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Every brand on Facebook is on Facebook for one reason -- to (eventually) get more business. But getting more business from Facebook means different things to different types of businesses. Different brands will have different objectives, such as driving in-store sales, increasing online sales, launching a new product, building awareness, or promoting a mobile app.

Regardless of the objective, there are a few steps that happen before Facebook fans can turn into real business. You have to first build an audience on Facebook, then drive inbound traffic to your website, then turn that traffic into qualified leads, and then nurture those leads into customers.

Download our free Facebook guide here to learn about how to convert more Facebook Likes into real customers.

This post is all about the very first step in this whole process: building an audience of fans who actually have an interest in what your company sells. If you recently set up your Facebook Page or could simply use a few pointers on how to get more Facebook Likes, this post is for you.

How to Get More Facebook Likes1) Fill out your Facebook Page with searchable information. 

To grow your number of Facebook fans, every section of your page should include content that's relevant and helpful, but also searchable. Remember: All of the content on your page will be indexed by search engines, helping you attract more Fans to your page.

By no means should you should go on a keyword-stuffing spree -- but you should spend time optimizing each section of your page with keywords appropriate for your business.

For example, once you’ve created your Facebook Page, make sure the About section of your page includes:

  • An overview of what your business has to offer
  • A link to your website
  • Any other information that will help prospects understand your business better
2) Include Facebook Like Boxes on your website and blog.

Making your Facebook Page as discoverable as possible includes promoting your Facebook presence using the marketing channels you already have, and removing any barriers for existing contacts to like your page. 

If you have a website or blog, use Facebook’s various social plugins to get people to 'Like' your page without having to go over to Facebook.com.

While Facebook's Like Button allows users to like individual pieces of content on the web and share them on Facebook, the Like Box is designed only for Facebook Pages. The Like Box is a great way to leverage social proof to amplify your page. It displays your page's number of Likes along with the faces of some of your Facebook fans. To implement it, visit this link and customize your button. Then, generate the code and embed it on your website, blog, and wherever else you'd like it to appear.

Want to see it in action? Go ahead and like La Afrique Media Facebook Page by clicking the button below link ;)

La Afrique Media FB Page

Chances are, you already have friends, family, and existing customers who would be more than willing to connect with your business on Facebook. All you need to do is ask. Whether in person, via email, or via Facebook, try asking for Likes and positive reviews. Just be cautious about over-promoting to uninterested connections.

You can also encourage existing connections to become fans by making it more likely that they'll see a suggestion on Facebook to like your page. How? You'll have to upload a list of emails to Facebook, and those from that list who are on Facebook will be made more likely to see a suggestion to like your page in places like "Recommended Pages." Your contacts who aren't on Facebook won't see this suggestion.

To upload a list of email contacts through Facebook, open the "Build Audience" menu (located at the top right of your Facebook Page) and select "Invite Email Contacts."


From there, you can upload a maximum of 7,000 contacts per day per page -- and a maximum of 5,000 contacts at a time.

4) Invite employees to Like your page.

People are more likely to Like pages that already have some sort of following, and your employees can help your business build its initial numbers. After all, they are your strongest and most effective brand advocates.

Ask them to like the official Facebook Page. Then, encourage them to share, Like, and comment on the content your team posts on Facebook, too. Employees who really want to share the love might include a link to your Facebook Page in their email signatures or on their personal social media profiles.

5) Incorporate Facebook into your offline communication channels.

Have a physical storefront? Think about ways to encourage patrons to become Facebook fans. Here are some ideas to get you started:

  • Place stickers in your front windows promoting your page's name.
  • Include your Facebook URL on your receipts.
  • Run a promotion where customers who become Facebook fans on the spot get small discounts.

Market your business offline? Include links to your Facebook Page and other social media profiles on printed ads, flyers, coupons, catalogs, business cards, and direct mail assets.

6) Cross promote on Twitter and LinkedIn.

Add a link to your Facebook Page on your business's Twitter and LinkedIn profiles (and your personal profile, for that matter). Tweet about your Facebook Page occasionally to encourage your Twitter followers and LinkedIn connections to stay in contact with you on another network.

Add your Twitter link to your Facebook Page, and occasionally tweet about your Facebook Page. Don’t stop with Twitter and Facebook; you could also cross-promote on LinkedIn, Flickr, YouTube, etc. Just be sure that your cross promotions are sparing and strategic -- you don't want to spam the other audiences that you've worked so hard to develop.

7) Post valuable content.

The best way to increase your following on Facebook is by treating your fans like people -- and that means consistently delivering content that is valuable to them. Delivering value really comes into play with the content you create and share with your fans, and how you interact with them. (More on that here: How to Attract Customers With Facebook).

It's all about building long-term relationships with your Facebook fans. They might not remember one individual post to Facebook, but if they notice you consistently publish high quality, helpful, and relevant posts to Facebook, they'll think of you as a valuable resource.

So, how do you know what to publish? If you’re in tune with your buyer personas, you probably have a good idea what types of content your ideal customers like. If not, or if you just need some inspiration, consider spending a week taking note of the types of content in your own News Feed that compels you click, comment, or share. What inspired you? Use your observations to inspire future posts.

8) Be active.

