11 Things Very Successful People Do That 99% Of People Don’t

Becoming wealthy and leaving an impact on the world is not an easy feat. If it were, everyone would go around doing it. At that point, it would not be much of an accomplishment at all.

Rather, being extremely successful requires an extreme amount of work. Especially when there is nobody looking. The best people have developed habits that help them reach their goals. These routines are not necessarily challenging to form, but they take consistent effort over extended periods of time. Creating these tendencies in your own life will propel your success.

Here are 11 things, that 99% of people (myself included) do not do, but really should.

1. Take advantage of introductions

When someone introduces you to another person, there tends to be a very good reason for it. The top people take advantage of these introductions because they know that they might lead to great opportunities.

It’s easy to blow off an introduction or not follow-up. Doing so is a missed chance to create a meaningful relationship with a like-minded person.

2. Consider the little things in their relationships

The best people are admired by those around them. This could be due to their high-quality work, their personal interactions, or likely, both.

They remember names, they follow-up when they say they are going to, and they take little steps to create stronger relationships with those around them. Something as small as sending a text after a surgery or a congratulations after a new job offer can make a big difference.

3. Read Consistently

The brightest people are always learning. There is endless knowledge, and, in order to continue to improve and learn more, reading is a necessity.

Most people make excuses about why they do not read very much. The best people do not allow themselves to make excuses, and instead prioritise personal learning. I’ve personally made it my goal to read a book a week.

4. Stay healthy

In order to stay effective and energetic, health has to be a top priority. Otherwise, you will go through life with less kick each day. The best people also make no excuses for their health. They make conscious decisions to eat well and exercise. They care about their bodies and take care of themselves in order to propel their success. This focus on health also gets them feeling better about how they look day-in and day-out.

5. Embrace ambiguity

Ambiguity is difficult. When the path is not spelled out, it means that you have to make more challenging decisions. The top 1% of people love ambiguity. It gives them an opportunity to be creative and stand out from those around them. They do not mind making hard decisions because they know that doing so will lead to higher impact, and it is more rewarding.

6. Adapt Constantly

If you cannot look back six months and see a drastically different person, then you are not growing fast enough. This is especially true early in life.

The most successful self-employed people are constantly learning and adapting. They let their barriers down and are always willing to change things about themselves in order to be better, happier and more productive.

This can be extremely challenging for many because it means letting your guard down and being vulnerable. We see ourselves in a certain light, and we make our decisions accordingly. Changing means accepting that our past choices might not have been the best. When those past actions are tied up with our ego, it can be especially difficult to move past them. The best people are able to take this in their stride.

7. Set goals

Goal-setting is underrated. Most people do not take the time because they do not think it is a worthwhile endeavour. The value is that it helps align actions. Setting goals also gets you thinking about what you are really trying to accomplish and why.

Those that are able to set goals tend to be much more productive and focused in their efforts. This allows for a higher level of output, greater success, and more impact.

8. Surround themselves with other great people

We are the average of the five people we surround ourselves with the most. Therefore, it is critical to be around great people. There is a reason that many successful people tend to be friends before rising to fame. They have made an effort, from the onset, to be around others who can motivate them and propel their success.

It can be challenging to abandon or step back from destructive friends that we have been close with for long periods of time. The most accomplished people have been able to do so, though, because they know that there are many amazing people out there for them to spend time with.

9. Persistence

Persistence is also very underrated. It’s easy to work-out one time or to send a few emails. It’s also easy to take on an 80-hour week once. Pushing yourself consistently, though, is an extreme challenge. It’s where 99% of people fail.

It’s when nobody is looking that effort matters the most. The best people work hard and smart consistently. They have increasing returns to scale and their efforts compound over time. Successful athletes do not suddenly emerge. They have been working for years and years on their craft to reach their current point.

It’s easy to believe successful people reached that level through luck or raw talent. That is almost never the case, though. Persistence over time is an absolute must.

10. Pursue their passions

The top people do not spend their lives living other people’s dreams. They pursue their own passions. That gives them the energy to attack each day with all that they have. It also allows them to think more independently. After getting over the fact that you cannot please everyone and that you have to think for yourself, life becomes a lot better.

Spending time doing what you love enables the highest quality of work and it makes staying consistent significantly easier.

11. Accountability

Many people blame others for their shortcomings. Doing so might have immediate benefits, but it’s detrimental in the long run. Neglecting accountability prevents personal growth and, over time, it develops a bad reputation for yourself.

