Blackberries, iphones, Android phones, Nokia e7 etc. The number of smartphones in the market tell you just how much they have become mainstream. With as low as N35, 000 you can get yourself a Blackberry curve. This is a very efficient and productive way of staying in touch with all your contacts via various channels. From BB messenger to social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter as well as the ability to just “Google on the go”. I once needed to get to a bank on an emergency and it was a few minutes to the closing time. I just “Googled” the bank name for locations in Lagos and turns out there was one on the street I was. I drove down and withdrew my money. I kissed my Blackberry that day!
Hmmn; The crime of many. Anytime I hear of a business name, I just look it up online; expecting to see a web page or blog, or something that says that business exists. It’s usually sad to see businesses that have been running for years having no online presence as you never know how many prospective clients you may be missing. You don’t always have to get the flashiest websites when you cannot afford it. People really need information; that’s first. Getting a blog is free, guys. You can get one at WordPress or Google Blogger.
A social Networking account
I did not want to mention it but I just had to; this is because many people do not still have one or do not know which is appropriate for their business. It’s also important to set up accounts in the name of the business and not just your name because a business has to have a life of its own. If you need directions as to which ones to use for your business, let me know.
Another one I didn’t want to mention but let’s face it; the world is moving faster than we ever thought.The past was a month ago and the future is Just two weeks away. All of a sudden it seems weird carrying a laptop about. As an architect, imagine showing your works in 3d on a tablet to your client. As a fashion designer, imagine showing your new collection on a tablet. If you bake cakes, imagine showing you cakes in full 3d to your client on a tablet…. There are cheaper options to the iPad. Check out the Samsung Galaxy Tab or even Nigeria’s own Encipher Inye.
An e-payment account
I have used GTBank’s Naira MasterCard online so many times. It works. Always be prepared for opportunities. So if you need to pay for raw supplies online, you shouldn’t miss it. There are also mobile payment options like Pagatech now. Also, you can sign up with e-payment vendors to allow you receive payments as well. Do not limit your scope to your tiny environment alone. Expand your business beyond borders!
Account management software
If you cannot give a clear account of your cash flow (in and out), then you are headed for disaster as an entrepreneur. Most time we think structured accounting processes belong to big businesses alone but if you want to get big someday, better start acting like it!. There are accounting packages for SMEs that cost just about N50, 000. If that is too much, just start with Microsoft Office Excel. You’d be shocked to discover your profit is not what you thought it was.
Even though we have phones, email, etc we all know how much Skype has changed communication across borders. Skype is one of the most effective channels of holding a business meeting and what’s more? It’s cheap! Just download the software and register an ID. Make sure you have your headphones,videocam and of course: internet! It’s that simple that I can picture grannies using it effectively.
This is one of my favouriterecent discoveries. Dropbox is a free service which allows you share your documents, photos, videos and files with various people. It gives you 2G space of data storage free. It’s simple to use and available on blackberry and android devices, iphones and ipads. The only thing needed is to install and have a folder for it on your system which you can be accessed by people logged onto that account. If you need to know more about dropbox check this link: http://www.maximumpc.com/article/howtos/five_ways_use_dropbox_like_a_pro
A physical network
Of course! You are not your client. So your client can come out of the next 200 people you meet within the next 6 days. So if you are in business, you need to have that network that will ensure your product/service gets to the top. Word of mouth is very important and accounts for a large percentage of sales around the world. Sometimes a software designer is all you need to become the next Mark Zuckerberg. Share your ideas (carefully) with the right people and see how far you will go in a short time. No man is an island. Even islands are hugged by water!
Let’s “think up” and burst out with our great ideas! Good luck!