Mteto Nyati's top five tips for young entrepreneurs
1. Know your customer. There is no business without customers. Every business is competing for the attention of these customers. The best way to get their attention is to understand their expressed and unexpressed needs. These deep insights will help the entrepreneur differentiate themselves and stand out from the crowd. They say “it is never crowded along the extra mile” – they are right.
2. Respect your staff. As entrepreneurs build their businesses, they need to hire staff. Some entrepreneurs make the mistake of treating these employees as “slaves”. They show no respect and violate their rights. This is a shortcut to distraction and failure. Employees, treated fairly and with respect, can be great ambassadors in a space where word of mouth is so important.
3. Cash is king. In these tough times, cash is king. Many businesses fail because of cash flow challenges. It is imperative that the entrepreneur puts effort in getting payments from customers. This is an area where being nice does not pay the bills. The customer is always right, but you have a right to demand timely payments.
4. Born in the cloud. The world is moving towards the internet. Bricks and mortar is quickly becoming irrelevant. Covid-19 has accelerated the adoption of e-commerce and digital transformation. Entrepreneurs who wish to be relevant must have a strong digital presence. They have to build their businesses, from the ground, up, in the cloud – literally being born in the cloud. This helps with access to market and paying as you go.
5. Unique value proposition. Businesses that are sustainable are those that provide customers unique value. It is important to ask what is different about your business. Why should customers buy from you instead of your competitors? The basis for competition if the entrepreneur is providing undifferentiated product or service is price. It becomes a race to the bottom. It is a matter of time before one is forced to close the doors.
Mteto Nyati, the group chief executive of Allied Electronics Corporation.