The most prosperous African countries

Ranking of the most prosperous African countries:
1-South Africa
2-Botswana
3-Morocco
4-Namibia
5-Algeria
6-Tunisia
7-Senegal
8-Rwanda
9-Ghana
10- Burkina Faso
11-Kenya
12-Benin
13 Egypt
14-Mali
15-Zambia
16-Niger
17-Uganda
18-Cameroon
19-Tanzania
20-Ivory Coast
21-Mozambique
22-Djibouti
23-Mauritania
24 Malawi
25-Sierra Leone
26-Nigeria
27-Ethiopia
28-Republic of the Congo
29-Zimbabwe
30-Togo
Guinea-31
32-Liberia
33-Angola
34 Sudan
35-RD Congo
36-Burundi
37-Chad
38-Central

Based on 89 factors grouped into eight main categories: economics, presence of entrepreneurial opportunities, governance, education, health, security, personal freedom and social capital.

Source: "Africa Prosperity Report 2016" by Legatum Institute, 2016

Legatum Institute points out that Rwanda has made the biggest progress compared to the previous edition of the classification thanks in particular to the reforms launched in the field of strengthening the rule of law and the fight against corruption.

Senegal and Burkina Faso also made good progress as a result of improved performance in the areas of personal freedom and governance.

The Importance of Small Business Image

Getting your small business’ image right can be one of the hardest things you have to do but, if done properly, it will be really rewarding. The problem is that image is a subjective concept and what you perceive as tasteful or professional may not be seen in the same light by someone else. We are all very specific to what we like and don’t like about different adverts, logos, songs, sounds and the list goes on. Don’t try and be everything to everyone. If you have defined your target audience, it should help you in moving in the right direction.

Even though image can be hard to pin down, it is still one of the main reasons why a customer will choose you over the competition. Your customer may not even realize it, but they use the business’ image to help them select what they want. It is difficult to choose between different things if they are quite similar, so people will rely on image to make up for negligible differences in things like cost and service. Something as simple as your business card may very well effect your ability to get business. You need to find the middle ground that first and foremost is in line with your business positioning. Then make sure that how you represent it is appealing to your target market.

Appeal to your customer’s senses

Customers like to think they are educated about products and make their purchasing decisions based on careful thought, but much of what we use to decide about what to buy is determined by a company’s image, and that of its products or services. When we first encounter a company via an ad or the like, it can have a huge influence on our later purchase decisions. It is similar to how we judge people who we’ve never met before based on their clothing and grooming.

Our first impressions of a small business or product are just as important to our purchasing habits. Certainly, this initial impression can change once we get more facts, but that first look is very important considering how prone customers are to impulse buying.

A carefully crafted image helps define how best to appeal to the market, and is useful in all manner of marketing. The impression a company creates via its image helps customers differentiate between yours and a competitor’s products, and narrows down their choices. If these features and benefits are presented during their first encounter with your product, your image will strengthen the customer’s belief that you really do have something they want. This could be the first time they see an advert of yours, meet one of your sales representatives, hear your radio commercial or come into your offices.

Learn how to craft your small business’ image effectively

You may now be wondering how you should go about picking and establishing your image. Well, in many ways there is little you can do because, in the final analysis, the image takes shape in your customer’s mind and will not appear the same to everyone. As mentioned above, firstly make sure that it is in line with your overall business positioning. You should have established your own guidelines for all of your imagery including logos, branding, uniforms and the like.

If you understand your customers’ nature and needs, you will have a better chance of defining the image you want. Unfortunately, not everyone can afford to conduct expensive market research campaigns, so you will have to pay attention to what your customer has to say via your sales figures and direct feedback. Don’t be afraid to ask some of your customers from time to time or before you go ahead and print those expensive leaflets.

If you follow the process from the start as in setting your company vision and mission, defining your objectives and then developing a strategy around achieving those objectives, you should have in the process defined your target market. This target market will dictate how you execute your creative.

There is no perfect science behind the process, but if you go through the process methodically, then you should be able to come pretty close to what is right for your business.

