By: Theophilus Femi Alawonde
Entrepreneurship is a multi-faceted human endeavour that gulps time, energy, finances, and intellectual commitments. The entrepreneur is almost always on their feet – literally and figuratively. The kaleidoscopic exertion goes some notches higher when the entrepreneur combines their endeavour with another venture – a day job, schooling, you name it. Of a truth, student entrepreneurs are in a class of their own – juggling their academics, with their entrepreneurial endeavour, and perhaps with some other extra-curricular activities. “Nothing comes easy”, and believe you me, this is a maxim student entrepreneurs can relate to all too well.
It is a given that student entrepreneurs struggle with sales. The reasons for this are diverse – some related, some others totally related. For one, many students are greenhorn entrepreneurs. They ventured into entrepreneurship because every other person is an entrepreneur, and they do not want to feel left out. Others venture into entrepreneurship because they have seen the success stories of some friends, and having some cash, they find a niche, invest their capital, pick a fancy name, get a 3D logo, and boom, their business is born!
Entrepreneurship is an intentional endeavour; it is not one you venture into to belong or escape see finish. If these shallow reasons are your motivations as a student entrepreneur, you will most likely have problems sailing your business. Of course, you have noticed that Elizabeth, who seems not to be business-savvy, is making enough sales and doing very well for herself. So you wonder, “what am I doing wrongly?” So, you invest in sponsored ads on WhatsApp TVs and all sorts – in the end, your business still fails to sail. In the succeeding paragraphs, I will share some fundamental details every student entrepreneur who wishes to sail their business cannot do without.
Get Things Right with Your Business
This is unarguably the most fundamental aspect of your endeavour, as it defines every other strategic move you will make. You might have missed this step, but it is not too late to revisit the roots and get things right. Getting things right with your business is a common phrase for essential things such as specifying your unique selling proposition, defining your target audience, picking a niche, determining your brand archetypes, weighing your resources, mapping out your network, defining your brand vision and image, and a host of other things. Of course, you just want to put your 50, 000 naira into this thrift business and make enough sales to fend for yourself. You do not think it is as serious as this, more so, Elizabeth did not do all this, and her business is doing well. The problem here is that you have failed to factor in how nuances play in business. You and Elizabeth might both own a thrift business, but have you thought of the marked differences between your ventures? Do you have Elizabeth’s kind of network? Do you have the exact same contact list? Do your target customers have the same behaviours? You do not ride into entrepreneurship on the wings of vibes and insha Allah. That almost never cuts it.
Therefore, you need to ask yourself these fundamental questions: “what sets my business apart from others selling the same products or service?” “what defines the people whose needs my business meet? Where do they live? What is their age range? Their gender? Their spending habits? Their motivations? Their likes? Their dislikes? What are the best means of reaching them? What do they need? What have they been getting that does not fully match up to what they need?” “how strong is my network? What do the people on my contact list think of me and my business? How many people on my contact list have I ever sold to? What are the most common excuses I receive?”
These are some of the questions for which you need to find truthful and clear answers. Many of these questions cannot be fully answered by you alone. You would need to ask friends whom you trust, ask random questions on your WhatsApp status or Facebook wall. Once you have your answers, you then need to classify and process them, to come up with your defined target audience, unique selling proposition, network strength, and brand vision and image.
Leverage Social Media Ads
You should know that this would not bring you the best results if you have not successfully completed the first stage. Cliché as it may sound, the wise entrepreneur leverages the power of digital; and you do not need a large investment to do that. As a student entrepreneur, you do not necessarily need a website. In fact, I will advise you to not get one yet. All you need at this stage of your business are: a Facebook page with a completed profile that clearly highlights your offers and how they meet your target audience’s needs; a WhatsApp Buisness account; a complete Instagram page.
Armed with these tools, you are ready to sail your business. You can run targeted Facebook or Instagram ads for as low as 1, 000 naira. However, you need to first define your marketing goal. Ask yourself, “What do I want to achieve with this ad?” “What action do I want people to take when they read or watch my ad?” “Who is this ad for?”
You should also list your products on Facebook Marketplace. With 1 billion active monthly users, the Marketplace gives you an opportunity to make massive sales if you use the right keywords, attach beautiful and clean pictures of your product, and add relevant and optimized descriptions. You can then link your Marketplace to your WhatsApp Business number so that prospects will be directly linked to you.
In making Instagram ads, consider using more of video and image content; people hardly ever read Instagram captions.
Content Will Take You Far
Content is the third wheel in the triad – you cannot separate it from your business if you want it to sail. Content, of course, comes in different formats – short, actionable posts, long posts, videos, games, carousels, you name them. Content goals also differ – some are to engage, some others are to inform. There are content pieces meant to spur people to buy, and others which teach. It is necessary for you to complete the first stage – define your target audience, brand archetypes, brand vision and image, and unique selling proposition – before considering content creation. Once you have established the aforementioned, the next thing is to determine what influence you want your content to make. In what ways do you want your content to influence your business? Bring about increased sales? Create brand awareness? Strengthen your network? Often times, you discover that you need content to meet all these goals. In that case, you break the goals into sections, and determine the best forms of content to deploy for each section.
Another essentiality about content creation is consistency. Having content goals can help you achieve this needed consistency, as having content goals will spur you to create content plans in the face of pressure from all angles. Armed with your content plan, you can discipline yourself to consistently create content for your business. And with consistency comes a marked difference between your results.
Entrepreneurship is a rough sail, and it becomes a tempestuous one when one ventures into it without guidance. You might be having the worst time of your life as a student entrepreneur – with low monthly sales, zero conversion for your ads, amidst others. However, taking conscious efforts to follow these three tips will bring a significant boost to your business growth.