Say No To Normal: The Benefits of Hybrid Entrepreneurship

entrepreneurship

You’ve heard of entrepreneurship. And the idea of venturing into the business world with a new product or service, and striking huge success, may lead you to think of names like Steve Jobs or Bill Gates.

Many entrepreneurs idolize these revolutionary figures, motivated by the massive profits from creating their own companies. But the unfortunate truth is that 90% of start-ups fail, and the glorified vision of becoming “the next big thing” never comes to fruition for the majority of those who try.

A more practical, and arguably more profitable, approach to starting a company is hybrid entrepreneurship. Strange term, I know. That’s why I’m going to tell you what it is, why you should consider pursuing it, and ways to ensure that you’re one of the 10% who finds success in a start-up endeavour.

What is Hybrid Entrepreneurship?

The term hybrid entrepreneurship can have multiple meanings, so let’s not get bogged down on the technicalities. Simply put, hybrid entrepreneurship is starting your own company while maintaining a full-time job.

Hybrid entrepreneurs have the financial stability of constant earnings, while also developing their new product or service. The balance between meeting full-time job demands and simultaneously starting a business is the epitome of a hybrid entrepreneurs’ role in the corporate world.

Why Hybrid Entrepreneurs Are More Successful

Researchers from the University of Wisconsin had a look at the differences in survival rates between businesses created by hybrid entrepreneurs and full-time entrepreneurs. They found that those who pursued the hybrid approach were 33% less likely to fail in their startups than those who jump into starting their own companies full-time!

But what are the reasons for this? And are they good enough to make you consider hybrid entrepreneurship as a viable career path rather than dropping everything to pursue a new business?

We suggest you keep reading before you make up your mind.

1. The Support of Financial Stability

First, hybrid entrepreneurs experience financial stability as a result of their full-time employment. In simpler terms, they’ve got a guaranteed paycheck! Full-time entrepreneurs, on the other hand, usually lack the funds necessary to surpass the small-sized enterprise stage of their startup life cycle.

Developing a new product or service with sufficient resources is a major advantage in sustaining and growing your business.

2. A Practical Outlook

But hybrid entrepreneurs are also able to be more practical and realistic when developing their businesses. Why? Because they’re not controlled by the “all or nothing” mindset of many full-time entrepreneurs. Approaching an idea and formulating proposals with a reasonable outlook on progress is a significant contributor to why hybrid entrepreneurs are ultimately more successful.

3. Time to Plan

An extension of the benefits associated with hybrid entrepreneurs’ financial stability is the time required to properly prepare and execute a profitable business plan. Because the majority of those with secure earnings are not rushed to rake in the profits and realize success overnight.

Rather, they’re able to spend time carefully preparing a strategy. This strategy has the potential to change and adapt to specific needs as internal and external challenges in the market are discovered.

Not only do hybrid entrepreneurs have more time to analyze the challenges present in an industry, but this time can also be spent identifying the skills necessary for executing their business proposition. They have time to figure out what works and what doesn’t.

[bctt tweet=”Hybrid entrepreneurs have more time to analyze the challenges present in an industry” via=”no”]

For example, Henry Ford created the infamous Ford Motor Company while working for the Edison Illuminating Company. At Edison, he discovered his exceptional ability to satisfy customers, and to identify the advanced technological skills necessary to create a successful motor vehicle business.

4. Testing. Testing.

Finally, hybrid entrepreneurs often have the ability and time to test the demand for their product. Full time entrepreneurs sometimes develop their business model under the assumption that consumers will love their product as much as they do – right from Launch Day.

But, sadly, this is not usually the case. Hybrid entrepreneurs have the advantage of discovering their market potential before investing enormous amounts of time and money.

Case in point is Pierre Omidyar, who founded eBay by creating a website called Auction Web, while also employed as a software developer at General Magic. After witnessing the significant online traffic to Auction Web before the platform was even fully developed, Omidyar was confident in the demand for this service and launched eBay. The rest, of course, is history.

Tips to be in the 10%

We know what you’re thinking. If hybrid entrepreneurship is this great, then why haven’t more people caught on?

The simple answer is – it’s hard, and it takes some serious commitment. In fact, hybrid entrepreneurs face a number of challenges on a daily basis.

They’ve got to juggle a full-time job and start their own business, despite having only 24 hours in a day. Most people can only do one at a time, if that!

So, you’ll need to know how to effectively plan and manage your time and expectations if you want to pursue this career path. These qualities should already be in your skill set, and if they’re not, you should be committed to developing them.

