Most businesses fail not because they don’t have a good product but because they fail to bring out their value proposition; that is, an innovation, service, or feature intended to make a company or product attractive to customers. When marketing your product or service it’s imperative that you bring out what sets your business apart from competitors.
Show how your business is unique from your competitors. You need to say exactly what you are doing better than the competition.
Your value proposition should attract attention and interest from your customers. That unique attribute should separate you from the rest of the pack and put your product or service on a pedestal above the competition.
You should present your company’s unique value proposition so that the market understands what you are offering them.
A customer will be attracted to those features that address his/her needs and as a result your market share will grow and this will ensure that your business survives.
A business is there to serve customers. If you neglect customers you are setting up your business for failure.
You need to have your pulse on the customers’ needs by being in constant touch with your customers. Know exactly what your customers value about your product or service.
There are certain features or attributes that they like and if you don’t know those things you might stop providing those features and as result lose your customers.
Sometimes customers change their interests or what they value on a product because of a change in trends. So a forward looking business owner keeps his eyes on the horizon watching for any new trends and how they impact on customers.
You can get most of the customers’ requirements from the sales reps who should be talking to customers regularly and getting up-to-date information.
You can also carry out customer satisfaction surveys once in a while so that you know what they need.
Your business will fail if you don’t stay in touch with your customers and understand what they need and the feedback they offer.
Your business can easily become irrelevant if you don’t keep abreast with customers’ needs. Nokia did that and now it’s no longer a player in the mobile phone business because it failed to keep abreast with customers desires.
Some business fail not because the business idea is bad but because the entrepreneur fails to structure the business model properly.
Investopedia defines a business model as the way a company generates revenue and makes profit from its operations.
A business is bound to fail if an entrepreneur builds a business on a model that is not sound, by pursuing a business for which there is no proven revenue streams.
This usually happens if the entrepreneur does not draw up a business plan through which he can test his business idea.
The best way to build a good, tried and tested business model is to research and review how other businesses in the industry you intend starting your business are operating and generating their revenues. After that review you should prepare a detailed business plan that will question all assumptions and indicate how revenue streams will be generated and how reliable those revenue streams are.
Some business fail due to rapid growth. Growth should normally be positive but however unplanned rapid growth can be disastrous because if a business grows much faster than it can keep up with the growth, it might be inundated with orders which it is not able to fulfil because of lack of funding to fund stocks and meet the orders.
If customers cannot get their orders delivered they will not take you seriously and so will leave you and move on to other businesses. In some cases you might overestimate the demand of your product.
You might be so convinced that your product is going to take the world by storm and as result you invest heavily in stocks, logistics and manpower but if the business fails to pick up as anticipated you will be left with so much stocks and human resources which you can’t fund and the business ends up failing. You need to plan your business very carefully.
You need to draw up a business plan which looks at your strengths, the market, the local demographics and their spending trends, any future local government development plans that might impact on your business and ensure that you gear the growth of your business based on these trends. Carry out surveys if possible so that you have an idea of the market.
Avoid getting too much inventory unless it’s justified by demand. Recruit staff as dictated by the demand of the product. Following the above will ensure that you avoid unnecessary business failure.
Stewart Jakarasi is a business & financial strategist and a lecturer in business strategy and performance management.
He provides advisory and guidance on leadership, strategy and execution, preparation of business plans and on how to build and sustain high-performing organisations.
l For assistance in implementing some of the concepts discussed in these articles please contact him on the following contacts: firstname.lastname@example.org or +266 58881062 or on WhatsApp +266 62110062
Why invest for the future
AN investment plan forms a critical pillar of a financial plan, says Tokiso Nthebe, a local author and financial services adviser.
Nthebe, the founder of TKO Financial Wellness and Advisory, says when people invest, they can use their money to buy assets that will increase in value over the long term.
He says these assets can help them build wealth.
“When you invest, your money starts to work for you by providing returns that will beat inflation,’’ Nthebe says.
Nthebe says there is a huge difference between saving and investing.
He says investing requires that you take some level of risk in exchange for an expected return or growth.
Nthebe says Basotho should consider many factors before they decide to start investing.
“It is important to have a clear strategy that guides your investment decisions and to work with qualified professionals,” he says.
Nthebe says one should consider their growth mind-set, investment goals, and their risk tolerance.
In addition, one should consider what kind of growth or return they expect.
He says one should find out whether the institution they invest in is licensed or regulated and how long one should invest.
Nthebe says one should further consider what risks are associated with the investment option and whether there are any associated costs.
He says it is also important to remember that investments take time.
“There are no short cuts to building wealth. Do not fall prey to get-rich-quick schemes,” he says.
Moreover, Nthebe says the investment landscape comprises commercial banks, asset management companies, and insurance companies.
He says each provides different financial products and services.
Nthebe says the Central Bank of Lesotho (CBL) also offers investment solutions such as treasury bills and treasury bonds that Basotho can consider.
Depending on your investment goals, he says financial service providers have a wide range of investment solutions to choose from that cater for short, medium, and long-term goals.
“I encourage Basotho to do thorough research and seek professional advice before making financial decisions,” he says.
Vince Shorb, the United States National Financial Educators Council CEO, writes that “many of the financial problems people face today started when they were young and making their first financial decisions”.
Shorb further says taking on too much debt, not investing early, and failing to plan can take one decades to recover from such.
However, it takes financial literacy to make good decisions, he says.
Financial literacy has been perceived as a tool that gives you the opportunity to be confident and empowered to live the quality of life you have worked hard for.
Shorb says one of the wisest decisions one can make to prepare for the future is to invest.
Investment has been defined as the commitment of funds with a view to minimising risk and safeguarding capital while earning a return.