Getting more Facebook Likes isn't just about profile optimization and an initial push. To continue growing steadily, you need to maintain an active, ongoing presence.

Not only does this mean posting educational, insightful content on a regular basis, but it also means monitoring your presence and interacting with your fans. Ask questions, answer questions, and participate in discussions with those posting on your page. Find, follow, and build relationships with others in your industry. Create a presence worth following.

9) Use Facebook Ads to expand your reach.

Growing your Facebook Likes organically is the best way to drive engagement and, ultimately, convert fans into customers. But if you have the budget for it, incorporating some paid advertising into your Facebook strategy can help augment the hard work you're already putting in.

Facebook offers a type of ad called a "Page Like Ad," which contains a CTA suggesting that users Like your Facebook Page. These ads can appear in users' News Feeds or in the ad column on the right-hand side of their web browser when they're on Facebook. Here's what a Page Like Ad looks like on a mobile News Feed:


Image Credit: Facebook

If you’ve exhausted your existing contacts and want to reach people who don’t know about your page yet, but would be interested in hearing from you, you can use Facebook’s granular targeting capabilities to reach your ideal buyer persona(s) and grow your audience.

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Jozi Hustle

Churx & LaLi Boy Perfoming live at SABC 1 (Shift)

you can also watch him live on Real Goboza just click Uyibhoza churx

Promo Video of Churx!

Early this year (2015) he realesed Hai Suka Number Ft Churx

The came a hit we all love "Iyawa Iroof"

Thanks to this boy SA music has hope!

10 Africanzone – The site acts as a dating site while also offering business to business services. African men and women looking for love and romance can connect on the site and business people can use it to list their business and as a marketplace to sell products and services.

Blueworld – is a South African social community where users can create a customisable online presence for and make new friends. It also offers a wide variety of interactive tools including photo tagging, video sharing, blogging, status updates and band profiles. The site is geared towards younger participants and has a fun and neatly-ordered feel to it.

Africanplanet – Again this platform offers members both personal and business services. It’s a place where people can connect with other Africans from across the continent and they can also seek therapy and vent some spleen on the popular Afrotherapy page. Here, subscribers can rant about their love lives and discuss a range of more personal topics such as abortion.

Afroterminal – Is aimed at keeping Africans across the world in touch with one another through discussions and live chats. Users can download images and videos and use forums for staying in touch and discussing hot topics. It has a highly interactive flavour.

La Afrique Media Connecting you to friends and other fascinating people in Africa and the World. Get in the moment updates on the things that interest you. watch events unfold, in real time from every angle. Create your own blog and live video streaming free

Yookos – Initially founded in 2011 by Chris Oyakhilome, the leader of a church organisation called Christ Embassy International, it was used primarily by church members. However, the site now has some 10 million registered users across the globe and claims despite is Christian roots it is a meeting place for everyone regardless of politics, religion or gender.

Twitter – South Africans are the most active Twitter uses on the continent and currently the site has  1.1 million registered users in SA alone, while the next big African nation to enjoy tweeting is Kenya closely followed by Nigeria, Eygpt and Morocco.

3 Linkedin- The site enjoys similar popularity as Twitter, although as elsewhere in the world is primarily seen by Africans as a recruitment networking site. It offers primarily business and professional networking services.

2 Facebook – Loved around the globe, Mark Zuckerberg’s social networking site is equally enjoyed by Africans. Figures from 2011 show at that time it was  used by 80.7 percent of internet users across the continent and has undoubtedly grown since then.

MXit - is South Africa’s most popular social network with in excess of 10 million users. It allows users to send and receive one-on-one text and multimedia messages to and from other users and in general chat rooms. MXit also supports gateways to other instant messaging platforms such as MSN Messenger, ICQ and Google Talk. It does not charge for one-to-one messages though mobile operators may charge for data usage. It was first released as a mobile phone IM client available on a variety of phones. Founded at Stellenbosch University, the media giant Naspers acquired a 30 percent stake in the company for an undisclosed amount in 2007. By September 2011, MXit was acquired by South African investment group, World of Avatar. Today it is a formidable component of the social media stratosphere on the continent.

Is this the year you want your financial picture to shine? We’ve got some good news: There are no tax increases looming, and the banking, housing and labor markets are solid. That means this is the perfect time to shore up your personal finances and prepare for the long haul.

Here are some steps you can implement when opportunity, cash flow, existing debt and mental fortitude allow. Barring a sudden global economic or personal meltdown, you could wake up next January with a satisfied smile on your face.

1. Lower your income; secure your future.

If you’re over 50, consider setting up a defined-benefit plan to reduce your company’s taxable income -- and ultimately yours. As earnings rise, you may be able to contribute more than with a defined-contribution plan, such as a SEP (simplified employee pension). Defined-benefit plans provide a fixed, preestablished benefit for employees at retirement. There is also an age-weighted profit-sharing plan you can set up for you and your employees that follows a similar structure. If that sounds too complex for you, then make sure to take these tax deductions (which many people overlook): sales taxes, healthcare premiums and expenses for charitable work and education.

2. Wake up -- retirement will cost more than you think.

Ego makes a bad rudder for retirement planning. Even if your business is thriving, you should maximize what you can set aside in SEP IRA accounts -- regardless of your age. The old rule that you’ll need 70 to 80 percent of your current income for retirement ignores unexpected business costs and reversals that will eat into your assumed nest egg; long-term healthcare costs not covered by Medicare; and the possibility that your children might not be as financially independent as you’d like them to be.