The best people take full responsibility for their actions. This garners more respect and allows them to grow at much faster rates.

This article was originally posted on Entrepreneur.com.

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Savings culture can boost your business

Cape Town – The development of a savings culture is not only appropriate for individuals, but for businesses too, a financial expert said.

With July being Savings Month, it was right that South Africans begin to develop a culture of savings, according to Elize Giese, head of liabilities at FNB Business.

“Many small- and micro-businesses sustain a material proportion of every economy,” said Giese. “Small businesses are vital to economic growth, employment and innovation.

“Small businesses are small only in name and not the impact they have on peoples’ lives. The success rate (longevity) of new (start-up) small businesses is notoriously low. South Africa is no exception.

“Small businesses have their own peculiar difficulties to arise and stay afloat,” she said. “The multitude of hurdles is daunting; such as, building a rational business case, finding the finance, and then wading through all the compliance requirements and the associated bureaucracy. Staying in business often becomes a daily endeavour.

“Business school wisdom identifies a handful of reasons for success or failure of single-trader, partnership and other small start-ups. A primary reason for failure is variously defined as lack of cash-in-hand, lack of capital, or inadequate cash reserves.

“A colloquialism that describes this graphically is ‘that there is simply not enough oil in the machine’ to keep it moving, either from cash flow or reserves.

“One of the most difficult management decisions a small business owner will have to make, on an ongoing basis, is how to balance cash on hand (some form of reserve or savings) with funds (capital) to deploy in the business for requirements such as inventory, technology, marketing and so forth.

“Experience reveals that a sustained mismatch between sunk capital and expenses, and lack of cash flow and reserves, results in business stress and possible failure,” said Giese.

Two forms of savings

“Small businesses face two forms of savings, namely, ‘expenditure efficiency’ and setting aside cash reserves. The former deals with managing costs including paying staff and suppliers – each outgoing rand turned over a few times, and maximum value derived from each rand spent.

“The latter involves keeping cash reserves to plug expenses gaps, fund projects or buy assets and moderate cash-flow mismatches. In some cases, owner funds may be used to finance business expansion, and supplementing loans, should that be a sensible option.

“In instances of a mismatch between financial inflows and outflows there is a business need to have immediate access to funds. Funds may be accessed easily and additional deposits made on an ad hoc basis.

“The first step in selecting the right savings and investment product is to understand your business cash flow. You must consider the volatility or stability of your cash flow projections. If income and expenditure are predictable and you know what your cash positions are going to be for the foreseeable future, then you should think about foregoing some liquidity and flexibility, and investing in longer term assets that provide for higher returns.

“If, on the other hand, your cash flow predictions change from month to month, then you should rather consider shorter term investments that provide for more liquidity and flexibility, even if the interest rates received are relatively lower.

“Every business must provide for short-, medium- and longer-term cash needs to stay in business, and grow if that is an objective. Expansive order books do not pay the bills either. Cash in some form of savings vehicles should be readily available to manage demand for cash,” concludes Giese.

Source: Fin 24

‘Stay focused, keep on moving, and find some cheerleaders in your life’

It’s an unusual combination of skill sets to have in business: the ability to hyper-focus with steely determination on your business goal, and simultaneously look around for someone other than yourself to inspire and support you. Clearly this talent for managing the hard issues side-by-side with the so-called ‘soft’ issues in the financial business space has worked well for Alida De Swardt, CEO of RMI Investment Managers.

It might have something to do with the fact that while exhibiting all of this single-minded goal orientation early on in her career, she was offered a position in her dream company, RMB, by a woman who became – and remained – De Swardt’s mentor for the entirety of her own tenure as Head of Treasury at RMB. So De Swardt speaks from first-hand experience when she emphasises the importance of mentors and cheerleaders.

In fact, whatever subject she’s discussing, she seems to always be balancing the hard-core business aspects with liberal doses of emotional intelligence. So while she has this unshakeable belief in putting your goals front and centre of everything you do, she also believes that the universe gives you what you put out there.

In this Quick Insight, extracted from a full length interview, De Swardt addresses these concepts from the perspective of young entrepreneurs and professionals who are starting their careers.

Watch the full length interview here.

Moneyweb, in partnership with FNB, presents this bespoke leadership video series with top business people. The interview draws on the person’s life, failures and the lessons they have learnt on their journey to the successful leadership positions they hold today.

Source: Money Web (in collaberation with FNB)

Good managers cultivate young stars

Cristiano Ronaldo proved it and so did Lionel Messi – two players who Sir Alex Ferguson referred to as world-class players.

