Sunday, 24 April 2011

Paulina Opoku Gyimah’s Business Tips for the Ghanaian community……

Inspired by the lack of Ghanaians on Forbes magazine’s 20 Most Powerful People in African Business 2011 -I’ve concluded that our inability to expand/export our businesses to other African countries, -never mind globally was to blame -and thought I’d suggest few pointers/advice. But please note; I’ve only written this for individuals/businesses selling quality goods, -the truly talented, and those offering exceptional services.

If your idea of a fabulous boutique is to buy cheap clothes from Primark/Fonthill Road (London) or Canal street (NYC) for £5/$5 and sell it in Ghana (as the next hot thing/trend) for 100 GHC -then the following is soo not for you. If you think Ghana/Ghanaians are soo cheap that all we deserve is cheap made-in-China-wannabe-Gucci/Dior/Chanel illegal handbags/shoes/garb then this is also not for you. Nor is it for you if you’re planning to open a restaurant where left over frozen food is served the following day. -Where the deco will comprise: 100% polyester curtains, laminated wooden flooring, plastic table coverings, plastic flowers, MDF chairs with polyester seat coverings and cheap Africana paintings -are de rigueur, -then following is not for you.

Business Tips for the Ghanaian community……
1) Type out a mission statement.A mission statement is a great leveller. Not only will it help define your business but wil help you to focus and enable you to get back on track when you forget you're running a restaurant and not a jagger-jagger whatever shop, -when you start to get the urge to sell cheap wannabe silver hip-Hop chains from the chop bar counter.
**If you are blessed and have made some profits -bank it/plough it back into your business, don’t eat it up…

2) Get some professional images…
Pay for a professional photographer to take beautiful photos of you/your business premises/goods etc. If you need people in your photos then please book one of the many gorgeous high fashion models in Ghana (goodness knows they need the work) and not Maame Adjoa from next door or your cousin’s friend’s brother from work. I’m afraid beautiful people sell products/services/goods etc. I will recommend Supermodel Belinda Baidoo’s model agency ….
**Bank your profits /plough it back into the business.

3) Pay for a professional website....
Using your mission statement and professional images (please see the above points) have a professional web designer build you a sleek, clean and uncluttered contemporary website, you can visit mine at . Remember to keep your website simple.
***Bank your profits

4) Make a list of all relevant media agencies….
Write a list of all the relevant media agencies/outlets: newspapers, magazines, websites, blogs, universities, radio stations and TV stations, -talking care to write the names of the right people to contact about your business/goods/talent etc. Most newspapers/magazines/media agencies/websites will have a commissioning editor, a news editor or a press person looking for contributions/ideas/news for forthcoming features/publications events etc.
*****Bank your profit, don’t eat your capital…

5) Write a press Release…
I have spent the last three years suggesting/talking about press releases to my readers and I’m kind of tired of it but its essential if you want the right exposure. If you are wondering what a press release is -google it. Using all the above (professional images, mission statement etc) and write a press release. If you are unable to proceed google press release. The following is more info about press releases and comes courtesy of wikipedia:

A press release, news release, media release, press statement or video release is a written or recorded communication directed at members of the news media for the purpose of announcing something ostensibly newsworthy. Typically, they are mailed, faxed, or e-mailed to assignment editors at newspapers, magazines, radio stations, television stations, and/or television networks. Commercial press release distribution services are also used.

The use of press releases is common in the field of public relations (PR). Typically, the aim is to attract favourable media attention to the PR professional's client and/or provide publicity for products or events marketed by those clients. A press release provides reporters with an information subsidy containing the basics needed to develop a news story. Press releases can announce a range of news items, such as scheduled events, personal promotions, awards, news products and services, sales and other financial data, accomplishments, etc. They are often used in generating a feature story or are sent for the purpose of announcing news conferences, upcoming events or a change in corporation.

Basically your press release should have your correct title, the name of your business, some background info about you/your business/services. It should be well written and have detailed information/announcement about the event/talent/the service, including: the date, time, address, -and most importantly your website/contact details/numbers -for folk to access you/the event or more information if needed.
**Bank your profits, don’t eat it…

6) Send press release….
Send press release to all the relevant people on your media list, see number 4. Its best to do this by email -and then telephone the person (at least a couple of hours later) to see if they have received it -and see if its possible talk further or possibly visit them and talk further about your news/event/talent.
***Don’t be tempted to eat your profit, anything can go wrong…

7) keep a batch of business cards and business flyers on you at all times…
As you go about your business you will encounter individuals/businesses who will be good for your business, future clients/potential customers -you must give business cards to business owners and flyers to the general public. Make it a habit to never run out of the above -otherwise its just a wasted opportunity to sell your business/services/talent.
**If you have managed to bank at least £35’000 -you can open another business account.

