Thursday, October 22, 2009
Please join me at http://www.mongezimtati.co.za
See you there.
Tuesday, September 08, 2009
Tuesday, September 01, 2009
He will also be giving a talk a tomorrow at the Netweb Event. You can also download the audio version here.
Thursday, August 27, 2009
Business Plans tend to be far too good to be true, and most of them are.
If you think your company sales are going to take an upward curve as your word spreads. Be willing to consider the possibility of them being very low. In reality they might be somewhere between, but either way you will be covered and have a contingency plan.
Plan for the worst, in case it happens. When it doesn't you will have more in the bank, but you would have anticipated the problem.
Wednesday, August 12, 2009
Tuesday, August 04, 2009
We advertised the competition, sent out notifications through the Netweb Event and invited people to apply. Most guys made all kinds of silly excuses. The ones who came to the party didn’t pitch at the event. Those who came arrived late. The one who came on time turned out to be more innovative than most.
It must have been the 60 second pitch which rattled people. That started August, with its dusty autumnal winds and a nasty cold front, now popularly known as women’s month in South Africa. Telana (in the middle) of onematchstick.co.za, who ended up not doing the much dreaded 60 second company pitch, took the prize. And she’s not an ice maiden.
This will turn her one - matchstick - for – offices – trade into what we’ve now termed a movie. “Not at theatres near you.”
I’d like to thank the, main – and – only, sponsor Missing Link for the faith they’ve shown in our cause. They rock and already know it.
Congratulations to the one matchstick trader.
Friday, July 31, 2009
Old rules are constantly being changed by bootstrappers. People like you, who constantly find innovative ways to spread a message.
The Digital Edge weekly podcast has become a leader in online marketing and PR. They’ll be sharing insights on:
- Developing your own podcast.
- Marketing a podcast both online and off.
- What goes into becoming influential in that space.
Saul Kropman of Cambrient, the magician behind The Digital Edge will give a talk at the Netweb Event. With only 29 episodes to date they’ve managed to change perception both on and offline.
Netweb Event details
Date : 05 August 2009
Venue : Cappello at Ghandi Square
Time : 18:30
Admission : Free, you cover your dinner and drinks
Signup here to join us for dinner.
Tuesday, July 28, 2009
Thursday, July 16, 2009
Creating and running profitable web campaigns - like walking on water - can be learnt. Their colleagues, at Heavy Chef, have designed a practical course that's well worth having a look at.
Haven't found one about walking on water though.
Tuesday, July 07, 2009
Small cubicles tend to sound enticing when, for the third or fourth day, you have to work till 3am in the morning. Sleep for 2 or 3hours everyday to keep from going under. None of these make for an attractive business - book - payoff line.
The thrill of the first time, first client, your first big project, first newspaper or radio feature of your work are all enough to keep you doing it. Small cubicle offers will still be made. You are they are missing.
Monday, July 06, 2009
Whenever you are at Missing Link, you realize how the thinking continually evolves and grows which is what makes these guys leaders in presentation strategy. They also happen to be the largest presentation strategists this side of the equator. They also look good naked, according to them.
If staying ahead is your thing then this video and audio are for you.
I personally don't listen to that many social media podcasts, so much of the same thing it gets redundant after a few. Saul rises above the general social discourse, well worth a follow and subscription.
Here's the interview, please share.
Friday, July 03, 2009
Capitalist Punks referred to it as : "a business book that other business books wish they were", but it's a bit more than just a business book. When I read it the first time; it was the cause for radical change in our company, led to developments we implemented but now it's way of measuring progress.
"Anyone can write a book, but business is different, another set of dynamics apply here", was my first thought. But after being at one of his of his talks that perception changed. No wonder he was featured by Tom Peters as one of their cool friends.
He will also be giving a talk at the Netweb Event in Johannesburg, for entrepreneurs and professionals on the 8th of July.
Before his talk I asked the following questions about his book:
Q : The Business Brickyard, for me, focuses on what makes all businesses similar and as you say in the book, “85% of all Business is the same”. So you can focus on the 15% that makes your business truly unique. How do you get that 85% locked in so you can focus on the 15%?