“In my book,” the iconic football manager wrote in Leading, “there are only two world-class players playing today – Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo.”

However, the two greatest players of our time couldn’t carry their respective teams to victory in the World Cup in Russia.

Even after Ronaldo scored a hat-trick to save his team against Spain, the feat couldn’t be repeated.

This proves that, where a team is involved, the focus should be on building a strong team and not trying to build it around a lone star.

Building the team and making sure that it works is the manager’s real job. A good leader understands that his control has limits.

In football, once the referee has blown the kickoff whistle, the coach has no more control – it is left to the players to execute the strategy and the tactics. Winning now depends on their judgement as they trap every ball, kick it, bend it, loop it, head it.

The same is true in the office. The manager cannot be present at every customer meeting, production process or the other activities that the business is involved in. So the manager must employ people whose judgement he can trust when they are left alone.

Trust without training is the beginning of self-inflicted tribulations. So, as the team manager, make time to properly train your staff so that they can deal with the aggravations of work, and seize new opportunities when they are identified.

The lone star is stingy with opportunities, fearing that he may be eclipsed by new stars, and so would rather see the team be relegated than lose his sheen.

Self-starters are the best people to employ, but they also need other qualities, such as courage and the ability to collaborate with others.

You need people who have character and who keep their promises. When someone says they will deliver something to a client, you should never have to follow up on his or her promise.

Your big job as the team manager is to set the vision, but the daily job is to make sure that the team works together to deliver the objectives of the organisation.

This means looking after their welfare and inspiring them to produce what is necessary to the best of their ability.

There are undesirable parts to the job, such as occasionally pruning the team and making sure that it changes to suit the changing times.

It is the nature of work – bosses will always see a lot more when they are sitting on the sidelines. It has become normal for soccer coaches to jump with excitement like players and fans do when a goal is scored.

They have lost the demands of their position – to remain emotionless during the “proceedings”, as it were.

In the business arena, so many bosses become emotionally involved and, in so doing, they become excited by activity and completely miss the big task at hand.

Good football teams are honest with each other during the half-time break. Often, adrenaline is pumping, time is limited and this is no place for massaging egos.

The coach could favour a certain player, but, at half-time, if that player isn’t performing, his team-mates will tell him so. It is the duty of the manager to create an environment where openness thrives. The most successful managers are those who are able to cultivate younger managers, because that means the company will last forever.

By Muzi Kuzwayo

* Kuzwayo is the founder of Ignitive, an advertising agency

Source: News 24

How every small business can learn from failure

By Chris Smith

In life and in media there is a lot of talk about and a lot of focus on success, but little attention is paid to the importance of failure. Failure is one the best ways to learn in life, and our innate human desire to avoid it at all costs means we will want to do our absolute best not to repeat what caused us to fail in the first place. However, identifying exactly where things went wrong and how we failed – especially in business – isn’t always the easiest thing to do. When feeling disheartened and demoralized after failure, it can be hard to look back over where we went wrong and learn from it, but there are a few key tips to think about that might just help you along the way.

Re-evaluate Your Business Plan

There is no better place to start than at the beginning. When your business idea didn’t work at all, or, simply, a new project your business has taken on hasn’t worked, going back to your business plan can be a great way to learn where you may have gone wrong. You put your business plan together when your company was in its infancy and when your enthusiasm and excitement would have been at an all-time high. Was your plan too ambitious? Did you set appropriate and realistic goals for yourself? Did you overlook issues within your business idea? Did you properly consider your competition? Looking back at what you planned your company to be and to achieve can highlight decisions you may have made along the way that led to these not coming to fruition. Understanding what you should have considered and planned for at the beginning is a valuable lesson that can set you up for success the next time around.

Examine Your Goals

Setting clear targets and goals for yourself is crucial when starting out as they allow you to measure your progress against where you wanted and hoped to be. Examining these goals and targets after experiencing failure should provide insight into where you went wrong. When analyzing the goals you set for yourself and whether you met them or not, consider why you set these goals in the first place, why you thought these were achievable and think about the decisions you made that led to the goals not being reached. Remember that your goals themselves may not need to be changed, just the way you tried to achieve them. Looking at why you didn’t achieve your goals can be eye-opening and can reveal issues in your business you didn’t notice originally.