Remember, as part of the mix of being a successful business, image is up there with the important elements.

 

Top 10 Marketing Tips for Small Business

Here are some tips that are relevant to the majority of small growth companies, regardless of sector and focus on the need to become more pro-active in the search for more profitable customers. If you have any comments or additions to the list, or find these tips interesting why not let me know?

1. Customer Loyalty is not a given:

With competition intensifying and customers becoming more and more sophisticated in their buying habits, the idea of keeping customers for life is becoming out of reach for many small businesses - why?

Did you know that 67% of business customers go elsewhere because no-one keeps in touch with them? Not because the product or service is poor, or the personnel incompetent, or price but simply because no-one cares enough to keep in regular contact with them. Do you as consumers feel the same?

The answer to retaining more quality customers is simple - do not give people a reason to shop around, keep in touch with them, be pro-active, call on a regular basis, take your best clients out for lunch every now and again. Do not assume just because they have not made contact with you there is no reason to call.

2. 80/20 Rule - Fish where the big fish are:

The 80/20 rule is a phenomenon of life. It shows that in all things the figures of 80% and 20% inter-relate. For instance, it is proven that 20% of motorists cause 80% of accidents (just ask your insurance company for confirmation), 20% of the carpet takes 80% of the wear, and 20% of our favourite clothes are worn 80% of the time.

This rule also applies in business in two important areas

• 20% of a company's products/services generate 80% of profit

• 20% of customers generate 80% of sales.

Think about the implications of that one for a moment - It is well worth focussing the company's finite resources on the 20% - go for the big fish. By analysing who your 20% are, we will help you find more of the same.

3. Rule of 7:

Picture the scene: you have been chasing a prospect for a few weeks - you were convinced he/she was in the market for your service, indeed, they approached you at a recent network but so far after 2/3 phone calls and a letter - nothing.

So what do you do? File in the dormant, and move on??

Research shows that six months after an initial enquiry 51% of enquirers for industrial products were still actively in the market and before you say 'ah well, it’s different for industrial products' similar issues exist in all markets. Two thirds of enquiries from a business to business exhibition were not realised until 11-24 months later.

The point I am making here is all business people are busy people, lead in times for all jobs in the main are getting longer, decisions are very rarely immediate. Research across all sectors indicates on average, it takes seven points of contact before a deal is struck.

This could be made up of phone calls, letters, Emails, etc. So do not give up after 2/3. If you do not believe this try keeping a record and see how many times you have to contact a hot lead or prospect before you get a result. Tenacity always pays off in business.

4. Referrals - When to ask?

Asking for referrals is still perceived as a difficult task by many business managers, especially in certain sectors where it is still positioned as 'not gentlemanly conduct'. As a marketer working in the SME sector I can tell you the most cost effective marketing tactic by far is word of mouth and referrals, I would say it is time to bite the bullet and ask.

Here are my suggestions for the best time to ask:

1. When you have come to the end of a review meeting with a client or customer and checked they are happy with your service/product offering.

2. When a customer asks for a discount - deal! 'OK I can offer you a 10% price reduction if you can give me 2/3 hot referrals'. When you have just lost the sale. This is a golden opportunity to capitalise on executive's stress and discomfort at not being able to give you the job. In many cases you may have lost the job in question for political reasons, and in certain circumstances throughout pitching for the work had the opportunity to build a good working relationship with the prospect, so use it.

5. Networking - You've Got to be in it, to win it:

Do not underestimate the power of business networking. Many owner/managers of smaller companies go along to a network once and come away thinking 'well that is not for me, I met no-one tonight who is in the market for my product so that was a waste of an evening'. This is a little short-sighted in my view for two reasons.

Firstly, most business networks do not attract every single member to every single event they host so you will only ever meet a portion of the total membership at any one event.

Secondly, and this is even more important, when you network with a group of business people you are not only raising your profile and that of your company's to them but to all of their contacts too.

Just think about this, on a typical evening, say you meet and chat to 20 individuals, how many business contacts have they got between them?