3. Dump bad debt for good debt.

Your credit cards are killing you. “Bad debt is anything that is not being used to build your net worth: clothes, furniture, vacations or dinners out,” explains Steph WagnerEntrepreneur’s personal finance columnist. “Beyond avoiding wasteful spending, it is important to be strategic with interest rates. While today’s average APR [annual percentage rate] is 15 percent, you might be surprised to learn that you have a card in your wallet that charges significantly less. Personally, I have one at 5.1 percent.”

Wagner’s advice: consolidate. However, don’t be duped into other seemingly cheap sources of credit. “I am not a fan of borrowing against retirement accounts [IRA or 401(k)]; it should be your absolute last resort.”

Given current rates, a home equity line of credit may be your cheapest source of capital. If that isn’t an option, consider borrowing against your permanent life insurance policy (assuming it is whole or universal). This type of policy builds up cash over time, which can be borrowed against tax-free. Another benefit is that you don’t have to pay back the loan (instead, your death benefit is reduced by the borrowed amount) -- but if you do it pay it back, the interest rate is generally 7 to 8 percent, much less than the average credit card.

4. Go ahead, touch the principal.

Unless you’ve socked away millions in stocks and cash, it’s not realistic to live off interest and dividends alone. So plan now, not later, to use stock-price growth as part of your total investment picture. “I know it’s scary for most people to think about drawing down principal,” says Rob Williams, director of income planning at the Schwab Center for Financial Research. “A better way to think about it is that you’re tapping capital gains and reallocating them into something more secure [like bonds].”

Williams is quick to remind that capital gains are “a source of returns as much as interest and dividend payments. A portfolio balanced between equities, bonds and cash can deliver all three.” Over time, they should beat the average 2 percent yield on bonds, as well as inflation.

So how do you begin putting this to work in the next 12 months? “Consider dividend-paying stocks for up to 60 percent of your portfolio’s allocation. Blue-chip dividend payers are a good place to start,” Williams advises. “Then 40 percent in cash investments and bonds or bond funds for stability and income. Intermediate-term bonds or bond funds provide just such an anchor.”

5. Crowdsource your kids’ college education.

If you haven’t done so, set up a 529 (college savings) plan and ask friends and relatives to contribute money. Surveys show that most grandparents would contribute to a 529 plan if asked. Another tip: Don’t stop contributing once your kid is enrolled. Paying tuition through the 529 ensures the tax break.

6. Ease up on rebalancing.

You already know to periodically rebalance your holdings, cashing in star performers to buy more of the laggards. But how often? The old wisdom—every quarter—has given way to the new: once a year. “There is no one optimal rebalancing strategy,” says Colleen M. Jaconetti, a senior investment analyst in Vanguard’s investment strategy group. “Having said that, we believe that for most investors, implementing a rebalancing strategy based on reasonable monitoring frequency, such as annual or semi- annual, and rebalancing only when the portfolio has drifted beyond an allocation threshold of 5 percent (e.g., your holdings in, say, international growth funds have dropped from 20 percent of your portfolio’s value to 15 percent) is likely to produce a balance between risk control and cost minimization.”

Jaconetti acknowledges that rebalancing can be tedious but says, “What some investors don’t realize is that they may not have to do many actual transactions in order to rebalance their portfolio. In practice, portfolios can be rebalanced using the existing cash flows.” These cash flows include using dividends, interest payments, realized capital gains and any contributions or withdrawals in the portfolio. 

7. Hire an honest accountant.

The Internal Revenue Service is cracking down on unscrupulous tax preparers. Hiring the wrong person can trigger audits, costs for revising statements and other headaches. “The tax code is huge,” says Kay Bell, author of The Truth About Paying Fewer Taxes. “The key here is credentials. You want someone who stays on top of tax-law changes.”

Seek recommendations from people who share your specific tax situation. “If you have a small manufacturing business, you want a tax professional who works with small manufacturing businesses and knows the intricacies of the tax code in this area. Plus, having a preparer who is familiar with your business needs is particularly important now, with all the Affordable Care Act tax ramifications,” Bell explains.

For Olga Vidisheva, founder and CEO of Shoptiques, approving each hire ensures that all staffers represent the ecommerce business’s mission to promote boutique brands.

Joe Coleman, co-founder and CEO at marketing platform Contently, echoes this mentality: “I think it’s down to defining the company values and hiring people that embody those values.”

But both CEOs add that screening for talent and "cultural fit" is just the first step to building an effective -- and enthusiastic -- startup team. Keeping morale high is an ongoing effort. The challenge to preserve culture becomes greater when your company is growing rapidly, and adding people becomes a weekly thing. Contently, for instance, grew from three people at a single desk to 100 full-time employees in just five years.

Despite the changes, Coleman says he’s “amazed” at how Contently has managed to maintain culture, which centers on the mantra: Own it; Be a giver; and Be awesome. ”They are kind of cheesy, but they’ve really worked so far,” he admits.