You’re Not Always Right

Knowing your industry inside out when starting a business isn’t always going to guarantee success. Business ideas you thought were great or marketing strategies you though were innovative may have – when actioned – turned out to be complete non-starters. Failure is, by its very nature, a humbling experience, but this can often be a good thing. Learning that your ideas aren’t always great and that no one person can be an expert in all areas of a business, is a great platform for the future from which you can identify the areas you need help when starting again. Knowing that you don’t know everything and not all your ideas are going to be revolutionary will mean that going forward you are much more likely to be the right amount of cautious and do more research – research your potential audience, research your competitors and fully research and understand your product and service.

Improve What’s in Your Control

You can’t influence what your competitors are doing and you can’t change the entire economy, but there many areas of business in which you do have full control. Try not to focus on how any outside influences added to your failure, but, instead, work on everything you do have control over. Identifying the areas you have total control of and how these could have been improved to prevent failure will be an important learning curve for the future. Dig into your metrics, pick apart your marketing strategy – what worked and what didn’t work, examine your expenses, which parts of your product/service were successful – just look at everything you has a say over and drill into that until you see things you wish you had done differently as well as areas which proved successful. Having a list of what worked for you and what didn’t will be incredibly useful for any future business plan and attempt at entrepreneurship.

Consider Mentors

If you didn’t the first time around, it’s time to consider business mentors. Mentors should be experts in your field – preferably with their own experience in business – who can provide an outsider’s perspective on your business plan and business in general. A business mentor will not only be able to help you identify where you went wrong previously, but help you see through to completion any new business project and identify areas of weakness in your new plan. A mentor will make you much more likely to succeed, will share what they’ve learned from their own mistakes and be a sounding board for new ideas, issues and concerns. The beauty of a mentor is that they can refocus your attention, guiding you towards areas you easily overlooked when starting out such as pension considerations, protecting your business, permits, taxes and employee expenses. Consider your mentor as important as a co-founder and as such, make a concerted effort to the find the best person for you; join networking groups, mentorship programs and talk to those already in the industry to help find the kind of mentor you need.

Above All Else, Learn

Failure can be humiliating, humbling, destructive, demoralizing – you name it and it can probably be associated with failure in some way. However, there will always be some good to be found in failure if you look hard enough. It might not seem it at the time, but failure can set you up for success in the future and, in fact, is often a stepping stone on the way to building a successful company. To make the most of your failure and to find the value in it, make sure you learn from it. Follow these key steps and do what you feel is necessary to take the most value you can away from the experience.

Chris Smith is an independent writer and blogger at Spend It Like Beckham

Source: SME Web

Six common cash flow issues and how to avoid them

By Simon Paterson, Partner at Surrey accountants, RJP LLP

Managing cash flow is one of the biggest challenges a small business owner has to overcome. It is the reason why many sound businesses often fail. They have a fantastic product or service, but cash flow problems and an inability to raise the finance they need in the short term can mean they cannot meet their liabilities and hence they fail. According to recent US research, it is the reason why 82% of small companies fail.

Understanding how to manage cash flow effectively and keep things running smoothly is absolutely essential for every business owner, whether you are a sole trader, partnership or limited company. Here are 6 common challenges a company can face when it comes to managing their cash flow with practical advice on how to overcome them.

  1. Paying staff salaries on a weekly basis

In some industries, it is considered the norm to pay staff on a weekly or fortnightly basis. This is common in the construction and hospitality industries but the downside is it results in cash having to be found on a weekly basis, which means a constant drain to cash flow levels. It is especially problematic when staff are being paid weekly and yet customers are on 30 days or more payment terms. Moving staff to monthly payments will ease the cash flow burden.

  1. Poor credit control function results in customers paying too slowly

Customers paying too slowly is a big reason why businesses can struggle with cash flow. Having a good credit control function in place, which ensures that income is received on a regular basis and within credit terms, is absolutely essential. Consider having a dedicated person to take care of credit control or outsource it to a specialist.

Start off by making sure the customer gets the invoice in the first place, so there are no excuses. Then follow up again just before the invoice due date, to ensure that if there are potentially going to be delays, you can plan ahead for them. In the majority of cases, if customers know you expect prompt payment as the norm, they will get into good habits from the outset.

  1. Over trading of the company

Whilst increasing turnover is important, it should not be to the detriment of cash flow. In many instances a business will chase turnover but if the business is incurring costs up front and payment is not received until a significant period after then the bigger the turnover gets then the bigger the cash flow deficit will become. Where possible try and get out of pocket expenses paid at the start of a project.

When growing a business you need to plan ahead and ensure you have access to cash flow boosting facilities such as a bank overdraft. Another good option is to use invoice discounting facilities, which allows you to draw down on revenues due to you in advance of being paid by the customer.

