Keep going. This is the generally given advice on tackling and choke-slamming doubt, and the feeling of ineptness that creeps in on one, when one’s executed actions towards a goal aren’t proving fruitful.
I did this with gabble heights Clothing, I even paused/abandoned other business pursuits to zone my focus on one unit of enterprise. Months went by; sales weren’t that great or even improving. Other income opportunities were lost of course, now came in the daunting and depressing feeling of not affording one’s self: shelter, food and R45.00 for a six pack of Windhoek beer.
Mentally I wasn’t ok, physically I was doing well (exercise is good for the mind), but I was ‘keep going’.
Let me jump to the message at topic, I will finish this later, of course in this post.
Yes startup capital is vital for new businesses, but one of the main factors limiting new and aspiring entrepreneurs is lack of foresight in creating and innovating their products to meet/produce value and efficiency for the consumer.
Below are few problems new entrepreneurs meet.
- Young entrepreneurs see inability to secure funding as a dream killing block, whereas there are innovative bootstrapping ways to explore.
- Young entrepreneurs have difficulty in programming their products to meet consumer value. We are focused on being entrepreneurs; entrepreneurship is about getting a kick out of the consumer, but not being consumed to self.
- Young entrepreneurs have difficulty in relating (marketing) their product to potential consumers. It’s important to make consumers understand the value one’s our products can play in their lives. If still they don’t understand, refresh your product relation (marketing), and if still, innovate the product. So on and so forth, until they buy.
- Difficulty marking possible buyers and branding their products accordingly to meet the afore mentioned. Its expensive and such a long shot to market to everyone initially, zone in on who is likely to buy the quickest. That’s cash flow to survive.
The answer: definition of a business model
A business model takes in kind:
- A product designed with the consumer’s satisfaction in mind.
- A product to serve value and efficiency to the consumer, thus rendering a difference to the perspective consumer, who then shows appreciation for the difference by committing their money on the product.
- Establishing efficient (for the consumer) consumption points, or rather efficient distribution channels, which make it easy for the consumer to acquire the product.
- The marketing process is a stage where the entrepreneur relates the value and usability of the product to society.
- But first, categorizing which sectors/people/class/sub-cultures might buy the product, then prioritizing them on who is likely to buy the quickest.
- Then approaching the prospects in a manner affordable to the entrepreneur and effective in getting the prospective consumer attention.
After a short sabbatical and assessment, of me and the world. The fault wasn’t me not managing to ‘keep going’. Our products were good, but our marketing and distribution weren’t zoned in, they weren’t focused. These 2 activities (marketing and distribution) were eating our cash reserves faster than we could afford.
Marketing has to engage the target market in a sense that it brings in sales, enough sales to afford the marketing. In a bootstrapping sense, the sales have to be almost immediate. Otherwise you die, like we did.
Our marketing was scattered in many places at once, it was expensive: Sekhukhune, Johannesburg, Pretoria, Durban and Polokwane. By the time we tried to negotiate with it as to what was wrong, we were financially bust, the scattered marketing ate our cash reserves. Had we zoned in one area, we would have been sustainable, then leveraging that to grow further into other areas. Even the distribution was straining and expensive.
For a startup, when marketing is focused on a certain area firstly, it’s easier to assess the impact (marketing to sales). Easier to make changes quickly, the distribution as well is easier, as probably you frequent that particular area.
To grow, when that area is conquered, you move to the next, conquer it and then to the next. Cash flow is survival.
We decided to close gabble heights Clothing, or rather put it on pause. Lesson well learned, and has proved very useful on other ventures we have moved on to. At least bread gets to sit with us when we have breakfast, and financially I’m recovering (can now afford 6 pack Windhoek beer, sometimes).
The decision (to close gabble heights) wasn’t easy, but I got to make up with sanity (insanity is…). Before deciding to close the business, I was clueless on how to improve things. The break helped me understand and seek: what went wrong, what to do to refinance the business, ask advice and importantly, how I was going to afford myself as I was terribly broke.
Gabble heights Clothing will be back, this time in a different way, I hope this move will shock people. Sometimes, you can’t ‘keep going’ the same way.
Challenges are not won by ‘keep going’ but by creative solutions, thinking outside the box and reassessment.