Some businesses take longer to flourish than others because industry algorithms vary considerably. However, small business entrepreneurs realise the importance of staying on their toes and are adjusting to the pace, ensuring that their brand gets ‘out there’.
Xola Nouse is the Managing Director of The Odd Number, a registered black-owned advertising company he started with partner Sbu Sitole. He says the biggest lessons they learnt in starting their business are centred around prudent governance controls, people management and managing their pipeline. In the process, they’ve learnt the importance of getting the basics right, paying particular attention to detail that is often lost during the management of the day-to-day operations of a business.
As a start-up entrepreneur or brand, you’ll need to endure the teething stages of growing your business. “The biggest ‘start-up’ challenge we faced was around the distinction between acquiring capital to grow, or organically building working capital to stay afloat without compromising the long-term vision of the business,” says Nouse.
He believes that innovation is simply driven by challenges and a constant need to improve the status quo.
“Budding entrepreneurs should interrogate the market in which they chose to operate, says Nouse. “Through doing that they not only get an intimate understanding of the market landscape, but are also better able to articulate their value proposition and market positioning, which will ultimately result in them being able to compete.”
READ MORE: How to weather the start-up phase
This just goes to show that entrepreneurship is one of the avenues in which competition is healthy.
Nouse adds that The Odd Number wants to lead the African aesthetic in terms of communication through finding, nurturing and up-skilling fresh talent.
So, what are some of the ways entrepreneurs can adjust their mindset to push the envelope?
Brand specialist Preston Jongbloed believes that brands need to adopt a social enterprise marketing strategy. “CSI is the new marketing,” says Jongbloed. “Consumers like to be part of a community, so brands need to embed themselves into the culture of the consumer they want to attract.”
Jongbloed adds that customer service, could pose as the biggest killer of business if not managed correctly. Your reputation for how you treat your customers will go ahead of you.
READ MORE: Four ways entrepreneurs can get out of debt
As for staying innovative, Jongbloed compares it to fashion, which is seasonal. This means that as a brand you constantly have to stay abreast of things. “Years ago it was predominantly print advertising and marketing,” he adds. “In this era it’s social media, but I am convinced that the future is about businesses being significant, and that’s where social enterprise will become crowd sourcing to service your business niche.”
Coco-Cola and Nando’s are examples of brands that continue to nail the advertising game. While these are not small businesses, there are definitely lessons to take on. In 2015, Coca-Cola released the first Drinkable Campaign for Coca-Cola Zero, conceptualised by Ogilvy Mathers advertising agency. The ad allows viewers a free Coke Zero drink.
Best believe that Nando’s doesn’t miss a trending moment. As soon as the Concourt’s ruling on the Nkandla matter was finalised on Thursday 31 March, Nando’s South Africa put out a new ad asking: “Bad taste in the mouth, Mr President?”
Imagine what it must be like to sit in a Nando’s ad strategy meeting?