If you need to hold stock within your business then you make look to a stock finance facility which again can improve the cash position of the business whilst at the same time holding the stock.

  1. Buying capital equipment outright unnecessarily

It can be tempting to buy assets outright if you happen to have the funds available at the time. However, it is not always wise and may be more beneficial to use a funding facility such as hire purchase or bank loan. For instance, if you are looking to buy computer equipment for your business it can be a hefty one off outlay. Spreading the payments over 2-3 years will greatly assist the cash position of the company.

  1. Minimise expenses and overheads

Where possible, try and keep fixed overheads to a minimum. This then gives you flexibility as you grow and means you can adapt to a changing market. For example use outsourced services for HR, accounting etc. rather than having dedicated staff which is then a fixed cost you are committed to. Having costs which are of a more variable nature means you can dip in and out of them as you need them.

  1. Under-pricing for your products and services

When you first start out in business or in order to attract a client, it can be tempting to under price for a job or service. Short term, it might be helpful to secure some business but this creates problems in the longer term. For starters, it means your client will get used to paying less and it makes it harder to increase prices later on. It also devalues what you do, the client may be less likely to really appreciate the work because they see you as a ‘cheap supplier’, and it can create resentment in the long term.

It is far better to price yourself accurately and if the customer is unwilling to pay, walk away. If you quote a fair price it is probable they won’t get better elsewhere and are likely to realise this and return. And from a cash flow point of view, under-pricing means lower profits and the lower the levels of cash you will ultimately generate.

Cash flow is the lifeblood of a business but it is a balancing act. The trick to managing cash flow well is to take a multi-pronged approach and seek improvements to a range of different things. Work on the principle of marginal gains. Small improvements made consistently will result in a big improvement over time, and you won’t look back.

www.rjp.co.uk

Source: SME Web

How to effectively market your small business

By David Grimes, CEO of My Parcel Delivery

Developing a sound business plan and ensuring a successful product launch can be a time-consuming and, at times, daunting process. It takes a lot of hard work and determination but it’s seriously rewarding when everything comes to fruition.

Once up and running, you may feel a sense of relief, but the hard work has only just begun. All your meticulous prepping could go to waste unless you have a strong marketing strategy in place to support business growth.

The vast majority of new businesses struggle in the first year, and in order to survive you need to ensure that you are visible and in front of your target audience.

An effective marketing strategy will play a key role in attracting new customers, as well as keeping existing ones happy. But, for small businesses working with tighter budgets, the challenge is to keep spending down, so you’ll have to be savvy with promotional methods.

To give you a kick-start, here are my five top tips. These should prove useful for any small business owner looking to step up their marketing efforts.

1) Identifying a target audience and tone

As a starting point, identify exactly who your target audience is and how the products or services you’re offering are an attractive option. Are there any customer ‘pain points’ that you can tap into with your promotion? Addressing these will likely get people interested in the business. It’s also beneficial to research the competition to gauge how you can differentiate yourself from what is currently on the market. This prior planning will lay the foundations for a well-targeted marketing strategy.

Finding your unique selling point (USP) in a noisy and digitally-dominated business world requires some serious thought, but it’s certainly achievable. Think about the tone you’d like to take with your brand, and the language you’d prefer to use; will you be marketing yourself as a playful and fun brand, or take a more serious tone? Establishing these things beforehand will allow you to stay consistent with promotions across all platforms and marketing channels.

2) Building brand reputation

Getting your name out there no longer needs to be limited to the traditional methods of advertising via billboards or bus shelters (although these are useful). Social media has changed the game – particularly for businesses operating on smaller budgets. Platforms like Facebook and Instagram allow business owners to reach users worldwide, often with minimal expenditure.

Maximising the potential of these channels requires you to invest time into developing profiles and scheduling regular posts for each day. You could use a scheduling platform, such as Hootsuite, to do this for you automatically, and map out a week’s social media posts in advance. If your budget will stretch, you could also consider paying for social media advertising or targeted posts. These are relatively inexpensive ways of raising your profile and getting new eyes on the company page.

3) Designing an appealing website

Think of your website as your digital shop window. An impressive and well-designed website can be a big driver of sales; turning a casual browser into a paying customer. If the buyer has a smooth browsing experience, they will be less likely to leave your website in a hurry.

