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Wednesday, 29 July 2015

Five Growth Principles for Budding Entrepreneurs

By Adepeju Jaiyeoba
Today, let's talk about business growth and the principles that spur them. As always, I will be drawing from my personal experience.
1. Realize that there are opportunities in every problem. It could be an opportunity to learn or start something new. The Idea for Mother's Delivery Kit occurred after meeting a baby whose umbilical cord had been severed with a rusty blade infecting him with neonatal Tetanus. Dig out the opportunity in that problem before you today!
2. Large doses of patience and persistence. So you have this big dream for your project and hope that someday your product will be in every home or get everyone talking about you but it just doesn't seem to be happening yet. Relax, keep at it, continue to build innovative products, make strategic contacts and keep shinning in your own little corner.
3. Listen to your Market. I know you think your product is awesome and will make a hit like Tuface's African Queen but pause for a while after prototypes have been sent out and listen to your market. There is nothing in our Mothers Delivery Kit that isn't the result of feeling market pulses and meeting a need. Your ultimate consumer determines your growth. Listen to them!
4. Don't just listen to your market, analyse their feedback and act! I remember Mother's Delivery Kit had up to three modifications before arriving at the present pack we have. I also remember that the two new kit variant we currently have are a result of market demand and needs. Listen. Analyse. Act. I can't say this enough!
Staff assessing Mother' Delivery Kits
5. Never lower your standards! I know times are tough for businesses and the economy isn't even smiling but lowering your standards and cutting corners on quality could have dire consequences on your growth. I remember meeting a manufacturer who was trying to introduce a cheaper delivery mat to us. 
Our medical team tested the level of absorption of this new mat and found it was very low. So even though we would be making more profit from the mats we decided against working with that manufacturer because it would mean lowering our quality and standards. If we say we are giving you the best sterile supplies for childbirth, it's only fair we keep our promise.
These are the five growth principles that have helped and are still helping me. I hope you find them useful too.
About the Author
Adepeju Opeyemi Jaiyeoba (OD’s June YPOM ) is a Nigerian trained lawyer and founder of Brown Button Foundation, an NGO established to help curb the high mortality rates in Nigeria. She is a White House Emerging Global Entrepreneur 2015 and a 2014 Mandela Washington F
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Moving from Idea to Market: How to Test your Big Idea

By Adepeju Jaiyeoba

In 2013 when Mothers Delivery Kit started production with 200 prototype packs, I remember our process of moving from idea to market, making changes to meet market demands and failing forward. Mothers' Delivery Kit went through at least three modifications before we arrived at the generally acceptable pack we have now. 

Yesterday, as I tried to introduce a new product in addition to Mothers Delivery kit, I watched one of our customers place an order for hundreds of the product in advance and I realized the process of moving from ideas to market hasn't really changed. 

Let's talk about this today. So you have a big idea, whether product or service, and you are ready to test, how do you move from idea to the market? Here are a few tips from my personal experience.
  1. Don't just sell, get feedback - Because the best products are the ones who listen to the market and are quick to learn from mistakes, you need to have an open communication system. Your focus shouldn't just be about selling, you must run after getting feedback especially from your first users.
  2. NO doesn't Kill! - Tell people about your product and services, distribute samples, ask for a purchase, the worst you can get is a NO and it doesn't kill! I remember calling hospitals, pharmacies, and walking through communities talking about the kits. I remember visiting village heads, midwives and traditional birth attendants to earn their trust and purchase. Some bought and are our customers till date. I would never have sold to them if I didn't ask.
  3. Sharpen your interpersonal relationship skills - When trying to move your idea to the market, you will need to sharpen your relationship skills. Sometimes people buy your product and remain loyal customers simply because you are a nice, cool, happy go lucky person who they see as a friend. Personally, beyond selling, I like to have personal relationship with my customers. We talk family, politics, personal development and all.
  4. Make good use of social media - Beyond liking, commenting and changing profile pictures, use social media for your business. The first 5,000 kits we sold in 2014 was sold via social media. We didn't have a high budget for advertising so we leverage fully on social media platforms especially Facebook, Twitter and BBM.
  5. Identify your target - Narrow down your target market and map out the best way to get to them. Think up personal contact you have within the target market space and ask them for help. You will be surprised how far they will go to help you with leads.
Please take that step and move your ideas to the market today. Let's grow together.
About the Author
Adepeju Opeyemi Jaiyeoba (OD’s June YPOM ) is a Nigerian trained lawyer and founder of Brown Button Foundation, an NGO established to help curb the high mortality rates in Nigeria. She is a White House Emerging Global Entrepreneur 2015 and a 2014 Mandela Washington Fellow inspiring many young people to achieve their dreams.
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Friday, 3 July 2015

How to Kickstart Your Big Idea without Funding

Our Young Person of the Month for June 2015, Adepeju Jaiyeoba from Nigeria dished out four (4) lessons from her personal experiences with 'Mothers' Delivery Kit' a product produced and distributed by her organization, the Brown Button Foundation. We thought to share these with you to help you move that awesome idea off the ground into the market.

Read: How to Kickstart Your Amazing Idea without Funding

Over the last couple of weeks, I have received messages seeking advice from individuals with lots of amazing ideas they are struggling to kickstart due to lack of funding. I'm sharing my personal experience with Mother's Delivery Kit and drawing some lessons from it.

Mothers' Delivery kit was started in 2013 with 30,000 Naira (about 130 USD), our first production batch was 200 kits. Today, we have non equity seeking investors, zero loans from banks and have sold over 20,000 kits. What are the big lessons for start ups here?

1. Start small. Wanting to start big with a bang is often a challenge we face when starting our company. However, easy does it. Our first production at Mothers Delivery Kit was 200 kits. Today, we have produced over 20,000 kits. Starting small is key especially when funding is a challenge. By starting small you are also able to minimise risks by measuring market response to your business.

2. Prune your idea to size. We all have big dreams. Very big dreams. But where funding is a challenge, we must be willing to prune our ideas and find growing slowly acceptable. Mothers Delivery kit is a smaller version of a bigger picture, it was simply pruned to size to fit our budget.

3. Focusing on people, knowledge and network before cash. Many of those who reached out to me focused on cash. They needed money and it was all they thought they needed and wanted. However, one key lesson is this, there are more than one ways to get investors in your business. Build trust and friendship especially as investment is all about trust.

4. Leverage fully on available resource. So you have a spare room in your house? Why don't you start your office from there? Recruit volunteers to assist your work, talk friends rendering professional services into providing some free advice or services for your company. Minimise cost as much as you can.

Ideas are cheap, implementation is the real deal! Remember that some of the best ideas the world would have had today are in the graveyard. Don't over plan, don't over think, just get started! Commit to take a step towards implementation today.

- Adepeju Jaiyeoba

Adepeju Opeyemi Jaiyeoba (OD’s June YPOM ) is a Nigerian trained lawyer and founder of Brown Button Foundation, an NGO established to help curb the high mortality rates in Nigeria. She is a White House Emerging Global Entrepreneur 2015 and a 2014 Mandela Washington Fellow inspiring many young people to achieve their dreams.

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