You’ll also need to know how to organize and structure a business plan. And if you don’t, get help! Because we’ve seen this movie before. You know, the one where a startup kicks off with an idea or passion for a particular product, but fails because they neglected to form a concrete strategy for its development.

Be sure to do some extensive research on the history, current trends, and expected future of the industry. This will help you to understand the demand for your offering, the competitive environment, and what you’ll need to do to survive and thrive.

[bctt tweet=”Understand the demand for your offering, the competitive environment, and what you’ll need to do to survive” via=”no”]

The last tip before pursuing hybrid entrepreneurship is to consider the legal implications of starting your own business.

We’d recommend that you chat to your employer, and make sure that they understand that this won’t interfere with your commitment to your job. It can be a tough conversation, but it’ll protect you if your employment contract stipulates against a second source of income.

This Could Be You

So, if you’re unsatisfied with your day job, or have a business idea you’re passionate about pursuing, then perhaps hybrid entrepreneurship is for you.

And with that, we wish you all the best on starting and growing your passion. And if you need any help, we’ve got you covered.

About the Author: Anna Sulger, Valoro Intern and Student at Harvard University

Don’t Be Creepy! Connect Like a Champion

connect with other business owners

The CEO’s of Nike and Reebok walk into a bar…

After knocking back a few cold one’s, most would expect some sort of fight to ensue. Of course, this would be based on the assumption of fierce corporate competition and insurmountable egos. But competition is yesterday’s problem, and professional connection is the opportunity of today.

So it’s time to drop the ego and start connecting, because global trends are showing SMEs relying on each other to learn. Just ask Ankhi Das of Facebook’s Future of Business Survey – a global research initiative involving nearly 200,000 SMEs across more than 40 countries.

She saidThis [March 2017] edition of our Future of Business survey shows connections matter. Small businesses are turning to each other to learn and share ideas in today’s digital economy. And the more they connect, the more confident they are about the road ahead. This is a time to connect more”.

Why Competition is Out, and Connection Is In

Sure, brilliant business rivalries and tales of skullduggery, mendacity, and noble victories can be inspiring. But winning the battle doesn’t mean you’ve won the war. In fact, sometimes there is no winner, and competition leads to nothing but self-destruction.

[bctt tweet=”Sometimes there is no winner, and competition leads to nothing but self-destruction” via=”no”]

But we’ve seen this movie before.

An intense competition with Pepsi led Coke to make arguably one of the worst mistakes since 1886 – they changed the recipe! Ford and General Motors boast a rivalry spanning 101 years. A blinding competition that cleared the way for Toyota to steal market share from both companies. And then there’s Hasbro and Mattel, the creators of Mr Potato Head and Barbie… toys that were once the epitome of American child’s play. But today, these companies find competition with each other to be futile, with a less traditional, digital stranger having snuck into the playing field. We’re talking about online gaming, of course.

If There’s No More Competition in the Game, What’s the Point of Playing?

Well, rather than fighting the competition, smart SME’s are learning to compete against themselves. Because the ultimate goal today is to be innovative, to be unique, and to offer value that customers didn’t even know they wanted.

But the fight to be reiteratively unique doesn’t need to be a lone wolf venture. Because the 21st Century economy is global, and the potential consumer reach spans wider and further than you could dream to imagine. Our point is, there’s enough people, with enough diverse needs and wants, to go around.

So rather than competing, it’s time to start connecting with other SME’s and startups. Leveraging their experiences, their insights, their best practices and technologies can be the unique advantage you need to overcome your business challenges, which 76% of SME’s identify as “attracting customers”.

In fact, connecting with fellow SMEs presents opportunities way beyond diverse perspectives.

Connection leads to opportunities to co-market with other businesses offering complementary products or services. You might find referrals for suppliers or employees that’ll save you the time of a blind search. You could even get new business from the very same community of people you once deemed your enemy.

Okay, and then we have to say it. Connecting with a community of diverse business-oriented souls can lead to more innovative ways of thinking, informative opinions on the latest news about economy and technologies, and general business advice from  people who “have been there, done that”.  

And the best part is, it’s usually free!

So How Do I Make the Connection?

Networking is no new concept, but sometimes the wheel needs reinventing. And with the online economy, the opportunity for a global expansion of networking opportunities is unlimited. What’s even more exciting is that your network can consist of a diverse community of perspectives breaching the traditional cultural and geographical boundaries.