An online site needs to be attractive, easy to navigate and should take the user no more than a few clicks to reach checkout. So, try not to clutter it with too much information. Instead, opt for a clean design that draws attention to key products or promotions. Make sure any product information you do include is accurate, and that all related products are grouped together for ease of purchase.

4) Creating relevant content

One of the cornerstones to any good marketing strategy is content creation. Writing blogs or articles on topics that are relevant to your industry can establish you as a thought leader and go-to voice on a particular subject. But, as any good blogger would tell you, consistently uploading quality content is key. A content section needs to be updated regularly – the last thing you want is for a blog to go stale with old, outdated articles.

Tied into content marketing, is the impact it can have on your brand awareness online. Writing good quality content, which offers value to the reader, will make a difference to your search rankings over time. This should, in turn, increase the likelihood of them wanting to visit your site to find out more about you and – although not a direct result – ultimately encourage some form of purchase.

5) Using customer feedback wisely

Customer feedback is a powerful tool, as positive reviews can have a huge influence on sales. Encouraging those who have purchased from you previously to review their experience can build up your reputation as a trusted brand. To make the most of this feedback, you could choose to include a testimonials section on your website, or use a social media page as a place for interaction and comment.

Constructive use of critical feedback also involves direct communication with customers. If they have any queries, or raise any issues about your service, then be sure to answer these promptly. This is your chance to prove that you can handle criticism effectively, and use feedback to improve service in the future. Set yourself apart as a business that really cares about its customers.

While there’s no silver bullet to attracting new customers and driving sales, the marketing steps I’ve mentioned above should guide you in the right direction. Setting aside some time to map out your strategy will set you up for success now and in the future.

Source: SME News

YES Community Hub launches in Gauteng

DURBAN – The first Community Hub from the Youth Employment Service (YES) was launched yesterday.

The hub is an infrastructure solution that is targeted at addressing the unemployment challenges in South Africa.
The YES initiative which was launched by President Cyril Ramaphosa this year is a social impact initiative that will see government, business and labour work together to give one million youth one million opportunities over the next few years.
The launch is the first step towards the goal of establishing 100 Community Hubs across the country. The hubs will give rural areas and business communities business infrastructure.
The hubs are a part of the Development SMME Development Strategy from the YES initiative and house three focus areas.
The three focus areas are:
1. Business development
2. Route to market
3. Skills training
More than 60% of the unemployed people in South Africa are from the townships. Through the hubs small businesses will be able to use idle youth labour while starting up local economies and boosting domestic markets.
The hub is fitted with modern technology and staff that are skilled. The hub has been created as an inclusive and engaging platform through which both existing and aspiring businesses can enhance their business or ideas.
The Community Hub which is located in Tembisa has been made possible through investments from companies like Sanlam, Investec and Unilever.
The CEO of YES Tashmia Ismail-Saville said that the launch of the first hub is a visible demonstration brought to life, that is a true collaboration between government, corporates and the community.

YES and MTN

This past April, MTN announced that they will be creating 1000 jobs to support the YES initiative.
According to MTN, they will be creating the jobs across their South African business and Group head offices that will be both operational and functional roles.
Rob Shuter the MTN Group President and CEO said,”YES is an innovative social partnership that has the potential to be a significant catalyst for economic growth and development.”
Other companies have also joined the initiative including Absa, Sasol, Shoprite and Spar.

Source: IOL

The 2018 World Cup Series for Startups: Five Things You Can Learn From FIFA For Your Venture

Much larger than the Olympics, The World Series, and even Super Bowl, the FIFA World Cup takes place every four years, bringing and fixing 32 nations of the world to compete on standard soccer pitches for the very best. This has the whole world on notice, captivating fans, spectators and even naysayers who are out to make shouts for their countries, best players and the sheer experience of great football. This sporting event is the craze of the now, thanks to social media technologies, digital media, giving the global football community the avenue to share millions of content pieces, including over 140 Mn related Google searches, before even a single match was played. Also, World Cup fans have broken free of experience games only confined within their direct regions. These football lovers are now tapping social media platforms such as Twitter, sharing real-time reactions, following the trends and posting images of the event on Facebook to express their excitement on a global scale.

But while the nerves are pulsating, footballers team-playing, commentators pitching and stadiums being drowned in oceanic noises, this Russia-hosted biggie is at the background putting some marketing lessons out there that wannabe, newbie, and growing business owners can harness for the success of their ventures.