Finally, on this point networks are not simply about selling, they are also about buying and deals are done that result in efficiency savings and service enhancements all the time. Remember people do business with people they know and like.

6. The 10 word test:

How many times have you opened a conversation with a new business contact by asking them what they do only to be as baffled as you were when you asked five minutes earlier, despite lengthy and complicated explanations of their company's products and services.

This is a common phenomenon with business professionals. I challenge you to the 10 word test (sometimes called the lift test). Be specific, focused and simple. Tell me in 10 words what your company does?

My response may help you... 'We help businesses get and keep more customers via a targeted, marketing planning process.' (Ok, so this is 14, but you get the idea!)

7. Markets & Industries - Do not confuse the two:

This is a very common mistake many companies make when in marketing planning mode. Remember, industries are groups of firms with similar technologies and products. Markets are groups of customers with similar needs. Confusing the two creates a key strategic vulnerability and missed opportunities.

For an example of this look no further than retail banking sector. Banks have only ever identified their market as the traditional banking industry. Their failure to recognise the difference between the industry and the market has led to the fragmentation of retail banking.

8. Ask for Customer Complaints:

It is a well documented fact that if a customer has a positive experience with your firm they will maybe tell 5 people. However, if they have a negative experience with your firm they will tell on average 25 people.

You need to ensure the complaint does not get to this stage. Do not assume because you do not get any complaints at present all your customers are satisfied will all aspects of your service. In most cases, we Brits very rarely complain, we simply wait for the end of the contract, or end of the meal etc and simply do not return. We take our business elsewhere leaving the company wondering why.

Carrying out regular customer satisfaction surveys either by phone, post or face to face give you the opportunity to 'diffuse the niggles' before they become issues and cause your customers to move on. This also sends out positive messages that you care - back to that pro-activity we all crave.

9. Business Cards - Pick of the Pack:

I think it is worth saying a few words about business cards as I see more bad ones than good ones in my line of work.

A few basics - make sure your cards are always with you and they are standard size to fit people's wallets. filofaxes etc. Ensure they carry all your contact details including Email and web addresses and state your job title.

This is very important as it positions you later with the prospect when he/she refers back to the contact. Whatever you do keep your business cards up to date - phone number changes etc.

There is nothing worse than being handed a printed card with biro markings all over it - All that money you just spent on a corporate image and professional printing is lost immediately!

10. Passion Wins the day every time:

And finally, people are more likely to give you their business if you are confident and passionate about your product or service offering. If you appear to be bored or complacent about your business why should they get excited about it?

Basic Business Etiquette - Good business ethics will set you apart

Is it just me, or do you often wonder if there is really anyone on the other side of that email address, or if that person who answered the phone is really employed by the company you just called?

As a company who offers practical marketing solutions for businesses small and large, I often have to engage in my own marketing activity. Depending on what my objectives are, I have a number of different marketing and communication strategies. These include either picking up the phone and setting appointments to present my companies credentials, or in some cases, sending out an email to the decision maker.

Unfortunately, this is not as easy as it may seem. Most often, emails sent receive no acknowledgement and phone calls are seldom returned. In fact, in some instances, even if my client has instigated a discussion, after replying to them, I sometimes get no response. My conclusion is that companies seem to spend very little on staff training, which includes training on basic business etiquette, which can make or break your business. You see, they forget that I too am a customer or potential customer of theirs and I also have the power of word of mouth and can damage their reputation amongst my own network of friends.

 “What happens if you spend thousands of Euros training staff and they leave you?”
 “Well what happens if you don’t and they stay?”

What I believe is basic business etiquette, seems to be overlooked and not seen as important in the image or positioning of a business. After attending a number of courses throughout my career on topics such as becoming world class competitive, it was always drilled into me that business needs to get the basics right, especially in a small competitive market. It is a big mistake to overlook these basics, as they cost very little to implement, but can be very costly if not.

The basics would be to treat your suppliers and customers as you wish to be treated, as you never know when you may need them. Having a negative attitude towards a supplier amounts to the same as having a negative attitude towards you customer. Good business etiquette should be part of your company’s culture and must be practised both internally and externally.