A : Everyone gets caught up thinking their business is unique and, therefore, what works for most businesses will not work for them. But every business has customers that need attention, has bills to pay, invoices to send out, has money to collect, etc… Those commoditized processes should be worked until they as automatic as possible until they are delivered perfectly every time. Once that is in place then you are clear to spend MUCH more time on the aspects of your product or service that truly is unique. You now have time to let the personality of your business express itself so it will be feel special to your customers. To spend more time learning from your customers and your team. The more time you spend on that which makes you unique the more unique you will truly be.
Q: For you, what separates an entrepreneur from a person who just owns a business and in essence is self-employed?
A : "Entrepreneur" has become a loaded word as it now equates to a risk taker that is “betting it all” or a gambler of some sort. To me, if you are driving to build a business that is fueled by a true sense of purpose you are an entrepreneur. Just because a Venture Capital firm gave you X millions of Rands does not make you an entrepreneur. If you take that money and hire 50 people, you are not an entrepreneur. If you build a business that can endure in every way, with or without an infusion of capital, and is loved by its market then you are truly an entrepreneur.
Q : Most entrepreneurs struggle with putting systems in place for their businesses to run. How would you suggest they do this?
A : Some people are just not into the details it takes to put together systems. We are all wired differently and what comes easy for some is impossible for others. The sooner you get clear about the aspects of running a business that simply do not suit who you are the sooner you can take action to bring in people (or find partners) that get tremendous satisfaction out of doing that same stuff.
So if financial work is not your thing then you need to add financial expertise to your team.
If managing the day to day of operations makes you go numb then you need to find someone that loves getting up each day to dig deep into operational detail.
There are people that were born to do systems. They do it and do not find it difficult.
Bring in people in to help put those systems in place or hire a leader to help you do it. But, if you are stuck getting your basics locked in, raise your hand and ask/get some help or outside perspective. You will find that asking for help turns out to be the hardest part.
Q : Among the many things I found in the book one was reconnecting with your purpose. How can one know when they start losing sight of their purpose?
A : When business becomes something you do to pay the bills. Or worse, you find yourself wondering why you do what you do every day. We all spend the bulk of our time in work mode so you need to demand that it is fulfilling. Now, there will always be days when work just, for lack of a better word, sucks. It could be weeks at a time. But when you are connected to a purpose or your business exists to make a difference then the lows will never feel too low. You will be able to constantly remind yourself why you do what you do and that answer will drive you. That purpose could be that you make money to fuel a different dream or feed your family. That is a purpose. You don’t need to change the world but just working to make money for no reason at all except to keep up with your friends gets very old very quickly.
Q : “Define your business with NO” is one of the chapters. What have you seen in most businesses which diverts them from the ability to say “No”?
A : It is a slippery slope. As your business grows you find you need to take on any and all customers or clients to help keep everyone busy and keep the growth going. In that chase to grow comes compromise about the type of work you take, how long people can take to pay you, how much debt you take on and more. So when it comes time to say “No” there are too many rationalisations that push you to say yes. Eventually, you have a business that is consumed with dealing with customers that are a pain in the ass.
How many people like to say that all or most of their customers are a pain? It is not possible that every customer is a pain or that you happen to find them all. If all of your customers are a pain, the only thing they have in common is YOU. That is what is true. From that truth, you have to figure out what you are doing that is making them a pain or what behavior you are allowing that is making them a pain. If you can come to terms with what you are doing wrong, exactly how you can change it then you can have some heart to heart chats with your customers where you are willing to say goodbye to those that will not behave in a way that honors the work you do for them. It is FAR from easy and I struggle with it all of the time. But, as I say in the book, you will define what your business is about by who and what you say no to.
Q : In the chapter titled “Fit your business on a single page” you talk about being able to know how your business is doing from reading a single page. What key things should we know every day that tell us we are still on course?
