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On Evaluating Your Productivity, Set Your Priorities Right

Inversk Review

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I got a lot done this past two weeks, work wise.

While I’m glad I made headway in projects not related to my creative work, I saw this as an opportunity to learn. To evaluate what exactly I did. So, I made a time-monitoring schedule which excluded hours taken to sleep, cook and eat, respond to emails, catch up with news and catch up on social media.

I set priorities like doing class assignments, reading while on the daily commute and meditation or as I like to call it ‘mind rejuvenation’ time. Because these were activities I did daily, I set apart about four hours to do them regardless of how the plan for my day was. Now I was down to about seven hours or so to plan for.

When you’re targeting to accomplish things at the end of the day, you will have to check on how you have performed these tasks in the past. This will help you know how much time to allocate to it and how to speed up the process. If you’re anything like me, short intense time slots work best and so I put tasks that need all my concentration around this time. Other tasks like emails and follow-up calls can be slotted for when the pressure isn’t as high.

In a work setting, things change and you will have to be flexible. Those staff meetings and site visits are important for business as well as professional growth. The trick is to make up for that time by cutting back on something else. You won’t just find time, you’ll have to create it.

Creatively speaking, we have been made to believe that as artists we have to work constantly to improve on our craft. Isn’t that an unrealistic fallacy we propagate! We have family, friends and other commitments to honour as well. And when your art becomes intense, time-consuming and mind-numbingly boring then it makes you despise it more than appreciate it. Create. Exhale. Reflect. Repeat.

The home front could suffer if cleaning and cooking are not put into consideration. I believe I’m speaking to budding entrepreneurs who have not set hiring a cleaning service in their budget, though if you have that’s great. Besides, stacking dirty clothes until the weekend could be detrimental as I have come to learn. Instead I have do mid-week cleaning and tidy up before putting my feet up.

I also learnt of meal preps quite recently after scouring the net for easier nutritious recipes. You plan out your menu for the week, and then do grocery shopping. Have a huge “cook-out” and after the food cools down you store it in separate dishes for the week and pop into your freezer. Voila! You don’t have to slave over your jiko all night trying to cook a meal after a hard day at work.

Now that you’ve reviewed all these hours and time spent doing tasks, the next step is to plan the following days’ activities. One thing you may overlook is as soon as you wake up you spend thirty minutes rifling through your closet for clothes to wear. And while I’m fascinated by the monochrome outfits of t-shirts and jeans that Silicon Valley has advocated, I prefer more elaborate getups. Getting those decisions out of the way the previous night will give you clarity of tasks to look forward to.

In dealing with productivity, evaluating measurable results will help you move around the proverbial ‘pieces on your board’ to get the maximum results. You will notice that you spend too much time replying to comments on social media throughout the day while you could schedule to do it once in the morning and again in the evening. Or that your house gets cluttered easily when you can clear it out before going to bed. It is all about the “small things” and adjustments to find a good manageable routine to work with.

I’m emphasising on manageable because there’s no use achieving daily goals while you’re miserable. While I realize that there is so much more to be improved on, I strive to make the most of my time. I watch TED talks on productivity, read books and use apps that help me keep up with the responsibilities to be done. In this day and age there’s an app for everything, really.

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The B2B Battlefield: How to Make Successful Corporate Sales

Jordan Stephanou

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So you’re running a start-up that targets corporate clients. All you need is a few corporate signatures on that paper, and all of a sudden you’ll have a sky-rocketing business with an exciting guaranteed revenue stream every month, right? Right… But it’s not quite that easy.

Maybe you decided against a B2C (Business to Consumer model) because the marketing spend to win over one consumer at a time was not worth it, or that the South African consumer market is not big enough in your industry, or that it’s better to get 10 paying corporates rather than a million paying individuals. You’re not alone, and you’re not wrong.

Both models have their major pros and their major cons. Trust me, I know. But here are some of the lessons I’ve had by pursuing the B2B model.

The pitch: Anything other than a resounding ‘yes’ is likely a ‘no’

First step is to get the pitch. There is a huge temptation to go about it as passively as possible, hoping that the deal will fall in your lap with a well written email. Reality is a little different however. To secure most pitches, a combination (or all) of in-person approach, phone call, linked-in message and email could be required. Once you’ve secured the pitch, book it in both parties’ calendars and hope that there’s no last minute cancellation. The exciting part awaits.