In my mind, the age old cliché of “first impressions last” is at the foundation of how you should behave and the culture that you encourage in your business. Somewhere deep down inside that mix of business activities, there are a number of reasons why you may or may not achieve success, some manageable and some not. So to reduce the chance of failure and increase the chance of success, manage the elements that you can.

Let’s touch on a few basics that you should be managing as a matter of course.

Image is important.

Your physical premises needs to give out an impression that lives up to what you are offering. You cannot claim that you offer high quality products or services, if your offices are an unsightly mess. If a customer or supplier comes to your offices, what impression will they have? Does what they see tie back to what you are saying you deliver?

With regards to employee appearance, what do you believe suits your business? If you are a casual business who offers students activities on an Island, then obviously your employees won’t be dressed in three piece suits, but if you are a professional services business, you won’t have employees dressed in shorts and t-shirts.

When guests arrive at your offices, they should be treated in a professional manner, by a trained receptionist and made to feel welcome and not made to feel that they are an inconvenience or irritation to the receptionist.

Besides some of the aspects that may seem to be quite obvious, there are also the other interactions that your employees may have with suppliers or customers that in many ways are even more important. This includes telephone and email communication.

There is a lot to take into consideration when employees are given company email access and means of communicating. Although the communication through email is done by an individual in their own capacity, they are a representative of your company and need to remember that they are portraying the image of your company in how they communicate.

This includes a number of aspects of the email:

The layout and appearance of the email – does the person use the correct font, what size characters are they using? Do they understand that capital letters used in in a complete word represent shouting?

How do they address to the recipient of the email? As in letter writing, there needs to be a certain format used when structuring an email. Greeting or salutation, introduction, body copy, conclusion and ending with name and contact details

All employees should use an email signature that is common across the company. Don’t allow individuals to invent their own signature. Standardise it across the company and include the person’s name, position in the company and contact details. In some cases the company logo can be used, and if it is, make sure that it is correct and that it has not been stretched out of proportion or changed in any way.

Believe it or not, sometimes I have received emails that include smiley faces, abbreviations and sms type slang. Have a GR8 day!!! This does nothing for the image of your organisation.

But what is even worse than this is when I send an email and I get no response at all. This does not only include enquiry emails sent to the “info@” email addresses found on websites, but also when I have sent an email to someone directly. I have had face to face meetings with representatives of companies and then when I send an email to them afterwards, giving them a proposal or quotation, I hear nothing back from them. Not even a short email thanking me for or acknowledging my communication and not just from employees, but from Managing Directors too. So if the leader is setting such an example, then it will be no surprise as to how the employees will behave.

I am sure that you get the gist of what I am getting at here and I would imagine that you have all had the same experiences and have been annoyed by it. The question is how many of you have been annoyed by it, but in your own organisation it’s the same.

All being said and done, it is the responsibility of the management of the company to lead from the top. This should not be a hit and miss approach as every company needs to have defined their positioning and part of this is the type of culture that they want to have in your organisation. Then it is up to the management group to breathe life into it. This would include setting up the parameters and requirements, conducting training regularly and ensuring that when new employees arrive that they go through a suitable induction program so that they know what is expected of them. You can’t really blame the employee if they have never been told otherwise or trained accordingly.

So next time you receive an email, remember to reply, even if it’s just a one liner acknowledgement. It’s these small things that you may be taking for granted that may make or break your business.

For more information or assistance, contact us at: http://www.openbox-es.com and we will assist you in making sure that you do business right!

The roar of the Entrepreneur - being the king of the jungle

Like many people out there, I consider myself a “glass half full”, positive person who can make things happen. I’ll give you ten good reasons why I can do something, rather than ten reasons why I can’t. Problem, what problem, there is no problem, bring it on and I will do it. Always seeing opportunities or business ideas, wherever I go.

I consider myself an entrepreneur and seeing all sorts of opportunities on a daily basis is part of the entrepreneurial spirit that sits inside a lot of us. There’s one big problem however and that is we may have great ideas, but we just can’t seem to make them happen or get them right.