A : The short answer is that it is different for every business but every business needs to figure out a way to glance at a dashboard while it races down the road. The point of this 1 page “dashboard” is to create a document that a business owner can scan each day in 1-2 minutes so they have a grasp over how the key metrics that matter to the health of their business are doing.
In my freight business our “product” was a shipment file. It was the best way we could measure if business was growing or shrinking. My report told me how many shipment files each office opened that day, week and month. Read that every day for a week or two and you will immediately know when a number seems high or low and you can go find out why. Typically, some measure how busy or slow your business is and where it stands financially (What you owe and how much is owed to you) are good places to start.
Q : Why are the Brickyard talks relevant in business today?
A : Business has become too complex and it does not need to be. In the midst of this complexity the basics that make businesses run have been lost.
We are bombarded with information, opportunities, competition etc. . and all it does is create paralysis. Business is supposed to be fun and owning a business is one of the greatest professional freedoms I can think of.
Q : Why are so many business owners not having fun running their businesses?
A : Most business owners just try to get through the day. They are overwhelmed by their email inbox, meetings, customer complaints and the like. They are consumed with their competitors and stressed over things that are not in their control. In all of this stress and complexity we are not collecting our bills timely, we are not really listening to our customers, we are not taking time to find ways to make our companies truly great.
I think we are all longing for simpler times. And those simpler times can be found by getting back to the simple basics that have always made the great businesses great. I do not tell anyone anything new in my talks. But, I do remind them of the basics they knew when they got started and then lost under all of that stress and complexity. I give them some specific things they can do that day to start to get back to those basics.
Think about the businesses and brands you love or admire. I’ll bet they work hard to do all the little things right. I want to help create more of them and help business be as much fun to run as it is supposed to be.
How fun is your business to run?
Friday, June 26, 2009
The general perception among many entrepreneurs is that, once you go mainstream you've sold out. Most people rooot for the underdog and that was the case on Twitter last night during the Bafana game. The University of South Florida also proved it a in a study they did. In business it's difficult to get your foot through the door if no one knows you from a bar of soap. Once you have, then relationships need to be built.
Michael Jackson on the hand is proof that mainstream can be far more ruthless and anticipate perfection from you. It's not enough to kick you while you are down, but they might even wipe you off the radar.
So, while you develop your business model don't be of the misconception that it becomes easier once you've made it.
Tuesday, June 23, 2009
Your past victories don't define you
- People don't really know what you are capable of, neither do you, until you do.
- The things you have accomplished as a business or individual in the past, don't apply anymore
- The hype surrounding you is based on past victories, that is also threatens to divert your focus.
You were willing to rewrite the game that, if anything, is what you knew when you started. It was enough. You knew a change was needed, but you somehow you lost the plot. Somewhere in your path, you started thinking "I'm the best there is". But there is someone younger, hungrier, more innovative and they are watching you.
Be prepared to redifine your own rules
The hardest thing is realizing - what you used to know is no longer true. Companies and people that are making it constantly re-write the rules.
Don't wait to get wiped out, your game was great yesterday and doesn't necessarily need fixing. You should keep doing it.
How are you redefining the laws in your industry?
Monday, June 08, 2009
My fascination has always been around how startups are acquired and the process behind these transactions. Gareth simplifies it. Guys in the office even referred to him as a "regular guy" with innovative ideas. That has nothing to do with fibre-intake-regular.
Watch the video below, for the interview.
Monday, June 01, 2009
So this morning, I woke up 45 minutes later than usual with the intention of going to Nedbank.
First there was a long queue outside the branch, with staff doing their own thing inside. The teller said my card had been destroyed. I then realized it had been close to a year since applying for it.
I gave their contact centre a call when I got to the office, who assured me that the problem was resolved and I now only had to go the nearest branch.
The next teller typed things onto her pc then said all was good “please go make a deposit sir and you’ll be issued with a card”.
I then went to a teller by the name of Ruth who requested me to call the contact centre again. By now, my patience was extremely thin. It turns out they had to do the whole thing at the first branch within 15 minutes.
That is branding to me, it’s how they’ve branded themselves.
