2015 has come and gone; and if I might say, the year has been nothing short of eventful. From the impact of the elections on contract awards and contract approvals, to the drop in oil prices and the soaring exchange rate (as I write this, the dollar is exchanging for about N260 from under N200 at the beginning of the year)…businesses have certainly had better days.
Having said this, I am still very optimistic that 2016 will be an excellent year to be an entrepreneur in Nigeria. Why do I say this? Well, look back at even the rather capricious 2015; several ideas, by bold and methodical minds, materialized into successful businesses – despite all the uncertainties. This, I think, should leave everyone excited about the future.
So how did your business do in 2015? Did you meet all or most of your targets? What will your business do differently in the coming year? You probably have or are reviewing your business and making grand plans for the New Year.
Several institutions including the Nigerian government have predicted difficult economic times in the New Year, warning that money might be scarce and resources tight. Notwithstanding you will still have to make some commitments to strengthen your position in the market; and so in the rest of this article, I have highlighted a number of effective low cost ways to help you give your business a mini- makeover without breaking the bank.
Revamp your Business Premises
Does your office or business location look old, untidy, or boring? You can update the look by doing simple things such as changing the paint, light fixtures, or signage. If you have more resources to commit, you can replace the waiting area furniture and or reception desk. Consider having some form of entertainment for your guests while they wait to be attended to. Your business should exude professionalism. Your entrance should be welcoming, well furnished and free of clutter.
Establish an Online Presence
Does your business have a website? If yes, is it also responsive? Considering that 93% of web users in Nigeria browse the web on their mobile devices, you must ensure that visitors to your site have an optimal experience viewing images and content and are also able to navigate easily from page to page. Information on your website should also be current and correct.
Your website is one of the most important assets your business has. In most cases, it will be the first interaction a potential customer or client will have with your brand. You want to ensure that the look and feel reflects your brand. So when it comes to websites, you not only want to be present, but also relevant and convincing.
Update your Marketing Materials
Your business card, flyer, brochure etc. represent your brand. They tell a story about you. While having an attractive visual identity is not a sure sign that you are good at what you do, or that you will sell, it often opens the door for you to persuade your prospect and eventually clinch the sale.
To revamp your marketing materials. Ask yourself: are you still offering the same products and services as you did when you first created the materials? If you have pictures, are the images clear enough for your prospects to see what you are selling and the features you are trying to highlight? You might also want to review the design, color font and layout.
Embrace Social Media
This is closely related to having and online presence. Some business owners have an I-don’t-care-attitude towards social media. They know it exists, but don’t care enough to know more or how they can use it in their business. Hopefully this year, you change your attitude. Social media has a lot of benefits. It gives you incredible insights about your customers and how they perceive and use your products and services. It also gives you the opportunity to resolve customer complaints, and respond to enquiries in real time.
One thing to note is that social media requires commitment. Once you are there, you have to be present and consistent. Don’t spread yourself thin by being on every platform, especially if you don’t have the resources to actively engage across all. Remember to publish links to your website on your platforms and have contact information updated and easily displayed for your followers to reach you.
Have a work Email Address
Does your email address still say email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org? Then it is time to get a new email address. Your work email should be separate from your personal email. Generally your email should look something like Amaka.Bello@yourcompany.com
It may seem like a small improvement but it has a tremendous effect on your brand. As a professional you want to project an image that is consistent with the value you are offering.
Train your Staff
After investing all the hard work, you cannot afford to have poor customer service jeopardize it. Instituting simple practices like greeting customers with a smile, picking up the phone immediately it rings, and responding promptly to customer enquiries can transform customer experiences. Make sure that everyone that has anything to do with your business from reception desk to delivery and technical people are well trained and can represent your brand.
Hopefully these small changes will make a big difference for you in 2016.
Which of these suggestions will you be implementing? I would love to hear from you.
Photo Credit: Dreamstime | Paul Hakimata