Here’s a few ways to tap into connection:

  1. Join a Forum

There are a large number of open online forums that clear the stage for business owners to share their wins and stucks, ask for advice, and give advice. Some forums are better than others, so you’ll need to do some research and join a forum that 1) boasts a wide user-base, 2) contains topics relevant to your space, and 3) has some history.

Forums like The Startups Forum and the Reddit Small Business Forum are usually a good place to start. But you may want to narrow your connections down to your specific industry, size or problem. For example, forums can be focused on SME’s or startups, retail or service, social media marketing or growth strategies.

Find your fit, and get connecting.  

  1. Engage in Blogging

Okay, so you’re probably thinking this is a weird one. But we’re not just saying that you should read blogs. We’re suggesting that you comment on them, too.

Engaging on blog topics that influence your business can be a great way to initiate connections with fellow business owners and SME teams. Of course, reading the blog is usually a source of free information in and of itself. But connecting with author is an opportunity to extend these benefits, and pick the brain of someone who’s already demonstrated their knowledge and experience in an area of interest.

Most businesses websites include a blog, and then there’s those websites that exist for no other purpose than to be a blog. The trick is to find a blog that touches on practical, relevant, and constructive steps, tips and solutions that will help your business grow.

Sometimes this is a more general blog on everything business-growth related, and other times you need a blog that narrows right down to your specific business needs. But if you need a place to start… http://valorobusiness.com/business-blog/

  1. Go Social (social media) – Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter

Yes, you just knew that social media would feature somewhere in this article! And for good reason.

From Facebook and LinkedIn groups to Twitter accounts, social media is where it’s all happening. These groups often keep you updated with the latest SME news, technologies and innovations that’ll keep you on your toes.

Even better, they’re usually setup to attract and accept only those people who are able to constructively contribute to these topics. So you’ll join straight into a community of people, world-wide, who are talking your talk, walking your walk, and fighting the same darn challenges that are holding your business back.

Again, joining social media groups is a ‘no-charge’ resource. So why not exploit it?

  1. Visit a Coworking Space

Lonely, you are so lonely…. Well don’t be. If your business is just starting out, or uses a remote-working team approach, you might not need an office. But it doesn’t mean you should get one anyway.

Why not join a coworking space, where you’ll find a bunch of entrepreneurial and innovative people working hard toward the same goals you are – business growth. These fantastic spaces are usually designed for closed and open work spaces, are located in relaxing environments, offer free WiFi and coffee, and provide the opportunity to mingle and network with all the right people.

You’ll find them around the world. But if you’d like to check out the Cape Town based workspace that we rely on, check out Cape Town Garage.

  1. Leverage workshops, conferences, and webinars

And now for the finale.

Drumroll…. Old school workshops, conferences and webinars launched to the net. We’re talking about free and paid-for online workshops, conferences and webinars where experienced and knowledgeable people present on specific topics that could benefit your business.

Learning from the presenter(s) is an obvious appeal. But you’ll also learn from the other attendees who participate in asking and answering questions. It’s likely you’ll even get their contact details afterwards, enabling you to expand your network of go-to’s on various problems you’ll come across in the future.

Keep an eye out for these kinds of events on your social media community groups and online forums.

Connect Like a Champion

You know what they say, “It takes a village to build a business”.

So stop fighting the village, and instead, open your vision to a whole new community people – of opportunities – to support your business growth. Hell, you know we’re there for you.

About the Author: Chelsey Pienaar, Valoro Director and Lead Change Consultant

Customer Research Made Easy: The More You Know, the Better

You want to launch a new product, you’re choosing between 2 new designs, which do you go with? Panic. How do you know which one your customers will prefer and which one they will hate?

Well, instead of playing a guessing game, the easy answer is that you ask them.

While being (somewhat) biased, I really think that research is everything. No, it really is! Research helps to inform which customers you should be targeting, what the optimal price point is, what your customers think of your product and if that new product launch will be a success. At the end of the day, research informs decisions. Big decisions.

In the past, market research used to be beyond the means of SME’s. It was something that only big firms could do because they needed big budgets to reach out to the big research houses. With developments in technology, that’s not the case anymore. You can reach out to your customers and collect your own data, with the guidance of a research specialist, significantly reducing the costs of research.

For some of you, you may have never conducted a research project and to some it may seem so abstract and unnecessary that it’s not even on your radar. Let me convince you that it should be.

What Is Customer Research?

Let’s start with the basics. There are two different types of research that you can do.