But how should founders formulate their own principles? Matt Straz, founder and CEO of Namely, a human-resources software startup, says, “I did this by talking with early employees, clients and partners to get a sense of what really makes our company special.”  

There are a number of ways to keep a culture vibrant, even when it seems to switch from startup to sprawling tech firm overnight. We asked some founders featured in the Entrepreneur360™ Performance Indextheir secrets to keeping morale high on a day-to-day basis.

1. Hold your current team accountable to upholding the core values.

“Building a great culture starts with the first few employees, but it gets solidified through every additional hire thereafter. That's why I've instilled a sense of responsibility into current employees: It is up to them to help us maintain our positive can-do attitude as we scale.” 

-- Olga Vidisheva, founder and CEO of Shoptiques, an ecommerce business that sells goods from local boutiques

2. Make it a C-level priority.

“Recently, my co-founder Ken Chen and I decided to prioritize his focus around building and strengthening culture -- from developing employee training programs to hiring to retaining the best talent.” 

-- Gautam Gupta, co-founder and CEO of NatureBox, a monthly subscription service that delivers healthy snacks

3. Make sure your hiring process tests potential hires' values.

“The best way to keep your culture intact is to add people who already embody it. At Namely, we seek ‘humble heroes’: people who’ve done incredible things, yet speak in terms of ‘we’ and not ‘me.’

"We also reinforce our values through real actions. For instance, we value personal growth, so we celebrate promotions in our monthly company meeting. We value diversity, so we’ve built an executive team that’s 50 percent female, setting a new standard for the HR and technology industries.” 

-- Matt Straz, founder and CEO of Namely, a cloud-based platform that helps businesses manage payroll, benefits and other HR needs

4. Give employees a sense of ownership.

“First, transparency helps everyone feel invested in the company. We also give every single employee stock in the company, because we want them to feel as invested in its success as we are.”

-- Joe Coleman, co-founder and CEO of Contently, a software business that helps companies build audiences by managing the workflow of marketing content

5. Tie it back to mission.

“It all goes back to Ring’s long-term mission to reduce crime in communities. We constantly drive everything around that message. For example, in product meetings we always ask ‘how does this feature help to reduce crime in communities?’ Belief in our mission isn't something you can necessarily produce, it's just something that you have to protect and reinforce.” 

-- Jamie Siminoff, CEO and chief inventor of Ring, the maker of the Ring Video Doorbell, which allows users to answer the door via a smartphone

6. Strive to keep that personal touch around the office.

“The more employees we take on, the more important it becomes to keep BucketFeet one big, happy family by keeping an open line of communication within the office. My co-founder Raaja and I must also stay accessible by keeping hands-on roles within the company.” 

-- Aaron Firestein, co-founder and chief artist of BucketFeet, an online retailer that collaborates with artists to design and create footwear

7. Make cultural growth a daily habit.

“I have taken to blogging internally daily, which I think has been the most effective tactic. The blogging  topics vary but the goal is to promote openness in our objectives and think about some big-picture concepts. Beyond that, I focus on onboarding, explicit definition of vision and values, and creating scalable company processes (like holding post-mortems often).” 

-- Gabriel Weinberg, founder and CEO of DuckDuckGo, a search engine that focuses on user privacy and doesn’t track searches

8. Shindigs can be helpful.

“As we grow, it becomes harder and harder for new employees to be infected by the enthusiasm at the top. We are putting more focus on training new hires to really understand what Birds Barbershop is all about. Transparency is key. Parties don’t hurt either.”

-- Jayson Rapaport, co-founder and co-owner of Birds Barbershop, a brand of salons that markets affordable, high-quality cuts and color services. The company recently launched a line of hair-care products.

9. Shake up the hiring process.

“When we hire someone new, first they go through me and Dan, but then we always have a full team interview and the team has the last say on hiring them, and it's always unanimous. If they can keep up with all of us in our tiny conference room as we hit them with questions and we're all having fun talking with them, then it's obvious to all of us that we've found the person. If not, no matter how qualified they are, we move on.” 

-- David Simnick, co-founder and CEO of SoapBox Soaps, a maker of all-natural handmade soaps that donates soap products to children in need

10. Reward those who keep company culture more vibrant.

“We believe in testing and experimenting with new ideas. I try to ‘catch’ workers who take the initiative to practice that methodology. I love to celebrate those moments publicly to communicate to our news hires that we don’t mind learning something interesting from a well thought-out test, even if it fails miserably.”

-- Ian Siegel, co-founder and CEO of ZipRecruiter, which lets employers post jobs to hundreds of job boards with one submission and sends job seekers postings via tailored email alerts

The biggest risk all of you face as you try to make it in the business world is that you buy into the massive hype of the entrepreneurial craze and think running a successful company is like falling off a log. It’s not. It’s really, really challenging.

While the best way to learn the ropes is through experience, another way is to understand what works and doesn’t work in the real business world. In 2015, this is what didn’t work and the ten entrepreneurs responsible. Pay attention. There are powerful lessons to be learned.

10. Ryan Grepper, founder and CEO, Coolest.

The Coolest Cooler inventor raised over $13 million to become the second-biggest Kickstarter campaign ever. That was the end of 2014. Today, Coolest is selling coolers on Amazon ahead of fulfilling commitments to its backers in order to “keep the lights on.” The good news is the product exists. The bad news is the reviews are dismal, with 28 percent giving it just “1 star,” mostly due to poor product quality and support. So not cool. 