So much for their “ask once” slogan. I asked about 10 times and it cost half my day.
Wednesday, May 27, 2009
Here are some of her views on the importance of not only web presence, but the significance of web strategy, for both companies and individuals.
There's also an audio version on NetwebTV.
Thursday, May 21, 2009
This past Saturday, I read a book on dominating the world by Chris Guillebeau. What got my attention, among many other concepts, was “recruiting your small army” which could be very significant in these economic times.
A brief guide to world domination is small - 29 page – book loaded with insight. It’s the kind of read I cannot remain the same after. Or even think of returning to mediocrity afterward.
You can keep up with him and his travels around the world here.
A call to action that’s well worth a read, go get it and invade the world. Or a small country.
Wednesday, May 20, 2009
Let’s face it distinguishing your company from many others, leaving your potential investor, large client and funder with an idea worth talking about, needs you to be creative. Or remain an expert at what you do and leave the creative bit to people who thrive on it.
For over 10 years, the guys at Missing Link have been working with corporates in delivering the most innovative presentation strategies in the southern hemisphere.
All that creativity, that experience is now being packaged and given to South African SMEs free, as corporate videos, every month at the Netweb Event. Their experience, as a company that pitches for deals and exposure in the corporate world, enables them to deliver great objective driven presentations.
For Missing Link developing the most cutting edge message, in the shortest possible time and helping you leave an unforgettable impression of yourself is just another day at the office. Well not exactly, but you’d have to see their workspace to know why.
When everyone complains about investors not being angels, closing doors and blaming the recession, you can profile your company creatively.
Don’t reinvent the wheel, just write a 2 page company profile (excluding the cover page) clearly stating:
- Who you are.
- What problem you are aiming to solve as a business.
- Why you are the best people to solve such a problem.
- What you have done to build your lower than 5 year old company.
- And write a single page cover letter telling us why you are most deserving of the prize.
After spending some time doing all this send it in by email to email@example.com. Then you can go back and reinvent the wheel.
We went out to Cerebra and interviewed Mike Stopforth for NetwebTV. The video was removed, so we give you only the interesting bits of the conversation.
Here it is, judge for yourself.
Or you can download and share the audio version here.
Tuesday, May 12, 2009
When I met Ismail Dhorat of Startup Africa some weeks ago, whom I caught offguard here. We discussed a possible synergy between the Netweb Event and them where we'll work on bringing current emerging business content.
It was only after our meeting and a quick coffee that we designed the last event.
They have a simple a concept, bring relevant and current business content through their blog. It sounds simple enough, but content isn't that easy that source.
More excitingly though, exciting for us that is. Startup Africa is the Netweb Event's new home.
I guess guess geek is the new cool or rockstar. Thanks guys..........
Friday, May 08, 2009
The Netweb Event in May 2009 was by far the greatest we've done yet. At least that's what the guys who came say.
We had amazing panelists who shared their experiences through encounters with both investors and startups.
In no particular order, I'd like to thank:
- Gareth Knight whose views and experiences were nothing short of genius.
- Osman Nkosi from Dynasty Strategists.
- Doug Vining from Blue Catalyst.
- Nikki Vijoen of Viljoen Consulting.
- The ever supportive One Matchstick Trader Telana Simpson of Inner Coaching.
- Peter Peele and Mpumelelo Cindi.
- Hilda Masemola and Florence
Monday, May 04, 2009
Friday, April 24, 2009
3 things I thought our company cannot survive without:
- Glossy business cards.
- Fancy marketing that looks professional but does little.
- A business plan to convince your banker.
The unwritten code was: Look and sound unrealistically larger than you currently are, as an emerging company.
After the whole myth. I found that small companies do not use what they have available to them for growth.
What I suggest:
- Be in the conversation or the conversation where possible.
- Turn strangers into friends as said by Seth Godin in Flipping Funnel
- Read the Business Brickyard by Howard Mann, which you can download here. Or get the hardback collector's version here.
- Define, in a minute or two, what problem you're solving.