First, we have quantitative research. Now when you think quantitative research, you should think numbers. All those customer surveys you’ve filled out in your life where you’re asked to circle a number from 1 to 7 – that’s quantitative. This type of research typically has large sample sizes and uses some kind of statistical analysis to make sense of it all.

On the other hand, we have qualitative research. Now when you think of qualitative research, you should think of words. Remember that time you were asked to join a focus group and you had to sit in a room for a few hours with some other people discussing that brand? That’s qualitative research. This requires the analysis of words using different kinds of tools, no complex statistical analysis needed here.

It’s important to remember that both approaches to research have their place and they both perform best in different circumstances.

When to Use What

Let’s say you want to deep dive into a certain issue and find out as much as possible, word-based research (qualitative research) is your best bet. Using this kind of research you speak to people. Speak to customers, speak to potential customers and whoever else you think may have the information that you’re looking for. This type of research lends itself to focus groups and interviews.

So if you’re considering changing the packaging of your product. You want to know what people think of it, you want them to see it, feel it and test it out. In this instance, conducting qualitative research, like a focus group, is a good idea. Here you can bring in some customers, let them see and feel the new packaging and give you their honest opinions.

If, on the other hand, you want to be able to run some kind of statistical analysis and be able to test certain things, you need to be doing some kind of numbers-based research (quantitative). This type of research lends itself to surveys, whether they’re put online, given out as hard-copies or administered over the phone. This type of research has to adhere to a number of scientific principles in order to be valid, (but I won’t bore you with those right now).

So if you’re wanting to find out if there’s a relationship between brand trust and brand loyalty – you need to be conducting some kind of quantitative research that is able to measure these and then examine the relationship. This could easily be done using a survey, provided that it’s developed by a professional, who knows what they’re doing.

Ok, so you’re sold on the importance of conducting research and using it to help guide your business decisions. Before you get started, there are a few things you should avoid.

Be Wary Of Conducting Bad Research

Customer research that only looks at a niche segment of your overall target market, research conducted using poorly developed instruments, and research conducted by those “in the know” who can bias the results.

This is bad research, and bad research can lead to bad decisions. Remember ‘New Coke’? Or was it pulled from shelves too fast for you to even remember?

There are so many touch points throughout the research process that can negatively affect the results – here are a few.

Poor definition:

In my experience, bad research comes from poorly defined outcomes. Too often we jump into collecting data and trying to fix a problem without a clear understanding of what that problem actually is. Making these mistakes at the beginning of the research project can have disastrous effects on all remaining stages of the process.

No follow-up action:

Another mistake that I’ve seen happening (more than once unfortunately), is when a business invests in a research project. The problem is well-defined, data is collected and analysed and some key areas of concern are highlighted. But that’s it. Nothing is done afterwards.

While there aren’t any mistakes with the research process itself here, the problem is that we may as well have not done any research if it’s not used to make changes or fix the problem. To everybody that was involved in the research project, it just seems as if research was conducted for the sake of conducting research and not much more.

Lack of skills:

Being able to conduct research is one thing. For example, running a focus group requires a number of skills. But being able to turn data into something that’s actually meaningful – now that’s a whole new kettle of fish. Having the statistical understanding to run tests and reach conclusions is something that needs to be learned.

Assumptions:

Oh you’re assuming that those three people you spoke to are a good representation of your target market that consists of a couple thousand people? Well that’s a problem. Making unrealistic assumptions can negatively affect your data collection, your interpretation as well as the conclusions and recommendations that you suggest.

[bctt tweet=”Making unrealistic assumptions can negatively affect your data collection” via=”no”]

Consider that your business research crash course! To sum up, research is important and when used correctly, it can be a significant help in guiding your business decisions. There are a number of components of the research process that need to be guided by a research specialist to ensure you’re conducting good research.
If all of this sounds like some variation of Greek to you, feel free to get hold of us and ask some questions, we’ve got heaps of research experience and will happily assist.

 

About the Author: Caitlin Ferreira, Director and Lead Marketing Consultant

What is a Content Strategy, and Why Do I Need One?

content marketing

“Content is king” you’ve likely heard that saying a few times, which is why you scrambled to get that blog up and running, right?

Creating and distributing relevant and engaging content has become a point of differentiation, a value creator and a symbol of appreciation for followers. It seems that creating content is more important than ever and having a strategy to guide this process is vital.                                               

A content strategy can help take your company from being a virtual stranger to a known, trusted and familiar face. As creating and developing content may not be part of the daily business operations, it’s easy to sideline its importance and let’s be honest, making time to manage it all can be difficult

But, in this fast paced digitised world that we’re living in, a good content strategy is what helps establish your brand and distinguishes it from other brands. So take the time to develop a content strategy that will speak to your intended audience.

