve left the old. Establish a sustainable cash-flow. Create a basic operational capacity. Of course if you’ve got huge savings, you can afford to be less careful about your transition. Generally though, don’t try to be a hero and don’t take unnecessary risks. Play is safe and wise.

5)    How To Transition From Employee To Entrepreneur?

  1. Understand the incredible mindset/ attitude shifts you’ll have to make. Being an entrepreneur is not the same as being an employee without a boss. The difference is huge.
  2. Realize that your primary function will be “Head Of Marketing” no matter what your current skill set now.
  3. Be ready and willing to endure a few months of unsteady cash flow … either simplify your current lifestyle or save up before you leave your job (at least 3 months worth). Also, being an entrepreneur isn’t 8am – 9pm… especially in the beginning – yes, even if you’re working smart.
  4. Make it gradual if you can. Work part-time at first if possible – then setup as much as you can before you make your move.

6)    What do you think about partnerships in a new business?

Don’t go into partnership for the wrong reasons.

  1. Because you came up with the idea together
  2. Because you’re best friends
  3. Because you’re already partners in your current business

The only reason to partner is because each partner provides a unique contribution that’s essential for the businesses success. If you have to partner with someone because you can’t afford to pay them, be careful – make it temporary and avoid going the equity route if you can. Finally ensure that each partner is rewarded according to value, not position – and make it contractual, even though you trust each other so much. Money has a funny way of changing friendships when things aren’t documented.

7) Are there any types of businesses you don’t recommend?

Yes.

  1. Don’t start a business with an unproven or untested market unless you’re thick skinned, have a massive budget or you’re just doing it for fun.
  2. Don’t start a biz that solves a problem you don’t really care about. It’s going to be very hard for you to gain or maintain any kind of longterm competitive positioning in the market and you’re service will stink.

8)     What kind of business do you recommend?

  1. The kind that has a hungry market
  2. The kind that makes the kind of difference you care deeply about
  3. The kind that offers the sort financial rewards that you’re after.
  4. The kind that’s congruent with your values, gifts and God-given purpose.

9) How do I know when to give up?

Don’t listen to people who say never give up. There are times when it’s the smartest thing to do, for example –

  1. When you HAVE to compromise your values, ultimate vision or your integrity to succeed.
  2. When the market no longer needs the solution you’re offering.
  3. When what it takes to succeed is beyond what you’re willing to invest (spiritually, emotionally, financially, with time and other resources.)
  4. When what you’re willing to invest cannot offer you the rewards you’re after – I’m not talking only of financial rewards.

When you’re tired, discouraged, frustrated or distracted…these are not good times. Also, giving up on a business idea, strategy or direction doesn’t mean giving up on business or giving up on life. Big difference actually.

10) What Is Your Top Marketing Strategy?

I use a lot of different ones depending on the Situation – but definitely Joint ventures. A close second would be word of mouth. They have 3 things I love in common

  1. They get other people’s resources working for you. Their time, money, relationships, reputation, skill sets.
  2. You don’t need much money to implement them so almost anyone in any business can use them
  3. They are extremely flexible, with many different angles to approach them

By the way, word of mouth doesn’t mean just waiting for people to tell their friends and hoping it happens. It means having a formalized, thoroughly thought out and engineered word of mouth strategy. That’s the only kind of word of mouth worth anything and almost no one does it.

11) What’s the Most Important Thing In Marketing?

I’d have to say it’s deeply caring about your contribution – being truly committed to solving a problem. It will come through in your service, your offers, the products and the strategies and tactics you employ.

12) Where & How Do I Start On My Marketing Strategy?

Defining your unique selling point (USP). You USP answers the question of “Why  should I buy from you with so many other options?” A good USP is a unique, specific, simple & memorable. It doesn’t need to sound clever – a 12-year-old should understand it. Once you’ve settled on the most profitable USP you can deliver on,

  1. Integrate it into every marketing piece and tactic you use.
  2. Shape your business (or service) around that USP, so that you always deliver on it.
  3. Make sure everyone in your organization is focused on it – from CEO to cleaner.

13) What are the 4 leverage keys for Other people’s Money?

Ah…for that you’ll have to read the book! But it’s a free download and you can get Cash Baron Secrets here

14) How can I get more customers?

Already answered that in The Customer Thief – free download!

Yours for higher profits,

If I haven’t answered your specific question… feel free to pop me an email and I’ll get back to you when I can. If you make your question as specific as possible with lots of details, I’m more likely to send you an individual reply.

If you need more than just a quick email from me to solve your problem or accomplish what you’re after, then i am for hire. Email me and we can chat.

Please Leave a Comment

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5 thoughts on “Business Questions Answered

  1. This is fantastic, i think it’s also good to mention the idea of mindset. Many times it is the most important thing, i surprised people didnt ask about that. Thank you for your excellent work on this site

    Wil. Z.S.

  2. Thank you so much Max, i’m looking to go into the fitness business and i found your article very useful. Do you think the current environment favors a lifestyle business?

    Regards

    Sandra

  3. Hi Sandra, i’m also a running a lifestyle business (a local gym) and i would also like to know the answer to that question and if you have advice on how to expand into bulawayo? Also please contact me with regards to consultations, we need your help. Thank you Mr Max.

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