Tuesday, April 21, 2009
Just read an article from BizCommunity, that the guys at ANC Youth League were NOT impressed with the following ad.
I've got a feeling it might get deleted, so watch it now.
Thursday, April 09, 2009
The New Media Journal is an introduction to new media or social media. It comes as a useful read for marketing your business online.
Here's the video, have a look. It was a well spent 2 or so minutes for me.
Tuesday, April 07, 2009
This is for your viewing pleasure as the content will be more manageable.
Monday, April 06, 2009
In trying to attract clients and new opportunities we tend to oversell ourselves. There's nothing I find more repulsive than a company desperate for a sale, to make me run as far as possible.
Your ethic should sell you. If you are worth talking about, someone always will.
Leave the selling part to others.
Wednesday, April 01, 2009
Be that as it may, a chat I had with Gavin on Saturday came to mind. He is a business strategist and has been at it for about 20years.
He says: “it’s debatable that business ethic has changed in the past 10, 20years or even in the past century”. We were talking about how it seems juicy business deals goes to the same people. They are either friends or have managed to have close ties with people in the companies they provide services to.
Become a friend or get close enough to build relationships.
Monday, March 30, 2009
The conversation began with Anthony saying, since the initiation of Black Economic Empowerment (BEE) many white owned companies were disgruntled. He says his courier company lost contracts with regular clients, which they negotiated after 1994 therefore still within the new dispensation.
Contrary to popular belief, South Africa’s black owned companies also hardly benefit from this innovation that was meant to assist in the emergence of new businesses. Most government projects, known as tenders, don’t reach the youth owned companies, as was intended. These tenders under the banner tag of “BEE” return a chunk of the profits as bribes to government employees.
One of the entrepreneurs I know whose company was built from these tenders confessed to having paid bribes for the past 5years and now outsources most of the labour, but pockets the profits. The other, an entrepreneur who has been in business for over 10years hasn’t seen any benefit from BEE. In fact he discourages any other company to embark on this direction. Both are ‘wholly black owned’ companies and account for very little of the intended recipients.
Evidently race and the qualifying criteria are by far not the least restrictions.
Friday, March 13, 2009
Idols also happens to be the one my least favorite programs on TV, in fact television for me
is a distraction. At the best of times.
This was quite a message. Someone has their act together.
Tuesday, March 10, 2009
Thursday, March 05, 2009
Among many I would like to thank:
- Oupa Moumakwe with his outstanding talk on forming Strategic Partnerships.
- Osman Nkosi of Dynasty Strategists.
- Themba Zulu of Doppio Zero in Newtown, both was remarkable along with their staff.
We also received free copies of Succeed Magazine as a giveaway at the dinner, which were really helpful.
Thank you guys. You rocked out.
Thursday, February 26, 2009
“Some guy walked into the dealership one day looking like he stepped out of a skateboarder’s hangout” (not his exact words), is how the conversation started. This person wasn’t the kind you’d expect to come into a Lexus dealership, let alone say he is looking for the most expensive car on the floor and actually buy it.
They test drove one of the best cars in the dealership, played heavy metal instead of the regular jazz or classical music. Ricc told his client about the features, handling and the usual things he normally would. Along with that he also asked him about his preference in music, his interests and the things that made this guy different from everyone else.
They would normally give new car owners chocolate and cigars upon delivery of their vehicle, but this wasn’t an ordinary buyer. He was someone very similar to Ricc himself, on a Friday evening, and the gift with his delivery had to be distinct.
It is the little things that intrigue us about products, people and companies. The small things you do for me, which are distinct and memorable. How many people do you think talked about Lexus thereafter?
What fascinated Rich, some companies he gave the talk at and I, after 2years of the encounter, was the gift Ricc chose. He away put the cigars Lexus would normally provide and went out to buy a belt at a skater’s store. That minute detail caused Ricc to score himself the coolest job in the world working at Thunk. A company started by Rich 2years later. Have a look at his gift here.
What could you do to cause so much conversation?
And oh, he doesn’t miss being in suits.