9. Sean Rad, founder and CEO, Tinder.

He’s in, he’s out, he’s in again, and he should be out again. Following in the footsteps of American Apparel’s Dov Charney, Abercrombie’s Michael Jeffries, and Lululemon’s Chip Wilson, Rad has some realissues, not to mention a serious case of foot-in-mouth disease that will continue to plague parent IAC’s Match Group, especially now that it’s a public company. 

Related: Why Entrepreneurs Should Pass on an MBA

8. 50 Cent, rapper and entrepreneur.

Curtis James Jackson III, aka 50 Cent, made a fortune on a record label, on a clothing line, and as an actor. Then he reportedly made $100 million from an investment in a vitamin water company that was acquired by Coca-Cola. Last year, he filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. What went wrong? Lack of fiscal responsibility, i.e., he overspent. He’s not really broke, mind you, but using the courts to stiff creditors for $28 million is pretty low-class, if you ask me.

7. Ivan Reedman, co-founder and CEO, Torquing Group.

Less than a year after raising more than $3.4 million – a record for a European Kickstarter project – the Zano drone maker filed for “voluntary liquidation,” aka bankruptcy, stranding all but a few hundred of its 15,000 funders without the Zanos they’d purchased. Personally, I think anyone who backs high-risk projects like this is asking for trouble, but that’s just me.  

6. Dan Price, founding CEO, Gravity Payments.

Price suddenly decided to raise the minimum annual salary at his 120-person credit-card-processing company to $70,000 over a three-year period. The story went viral, but that doesn’t mean it’ll work. Leveling the playing field removes incentives for managers and the enormous payroll increase may very well bankrupt the company. To make matters worse, Bloomberg recently revealed that Price’s motivation may not have been as altruistic as he made it out to be.

5. Ellen Pao, former interim CEO, Reddit.

Pao’s reign as interim chief of the popular social site was mercifully brief. In eight months, she was successful at just one thing: demonstrating a complete lack of understanding of the site and alienating just about the entire Reddit community. As with hercontroversial tenure at Silicon Valley venture firm Kleiner, Pao needs to learn that business is not about her, but about serving her stakeholders.

4. Tony Hsieh, founder and CEO, Zappos.

After growing the online retailer to $1 billion and selling it to Amazon, Hsieh has been experimenting with wacky management structures. Last year he transitioned to a controversial new organizational system with no managers or titles known as Holacracy. About 14 percent of the company quit and the rest are still trying to figure out what their pay and jobs are. It’s sort of nuts. 

Related: 10 Mindsets of a True Winner

3. Gurbaksh Chahal, founder and CEO, Gravity4.

After pleading guilty to two domestic-violence charges, self-destructing in spectacular fashion, and getting fired by the board of ad-tech company RadiumOne on the eve of a planned IPO, the narcissistic serial entrepreneur is back in the news with a new assault arrest, a gender discrimination and harassment suit, and allegations of epic pill-popping. Need I say more?  

2. Maren Kate Donovan, former CEO, Zirtual.

This high-flying virtual assistant startup was doing great until it tried to convert hundreds of contract workers to full-time employees. Then it crashed and burned. Sadly, that fate was preventable. If I’ve said it once I’ve said it a thousand times: the number one reason businesses fail is that they run out of cash. Every CEO must viscerally understand business and finance. Period. 

1. Elizabeth Holmes, founder and CEO, Theranos.

The iconic Holmes dropped out of Stanford at 19 to disrupt the $76 billion laboratory diagnostic industry. She raised $400 million at a whopping $9 billion valuation and made an enormous PR splash after a decade in stealth mode. Then The Wall Street Journal broke a story questioning the efficacy and accuracy of the technology and Holmes has since been under fire. Looks like a major case of overhype and under-deliver to me. 

These 10 stories represent some of the most common pitfalls that entrepreneurs face. And if you follow the links, you’ll learn more. I think the most important takeaway is this: with rare exception, these are all very smart and very capable people. That’s just how hard it is to build a successful growing business over the long haul. Never underestimate the challenge.  

Starting your own business isn’t for the faint of heart. It’s stressful and pretty much demands your complete focus. On the plus side, it can also be a fulfilling experience professionally and personally.

Here are 50 tips on how to make your business come to life:

Related: How McDonald's Made Me a Better Businessman

1. Do a self-inventory.

Not everyone has what it takes to start a company. That’s not to say that your idea is not brilliant. It just means that you may not have the personality traits to handle launching a company of your own.

Before investing any time or resources, evaluate yourself and see if you have some the typical traits of an entrepreneur. Are you motivated, able to adapt and confident? Are you resilient?

2. Develop an idea.

Don’t just start a business because something is in vogue and you think commercializing it will make money. Develop a business concept that you're passionate about related to something that you have experience with. From there, come up with a product or service that you believe can enhance the people’s lives.

3. Test the plausibility.

Once you’ve settled on an idea, figure out how you can make it become a reality. Is the product or service something that people want or need? Can you make a profit selling it? Does the product work?

