Using PR to Attract Customers

The following is a very interesting video of how the founder of used PR to get 6,000 customers.

Are you launching a new business? How about more customers? You can learn from this:

9 Steps to Start Your Own Business

A lot of people have dreams of making it big with their own business and they think they have some great ideas that they want to act on but they don’t know what to do, so they don’t do anything. And that’s their biggest mistake – they don’t do anything. The first step to starting a small business is to take the first step. Take some action.

So whether you’re thinking of selling a product or providing a service, these are the 9 Steps to Starting a Small Business

  1. Take Action – Don’t just talk and think about your idea. Do something. I guarantee that if you’re successful, it will not look anything like you originally imagined. It is IMPOSSIBLE to think of all the different possibilities so just do something to start and worry about making changes as you go.
  2. Get Money – Most people are going to hate this one but I think it’s necessary. I think the question I get asked the most is what to do if the person has no money. It’s hard enough building a business with plenty of money and it’s nearly impossible with no money.
    Even if it’s just money that you have saved, set an amount aside so you have something to start with. Trust me, trading time for money is a VERY hard way to go and I don’t recommend it at all.
  3. Register the Business – This one scares everyone because they think it’s a ton of work filling out complicated government and tax forms. The reality is that it is almost too easy. Just register your business and get it done with. It makes everything else so much easier down the road when you have a registered business. Here’s how to do it.
  4. Set up a Bank Account – I was going to include this with the previous step because it’s so small but I realized that it’s too important to skip. If you’re working from a bank account, it’s much easier to manage your money, receivables, and taxes. Again, it’s a one time thing that makes everything else easier down the road.
  5. Create a Two Page Business Plan – I’m not a big fan of business plans. I once created a 40 page document and realized that I went into so much detail that I was better off just doing what I was talking about. I also think that their main purpose is in the formation of capital (i.e: getting money from other people) and most small businesses aren’t trying to get that type of money. However, I do think it’s good to get your ideas on paper and if you just go off and write 2 pages of your ideas, it’ll help make your thoughts much clearer. Don’t worry about getting it perfect – just get your ideas on paper.
  6. Create a Scorecard – I know it sounds minor, but along with getting money before I started, the lack of a scorecard was the biggest hindrance to our early success. A scorecard is a spreadsheet to track how your business is doing in different areas of your business. It allows you to focus on specific areas of your business and measure how well your business is doing. For example, I know how much it costs me to generate a new customer, so I use that information when I determine whether a new campaign is effective or not.
  7. Create a Manual – In my mind, this replaces the long business plan. Until you start creating a manual for your business, you will not be successful. By putting on paper the exact steps to run each part of your business, you are creating a recipe for success. Without it, you cannot create a consistent experience for your customers and you waste your time reinventing the wheel each time you need to complete a task.
  8. Create the First Draft of Your Product – If your plan is to create a new product or service, build it for the first time. Determine what needs to be done to manufacture the product or complete the service. If you’re just distributing a product or service for a supplier, go through that process to determine what needs to be done to go from sale to successful delivery of your product. Oh yeah, and make sure every detail is recorded in the manual.
  9. Test the Market for the Product – Go out and try to sell your product or service. This is where some of that money that you set aside comes in. You don’t want a full-blown campaign but you want to see what type of response you will get on your service. You’re almost definitely going to lose some money here but you’ll start getting some data points (which will show up in your Scorecard) that you can start making decisions off of.

The most important step in starting a small business it the first one – take action. You can come up with a ton of different scenarios in your mind but until you take some action to begin testing out your idea, you will never know. Some ideas you think will be great will be horrible and ones that you think will be a waste, are your best ideas. Don’t just go at it halfway. Create some sort of structure with the steps above and you have something to start testing and growing.

When ‘Best Practices’ Don’t Work

This is the story of how Dropbox, a cloud storage company, went from having 100,000 users to 4million users in fewer than two years. Amazing, eh? Watch the slideshow:

I find the presentation to be quite inspiring. Incase you didn’t/can’t watch it, it tells the story of a young company struggling to bring their product to market. At first, they experiment with traditional ‘best practice’ marketing methods. They realise that these methods fail horribly and decide to switch tact – this proves to be a smart move as their customer acquisition rate increased rapidly.

It just goes to show that when you are staring your own business, you have to be “hands on” and you have to think inside, outside and around the box. The important thing is to be bold enough to actually try something – when it doesn’t work, change it and try something else. As long as your are not basing your decisions on ignorance then your smart management will probably improve your business position.

Hubspot has a nice article on 5 lessons learnt from the dropbox slideshow.

What did you learn?

I loved the statement: search engines are a way to harvest demand, not create it.

Are We Missing Something?

I have a story for you: a few years ago, one of my best friends quit his job. He used to work at one of the best performing companies in the Nairobi stock exchange. He quit so that he could set up his own advertising agency.

Guess what? His parents and his whole family, really, were up in arms over his decision. They could not believe why anyone would leave such a high paying job. His uncles even took time visiting him to ‘advise’ him to go back to his old job. To this day, one of his uncles always calls him with contacts of managers at large companies – he asks my friend to send his CV to the managers so that he can ‘make something out of his life’.

