I have a Masters in Accounting (there were days I asked myself how I got there). I have taken exams that left me stunned, dazed and wishing the ground would open up and take me in. I remember my professor’s response one time we complained of how hard the test was. He said, “If it were easy, everyone would be studying accounting”. There were only 7 of us in that class. I thought my masters program was the hardest thing I ever did till I decided to become an entrepreneur.
I realized my classes were much easier. For one, they were scheduled. I knew I was in there from 5:30pm till 11pm. Some professors were kind enough to tell us where to focus on for exams. There was a graduation date which most of us looked forward to. Entrepreneurship gives no such breaks or notices because you’re one every waking moment of your life especially when you’re just starting out.
Simply, an entrepreneur is a fixer. Someone who has identified a problem and is solving it either because no one is (new market), or the entrepreneur believes there’s a better way to fix the same issue (existing market). Fixing the problem becomes the vision. However, one of the biggest hurdles you and your vision will face is going from idea to execution. This is because you are creating and creation requires clarity and focus.
Through my own entrepreneurial journey, I have come to appreciate why reading and writing are the foundations of learning for two reasons. Magic happens every time you read and writing will give you the clarity you seek. If you don’t already, keep a notepad with you (preferably at all times) so you could write down your ideas.
As an entrepreneur, these are the three questions you must readily have answers to so you could tell your business story without stuttering.
The ‘What’ of Your Business
This answers the question what are you creating? What problem are you actually solving? If you met someone and they asked you to describe your business in one sentences would you be able to do so? Sometimes, it is easier to answer this if you have experience in the industry you intend to start your business in. Having experience will save you time because it will reveal what the problem is and a better insight on how to fix . But you don’t necessarily have to.
The ‘Why’ of Your Business
Let me ask you a question. Why did you buy that dress? Why did you take that job? Why did you move to a new city? Why did you decide to become an entrepreneur? Why does your business exist? Why should anyone care about what you’re creating? This is an extremely important question you must deal with because your answer will attract, connect and retain your customers. It has to be compelling. Once you have answered this, write it somewhere and use it as your mission statement; this will also serve as your driving force. If the primary reason you decided to become an entrepreneur is to make a lot of money quickly, please, stop immediately. Entrepreneurship is more than making a lot of money quickly. It is about finding and fulfilling a purpose and effecting change in the world. These days, my cereal box has a Facebook and Twitter icon on the side of the carton. If I’m upset with a company, I can search for their social media page, state my frustration and someone will mostly get back to me right there. The point, this wasn’t so about 5 years ago. We all search Google to keep up with news or ask strange questions. I have tried to remember what life was without this; I can’t remember. That is change.
Tag lines/Slogan: Somewhere in between answering ‘The Why’ question, create a tag line or slogan as well. This is one aspect some entrepreneurs don’t bother with, but comes in handy during marketing or promotions. Think of it as a shorter (or cuter) version of your mission statement and an excellent way to express your company’s values. For instance; Toyota: Innovation That Excites. Apple: Think Different. MTN: Everywhere You Go. Even states have a slogan. i.e Lagos: Center For Excellence. New York: Empire State.
The ‘How’ of Your Business
There’s nothing new under the sun. This means whatever you are creating is most likely out there already. You’re just making a variation. Your answer should tell what makes your business different from your competition. How you’re unique? What should stop consumers from going to your competition? I’ve always maintained that you should set yourself apart.
I came about ‘The What’ of my business after working in the banking industry for seven years and understanding the structure. It is also where I discovered my passion for personal finance (or maybe it’s my Igbo DNA). I stumbled on ‘The Why’ of my business while scrolling through someone’s Facebook page. He recommended a book titled Blue Ocean Strategy (Great read!). I found a copy online and it practically helped me craft my mission statement (I did say magic happens every time you read). Just so you can understand better, I will use my business as a template for you.
Business Name: OneSavvyDollar
Slogan/Tagline: We Love You To Wealth
Mission (The Why): OneSavvyDollar exists to make your financial lives dramatically simpler, more convenient, more productive, less risky, more fun and fashionable.
Problem: If you’re in the market for a loan and you need to know what the rates are, you would have to either call the banks, go into the branch, or navigate through each bank’s website which are all time consuming.
Solution (The What):Our website reduces or eliminates this annoyance by allowing you search and compare rates for loans or bank products using your area.
Uniqueness (The How): Our website is simple and easy to navigate, provides you with a variety of options because you discover banks you never knew existed in your area, and produces your search results in a matter of minutes.
Have you started your business? Do you have answers to the questions above? Share your experience(s).
Photo Credit: Dreamstime | Michael Zhang