Related: 6 Great Business Models to Consider for a Startup

4. Write a business plan.

A solid business plan will guide you going forward. It’s also needed for presenting your idea to potential investors. Your business plan should include a mission statement, a company summary, an executive summary, a service or product offerings, a description of a target market, financial projections and the cost of the operation. Learn about how to write a business plan at SBA.gov.

5. Identify your market.

Even though you may have detected some interest in your business, you need to do more homework. Assess the market, targeting the customers most likely to make a purchase. Perform a competitive assessment.

6. Determine the costs.

Do additional research and find out the standard cost factors within this industry. Not only will this help you manage your business more effectively, investors will want to know this.

7. Establish a budget.

Once you determine how much money you’ll have to work with, figure out how much it will take to develop your product or service and create a marketing plan.

Related: Founders Are From Mars, Capital Providers From Venus

8. Find the right investors.

You’re going to need some sort of funding to start off, whether from your savings, credit cards, loans, grants or venture capitalists. Find an investor who shares your passion, someone you believe you can work with.

9. Listen to investors.

Whether you like it, investors do have a say in your company. And you need to listen to their advice or suggestion. But that doesn’t mean you have to do what they tell you.

10. Set up a great support system.

You’re going to be investing a lot of time and resources into your new business venture. Be certain that your family is on board. They must be aware that this process will be challenging financially and emotionally.

11. Determine the legal structure.

Settle on which form of ownership is best for you: a sole proprietorship, a partnership, a limited liability company, a corporation, an S corporation, a nonprofit or a cooperative. Find out more at SBA.gov.

Related: Name That Company to Dazzling Success

12. Select a business name.

Decide on a name that best suits your business. Then check to see if the domain name is available online, as well as if it’s free to use in your county, state and in the country.

13. Register your business name.

If your proposed business name is available, register it with the county clerk, have it trademarked at the state and federal levels and secure a domain name.

14. Take advantage of free resources.

Numerous free resources can offer advice, training and assistance.SBA.gov is a great place to look at to find local resources.

15. Determine tax obligations.

Now it’s time to wrestle with the tax obligations. In the United States, four basic types of business taxes arise: income, self-employment, taxes for employees and excise taxes.

16. Secure permits and licenses.

According to NOLO, you’ll have to pick up a federal employment identification number (unless the company is a sole proprietorship or a limited liability company without employees.) Apply for state licenses. Pick up a local tax registration certificate. File for local permits, if required, such as a conditional use permit or zoning variance.

17. Buy insurance.

Make sure that you arrange for the proper insurance for your business. This will vary according to the type of business. If you’re working from home be sure that your homeowner’s insurance covers theft or damage to business assets, as well as liability for any business-related injuries.

18. Set up the books.

Figure out if you’re using a cash or accrual system, determine the fiscal year for the business and set up a recordkeeping system.

19. Choose a business location.

Select a location that best fits the needs of your business, one that offers an opportunity for growth, the right level of competition and proximity to suppliers. It should also be accessible to customers.

Related: Office Space à la Carte Is on the Menu for Some Entrepreneurs

20. Don’t worry about an office.

If you’re not making any revenue, then don't concern yourself with an office or warehouse ust yet.

21. A patent can wait.

Patents can cost thousands of dollars. Wait to pursue this route until you have a few customers paying the bills. A patent is less useful if you can't enforce it or have the money to see it through.

22. Be flexible.

Chances are that your original idea will have to be modified. Being able to pivot and adapt to create what customers want will determine if your business will fail or succeed.

23. Share your ideas with friends and family.

Your nearest and dearest will most likely be the most honest with you about your business. Don’t hesitate to seek their advice and suggestions.

24. Ignore the naysayers.

At the same time, there’s a difference between constructive criticism and someone's quick jab projecting that your business will fail. Follow the example of French Internet mogul Xavier Niel and ignore them.

Related: When Angel Investors Reject Your Plan

25. Don’t become angry.

If your idea is rejected by customers or investors, don't just succumb to anger. Find out what they didn’t like, make adjustments and go back to them when you’ve made the changes. There's the possibility that the timing was wrong as well.

26. Deliver the product or service fast.

Your business is a work in progress and if you launch your product or service quickly, you will be able to build a community of customers who can provide valuable feedback that can help you improve the offerings. In the words of LinkedIn founder Reid Hoffman, "If you're not embarrassed by your first product release, you've released too late

27. Offer new products or services.

If you already have customers, be sure to hold on to them by providing new products or services.

28. Be patient.

Always keep in mind that success won’t happen overnight. It’s going to take some time before you make a profit.

29. Overdeliver at first.

Once you land a new client, be sure to go above and beyond the call of duty for at least the first month. You’ll have this customer hooked from then on.

Related: The Web Is a Content War. Here's How to Win. (Infographic)

30. Blog all the time.

Don’t be ashamed to share both your triumphs and struggles. Customers will enjoy your honesty.

31. Avoid fights with partners

If you have disagreements with partners, then sever ties as soon as possible. In-house bickering will prevent you from focusing on growing the business.

32. Don’t worry about dilution.

So an investor has required a stake in the company. Recognize the fact that eventually at one point or another you'll have to give up some control of the business. Accept it and move on.

33. Hire a copywriter.

Unless you’re an excellent writer, hire a copywriter to compose emails for highly targeted customers. A copywriter will also prove handy for press releases and other pieces to spread brand awareness or provide business updates.