The sad fact of human nature is that people don’t always say what they mean, or mean what they say. Possibly it’s because we don’t like to hurt each other, or it’s because we avoid uncomfortable discussion as if it’s the plague.

Whatever the reason, it’s quite rare to receive “hard no’s”. The reality is that after a pitch, anything other than a resounding yes, or a “when can we start”, or “where can I sign?”, is likely to be a soft no; they have no interest in doing business with you. The entrepreneurial spirit is one that looks at the positive in everything, so it could be very dangerous for a glass half-full entrepreneur to receive a soft no, because this person will very much believe the deal is still alive.

Once again, trust me, I know. I recommend tempering the enthusiasm by looking out for any sign of an excuse during the pitch, and addressing it then and there. You know how hard you worked to get that meeting – so make sure you leave with no question unanswered, knowing that you did everything you could to win that business, or learnt everything you could to enhance your product, service or pitch to win future business. If you don’t get their business, it just means you didn’t get their business right now. Extract the positives and move forward.

1. Balance patience & momentum: They don’t operate like start-ups

It’s often said that a corporate is the most important thing to a startup, but a startup is far from the most important thing to a corporate.

As SMEs, we just have to accept that. Where we would respond to an email in a heartbeat, it may take our corporate contact 2 weeks to respond; especially if they are decision-maker. They don’t need our business, but we need theirs. As such, it’s important to remember when following up on a successful pitch that they are big, they are busy, and they have multiple balls being juggled at once. It’s likely that our proposition is the least important to them, and may be seen as a luxury.

Remember, they didn’t pursue you, you pursued them. So we have to be patient. But this is the difficult part; we have to balance patience with the desire to keep momentum. It’s an oft-said phrase that “time kills deals”. As start-ups, we need to be respectful that our prospective client is busy, but also very direct and honest with them in terms of our position and our goals and objectives.

If we are direct about when we want to conclude a deal and why, it could scare them away, or it could lead to them prioritizing the deal as a priority. Either way, it’s better to know where you stand rather than have something drag on in that mythical pipeline for months or years as false hope.

2. Their emails are not their priority

After the pitch, it’s easy to get in an unhealthy pattern. That pattern could look something like this: Send follow up documents directly after the pitch; hear nothing back from the prospective client; send a follow-up email the following week; hear nothing back; send another follow-up email the following week; hear nothing back; send another follow-up email the following week etc. into perpetuity until you go crazy and re-apply for your old job.

I have learnt that busy decision-makers in the corporate environment don’t just sit at their desk all day reading and responding to emails. They’re on the move, in important meeting after important meeting, flying to London followed by a quick trip to Doha and then 10 days in New York. They’re not setting the wheels in motion in response to your proposal in that spare 30 minutes in the airport.

As such, when they are available, you need their full attention and you need to get them to commit to the next step. Either a phone call or in-person visit is effective with this. Getting through to them and asking them the difficult questions about the next step is the only way to be top of mind, and to find out if they are serious about this deal or not.

From my lessons, I recommend emails as secondary to the phone call as a way of confirming what was discussed over the phone in terms of next steps.

3. Improve the product / service – become irresistible

With all else said, there is only one way to consistently increase chances of getting a deal over the line. That is, simply, have an incredible product or service that solves a real problem. If you have pitch after pitch where the response is luke-warm, you should ask them before leaving “what would this product have to do / look like for you to sign up right now?”.

Once you’ve had a few meetings like this, you will understand exactly what your market needs. If you build that product or service that the market craves, you’ll be turning away clients because the demand for your business will be so high. Become indispensable. Build something so good that your clients would be crazy to say no to.

4. Build a pipeline

Your business should never rely on one client saying yes. Putting too much emphasis on one deal will make you desperate, and desperation is the easiest way to scare someone away – relationship, business or anything else. Your market should be big enough that a rejection here and there is water under the bridge and simply a learning.

Closing one deal will provide a proof of concept and credibility that can be leveraged to close the next deal. Each subsequent client should, in theory, be easier to win than the previous one.

Finally, if the product or service is constantly being enhanced according to the market’s needs, if there are enough clients in the pipeline, and if the follow-ups after a great pitch are being done effectively, deals should go through systematically. At the end of the day, closing a deal shouldn’t feel like hard work. The best way to win business is by building a great business that solves real problems.