8) Advertise your business.
It is fabulous to get free publicity but you can’t afford to sit around waiting for this to happen, so choose a choice few and get promoting.
*** You can open an I’m-doing-well-savings account for yourself and pay yourself a small bonus as and when you hit your target… If you are not supporting a charity or haven’t started your own -then its time.

9) Sponsor a hot event.
As your business starts to grow and you start to see real profit -choose an event to sponsor. Make sure that you can afford it, that they share your ethics/views etc and most importantly -you tell them how much you can afford to pay them and not the other way round, but be prepared to pay more if you are a headline sponsor.
***if you haven’t treated yourself and your staff(s) -then its time.. Yes its lovely to be treated to a meal but most employees want cash -so give them a bonus for hitting targets -it is an excellent motivator and incentive.

10) Do the international trade shows…
This is not for all businesses, for example if you are offering a concierge service say, the trade shows unless they are aimed at luxury consumers are not for you. But if are selling quality rice say, -the international trade shows will enable you to reach buyers/customers from all over the world.
***Only touch the bonus in your I’m-doing-well-savings account in emergencies -surly your wages should be enough. Start researching -its time to start headhunting…

11) Employ someone to do your job/ get an agent to look after you..…This is very frightening stuff I know but for you to go to the next level and become more of an overseer you need to take your foot off the brakes. The right person doing 90% of what you use to do will enable you to look at the bigger picture and for you to, -dare I say it, EXPAND and even launch another business. Because truly successful people are never limited to one wage or one business. For musicians/creatives its time to get a professional agent to look after you/your business (please note, you’ll pay for this service but the right person will come highly recommended and have an incredible track record/portfolio).
***Check your second business account, can you match what you require from the bank -this will make you a more attractive borrower. Research, get names/contacts for that locale/country you are wanting to invest/work/launch in. Check out the Ghanaian Embassy in that country and make contact with their counterpart in Ghana and ask for introductions. Don’t just seek these opportunities -create them..

12) Expansion
So you have created a brand. You are celebrated and everybody knows your name, yep its time for the next level. This is serious grown up stuff and demands that you have the likes of accountants, lawyers etc on your speed-dial. You should not only have a healthy business account or two but you should have some serious savings to your name -to even consider expanding, -but all healthy, good businesses get to this place naturally. You have arrived at this juncture when your business is making profit, can survive without you -and it no longer challenges you, -yep its time to open another restaurant/boutique etc. You will find yourself approaching various banks or venture capitalists and be uber excited to see your business in various locales.
***Refer back to your mission statement, don’t loose your focus…what can you/your business offer any prospective investor(s)? If you are an artist/creative/talent -do you have a sponsorship deal? If not, then its time. What’s your agent doing?

13) Expand aboard/ start new business(es)/ventures or sell business…
The above is obvious but can only be accomplished with professional help, business advisors and experience (if you have gone through all the above steps -it will help). Expanding your business into another African country is not easy and must never be attempted/done with mediocre businesses/talent -it wouldn‘t work. You need serious contacts, someone on the ground to look after your business in your absence, the right staff -and most importantly, the right government personal/official to smooth things out (no mean feat) -to achieve this. I guess this is where most Ghanaian businesses stop expanding -and that’s a real shame because even though I can think of some Nigerian and South African businesses in Ghana, I can’t think of one Ghanaian business in either Nigeria or South Africa. What’s causing this? Are we afraid?

****Do your research, use the contacts you have made via the Ghanaian and various other Embassies to procure various contracts at home and aboard. For example if you sell sandwiches, is there anyone selling sandwiches to Ghana Embassy staff? Also, the various offices that line the street before you get to the embassy, is anyone selling sandwiches? So you have three restaurants in Ghana and now want to set up another in Botswana, do your research. Visit the country, are they friendly, do you feel safe? Will your business premises be safe or vandalised? Does Botswana have a burgeoning middleclass that wants/consumes other African cuisine? What’s the best location for this business, and can you meet the right criteria for said country’s business laws? What does the Botswana government require from you to proceed? Can your contacts truly help you? How long will you have to be in Botswana to establish your restaurant and can your other businesses spare you? And so forth and so forth. Go for it but arm yourself with knowledge of said country and be prepared to work extra hard… Go for it.

1 comment:

  1. This information is really good and I will say will always be helpful if we try it risk free. So if you can back it up.thanks for sharing here..small business web design