Related: 7 Taboos of Business Pitching

34. Prepare for meetings.

When preparing for a meeting with a client, read up on everything that’s available, steeping yourself in information about the industry, that firm's employees and its competition.

35. Don’t fear the competition.

Don’t bad-mouth the competition when talking to investors or customers. There’s no need to become an object of pity. In fact, talking in this manner might even point customers to a competitor who may offer a product or service that you don’t. Remember, when competition exists, there’s a market for your business. Use that knowledge as inspiration to outperform a rival.

36. Benefit from word-of-mouth.

Nothing beats some good old-fashioned word-of-mouth marketing. Let friends, family members and influencers in your field spread the word about your product or service.

Related: Where the Real Deals Are Ignited at Conferences -- the Bar

37. Network.

Don’t be afraid to get out there and show your face to the public, whether at a conference or just being out and about with friend on a Friday night. But try to stay local because travel can dwindle your budget.

38. Provide outstanding customer service.

Interacting with people is a big part of the job. Your business may gain new customers because you made them feel important. For example, Zappos wasn’t the first online store to sell shoes, but the company perfected its customer-service department and won over shoppers.

39. Be sure your website functions.

Potential customers want to know as much about your business as possible and they should be able to quickly access that kind of information on your website.

40. Don’t be overly concerned by the economy.

Some of the best businesses have launched during a recession. In fact, half of the Fortune 500 companies listed in 2009 were founded during such times, according to the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation.

41. Make sure clients pay their bills.

Always be certain to receive payment for your products or services. Instead of being taken advantage of of, establish a time frame for payment. It also wouldn’t hurt to accept credit cards and have an online payment system set up.

Related: 9 Questions to Ask Candidates' References

42. Find the right employees.

Hire the right people for the job. Even though it's your business, you won't be skilled at every task, which is why you need qualified people to complete the work.

43. Assign responsibilities.

Eelegate attainable tasks to employees. This is all about effective management.

44. Know that honesty is the best policy.

If any issues with employees emerge, be sure that they are addressed. No one enjoys being talked about behind their back.

45. Remember that opposites attract.

Hire people with skills and personalities that are the opposite to yours. They’ll challenge you and will bring different skills and talents to the business that you don't.

Related: Does a Work-Life Balance Exist for Entrepreneurs? Not Really.

46. Say goodbye to your social life.

You’re going to spend a lot of time devoted to the business. Even if you plan a night out, you may leave early because a lightbulb just went off. Hopefully those closest in your life will understand.

47. Recognize that you'll be the final person to be paid.

As the CEO, you’re the last to collect a check. That’s just how it works until there’s adequate revenue.

48. Arrive at a useful definition of success.

Just because your business hasn’t made you a millionaire (yet) doesn’t mean that your enterprise is a failure. If you’re able to make some sort of profit doing something that you’re passionate about, isn’t that a success story?

49. Realize when it's time to move on.

Failure is inevitable. If things aren’t working out and you’ve done all you can, then put aside your pride and close up shop. Something like this is not easy to accept. But it’s for the best.

50. Don’t just rely on the advice of others.

Despite my offering up all of these tips for you, perhaps the most important piece of advice is something learned the hard way: While many people may offer a startup assiistance, recognize that in the end you’re the person running the show and the one responsible for the company's success and failure. If you understand what worked and what didn’t, you’ll burnish the skills and knowledge to run your business.


Not a week goes by without some mention in the press or the media about how important it is that South Africa develops the small business sector of the economy.  It is becoming generally accepted that this is the way forward and that the era of the large paternal company that employs thousands of well looked after staff is coming to an end.  Fancy words like "entrepreneur" are becoming part of every day speech, but the heady theoretical views on what a good idea this is are often lost when we are faced with the practical realities.

No matter how much we like the idea, we are not all born "entrepreneurs".  For most of us, we are forced into the situation of simply trying to create income in order to survive.  Whether you're a victim of retrenchment, stone-walled by BEE policies or handicapped by a historically stunted education we all face similar challenges in making our little business survive, be it selling oranges on the street corner, fixing motor cars or making gizmos. The fundamental difference is that we are forced into our position, this is not necessarily our calling in life.

Running your own business is scary.  Generally you have everything invested in it: your precious time, your pride, and of course often all your material possessions too.  It becomes a natural extension of yourself and failure can hurt both emotionally and financially. Of course success brings greater reward than a salaried job, but this is the nature of the business owner beast - a roller coaster ride of highs and lows.

By no means do we hope that running a business should be easy.  We believe in the natural selection process where only the good businesses survive and prosper, but we do have a problem with good business ideas failing due to lack of information or support.  This site is here to collect information for South African small business owners and to provide advice, services, contacts, case studies, statistics and guidelines for all our budding business owners out there who are real people with real problems and not the fictitious, invincible "entrepreneurs" we can only dream of being.

