Do Business

Tools and ideas to start, market and grow your business.

Upgrade your Business Email Address

I tell you the truth. I think twice about recommending your business to colleagues if your email address still says Yahoo or Hotmail.

On a regular basis friends and other clients ask me to refer them to someone who can help them with a business problem. The first place I check is my network. I am always looking for the opportunity to recommend a friend or business contact but I will pass you over if you’ve got an email address that screams I’m not serious.

Even if your business is only part time, you can still present it professionally.

I love Gmail and so you may get a pass if you use one but make sure it uses your company name or your full name rather than hotmess@gmail.com or bootylicious@gmail.com.

email

An even better and the recommended option is to register your company domain name and then create addresses that you can use. Most domains come with options for about 100 addresses which you can create and forward mail through.

Using your company address gives legitimacy to your business and also serves as a daily advertisement.

I always search for the company I see mentioned after the @ symbol. You could gain some new customers simply using an address registered to your domain.

Don’t forget to add links to your social accounts and website to your email signature so it appears every time you send an email. Another way to pick up new customers with minimum effort.

How Many Customers Does Your Business Really Need?

No one is buying?

The market’s just not big enough.

Our population is too small.

All of these are comments I hear regularly from business owners and people considering starting a business on Montserrat.

black-business-ownerWhile there is truth to all of the above statements, often we generalize and take on other people’s assumptions without testing them for ourselves.

Consider no one is buying. Are you running a business where you need people to purchase your service daily or can one good sale per week set you right and meet your monthly sales goals? Evaluate what your daily, weekly and monthly sales targets need to be and then evaluate your systems with those figures in mind. If you do require daily sales then what promotions or changes can you make to improve how your customers engage with your product or services? Maybe you are not advertising enough or not advertising on the media platforms or in the locations where your customers are.

The market’s just not big enough. Montserrat (5000) is one of the smallest markets in the region and while many think that is the case, places such as Saba (1800+) and St. Eustatius (3000+) have even smaller populations. Again look at your market. Do you need all 5000 people on Montserrat to keep you in business? Even if you did, could you meet the demand? The better plan would be to look at your sales targets and ensure they cover your expenses and a reasonable profit. How many people would need to purchase your cleaning or accounting service this month?

If your goal was 10,000 per month then evaluate your pricing packages. How many private homes would you need to clean monthly to reach that goal? How many businesses would it take to reach the target? If you have support then maybe it can be done by taking on more private homes or increasing the fees for servicing businesses.

Our population is just too small. Small gives you the opportunity to be unique and create a premium and quality product. If you look around and see everyone doing the same thing, then it does not make sense to follow the trend. All of you will be competing with the same products in the same space. Rather, find a way to position your products and services in the market so you stand out. Develop unique products, offer exceptional service, personalize your offerings to keep customers coming back.

Rather than listening to the voices around you who are often only repeating what they’ve heard from others, do you own research and listen to your inner expert.

Use the Start a Business in 5 Days Workbook to help you develop your market and sales strategy.

You can Start a Business in Five Days, says entrepreneur Nerissa Golden

StartABizin5BRADES, Montserrat – Media Strategist and Business Coach Nerissa Golden has released a free download called Start a Business in Five Days in the hopes of getting more people to put their dreams and ideas of business ownership down on paper as the first step to bringing them into existence.

“Over the years as I train at workshops or speak individually to people, they often need some hand holding to get them to keep moving once they’ve taken that initial step of saying I want to own a business,” explained Golden. “The workbook provides a template for working through some of the basic steps that anyone considering starting a business should consider.”

Surprisingly, having enough money to start the business, is not one of the first steps.

“That comes later,” Golden says. “Finding the money to fulfill your dream becomes easier once you’ve solidified what you want to do and how committed you are to achieving it. Quite often you may hear “no” several times before a banker or investor says “yes.” You’ve got to have a deeper awareness about your commitment to starting and growing the business before others will want to support it. Your mind game has to be right.”

The free download is available on www.nerissagolden.com and provides worksheets to complete for each of the five days. The first day is focused on identifying the natural talents that many people overlook as potential moneymaking opportunities. It also encourages the budding entrepreneur to brainstorm a list of business ideas which will be later linked to those gifts and the opportunities in the community.

“Later on in the workbook, every effort should be made to survey different people outside of your usual circle to assess who your potential customers would be. It is important as you can review your strategy and develop a business model which could offer different levels of the same service at varying price points,” she explained.

While the download was focused primarily on people wishing to start sole proprietorships, Golden noted that the principles are transferrable to ventures which could employ others. “Over the years I’ve used the basic concept to start a sandwich business which I only ran for a few months to help meet a short term financial need but I also used it to start a school which employs staff and continues to operate today.”