Talent Doesn’t Always Win

The Spanish team claimed the world cup title eight years back in South Africa, marking their first-ever win on this international sporting platform. Fans were expecting them to snatch the victory again in Brazil 2014. With some of the best players in the soccer scene and a .large part of the rosters of highly acclaimed Real Madrid and Barcelona, people could bet half of their in-cash fortune that Spain could at least reach the finals. However, they didn’t. They didn’t even play through their group stage, exiting after a loss to the Netherlands and two lackluster efforts to follow. Even England and Italy, the other two nations with a lengthy football resume made similar exits while making way for the smallest, less talented teams to advance to the stage of 16. In Russia this year, we see something nearly identical. The Argentinian team that went on a headlock with Germany in the finals of 2014 is now on their way home, having drawn with Iceland, lost to Croatia, won Nigeria and lost to France. Germany seemed to be gettng back in the game after their win against Sweden, because Mexico refused to give in to intimidation from the defending champions. But, loosing to South Korea in their final group game, they got on thier next plane home.

I am no soothsayer or all-knowing octopus, but I think the teams that will pull through this time around will be the less-expected ones, even though they do so with a few football giants. Portugal lost to Uruguay yesterday (thanks to Cavani) and are on their next plane home. Christiano Ronaldo is gone, so is Lionel Messi and every other German powerhouse we expected to deliver. Did I also mention that Netherlands and Italy didn’t even qualify?

These dicey outcomes and seemingly disappointing results all serve as an important reminder for the startup ventures out there. Success is not guaranteed alone by success. It takes more with effort, innovation, and strategy immediately coming to mind. The biggies in your niche or industry may not stand a chance against your business if you come out right with all of these necessities.

Community is Your Brand’s Best Friend

The World Cup has been great for brands across the planet. The biggies such as Nike, Coca-Cola, and Budweiser among others have set the nations of the world on fire with their innovative, compelling and mind-blowing campaigns that capitalize on the world’s passion for this biggest sporting event. That said, a significant number of these brands put so much focus on tying their products and services to the global soccer community and not to products and services themselves.

For startups out there, this fact is a non-negligible reminder that building a community for your customers and prospects is paramount. If you focus on education, information and service rather than pure self-promotion as a means to propel brand awareness, without feeling like Spam 2.0, you are on the right track. For me, any brand that keeps me at the edge of my seats watching even the commercials is on to something good.

The Darkhorse has a Role on the Big Stage

In the 2014 World Cup, the teams, the teams that emerged among the 16 at the knock-out rounds were not the best in the world. This happened while the highly acclaimed soccer powerhouses suffered defeat and got on the next plane home. National teams such as Costa Rica, Greece, and the United States all scaled through quite tricky groups to emerge ahead of the English and Italian teams, including Christiano Ronaldo’s Portugal. This year’s World Cup is seeing teams such as France, Sweden, Denmark, Switzerland, Russia, Japan, Columbia and Croatia making the names for themselves, through thier group stages and competing in the round of 16 alongside other bigs. Though Panama lost to England, they as well recorded their first World Cup goal in their match against England. This is happening because, no matter who the best must have been in the world, everyone, even the underdogs are playing for the title.

At each sporting event, we find this happening almost all the time. For startups, it shows that the most prominent business owners are not always the fittest to deliver the products and services that clientele requires. Newbie ventures can as well provide unique value and differentiation even if they are smaller or less experienced in the game.

Scarcity is Relevant

Thanks to technology, we live in a world of connectivity. With our mobile devices and presence on social media platforms, we can be reached around the clock. According to an infographic, 91 percent of people sleep within arm’s reaches of their phones, meaning that we are more connected than ever. Someone somewhere in the world, or maybe all of us would have the thought that FIFA may want to take advantage of this and make the World Cup happen every two years, maybe. I don’t think so. Not a chance. Much like the Olympics, the World Cup is kept to every four years, because the buildup creates more significant and greater interest as the event draws near each time.

Startups out there can pick a tip from this. Before going out there, have it in mind that while you never want to make customers wait so much, there is something to be said about having your genuinely unique differentiator. Soccer is played all year round and done so on many grand stages like La Liga, UEFA Champions League, English Premier League, among others, but only the World Cup brings the passion and commitment that we see right now. FIFA’s differentiator is scarcity, so entrepreneurs need to think what makes them unique and worthwhile. About eight percent of venture owners believe their products are genuinely differentiated, yet just 8 percent of customers felt the same, according to a study by Brian & Company. Christiano Ronaldo’s secret is consistent delivery, contrary to the disappointments Lionel Messi’s fans are currently facing. Coca-Cola is ubiquitous, so what’s your differentiator?

