I started three small businesses, which helped me survive before starting M&J. The three businesses were private tutoring, vending, and photocopying. I started all these businesses with Little to no Capital.These businesses taught me valuable lessons on how to sell different products and services.
I also learnt how to sell by working for different companies as an employee; most companies ended up closing because they failed to sell.The biggest problem of every small business, informal or formal, is obscurity. According to the Oxford Dictionary, the definition of obscurity is the state of being unknown, inconspicuous, or unimportant.
The opposite of this is omnipresent, which means widely or constantly encountered; widespread. When l started my small business of tutoring getting more customers who could pay for the value I offered was always a problem. I ended up shutting down because I had not mastered the important skill of selling.
I might have been the best teacher during that time, but there was no way l would make money when people didn’t know about me. My sweets might have been cheaper and sweeter than those of my competitors in the whole Glenview – Budiriro area, but l would still sell less because people didn’t know about me.
I might have been photocopying for $1 for 50 pages in 2013, but not many would be attracted by these offers because of obscurity. Even when l started M&J, l was charging less of my services, thinking that it was the only way I would compete in the consultancy industry.When my business was attracting a few customers, l started selling services at lower prices.
I thought that price was why people were not attracted to what l was selling. Nowadays, I have come to understand that price is a myth. If people don’t buy your products or services, price is usually the least important factor why that would happen.If the price gets too cheap, people won’t see the value of buying the product or your services.
I notice that l was charging low prices because l had not mastered the skill of selling. A few customers and few people hardly knew about me and my business since we didn’t have Facebook, Linked In, Watsapp, etc., to sell products and services during those days. These days marketing and advertising are absolutely free, and it has become ten times easier to blow my pipeline with customers than it was.
I can tell more than 5000 people who are my friends on Facebook of my new business with just a single post. If l have many prospects interested in my services and products, l can charge a premium price because I’m not glued on unqualified buyers of my products and services.If someone wants to start a business, the most important thing is to market and advertise whatever you are selling.
Before l launch any product or service in any of my three companies, I prioritize advertising and Marketing. Whenever people hear the words Sales and Marketing, most people assume that it will cost a lot of money which usually isn’t the case. Advertising and Marketing in Modern Day are completely free. All you need nowadays is attention.
There is a saying that money follows attention. If you don’t have attention, you will not have people willing to pay a premium price for your Products/Services. In all thy getting, get attention. If you have attended, particularly using these freely available Social Media tools, you will be able to sell anything. Back to my story, When I started selling in my first business as a private Tutor in Glenview in 2005 without any knowledge of what I was doing at the age of 18 years old. I had to sell my ideas to my prospects and cousins to use their home space.
I worked at one of the local companies, but my salary was not enough for transport to and from work. Previously l was teaching Mathematics and Accounts in Honde Valley; hence l started selling my idea to my power base. At 18, I already had a Powerbase, and I believe everyone has a power base.According to Grant Cardone, your powerbase are people you know.
These people are not strangers, and they’ll probably need your product at some time. These people are YOUR Power Base. YOUR Power Base is unique to you, and it is like a GOLD VAULT that only you have the key to. As a new person in Harare, my power base was too small, but there was no need to give excuses but inform them of my new business. Until 2005, I had not been in Harare and didn’t have a phone to use for Advertising my services; neither did I have a marketing budget.
All I had was my power base. I just started telling everyone that I was now Tutoring, and after a week of prospecting, l was already in business teaching five students l got from my power base. I believe l had better teaching skills, but l failed to attract enough numbers to make me consider it a serious business.Some of my students in O levels were unqualified to buy; they could not afford to pay the fees l required to the extent that l started doing community service.
When l started this business, my biggest problem was l stopped selling; l was supposed to continuously sell even if l had initial customers. I didn’t know how to prospect and find potential clients who would feed my pipeline so that l will continuously replace the defaulters. I started depending on referrals only without going out and selling to the market. This business helped me supplement my salary to such an extent, and l could also help my cousins with buying vegetables, which was an achievement for me.
The business lasted for five months because l had also failed to sell my cousins, who stopped me from teaching students at the house. It was also the same reason l was fired from the house, I do not blame them, but l blame myself because of my inability to persuade and negotiate with them. They had said NO to teaching, and l just agreed to depart just like that.
Nowadays, l now know that if someone says NO to my services, it does not necessarily mean NO it simply means they do not KNOW something. It means they will only purchase my ideas or services if they know more information to solve their problems or make them feel good.
I have noticed that 95% of people are afraid of being rejected by potential prospects because they don’t know! I’m still an amateur in the sacred field of selling, but I want to be master, l want to predict my revenue and stop relying on the economy’s performance or pray for sales.
I want to pray to God for things that l don’t have control over and desist from praying for sales. Have you ever prayed to God before bathing? No, because you have full control! If my lawyer advice or accompany me to the mountain for prayers when l have a court case, l will immediately fire that lawyer because he does not know his game, he is simply an amateur! In my second business of vending in Budiriro l learnt how to deal with B to C customers …………….. to be continued