Well here are some tips on taking that entrepreneurial passion and bringing it to life, making you the King of the Jungle.

Business Planning

Every idea needs a market. This market is made up the people who you believe would be willing to buy your product or use your service once you have introduced it. These people, known as the market, need to be understood and defined:

Who and where are they (demographics)? How do you reach them to tell them about your product or service and at what cost (marketing mix)? How much disposable income do they have (market segmentation)? What would they be willing to pay for your product or service (value proposition)? Can you deliver your idea at the right price giving you enough profit to cover your costs (profitability)? What will the volume be and will this volume be enough to make the business venture worthwhile (business forecast)? Do they know they need your product or service yet (supply & demand)?

Sounds daunting. The list of questions that you should be asking yourself and answering is endless. These questions above are merely the tip of the ice berg. So where do you start?

I for one, seem to be a typical male who when driving, hates asking people for directions when I am lost. So to overcome this, I tend to do the preplanning, always prior to setting out on my journey. This will include determining where I want to go, using what mode of transport, by when I need to be there and from where I am starting. I use certain tools such as Google Maps and if it is a long journey, I may even do more research looking for information from others who have done the same trip. Sounds simple and rather obvious, but so many of us prefer to get lost on the way and sometimes after setting out on the journey, don’t get there at all.

So why should it be any different when you are setting out on your new venture? One of the biggest reasons for the failure of a new venture is that no time was taken to do a comprehensive business plan (your road map). Not all business ideas are feasible and rather than finding out halfway through the development or even worse, once you have started trying to sell it, it is better to spend the time and effort upfront developing a plan, answering all the questions, which will come pretty close in telling you if you should continue or not, and if you are going to, then it will help you to map out how you are going to get there. There are hundreds of business plan templates out there, just find the right one for you. But don’t try and take any short cuts. You’ll get lost.

The main reasons for doing a business plan, are to identify and describe the business opportunity including your objectives, to set out your strategy of how you are going to get there and in some cases, to attract investors or persuade for financing.

This same business plan, which is the basis of your business, can and will be used often down the line to set the direction for employees, help to describe to customers what you do and in some cases will be used to help you find suppliers that share the same vision and who will take you more seriously when they see that you have taken your business venture seriously.

When putting together your business plan, use the following pointers:-

  • Keep your idea confidential,

  • use good grammar,

  • keep the plan a reasonable length,

  • make sure it has an attractive professional appearance,

  • use only solid evidence to back up your information,

  • use lay terms to describe your products or service offerings,

  • emphasise your own and your teams qualifications,

  • analyse the market thoroughly,

  • include complete yet not overly detailed financial statements and do not hide your weaknesses.

Most of all, you must make it your own and believe in what you are writing. If you are stuck, there are a number of organisations that can assist you.

So, if you have a bright business idea or even an existing business and you wish to improve your performance or make a success of your new venture, then make sure that you have set yourself out in the right direction through putting together a well thought through business plan.

This is the start to making you King of the Jungle.

Market Segmentation for the Small Business


Market segmentation is one of the steps that go into defining and targeting specific markets. It is the process of dividing a market into a distinct group of buyers that require different products or marketing mixes.

A key factor to success in today's market place is finding subtle differences to give a business the marketing edge. Businesses that target specialty markets will promote its products and services more effectively than a business aiming at the "average" customer.

Opportunities in marketing increase when segmented groups of clients and customers with varying needs and wants are recognized. Markets can be segmented or targeted using a variety of factor.

The bases for segmenting consumer markets include:

  • Demographics (age, family size, life cycle, occupation)
  • Geographic (states, regions, countries)
  • Behavioural (product knowledge, usage, attitudes, responses)
  • Psychographic (lifestyle, values, personality)

A business must analyze the needs and wants of different market segments before determining their own niche.

To be effective in market segmentation keep the following things in mind:

  • Segments or target markets should be accessible to the business
  • Each segmented group must be large enough to provide a solid customer base.
  • Each segmented group requires a separate marketing plan.