Engaging Content is King

Amongst other things, this year’s engaging World Cup and it advertisers are doing a great job, giving us outstanding content that keeps us glued even during half-time (I mean the people are watching from their homes). A steady cadence of visual, engaging content that solicits viewership and deep emotional ties to the event and individual teams go a long way to amplify anticipation. The ideas being spread by the graphics, sound/music and words (especially from the commentators) are just spellbinding. Amalgamating these content strategies is what makes FIFA a big deal. And, likewise, it is the company that touches a person’s heart that will reach into a customer’s pocketbook.

In case you missed it in the last World Cup, here’s the true meaning of being emotional with your content. This Game Before the Game video from Beats did a great deal to successfully solicit an emotional connection to the World Cup and the Beats Brand.

Start your business by first understanding which channels your customers acquire information. Sit back and develop the kind of content that appeals not just to their needs, but emotions. Take some time to determine the real pain your widgets solves and base your content strategy on that: what you know will surely work. Find a way to add value through engaging content, and watch the sales turn in for you. Did you see the way Budweiser lit up the World Cup with their ad? That’s the kind of tapping content we are talking about.

While we watch the event unfold in Russia, waiting to see who will scale through this round of 16, which will ultimately lead to quarter final, semi final and the grand finale, wannabe, newbie and traction-gaining entrepreneurs out there should keep their eyes peeled. And as you do that, always check with us here for other World Cup-related snippets.

Source: Wee Tracker

Seed Capital: How It Can Help Your Small or Medium Business

Access to early stage development funding for up-and-coming businesses in South Africa remains a key hindrance standing in the way of entrepreneurial development.

There are, however, numerous strategies to finance your business’s launch, or early stage development. One of these tactics is to secure seed finance or seed capital investment.

Seed Capital: How It Can Help Your Small or Medium Business

The money you need to launch your business (or conduct any early stage development of a product or service) can come from a bank, an angel investor, or friends and family. But these money lenders can be tough to secure when you don’t really have a track record or much profitability to show yet.

This is where seed capital funding can help you.

According to Investopedia, seed funding lives up its namesake –  in that it’s the capital needed to ‘seed’ a business.

A portion of your seed funding could come from family members, friends, banks, or angel investors, but there are also a rising number of specialist firms out there that can provide you with specific capital or business finance to ‘seed’ your business.

The Difference Between Seed Capital and Venture Capital

The key thing to remember with seed funding is that investments usually range in the tens of thousands to hundreds of thousands. Other forms of investment, such as venture capital investments, can range into millions of rands. So, if you are an entrepreneur looking to fund a new idea with seed money, expect to receive smaller investments when compared to venture capital.

Sage Advice on Early Stage Funding from A Seed Funder

Geoff Ralston is a partner at YC, a seed funding organisation based in Mountain View, California, in the United States. More than two decades ago, he founded Four11, where he built RocketMail, one of the world-wide-web’s first web mail services.

In 1997, RocketMail became Yahoo Mail. Ralston has worked in engineering, then ran a business unit at Yahoo, and went on to become Chief Product Officer. After Yahoo, Ralston became CEO of Lala, which was acquired by Apple in 2009.

He says the ecosystem for seed (early) financing is far more complex now than it was even five years ago: “There are many new VC firms, sometimes called ‘super-angels’, or micro-VC’s, which explicitly target brand new, very early stage companies. There are also several traditional VCs that will invest in seed rounds.”

The Pros and Cons of Early Stage or Seed Funding for A Business

PROS: Seed funders can invest much needed capital and they can provide expertise and back-end assistance, which could be helpful in the early stages of business. If you are seed-funded, you also earn credibility in the marketplace should you wish to take a loan or seek further investment at a later stage. Ultimately, any seed funders you take on could open up proverbial doors to a vast network of like-minded entrepreneurs and future business partners or investors.

CONS: Seed funders require a return on investment, like any other investor. Some might be more focused on the money (returns) and could push you to take necessary steps to see a return on their investment – including ousting you from your own company, according to Under30CEO magazine.
A seed funder could potentially steer your business in a direction that you don’t agree with, but this could be because of their experience in the game.

If you are ready to take the step and talk to firms about seed funding for your company, here’s a list of organisations that can help you kickstart your business operations with early stage capital investment:

  1. 4Di Capital
  2. Technology Innovation Agency
  3. Cyril Ramaphosa Foundation
  4. Grovest
  5. Business Partners
  6. Seed Engine
  7. Edge Growth
  8. Kalon Venture Partners

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