When Covid-19 hit and the government shut down all gatherings in April 2020, there seemed no way out for ICONICS (Pty) Ltd, a budding events management company based in Leribe district.
They had two options: shut down or innovate to keep the business going.
They chose the latter.
Three years down the line, ICONICS (Pty) Ltd has completely transformed itself from an events management and public relations company into a manufacturing company that is now the envy of Lesotho.
“The closing of events translated into the closing of our business,” Rapitso Mosebetsi, one of the co-founders of ICONICS (Pty) Ltd told thepost this week.
Mosebetsi established ICONICS in partnership with Tumo Mahapa.
Faced with collapse, Mosebetsi say they began buying Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) such as surgical gowns, disposal coveralls and safety apparel for resale.
Eventually they decided to manufacture the PPEs and safety clothing. That was the turning point.
But since the company was already down, Mosebetsi says diversification was a hard nut to crack.
“It became quite a long journey (for us),” he says. “We had to come up with something new for the industry.”
He says they had to overcome stiff competition from giant companies and come up with something unique that would set them apart.
“That was how thermal heating apparel was born,” he says.
“We are the first company to produce thermal heating apparel,” he says.
The company manufactures thermal clothing, which is electric clothing, using power banks of five voltages.
“The voltage is so low to electrocute a person,” he says.
The clothing also has a power button to turn it on and off.
Mosebetsi says the thermal heating apparel is on corporate clothing as well as high-visibility clothing.
Mosebetsi says they started the journey with the support of several organisations, such as the Lesotho National Development Corporation (LNDC) and the Basotho Enterprises Development Corporation (BEDCO), to build their capacity.
Mosebetsi says they also got mentorship support from organisations such as the Global Entrepreneurship Network.
The results of years of hard work are now all out for everyone to see.
In 2022, ICONICS won the M100 000 Business Plan Competition hosted by BEDCO.
This grant enabled them to acquire land and buy five more industrial machines.
This did not only enable the company to increase their production to 100 worksuits a week, but it further created permanent jobs for five people as well as three temporary workers.
Last year, the company took part in the Exporter of the Year event hosted by the LNDC in partnership with the Lesotho Post Bank and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).
Mosebetsi says they won the award for Lesotho’s most innovative and versatile exporter.
He says this did not only put them in the spotlight, but it further encouraged them to do more.
ICONICS was announced as the best exporter of the year at an event hosted by the LNDC earlier this month.
Mosebetsi says this made them proud, as the award is aligned with their vision.
The award further gives the company an opportunity to participate in the regional competition.
He says this opportunity will further give the company a competitive edge in terms of production locally and globally.
“It will be an honour if we can win the regional competition,” he says.
In terms of markets, Mosebetsi says the company has had the opportunity to list their products in the African Trade Market since 2020 with the support of USAID.
This is an e-commerce platform that opens up the market for African countries to list their products.
Mosebetsi says the company did not only get publicity, but the client database also increased.
He says they moved from supplying individuals only to big companies, different organisations, and different government departments such as those involved in mining and health.
Considering the decline of the Lesotho textile industry, Mosebetsi says their secret to success has been their being innovative.
“Our sustainability is matched with innovation,” he says.
Mosebetsi says it also requires patience coupled with lots of investment in terms of time.
“Rome was not built in one day,” he says.
He says working as a team also plays a critical role.
Despite their achievements, Mosebetsi says the market for innovative industries is one of the hardest nuts to crack.
He says the company is in the process of not only making their products known but also educating people about their safety.
Mosebetsi says the other challenge is the decline of the South African Rand as compared to the US Dollar.
He says some of their materials are sourced from China.
Therefore, it is more expensive to buy such materials.
ICONICS is not only seeking to make their brand well known globally, but Mosebetsi says they are also seeking to create more jobs for our youths.
LetsGo and Win!
LETSHEGO Financial Service has launched the LetsGo and Win loan consolidation campaign where customers win weekly and monthly cash prizes of up to M150 000.
The campaign, which was launched yesterday, will end on November 8.
The LetsGo and Win campaign rewards customers for consolidating their loans.
It is aligned with Letshego Lesotho’s version to offer competitive products that cater for the evolving needs of its customers.
The financial services company operates in Lesotho, Botswana, ESwatini, and Zambia.
The Marketing Manager and Business Partner, Tšotetsi Seema, said Letshego Lesotho is committed to delivering increasing value and options to customers.
Seema said this programme is a testament to that commitment.
“The campaign invites customers to consolidate their loans into one low and easy repayment with reduced rates and they stand to win weekly and monthly prizes,” Seema said.
“The weekly cash prizes will be won by lucky customers randomly selected and notified through Letshego Radio shows,” he said.
Additionally, he said two lucky customers will be randomly selected each month and given a chance to spin the wheel of fortune with a chance to receive a maximum of M20 000 each.
“The loans consolidation campaign makes it easier for customers to choose Letshego Lesotho as their preferred financial services partner.”
He said this innovative campaign aims to help individuals streamline their debt payment while benefiting from reduced interest rates.
“Debt consolidation can help customers get a lower monthly payment, pay off their debt sooner, increase their credit score and simplify their life.”
Letshego Lesotho’s Head of Sales, Distribution and Marketing, Motebang Moeketsi, said managing multiple loans can often be overwhelming with varying interest loans due dates and terms.
“The campaign addresses this challenge by combining multiple loans into a single, easy to manage repayment plan,” Moeketsi said.
He added that this simplification not only eases the financial burden on borrowers but also potentially leads to significant savings over time.
Moreover the new consolidation campaign invites customers to take advantage of their best-in-class financial services provided through Letshego Lesotho branch network and digital platforms.
“Letshego Lesotho is committed to increasing financial inclusion through its efforts to serve underbanked communities, promoting financial literacy and delivering positive social impacts for its customers and communities.”
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