Every small business knows the importance of retaining customers - after all, it takes massive amounts of hard work, continuous communication, and hard-earned money and resources to win them in the first place, so it stands to reason that keeping them has to be a priority. With that in mind, here are a few interesting statistics on customer retention to get you focused on the job at hand!
- The probability of selling to an existing customer is 60-70%. The probability of selling to a new prospect is 5-20%.
- 80% percent of your future profits will come from just 20% of your existing customers.
- 65% percent of a company’s business comes from existing customers.
- 32% of executives say retaining existing customers is a priority.
- A typical small business will lose 15% of its customers each year.
- 27% of small business owners estimate that 11-20% of first-time customers don’t return to their business.
- It costs 5% more to acquire a new customer than it does to keep a current one.
- It costs 16x more to bring a new customer up to the same level as a current one.
- 82% of companies agree that retaining customers is cheaper to execute than acquisition.
As you can see, the impact of customer retention can be felt from your bottom line to your marketing tactics, cost of sales, and customer service. So the question is, are you taking your customer retention seriously enough? Read More
On Friday last week, the 4th symposium on financial inclusion took place in the Rwandan capital Kigali, with a goal to enhance financial sector performance globally, particularly in developing countries. More than 300 participants attended the event, together with an influential panel of speakers which included Jennifer Riria, founder and CEO of Kenya Women Holdings, Monique Nsanzabaganwa, deputy governor at National Bank of Rwanda; and Reeta Roy, President and CEO of The MasterCard Foundation. On the agenda were discussions to tackle such questions as to why women disproportionately face financial access barriers that prevent them from participating in the economy and from improving their lives. The consensus seemed to point to the fact that strong commitment is needed among African governments to promote financial inclusion for women to help achieve gender equity and poverty reduction, and to remove existing barriers. Experts at the meeting argued that investing in women should be a shared priority across public and private sector stakeholders given the economic and civic implications of female participation in the formal financial ecosystem. Read More
In the world of business, there is much talk about brands - how to build them, how to grow them, how to take them global, etc. And, for many small businesses, there is perhaps a temptation to think that building a brand comes later down the line, once the business is established and the focus is not simply on getting cash in the bank. But the reality is that building a brand matters, no matter how small the business is in the early days. Every business has a brand, and over time that business builds its brand equity. It’s what creates the emotional connection with your customers; it’s what helps to get people talking about your business and the products you make and services you provide. It’s precisely that emotional brand connection that keeps your customers coming back time and again, choosing your product and service offerings above others in the marketplace. There is no perfect future time to start thinking about how to build your brand, the time is now. Ask yourself some key questions. What is the feeling you are trying to convey to your customers when they encounter the brand in their daily lives? Can it inspire them? Can it evoke a particular memory? Once you have the answers to these type of questions, you are on your way to building your own strong brand equity, capable of lasting well after the critical startup phase. Read More
GE and Standard Bank today announced the launch of the new ‘Healthcare Accelerator’ a country-first for South Africa, growth and training programme designed for Healthcare Professionals (HCPs). The aim of the Healthcare Accelerator is to provide technical, clinical and business acumen to HCPs who want to improve and grow their existing practices, whether private or public, or transition into private practice. The Healthcare Accelerator is now calling for entries from healthcare professionals across the country and will provide over 100 hours of training and professional development over 6 months, commencing November 2016. The practical modules will be delivered weekly in a classroom environment at the GE Africa Innovation Centre (Houghton Estate) and the Standard Bank Incubator (Rosebank) by leading experts. Courses will include strategy and business plan development, operations management, governance and ethics, digital practices, human resources and marketing. The interactive classroom experience will be complemented by access to e-learning platforms providing further resources for HCPs to develop and learn additional skills. Interested practitioners looking to take advantage of this program should apply online here, with the forty selected candidates to be announced before the end of the year. Read More
A fascinating new report has just been launched by McKinsey, ‘Lions on the Move, Realizing the Potential of Africa’s Economies’, which suggests that although there have been some economic challenges over the past five years, the continent’s fundamentals remain strong. Africa’s real GDP grew at an average of 3.3 percent a year between 2010 and 2015, and as a whole is projected by the International Monetary Fund to be the world’s second-fastest growing economy to 2020. In an ageing world, Africa has the advantage of a young and growing population and will soon have the fastest urbanization rate in the world. By 2034, the region is expected to have a larger workforce than either China or India—and, so far, job creation is outpacing growth in the labor force. Accelerating technological change is unlocking new opportunities for consumers and businesses, and Africa still has abundant resources. Spending by consumers and businesses today totals $4 trillion. All in all, the future looks bright for entrepreneurs who want to look to Africa’s exciting marketplace for the growth and development of their own businesses. Read More