Tuesday, February 24, 2009
As for my all time favorite, well that would be a hard one. Read through these to find one that speaks most to you.
Read the 3000th post here. Don't know much about him being a lucky guy though.
If you can change perception consistently for 3years, think otherworldly and apply yourself as an agent of change for this long. Then you are far beyond luck.
Friday, February 20, 2009
If your product or service is something worth using and you happen to be confident enough to let people craft it further. Then it becomes a matter of getting it out there as much as possible, without spamming the world of course. More things become unusable as new ones hit the shelves.
The interesting challenge here becomes how you continually expand your outreach, using as much relevant media to you, as you possibly can.
Once you think you have that figured, there's also the risk of becoming stale in what you thought was "unique".
Find the balance and start over again every day. Interesting, isn't it?
Friday, February 06, 2009
- Shamillah Wilson of Sowilo : Thanks for making it to speak and once again transforming my perception.
- Telana Simpson: People found your interview inspiring.
- Don Packett who not only is a comedian, but also knows his way technical stuff.
- Ricc Webb had a very interesting story to tell about the appreciation of little things.
- Nikki Viljoen: Thank you for making it and contrubuting valuably.
- Lantz Mattinson: Thanks a boatload for making it and the online marketing ideas.
- StevieB for the interview and an opportunity to spread the word.
The gig wouldn't have happened with out every single person attending as they did. We appreciate all of you guys.
Thursday, February 05, 2009
Thursday, January 22, 2009
Most new companies start with loads of energy and ideals of taking over the world, if not then being the next big thing will do. However, the reality is that you cannot buy a brand from a shelf as most of us believed and some still do. The single greatest asset, among others, for SME’s is marketing the experience behind themselves. Branding has little to do with banners and glossy business cards, but more with how distinct you are.
The most notable and innovative companies make it big and sell businesses. Everyone else has to work daily to ensure new business comes through their doors. In a small business, though there is nothing small about being in business, we all have to be remembered as people of value thus develop a brand.
The starting point of building a brand or least what I define as the basic components are:
a. What do you stand for?
b. Why are you in business besides the money?
c. What are you marketing except the tangible product?
Are you prepared to offer your service without the monetary returns?
It has been proven time again that the most influential people in business and in other vocations don’t do it for the money, but the love and thrill of it. This might sound like another Hollywood line. However, Seth Godin’s Bootstrapper’s Bible, which was a free ebook downloadable online, was the most circulated book online. It is one of the many things that enable him to outsell many other authors in his genre. As a small business, there is very little business without “you” which makes you the business.
The giants have all the finances that the new kid on the block doesn’t, but they also have a legacy of what works, or proven to, which stunts creativity. You have the ability of throwing out what no longer serves you and improving on what does quicker than they can. If it is a matter of buying your way to prominence, then you are doomed, but it’s not. So be resourceful in where you position yourself and how you start conversations around your service. The Word of Mouth Manual says: 30% of our conversations include some product or service. People will always talk and spread the word, but are you part of the good news they spread? If not how do you make it there?
If it was within your reach to make potential customers talk about you, what would they say? Would they be ecstatic and want everyone to buy from you or even just meet you, or would they have almost nothing great to say? This is where Hollywood and business are similar. For instance, in movies a series of events happen to cause a certain reaction for the audience and many others thereafter. In your business it is also possible to receive a certain reaction all the time, but you need to be clear what that reaction should be. And you might just be in line for an Emmy.
Branding yourself should'nt be expensive and outside your immediate control, which is the reason for our forthcoming Netweb Event. We have selected a highly recommended and seasoned life/business coach, business mentor, entrepreneur and recruitment specialist whose experiences will prove very valuable.
Wednesday, January 21, 2009
If you have that makes 2 of us. Rich and the guys Missing Link are hosting a shindig this Friday the 23rd of January at their office. That’s if you’d call their place an office. It’s from another place and time from somewhere in the 22nd Century.
As for the guy there. Well you’d have to come see for yourself. Join them here. I’m definitely going.