Category Archives: entrepreneurship

topic on starting business and surviving as an entrepreneur in Nepal

Things to keep in mind when making sales

Things to keep in mind when making sales

Your success as an entrepreneur depends on your ability to sell. But hardly any business school offers a class on sales. Many organizations offer training programs on sales that are about theories of sales, and not about the practice of sales. Below, we offer some not-really-original but sensibly practical tips on sales.

  1. Never talk cost. Never talk price. Always talk to clients about value. Value to them. Value for them – when they buy and use your products and services.
  2. Explain and re-explain value about how it makes the clients’ life better, or easier or more profitable.
  3. Always quantify what your strengths: 5 years of experience, 5,000 customers served, etc.
  4. Never leave a sales meeting without mutually agreeing what the next action step is.
  5. When making sales, talk more about the clients and their issues, and less about you. Listen, ask questions, understand what on the clients’ mind, and help the clients explain what they are looking for.
  6. When you make cold calls, the point is not to sell – but to have a meeting.
  7. Selling and negotiations are different: First, sell. Then, negotiate discounts, etc.
  8. Sales and marketing are different: Marketing brings/attracts the clients to you; you then make the sale to the clients who have come to you.
  9. Ask your salespeople to deliver to forecast: when they do so, it means they are on top of their work.
  10. Care about your clients. People interact with and buy from those who care. Always help and tell your clients even when there is no direct and immediate benefit to you.

  ———-

This is a guest post by Ashutosh Tiwari (Some of the materials may have been collected from other sources).

 

How to find, build and retain customers?

Followup to the part 1 of the article: How to build a strong team: (by Prasanna Dhungel and Ujwal Thapa)

Part 2: How to find, build and retain customers?

Lets say you have built a strong team, the next logical question is how to find or build customers?
First list out your potential customers . Look from all angles.

 Lets take an example of an online travel booking provider for local motels in the trekking routes of Nepal.

Your potential customers could be:

Customer 1: Local Hotel / Motel owners: (whose place you book)

Customer 2: Guides / Porters (affiliates who guide customers to you)

Customer 3: Travel Agencies (Affiliate and customer both)

Customer 4: Trekkers/ Travelers (direct customer)

Customer 5: Banks ? financial transaction carrying institutions ? (a good ally to process online transaction and serve as a trusted ally to convince your local motel owners)

Now how do you build customers ?

Here are some challenges to answer that question:

Who do you target first ?

The hotel owner because if they don’t use our service, we cannot book the place.  Then maybe trekkers. Travel agencies could use your service while being a competitor by driving hard bargains or figure out their own systems of booking (through mobiles)

Know who influences your customer?

politics/ society/ guides/porters/ online reviewers/ past experiences

How do you build trust among the community ?

word of mouth, a guarantee for travelers, a safety net for hotel owners that money will be duly and surely transferred, safety, security and positive fear that if they don’t use your service they will lose money, status etc.

What kind of product to build?

Smooth Booking to your hotel from online Travel Booking Software,

secure and safe, and with a guarantee.

How do you get feedback and what to do with it ?  

Get feedbacks from each motel in time. Feedbacks can be social media/ online/email too. How you use this to build a better product is the pivotal question. Your customers love you for a product that gets them what they want. And your product improves as you know inside out what your customers want. It is also your responsibility to predict intuitively what your customers would love.

How do you turn each of your customer into a revenue generating mechanism?

How to use your satisfied customers as affiliates, providing respect, thanks, and deals to them to use the service again is extremely important. Repeat customers are best customers.

What value added service can you add to your core -booking system to help your customers?

Maybe turn from booking to even other transactions (buying local goods etc) somehow. A some form of emergency services option also built in ? say if client needs that service and s/he doesn’t have enough cash, s/he can use our service as a guarantee ?

Remember travelers don’t always carry enough money on treks or run out of it.

How to retain customers ?

By doing the things mentioned above consistently.

Do read part 1 of the article: How to build a strong team:

The government has no business doing ‘business’ in Nepal. (Nepal Telecom fiasco)

The government has no business doing ‘business’ in Nepal.

I am seriously thinking of switching from ‪Nepal‬‪ ‎Telecom‬ to an alternate. In the past 10 years, they have continuously let me down, despite my emotional attachment to Nepali owned company. Here are 3 reasons for this:

  1. Quality = Pathetic (my calls get cut, diverted, engaged randomly)
  2. Customer service = Unfriendly and unaccountable (to the point of sheer rudeness)
  3. Price = Not cheap any more (considering the amount of cut calls or low quality talks i have to put up with)

[One small context:  I cycled all the way from Kathmandu to Lumbini to highlight Lumbini and cycling and tourism in one of the hottest days of the year and I was using the internet to highlight our campaign. While Nepal Telecom’s competitor NCell had internet coverage in most of the stops we were at, Nepal Telecom had zero connectivity (even though it showed 3G connection as on ). How sad is it when you consistently over-promise and under-deliver?