For every business we help succeed, we in turn help create employment, which has the dual affect of reducing economy driven crime as well as creating more business opportunities.  South Africa can, must and will succeed and we can all build our business empires that represent the bricks in the house of a higher quality life in South Africa. click at below links for more info:

 [Accounts] [Finance] [Equipment] [Location] [Staff] [Ideas] [Vision] [FAQ] [Resources]

The advent of social media marketing has unquestionably been a godsend for small businesses just starting out and operating within a limited budget. The capacity to reach millions of potential customers through networking sites like Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Google+, StumbleUpon, Digg, Reddit, Yelp and others has allowed business owners to use the dollars saved in marketing costs to invest in growing their business in other areas such as purchasing materials or increasing inventories. Yet, despite social media’s awesome marketing reach, business owners are rediscovering and tapping into the simple power of real-world facetime.

A Marketing Case Study: Gail’s Glasses

In 2008 with the economy a mess, her hours and income dwindling and layoffs imminent, my talented interior designer friend Gail decided the time was ripe to launch a startup company. Gail created a line of elegant portion-control wine glasses. Working within a tight budget, she asked me to write a press release for her to which she sent to industry-specific magazines that targeted women, healthy living, exercise, weight control, nutrition, etc.  She launched an e-commerce website and created a presence on Facebook and Twitter, and she reached out to industry bloggers to help generate word-of-mouth buzz. Her efforts eventually paid off, and as a result her product was featured in a number of top consumer magazines, mentioned frequently in the blogosphere, as well as showcased on two health-related television shows (The Doctors and The Doctor Oz Show). Predictably, with each product mention, sales on her website skyrocketed, but she realized that if she wanted to create a more consistent stream of revenue it was time to connect with her customers and the industry in a more personal way.

For Gail, the product narrative for her line of glasses—the first of a product line that would later expand to include bowls and plates—was her own very personal weight loss journey, so putting herself out there made perfect sense. There is a reason successful companies use owner spokespeople (think Dave Thomas, Debbie Fields, Steve Jobs). Many small business owners have discovered the value in meeting their customers face to face.

Putting Your Best Face Forward

Although it might seem more cost-effective to simply continue using an effective social media marketing model to the exclusion of other marketing strategies, if sales have dropped or stagnated, it may be time to revisit a more traditional mode of interaction—trade shows. Trade shows offer a unique opportunity that social media does not: they allow your customers to personally experience your product or service. Likewise, the benefits of meeting your customers face-to-face provides an opportunity to obtain viable leads. Direct interaction helps you not only better understand your market and your customer’s needs, but gives you a chance to collect contact information from leads and use it to follow up and continue those relationships after the show is over. Building relationships based in both personal and digital realms leads to motivated followers.

Another benefit of exhibiting at trade shows is the opportunity to research your competition and to not only observe the marketing strategies they’re using to promote their products, but also see how show attendees respond to it. It is also the perfect venue for networking with other vendors with complementary products that you could potentially partner with in future cross-merchandising endeavors.

The real beauty of exhibiting at a trade show, however, is incorporating social media tools to augment product promotion in a real-time space. Use your social media outlets to promote the shows you’ll be attending and the events that will be taking place at your booth beforehand. Then, at the show you might include sending out live tweets, hosting on-site “friend” meetups, offering digital prizes in exchange for getting attendees to fill out your online lead forms, or posting QR codes that link to a contest. These “live” exhibits are also excellent venues for garnering customer testimonials and other materials for use in future marketing campaigns.

Of course, before you decide to take the trade show plunge, there are a number of additional factors to consider, including:

Budget: Determine your budget for costs of exhibiting at a show, the cost to rent the exhibit space, staffing, travel, hotel and meal costs, potential show services such as installation and dismantle and shipping.

Registration costs: Prices can range from $75 to as much as $4,000, depending on the size and focus of the event.

Choosing the right venue: Invest time in researching the trade shows in your industry to find the ones that 1) fit into your marketing budget; 2) reach your targeted audience; and 3) provide the best return on investment.

Etiquette: Entire websites are devoted to trade show etiquette tips:

  • What to bring
  • Professional attire
  • Do not overindulge
  • How to engage with potential clients
  • Using tall stools that create contact at standing eye level
  • No eating/drinking/gum chewing in booth
  • Smiling and making eye contact
  • Sitting only if you are with a client who also wants to sit
  • Do not cross arms or legs
  • Thanking attendees for spending time at your booth
  • Never enter the space of another exhibitor

Mixing specifically targeted trade shows with your social media efforts is a great strategy to grow your business’ profile. If you’re unfamiliar with trade shows, a virtual cornucopia of resources are available—from numerous print books on the topic to websites that provide detailed instructions. Here are a few to help you get started:

Create your Own Blog

 An events resource with a searchable database by industry, category or location

I really liked “3 Ways to Know if You’re Dealing with a Real Social Media Guru” by Doyle Slayton of SalesBlogcast.com. Simple, obvious, one of those “Ah-ha!” items you get when something is simple and obvious but, to be honest, only after somebody else has said it.

With all the talk about who’s an expert in one thing or another, Doyle suggests an obvious way to tell for yourself before you hire somebody as a consultant or expert. Three simple steps:

  1. Get the top three social networking sites they participate in and follow them.
  2. Observe their activity for about a month.
  3. Have them provide you with hard numbers and statistics for the type of traffic and returns their online efforts are producing.

That’s really good advice. It’s also a great answer to a problem I called “A Drop of Credibility in an Ocean of Experts” a couple of months ago on my main blog.

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