If there is one thing that entrepreneurs who are providing specific services to their customers are good at, its building relationships. Why? Because they have a constant touchpoint with those customers; they are getting to know them, to know what they need, they are providing a service which makes life better or easier. They are leveraging their skills, knowledge, experience and service offering to develop trusted relationships. And, in business, that’s what matters. Take for example an entrepreneur who has a hairdressing, beauty or wellness enterprise, or perhaps a designer or couturier who is creating clothes that enhance confidence. Every day, they are using their skills to make their customers feel and look better, they are making personal connections, they are building trusted relationships. It’s why it’s so important to hone that skill, study to become a craftsperson or specialist in a particular field, become the best version of yourself as an entrepreneur, so that you can build meaningful and lasting relationships with your clients that are built on service excellence, trust, and mutual understanding. Read More
Entrepreneurship has the power to help Africa overcome many of its challenges, and at the Lionesses of Africa Annual Conference last week, Standard Bank launched a new survey to gain some invaluable insights into what women entrepreneurs need to take their businesses to the next level. The bank firmly believes that female entrepreneurs can be a prominent force driving many of the solutions that will move our rich, vibrant continent forward. Yet it acknowledges that from its existing research, although there are numerous female entrepreneurs in Africa, there is still much to be learned - hence, this new survey. As a bank, it needs to understand the specific opportunities and challenges that women on the continent face every day, the societal pressures they feel, the support structures on which they rely, and what is needed to help their businesses reach greater success. Ultimately, it feels that to better engage with women entrepreneurs going forward, it needs to genuinely know what it’s like to be a woman entrepreneur in Africa today. So, if you would like to have your voice heard and to ensure that a major financial institution such as Standard Bank really understands the needs of women entrepreneurs in Africa, you are invited to take 5-10 minutes to complete the survey here. Read More
They say if you can imagine it, you can make it happen. I can certainly attest to that. My vision for Lionesses of Africa has taken me from a germ of an idea to get the world talking about and connecting with the continent’s women entrepreneurs, to what is today a powerful community of over 200,000 inspirational women in business in 36 African countries. Imagination has been the key to what is now an extraordinary social enterprise journey and one shared by some of the world’s leading companies and organisations, including GE one of the world’s leading Digital Industrial Organisations. GE has brought the opportunity to innovate, imagine, and invent to Sub-Saharan Africa with the launch of its GE Africa Innovation Centre (GEAIC) in Johannesburg, South Africa, and it has made a commitment to developing women entrepreneurs. With this in mind, the GE AIC is partnering with Lionesses of Africa on an Open Innovation Challenge. Women entrepreneurs in the network in South Africa are invited to provide a sustainable digital solution to a pressing challenge – or opportunity. The solution should ideally focus on the sectors, and businesses, that GE SSA serves. The winning entry will receive USD 1 500.00, and the opportunity to work with GE AIC Digital Academy team on developing their proposed project. Short-listed candidates will be included as preferential suppliers to GE Sub-Saharan Africa. Deadline for entries is 23h00 on November 15, 2016 via the link: www.geafricainnovationcentre.com/lionesses-ge-open-innovation-challenge So, what are you waiting for - join GE as they Innovate, Imagine and Invent – In Africa; For Africa. Read More
We’ve all experienced those ‘goose-bump’ moments in life, when we see or hear something that touches us at an emotional level. Well, yesterday at the opening of the Lionesses of Africa AnnualConference, we all shared one of those moments when the talented operatic soprano, Nozuko Teto, walked onto the stage and performed the truly inspirational song, ’You’ll never walk alone’. It was a reminder to all of us as women entrepreneurs in the room that when you belong to a strong, supportive community such as Lionesses of Africa, you are never alone on your entrepreneurial journey - you are surrounded by fellow Lionesses who know what you are experiencing and can offer support, advice and sometimes just a shoulder to lean on when things get tough. That’s the strength of the pride! Read More
I passionately believe that the way to strengthen women’s entrepreneurship on this continent is in our hands. As women entrepreneurs, we must create and champion the way forward for the next generation of young women who will follow in our footsteps. It is our responsibility and we must rise to the challenge. I believe real solutions to real socio economic problems will start to be found in meetings just like the Lionesses of Africa Annual Conference we are staging today, with entrepreneurship and women’s empowerment through enterprise leading the charge. Wherever we can bring women entrepreneurs together on this continent to share ideas, to find solutions, to collaborate, to put those game-changing ideas into action, we have the seeds for real change. The change will not come from government. It will not come from Washington programmes. It will not come from consultants and advisors. It will not come from books. Real change will come when women entrepreneurs accept they have to create the change we want to see, and they begin to roll up their sleeves and just get on with the job of making it happen. So, that’s really what’s at the heart of Lionesses of Africa. It’s about women entrepreneurs doing it for women entrepreneurs, and powering a new era of women’s entrepreneurship in Africa. Read More