A photographer friend had to send photos to various media using NCell in bhairahawa. This is embarrassing for a pioneer like Nepal Telecom to slowly go in the direction of Nepal’s other defunct government institutions (hint: Nepal airlines, Nepal Bank Limited, Nepal electricity corporation etc ).

So how do we turn around Nepal Telecom while bringing continuing innovation in the telecommunications industry in Nepal ?

  1. Sell government’s share of Nepal telecom to a Nepali private sector led consortium. Accountability to private shareholders will improve it.
  2. Consolidate all politically affiliated unions into one ‘welfare body’ that has management, employees, alumni and other stakeholders in one body. unions accountable to political parties have no place inside a business.
  3. Build “Customers as gods” policy and make sure  ‘Under-promise, Over-deliver’ remains the mantra of the institution!
  4. Use as Nepal Telecom’s mantra for service delivery.
  5. Implement ‘Hire and Fire’ and ‘no work, no pay’ policy. Nepal Telecom employees should not feel they are unaccountable government employees.

To improve Nepal Telecom we have also got to revamp the Telecom sector. This is a government’s primary role: to “check and balance”. Here are few of my ideas for the government to restructure the Telecom sector. :

  1. Empower the oversight body, Nepal telecommunication authority NTA with an independent board of managers (No political appointees) to make sure all telecommunication providers maintain quality, affordability and service.
  2. Penalize telecom providers for each cut calls and build an automatic refund system for each cut calls.
  3. Let customers track each mobile call records and internet usage records from their devices.
  4. Force telecommunication providers to share their infrastructure with other service providers for a valid fee. This ensures further competition and superior quality of service that comes with a competing market
  5. Fine any providers heavy if they resort to deceptive advertising practices. (Example: sometimes Ncell comes up with hard to understand schemes)
  6. Have a monthly ranking of all providers published in national media based on 3 criteria: Quality, Price & Customer service. Tie extra rewards for boards and management based on this index.
  7. Publicly acknowledge (and reward) best performing telecom engineers, customer service representatives and managers monthly.
  8. Direct telecom providers to collaborate with the banking sector to build secure platform and infrastructure for mobile banking.
  9. Limit Telecom providers to offer data and voice services. Have them open another company to offer other services so that there is no monopoly or unfair advantage over start-up companies.
  10. Ensure internet enabled education in the national policy and have government help bear expenses for this thus helping telecom companies have incentive to build costly next generational infrastructure in remote areas of Nepal.

I repeat, the government has no business doing business in Nepal. Either Nepal Telecom improves from today, or it goes down the drain like its other ‘government owned’ siblings !

 

Ujwal Thapa’s resume (of failures)

If you want to become an entrepreneur (or a leader in your field), be ready to fail and fail often. I do hope you can take a lesson from my experiences below. I cherish the failures I have gone through. These failures have certainly made me wiser in life. I truly believe that:

“Failures connect the dots towards success.”

Here is my  résumé /cv of some of my failures  :)

Now, here is my ‘successful’ Resume. You can compare and contrast :)ujwal thapa resume of success

10 Things to Take Care of When Starting A Startup

Ten Things to Take Care of When You’re Starting A Startup- (An extract from The Zen of Startup-ing) – A Guest Post by Abinav Thakuri

Before I get into today’s subject, I want to express my ultimate goal and mission. With all the lessons I learned the hard way from my own startups, I want the other young entrepreneurs who are just getting started to not make the mistakes I made and make their lives a little bit easier. This particular article and everything I talk about in it is part of the book I’m currently writing myself called, The Zen of Startup-ing. With this book I aim to spur entrepreneurship into young people and give them an approach to help them succeed.

OK, so let’s get into it. With the internet these days, the world has gotten smaller. You can reach out to your target audience no matter where they’re located. With a good combination of hard work and a few tactics anyone could succeed online these days. But ofcourse the fact is what you are offering them has to be good. So you know who your target audience is going to be, you have a good useful product for them and you’re building it. But what do you do next because you probably don’t have a single user at this point and you don’t know how to get them to buy your product right? I’m going to show you the main points that you have to take care of below:

1) You’ve built it but they might not come your way – So you’ve built your product or you’re building it already. But you don’t have an audience of your own. Infact your target audience may not even know that your product exists.
So how do you get over this? Every niche usually has influencers. These are the people who have their own audience that is perfect for you since they’re the ones who might be interested in your product. Influencers are usually bloggers, social media big shots, web celebrities,etc. You need to find a way to reach out to them(which is usually not that hard) and establish a relationship with them. So you can ask them for help and advice and give them something back in return so that they’ll feel passionate about promoting you. For example, you can make them stake holders. Keep in mind, with the right choice a single influencer promoting your product could bring you hundreds
or thousands of buyers.