Large companies segment their markets by conducting extensive market research projects. This research is often too expensive for small businesses to invest in, but there are alternative ways for to a small business to segment their markets.

A small business can do the following to gain knowledge and information on how to segment their markets:

Use secondary data resources and qualitative research. You can use the following resources for external secondary data:

  • Trade and association publications and experts
  • Basic research publications
  • External measurement services

Conduct informal factor and cluster analysis by:

  • Watching key competitors marketing efforts and copying them.
  • Talking to key trade buyers about new product introductions
  • Conducting needs analysis from qualitative research with individuals and groups.

There are many reasons for dividing marketing into smaller segments. Any time you suspect there are significant, measurable differences in your market you should consider market segmentation. By doing so you will make marketing easier, discover niche markets, and become more efficient with your marketing resources

Marketing Basics for Small Business

The essence of marketing is to understand your customers’ needs and develop a plan that surrounds those needs. Let’s face it anyone that has a business has a desire to grow their business. The most effective way to grow and expand your business is by focusing on organic growth.

You can increase organic growth in four different ways including:

  • Acquiring more customers
  • Persuading each customer to buy more products – cross selling
  • Persuading each customer to buy more expensive products or up selling each customer – upselling
  • Persuading each customer to buy more profitable products

All four of these increase your revenue and profit. Let me encourage you to focus on the first which is to acquire more customers. Why? Because by acquiring more customers you increase your customer base and your revenues then come from a larger base.

How can you use marketing to acquire more customers?

  • Spend time researching and create a strategic marketing plan.
  • Guide your product development to reach out to customers you aren’t currently attracting.
  • Price your products and services competitively.
  • Develop your message and materials based on solution marketing.

The Importance of a Target Market in Small Business

When it comes to your customers keep in mind the importance of target marketing. The reason this is important is that only a proportion of the population is likely to purchase any products or service. By taking time pitch your sales and marketing efforts to the correct niche market you will be more productive and not waste your efforts or time.

It’s important to consider your virtual segmentation by selecting particular segments to present your offerings to. Those segments will have the particular likelihood of purchasing your products and services. Again, this saves you from wasting valuable time and money. Fish where the fish are.

Small Business Marketing and Large Business Marketing are Different

If you are like the majority of small business owners your marketing budget is limited. The most effective way to market a small business is to create a well rounded program that combines sales activities with your marketing tactics. Your sales activities will not only decrease your out-of-pocket marketing expense but it also adds the value of interacting with your prospective customers and clients. This interaction will provide you with research that is priceless.

Small businesses typically have a limited marketing budget if any at all. Does that mean you can’t run with the big dogs? Absolutely not. It just means you have to think a little more creatively. Know your target market and try to determine the best possible way to reach them. Don’t use a shotgun approach, rather try to focus on what media your target market is looking at or any method that you can use to cost effectively reach them. Angloinfo is a good example of this. It is know that most people when looking for a product or service provider will look online. So make sure that your marketing includes online. By knowing the objectives of your campaign, you will be in a better position to select the right medium. Are you new on the market and you need to educate or inform (Brand Building) or are you well know and you want to increase your sales (call to action)? The medium or method of marketing and promotion that you use mustbe able to achieve your objectives.

When you do spend money on marketing, do not forget to create a way to track those marketing efforts. You can do this by coding your ads, developing specific landing pages, using different telephone numbers, and asking prospects where they heard about you. This enables you to notice when a marketing tactic stops working. You can then quickly replace it with a better choice or method. You would be surprised how many business don’t do this and just keep on spending money on the incorrect activity.

Getting Started with Small Business Marketing

The best way to go about getting started with your small business marketing is to do a business or marketing plan or at least write down and do the followings:

Your business Vision – business objectives – your target market/s – options available to reach them – what you wish to achieve through the marketing you do – how much you wish to spend to achieve your goals - implementation plan - how you will measure the performance of your marketing activity (did you achieve your objectives from the money you spent?)

We wish you success in your effective marketing!