Were you one of those people at school referred to as a ‘good all rounder’, someone with the ability to be reasonably good at doing lots of different things at the same time? If so, that phrase probably irritated you at the time in your school reports, as it suggests the old adage ‘jack of all trades, master of none’. Yet if you are sat right now about to launch a new startup, or in the early throes of building your business, then it could be a phrase whose time has come in your case. Why? Because as a startup entrepreneur, the chances are you will need to fulfil so many different roles at the same time, from innovator, marketing and PR person, and book-keeper, to salesperson, delivery person and CEO. It goes with the turf in the early days of being an entrepreneur, particularly if you are going solo in your business. Learning the art of wearing lots of different hats when required is all part of the startup journey. So maybe being a ‘good all rounder’ isn’t that bad after all? Read More
Do you remember a time without social media, when there was no Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat? It feels like social media has been part of our daily lives for ever and part of our everyday language. Over the past decade in the world of the entrepreneur, social media has become an intrinsic part of the business brand-building process, a fast, efficient way of engaging with audiences and potential customers on a daily basis. It has brought the world and its marketplaces closer to us as entrepreneurs, and provided a mechanism to get people talking about, and connecting with, our products and brands without the need for big marketing budgets. Social media has probably been the biggest game-changer for the startup, helping to level the playing field and allowing access to markets for even the smallest of businesses to play in. But like anything, harnessing the power of social media to build your brand takes effort and consistent hard work. Social media platforms need to be fed regularly, often daily or even hourly, to reap the rewards of constant engagement with customers and your brand. Think of it like having a beloved pet at home - it needs feeding at regular intervals with great nourishment in order for it to thrive. It’s the same with your social media platforms - you need to keep feeding them with great content on a regular basis in order for them to really connect your business and brand with your audiences. Something to think about as you get ready to tweet or post to Facebook this morning! Read More
Entrepreneurs always tend to remember their first year of starting up in business, usually because they can still recall just how exciting it was to switch on that website or social media page with the new company logo, launch that new product or service - and then hope that someone is interested! There is nothing quite like the buzz of the initial startup business year, it’s full of highs and lows, some expectations met and others not, times when you feel on top of the world and others when you feel like giving up. It’s all part of the journey. So how do you survive that first year as an entrepreneur? Here are a few tips to help you stay on track and get you through to year two and three. Firstly, be really clear about your vision for your business and what you are trying to achieve - that vision will keep you focused when things get tough, as they inevitably do. Secondly, always remember why you decided to become an entrepreneur in the first place and your passion for what you are creating. Thirdly, tell everyone you know about your startup business, your new product launch, your unique service offering, your brand - it’s much harder to give up if you have lots of people rooting for you and your future success - and you’ll be too embarrassed to throw in the towel early with your major cheerleading team alongside you. Finally, remember that being an entrepreneur takes real determination, it’s hard slog most of the time, but ultimately if you can stay in the game through your first year, it’s worth it. Read More
You have probably all heard of the phrase ‘disruptive innovators’. It refers to those industry changing entrepreneurs who come along with a small but truly innovative idea that has the potential to totally turn a business or industry sector on its head. Because they start out small, they can easily go unnoticed by the established big players who continue to dominate because of their sheer size and market dominance, but in true David and Goliath style, these disruptive innovators start to gain momentum, winning over customers and fans because of their truly unique approach and product offering. That's when the real disruption starts. The market starts to shift in the direction of these innovative newcomers, the big players have to start paying attention to them because they are impacting on their own share of the market, and before you know it, there is real disruption to the status quo. Here in Africa, there are women entrepreneurs who are bringing innovative new ideas to market, and like David, starting out small but with aspirations to shake things up in traditional marketplaces. Here’s hoping they are the next disruptive innovators that set the world alight with their ideas. Read More
I read a great definition of an entrepreneur last evening and one I’ve not heard before - "an entrepreneur is like a composer, they see something no one else does. And, to help them create it from nothing, they surround themselves with world-class performers" - Steve Blank, a Silicon Valley serial-entrepreneur and academician. I thought this was a really interesting analogy as it speaks to the heart of what entrepreneurs do. They have a vision for something they are trying to create; they bring in like-minded people with unique skills-sets who can help them to bring that vision to life; and they are prepared to plunge themselves and everyone around them into the unknown, breaking new ground to make their innovative vision a tangible reality and one that connects with the rest of the world. Just like composers, entrepreneurs are rare, unique and perhaps a little crazy at times, but they have the ability to create things that others can only dream about. That’s what separates entrepreneurs from everyone else. Read More