For more information on starting a business visit www.nerissagolden.com to access more resources and support.

FREE Download – Start a Business in 5 Days

People ask me regularly for help to brainstorm on an idea or want my opinion on whether they should start a business or not. I’ve compiled a workbook to help you with this process. Start a Business in 5 Days gives you a list of activities to help you work through the basic issues you should consider as you start.

I’ve used this process to start a short-term sandwich business to make enough for plane fare and I’ve used it to start a school, which is still in operation today.

Here’s the link. Start a Business in 5 Days by Nerissa Golden

How to Lose an Election in 5 Easy Steps

Back in July I teamed up with a fellow media strategist to share our views on the impact that social media will have on elections across the Caribbean in the coming years. Read story here Caribbean Elections will be won or lost with Social Media.This was proven true in the recent elections on Montserrat and there was no doubt about the fact that social media was critical to their success. The upstart party People’s Democratic Movement (PDM) made a definitive statement in their first elections with all nine of their candidates making it into the top 15. Seven of them are in parliament and the Movement for Change and Prosperity (MCAP) got the other two seats.

While social media is critical, it is not the only factor which will decide whether you win or lose. Social media can only amplify what is happening elsewhere. Here are five easy ways hat a political party can lose an election campaign.

  1. Be overconfident and expect it will be an easy victory. Pretty early in the campaign one senior member of the MCAP party told me that it was the other side that needed to prove they could win as they were in office and their work spoke for itself. Their entire approach spoke to the fact that they thought all it would take was one jingle, a few posters with pretty pictures to do the trick and few clever remarks by their leader. PDM brought lights, cameras, loads of colour and a massive musical soundtrack to support their message and engage the crowds.
  2. Don’t use all available resources. The incumbents didn’t seem to think it was necessary to use social media or their website in a way that said they understood the need for people to connect with them in real time or using language that the average person didn’t need a dictionary to understand. In fact, most of the MCAP team are on Facebook but their profiles were silent for the entire campaign and save for one they never had a presence that was inviting or encouraged you to share. PDM kept upping the ante from professionally branded social spaces to live streaming their rallies and a glossy full colour manifesto filled with photos of real people.
  3. Forget that people have their own dreams. Ironically, their motto was Keep the Team to Fulfill the Dream but clearly they didn’t have a clue as to what we were dreaming about. Certainly it was not a future filled with eating breadfruit and mangoes as the main course. One young woman told me on Election Day “I can grow pumpkins and breadfruit in my backyard but it won’t pay my light bill.” They never seemed to be able to get everyday people to care about what they cared about and they certainly presented a message that said they didn’t understand or care.
  4. Work a plan that doesn’t have the consensus of all. It was obvious. They underestimated PDM and they didn’t know what to do about it. It was thought that the school holidays from July to the end of August would be quiet months but PDM used that time to take critical ground away from the incumbents. A few MCAP members attempted to do individual flyers and stick them up around island in a desperate attempt to get some attention but only one was able to grab a seat. They hastily added pop and dancehall jingles to follow PDM but it was a desperate attempt and too little too late.
  5. Try to win the election without your tribe. Loyal MCAP supporters and the undecideds didn’t know what to do. They weren’t given something to believe in. While PDM supporters were Redding up because they were Fed up, civil servants and other citizens who wanted to give them another chance were lost as to the direction they wanted to go and how they could be a part of getting there. MCAP used the usual voices of Hero, Cepeke, DeBear and AJ to sing their campaign songs. Meanwhile, voices we don’t hear enough of like Geffen, DeNiceness and Sylk were making waves with the PDM tracks. The horribly printed MCAP shirts weren’t even done on island so a local could make some money and further solidified the fact that they weren’t about the people at all.

Political parties who do not have an agenda which reflects the voices of the majority are asking for trouble come election day. Social media has empowered many to speak whether on their real profiles or through fake ones designed to stir discussion. Regardless, people are able to use this medium to tell their version of a story and with the right timing and audience it could make or break a campaign.

Party leaders must be prepared for any eventuality. All members must stay on the same page or the vision will be derailed. Divide and conquer is still the easiest way to lose a game or an election. Commitment to the team and the end goal is essential and must be unwavering even after the final vote has been counted.

Changing times Mr Politician, Social Media Won’t Go Away

Caribbean Elections will be won or lost with Social Media

Nerissa Golden is a media strategist, author and the former Director of Information and Communications for the Government of Montserrat. Follow her on twitter at trulynerissa and on Facebook at Nerissa.Golden.