What you probably won’t believe is that my friend’s business is doing quite well. He has about twelve employees now, and has been profitable since his first month. Yet his family still refers to his work as ‘jua kali nonsense’. He should go get a ‘real’ job like everyone else, they say.


Recently in Thika, I heard of a bizarre incident. My friend’s dad was interviewing job applicants. The quality of the applicants was impressive – almost everyone had an impressive CV full of various qualifications and accomplishments. Some of the applicants were university graduates with degrees and everyone seemed like they really wanted the job. Surprisingly, as it turns out, the job in question was that of digging trenches. Can you believe it?

On one hand we have impressively qualified people looking for a job, any job. On the other hand we have the brave few who have enough courage to try and start their own businesses. Who would you rather be?

Let’s face it, we do not have an entrepreneurial culture in this country. How can people who try and start their own businesses be looked down upon by their families and societies while what they are doing is precisely what is needed to address our high unemployment rates? We need more people starting businesses yet these people’s mothers and fathers won’t let them. They’d much rather have their loved one’s join the over saturated job hunting market.

We need change! We need people like you and me to start businesses today. We need society to stop stopping us. We need to embrace the entrepreneurial culture in this country!

How to Start and Build a Business With (Almost) No Money

At Like Chapaa, we come across all sorts of people who are looking to get ahead in life. Many of the people are people with small businesses or people trying to set up a business. Almost all of these people are people with big ideas but no funding – people who are starting, or running a business on a shoestring budget. These people can be called bootstrappers.

Are you a bootstrapper? Well, we have a treat for you today. We’re giving you Seth Godin’s book, The Bootstrapper’s Bible. You can download it below.

I read this book a few years ago and once again I reread it recently. Not only does this book cover a wide variety of issues about starting a business on little money, it also provides you with examples of how other businesses started (including some of the big brands that exist today.) From stretching your existing cash to finding your niche, this book is not a black and white “how to start a business in x number of easy steps” but instead a book that can be applied to whatever business you want to start. Or if you have already started and want to go back over some of the fine points it can also be helpful.

Download it here: [download id=”2″]

Seth Godin is a bestselling author, entrepreneur and agent of change. Godin is author of multiple books that have been bestsellers around the world and changed the way people think about marketing, change and work. His newest book is Linchpin.

What do you think of it? Did it saidia you?

The Simplest Way To Find Something To Sell

A question I get asked a lot is, “What is the simplest way to find a good product or service to sell?” Well, there is no “simple” way to come up with something that one can both believe in and convince others to believe in enough to buy it. There have been many great products that have sold poorly, and just as many impractical or inferior products have flown off the shelves . There is no sure-fire way to test whether a product will be successful, no matter how much you believe in it. The only way you are ever going to learn whether a product is going to sell is by jumping in and selling it.

Running studies to test out whether a product will succeed is not a novel idea. People give away products as gifts, or even (in the extreme internet case) sell things on eBay to figure out what markets well. Introducing a new product or service into any market is hard and downright scary – most people want some kind of assurance that they will be successful. Unfortunately, it is nearly impossible to get any amount of reasonable and reliable “assurance”. A product or service may test just fine, but run into problems in the real world when competing with something of equal or lesser quality that simply seems better because of how it is being marketed. The best marketed product often is the highest-selling product, whether it is superior in function or not.

One may think that introducing a new and unique product may guarantee success. This works only sometimes. As certain as you may be that a new product is exactly what people need, new concepts or products can backfire on you. If a great new product comes to the market, and people have nothing like it to compare it to, sales typically do not take off until a later version or a competitor’s version has come along. This is counter-intuitive, but it is how people make shopping decisions – they want to make the best choice, and to do so, there need to have choices.

If a product or service does not sell well at first, you have options. First, do not be afraid to slightly alter what you are offering. Slight alterations provide one way to repackage a product as a new, different product. You must also consider presenting it in a new way. A different marketing campaign, the addition of incentives and targeting consumers in subtle ways are all viable ways to boost sales if they might be lagging. You may also try and ask your customers and fans about what to do next. This can be through surveys, polls, and even services like SitePal.

Remember that anyone can sell anything. If at first you don’t succeed, try, try, try again.

Stealth Mode?

Sometimes I get a lot of emails from people wishing to start a new business or website. One thing that I almost always get from these nice people is that they want me to assure them of absolute secrecy regarding their project. They are afraid that if other people hear about it, then their idea will be stolen.

But is that really true? The sad fact is that no one really cares about your idea anyway. And I speak this from experience – we’ve been involved in a whole lot of projects and the level of secrecy surrounding a project does not affect its success in the least. In fact, the more secrecy there is, the less your chances of success. I bet some of you never thought about it that way, ama? This is especially true if your project involves a lot of technology.

Why? Because high technology start-ups are very very much shaped by and demand a lot of user feedback. You cannot build a perfect project while tucked away in your basement – you need people to continually test it and give feedback so that your product ‘evolves’ into something that is just perfect for your target market. This is the plain truth, dear readers.

Please have a look at: Stealth Startups, Get Over Yourselves: Nobody Cares About Your Secrets by TechCrunch.

What do you think of all this?