There was a time when thinking big, or even thinking global, for a small business in Africa was not an option without the limitless tools and resources to back it up. But today, the tech revolution means that everyone has access to world-class tools, platforms, apps and so much more to really give wings to any business, no matter how small. Just go online at any time and see the plethora of tools that are available for start-ups and small businesses, many of them free and created by startups themselves, looking to become the next big thing in the tech space. Harnessing the power of technology as a startup means that you can be based anywhere but still do business and reach those important customers and audiences, 24/7. That’s what is a real game-changer for women entrepreneurs in Africa - the ability to launch a business, connect with customers and audiences online, build digital communities of people that love your products and services and connect with your brand, regardless of your geographical location. Technology has brought the world closer and for Africa’s women entrepreneurs it really does mean their businesses can grow wings and take off. Read More
There is a common theory backed up by a host of academic studies that women entrepreneurs are naturally predisposed to being risk averse, and certainly more so than their male counterparts. So it was interesting to read another study recently that somewhat bucks this trend. KPMG’s study on ‘Women Entrepreneurs: Passion, Purpose and Perseverance’, found that most women entrepreneurs it questioned (55 percent) say they embrace risk-taking. In fact they rank it third among the factors that are critical to their success (64 percent), and fifth among traits critical for CEOs and founders to possess (57 percent). The key take-out from this report seems to point to the fact that if you’re going to be a successful entrepreneur, you need to be able to look uncertainty straight in the eye, embrace it and not be paralysed by it. In fact, for many women entrepreneurs, taking risks may be a precursor to future growth. Read More
So what’s the difference between an entrepreneur and a wantrepreneur? The answer is, in the words of Nike, they ‘Just Do It’. Entrepreneurs do what they say they’re going to do, they take their ideas and they turn them into businesses, products, service offerings and innovations. On the flip side, wantrepreneurs never get past talking about starting up a business, it only ever remains an idea. What separates them is action, and that’s just as important to the entrepreneurial journey as passion and determination in the early days. As entrepreneurs, action means taking that initial leap of faith and just launching, even if the concept is not fully tested, or the website is not fully ready, or the product is not as refined as it could be. Entrepreneurs realise quickly that getting to market is key, and being first to market if the business concept is innovative, is critical. It’s all too easy in the formative startup phase to think you have to be perfect before you launch and therefore keep delaying and procrastinating, instead of taking the leap of faith and just doing it. Entrepreneurs learn as they go, but one of the biggest lessons to learn is that action is key - you can have the best product, service or business concept but if no-one knows about it then it remains simply an idea. And, that is ultimately what separates entrepreneurs from wantrepreneurs. Read More
When we talk about being innovative, we typically think about those rare game-changers who create something completely revolutionary that changes our lives and the world we live in. Yet more often than not, being innovative is often a case of rethinking an existing idea, product, or traditional way of doing something, and finding ways to make it better or work differently. Often the most creative and innovative businesses are those that combine existing ideas but take a more ‘out of the box’ approach to finding a fresh solution, in the process creating something that feels vibrant and new. Sometimes, reimagining the world opens up huge possibilities for new innovations and entrepreneurial opportunities. But the trick to success is learning to recognise that often it’s just as exciting to take existing ideas and concepts and reinvent them to meet the challenges of a changing world, rather than starting with a completely blank piece of paper. Read More
Women have always been the ultimate multi-taskers in life and business, it’s part of our DNA. But here’s a thing - it appears that if we really want to get productive in our business time, we need to focus and become great mono-taskers, perfecting the art of doing one thing at a time really well and without distraction. Professor Gloria Mark, a resident professor at the University of California’s Department of Informatics, has some really interesting insights on this subject and the downsides of multitasking. She has calculated that it takes on average around 23 minutes to properly get back to a task once you have been interrupted, and let’s face it, when we multitask we are interrupting each of those tasks constantly. That’s potentially a lot of wasted time and energy in our busy days. Also, when multitasking there’s a tendency to feel overwhelmed by the sheer number of tasks we are trying to complete at any one time, reaching the end of the day with a ‘to do’ list that just seems to get longer. So why not try mono-tasking and see if you become more productive as a result. Block off time for a single task, avoid checking your emails and messages every other second, ask people not to disturb you, and focus - you might find you get the job done quicker in the long run and actually buy more precious time in the day! Read More