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Mary Njoki to Speak During the 2019 SME Breakfast Forum

Kimani Patrick

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GlassHousePR MD, Mary Njoki, is set to speak at the revamped breakfast forum for SMEs on June 11th 2019.

The event, organised and hosted by Inversk Magazine, is a 4-hour learning and networking forum for senior business leaders including CEOs, CFOs, COOs, presidents, business owners, founders, managers and other executives.

The event’s theme is Business Scale Up and selected speakers will discuss and share their experience in setting openness and trust with employees, customers and other stakeholders in growing an enterprise.

Mary Njoki’s talk will majorly focus on creating, building and strengthening relationships through public relations. Her firm, GlassHousePR, is among the leading Public Relations firms in Kenya with a track record of driving desirable results for firms such as Facebook, Credit Bank, Dinara Developers, Viber, Bountiful safaris, Banda Homes among many others.

In addition to learning and listening to success stories on how companies have built trust, culture, sustainable innovation and reputation in their companies, participants attending #SMEBF2019 will be able to drill down into the key issues that are most relevant to their businesses leaving with tangible tools of business transformation.

Other speakers at the event include David Svarrer, an Enterprise Solutions Architect who will speak on Sustainable innovation and Scaling, and Muchiri Wambugu, the Popote Payments MD who will delve into Capital management and petty cash handling – The best practices to save your business both cash and time while maximizing profits.

Individual tickets are now selling at a discounted price of Ksh 3,500 through Mpesa Paybill: 650377 for A/C: SME Breakfast.

Marketing Opportunity

This forum presents a unique opportunity for brand positioning and communication that will enjoy optimal visibility before decision makers who have significant purchasing power and decision-making authority. Interested organizations and/or persons can reach Kimani Patrick (lead organizer) on 0710 254524 or kimani@inversk.co.ke. Inquiries to the event can also be directed to him through the same contact lines.

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Inversk Life

The creativity that M-Changa inspires

Matt Roberts

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Mon.28 Jan. Irene Akenga,

M-Changa is a fundraising platform that allows anyone to start a campaign within their network and beyond. Lets check in some of the successful stories within the platform.

GEORGE’S SPINAL SURGERY IN INDIA

(Above: Mr and Mrs Ambayo)

George Ambayo, born in the year 1952 is a loving husband to gospel songbird Florence Ambayo and father of two sons, Richard Oketch Otiang’a and Barnabas Yuka .

George has lived a happy and healthy life until mid-2018 when doctors diagnosed him with spondylosis and disc disease of the human spine (lower back) with maximal changes and neural compression at level L5-S1.

A compressed nerve by a prolapsed disc caused George to have leg weakness and problems related to urine and stools. As a retired accountant, he wasn’t able to come up with the funds needed to travel to India for spine surgery.

“By God’s grace when I was stuck in terms of getting the finances a good friend of mine, Joshua Ochieng introduced me to M-Changa. He told me M-Changa is a very effective organisation that can help you raise funds” – George Ambayo.

George set up a campaign on donations based crowdfunding platform M-Changa, managing to raise Ksh. 743,000 in just three weeks thanks to 235 friends, family members and well wishers who supported his campaign.

Thanks to Kenyan generosity, the funds raised enabled him to travel out to India on the 4th of November. He was taken to DELHI GURGAON hospital on the 8th of November to undergo a 6 hour successful spine surgery to remove two discs and replace them with artificial discs.Miraculously George was discharged and has been able to walk without a walking stick or wheel chair. To this day, George walks 45 minutes in the morning and 45 minutes in the evening as his physiotherapist instructed.“I want to say a big thank you to the 235 people who contributed to my fundraiser, I also want to thank the wonderful team at M-Changa who were so caring and supportive throughout the process” – George Ambayo

An unexpected side effect to his fundraising activity online is a raised social life, “I remember when I got back from India and I decided to send thank you messages to each and every person who had contributed to my M-Changa fundraiser and many people got back yet I didn’t even know them.”

“Fundraising can be a daunting task, especially for hard working members of society like George Ambayo. If anybody out there has a fundraising need – they should take advantage of fundraising platforms such as M-Changa to help them reach more people quickly – it can help them to quickly raise funds and prove their genuinity” – M-Changa contributor.

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