What Exactly is a Content Market Strategy?

The focal point of a content strategy is how a company creates, plans, governs and delivers its content. Essentially it is a company’s way of getting the right information to the right people.

The approach to your content, needs to be a strategic one. (While “just winging it and hoping for the best” is a strategy – it’s probably not the one you want.) You can think of your content strategy as your plan of action. It outlines what you will say, when you will say it and how you will say it.

But how do I know people will want my content?

Well, the success of your content is based on how useful it is to consumers, and how easily it can be found on the world wide web (SEO lightbulbs should be going off here!) With tons of content being uploaded everyday, your content has to be differentiated and it must add value for consumers (either current or potential).

It’s important to remember that the quality of your content needs to be top notch. You might be saying the right things, but in a terrible and unstructured way. Your content needs to be informative. If you’re going to say something, make it useful.

[bctt tweet=”Your content needs to be informative. If you’re going to say something, make it useful.” via=”no”]

Objectively, a good content strategy should be meaningful and allow for engagement with your readers. Remember, your content helps you to reach out and connect with your intended target audience.

Don’t be fooled into thinking that providing relevant, high quality content is easy. It’s not. There are a thousands of other brands out there trying to do the exact same thing – create high quality and relevant content. You need to find out what makes yours different.

But do I really need one?

Ok, let’s answer that one by looking at some benefits:

  1. A good content strategy is beneficial because it allows you to engage potential customers. Engaging with consumers helps you to learn about them, find out what they want and learn where your business can fit into their lives. In short, your content strategy can contribute to your company’s success.
  2. You create the opportunity to improve customer satisfaction. Remember, satisfied customers are happy customers, who spread positive word-of-mouth, are less likely to switch brands and will have an increased customer lifetime value. Enough said
  3. When you’re regularly publishing content, you increase your visibility online. More people are exposed to your content, meaning that more people know who are are. Increased reach and brand awareness – now surely that’s enough convincing?
  4. If you decide to use social media to publish your content, you’ll likely receive even more exposure. More followers, more fans, more likes, more engagement. More of everything really.
  5. There’s another big benefit to using a content strategy. The cost saving. Remember those days when you could only really use big, mass media that would set you back a pretty penny? Well, gone are those days. You can pop content onto your social media profile, your blog or create a YouTube video virtually free.

Well, now you’re convinced.

So let’s look at how you go about actually creating that elusive content strategy.

Developing A Content Strategy

First, you need to think about the people that you want to read your content. Who are they? What do they do? Are they already customers? And why exactly do you want to speak to them?

[bctt tweet=”You need to think about the people that you want to read your content. ” via=”no”]

Then, you need to look at what you want to achieve? Do you want to become the one-stop place for advice on anything kitchen decor related? Maybe you want to expand your research or use your content platform to drive more traffic to your online store? Whatever it is, be able to phrase it in a single sentence. What. Do. You. Want.

Once you know who you want to talk to, why you want to talk to them and what you’re hoping to achieve – then you can start planning the schedule. What are you going to say and when are you going to say it? Your plan of action (or your content strategy) is your road map here.

Once you’ve done your research, you know who you’re talking to, or at least who you want to talk to, the next step is to brainstorm some ideas for content.

What’s relevant that people would want to read about? How does it relate to your business? Are you outright trying to sell your products, or just provide content related to similar product concepts? You need to make sure that this is aligned to the early stages where you outlined what you’re hoping to achieve with your content.

Ok, now you know what you want to say and who you’re saying it to, now you need to schedule when you’re going to say it. Bust out your calendars and start planning. How often do you want to publish content? Every week, every second week, every month? Whatever you choose, you need to be consistent and stick to your deadlines.

It’s time for action!

Your content strategy is your canvas. Here you get to create and manage what it is you want your target market to see and it acts as yet another window into your company. Whether you’re creating a new content strategy, or using some of these guidelines to refine your current strategy – make sure you know what you want to say and why you want to say it.

If you know what you want to say, but don’t have the time to say it – why not consider outsourcing this function? Have a look at some content marketing packages that allow you to outsource different parts of the content strategy. Allowing you to still get all the benefits of developing and distributing high quality content, but saving yourself time and effort in creating it all. Sounds great, right?

Scroll to top