2) Make the audience feel good – How can you do that? How about a content/product offering that helps the audience relate with themselves. People will always share and like stuff that says something about who they are or who they want to be. So for example if your product is xyz.com, a site that helps people learn responsive web design. Wouldn’t you want your audience to say something like, “Hey I told you guys about how important responsiveness was, now check out xyz.com’s post about it and learn from them”. You can make this happen through simple blogs posts or bonus tutorials,etc. I think you get the idea.

3) Figure out who your audience really is – This is one mistake that startups usually make and we did too. Do not generalize! Don’t try to target too many people and stick with a more targeted niche. This will just make it easier for you in the long run. Larger and general niches like internet search for example almost always means lots of competition. With the big guys like Google in case of the internet search example, you’ll most likely not make it. So, stick to a more targeted niche. How about a search engine for free royalty-free illustrations? This would be very valuable for designers and they’d love to use your product. And, you will most likely not have big competition. This strategy has worked for many companies and you can probably see by now how it’s a very important point.

4) Figure out what it is that you want them to do – People always love to take actions and feel like they’re in control. If you give them something to do, you have better chances to keep them with you. To give you a better understanding, lets take an example of a web app that helps tutors build their online presence to gather online students(which means extra income for them). So in this case just a web app to help these tutors build their websites is not enough.
How about making them take steps everyday to promote their online presence? You want the tutors to promote their websites and gain students. And that’s why they’ll stick with your product and not run off to some other alternative.

5) What will your tone of voice be? – So, you’ve gathered an audience. For example, take the above tutor app example. Let’s say you’re talking and interacting with some interested tutors over at Facebook. What will your tone of voice be? In that case you can’t possibly be using slang and CAPS could be irritating to them.This is one of the smaller things that will make a big difference in the long run.

6) Design, Design and Design – Design is one of the most important things. A very good design of your online presence could mean more trust and following. It’s true that people can judge by the looks. For example, you guys must’ve seen or even use mint.com. I don’t remember the guy’s name but mint.com was designed this particular talented and well known designer. Mint is a web app that does all the work of organizing and categorizing your spending for you.
To be precise, it’s an online accounting and money planning tool. One interesting feature is that users can submit their credit card details and mint will automatically track, record and place the spending inside their mint.com dashboard whenever they spend through their credit card. Let me tell you something. When mint.com launched, it attracted many users who readily tested out this particular feature. The funny thing is these early users were not worried about the security issues as they were providing valuable credit card details. And, it turned out that this particular feature was not properly secured at the time of launch as the credit card details were not stored as securely as they should’ve been. But the design was just so damn good that noone even bothered to question this matter. Mint.com looked so good and professional that people just chose to trust them. So this example must have given you an understanding of just how important design is.

7) Figure out where your target audience meets your brand – It’s like a bar for example. Maybe the tutors hang out at a particular bar everyday. And your brand comes and say Hi. Your target audience could be hanging out at the top forums and communities that server your niche. Research and find out these specific places and get your brand out there. But don’t just spam about how great your product is to them and how they must buy your product the first time. Get helpful there, establish your brand as an authority, gain respect and then finally show them your product. This way they’ll be more likely to trust and buy your product.

8) Build a personality profile for your brand – This point is related to the above point no 7. So like I said, your brand walks to the tutors at the bar for example. Let’s take your brand as a person. What will your brand’s personality be like? So in this case, it’s important for you to come up with a personality profile for your brand and I suggest writing it down so you can see and remember it everyday. Think of it like the bio or about me section of your Facebook or Twitter profile. So for an example, here’s one I wrote down for the tutor app brand: “Super helpful, knowledgeable and wise tutor himself. He turned to the internet as a medium to gain students for an extra income stream and succeeded extremely well in doing it, gaining thousands of online students and earning six figures a month from this online business. He is a down to earth and passionate person who pushes you to be your best and wants to help other tutors gain the online success he has. Very faithful and trustworthy.”

Now, most of the tutors would love to be friends and are most likely to trust your brand. So you should come up with your brand’s own personality profile and show it everywhere you are present like social media, your blog, forums, etc.

9) Give your audience a voice and listen to them – People will always love to have power over what they use. Give your audience a platform to speak out their thoughts, complaints and suggestions. This platform can be as simple as the comments area in your blog, a contact form, a forum,etc. You can’t always take action on all of these inputs but you can atleast do some of them. Your audience will love it and it also gives you an insight on what improvements you could make in your product. This will be very valuable in the long run too.

10) Help your audience promote their views – Last but not the least, help your audience promote their views. For example, you can let tutors vote on the best subject every month and showcase these choices and votes somewhere on your site for everyone else to see. This makes them feel like they have a voice of their own and that you are helping them promote and share their views.This gets them more intimate with your product.

So, if all of these are done well along with some hard work and ofcourse if your product is valuable and good, I’m sure that you will definitely succeed at what you are doing. I hope this article helps you and feel free to drop me a line over at my site http://abinavthakuri.com/ , if you have any questions or if you’d need my help with anything. I’m more than happy to help you!

– Abinav Thakuri

Note: This post is copyrighted by the guest author.

Reminder: Posts written by me, are always copy-right free.