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Growth Strategies

Why Design Is Fundamental To Success Fort Startups

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Companies like Apple are making design impossible for startups to ignore. Startups like GitHub, Airbnb, Square, and Fitbit have design at the core of their business, and they’re doing phenomenal work. But what is ‘design’ actually? Is it a logo? A word press theme?

It’s so much more than that. It’s a state of mind. It’s an approach to a problem. It’s how you’re going to be ahead of your competitor and win customers.

Take one step back and review your work as if it wasn’t your own, let others go over it, experience your product as if you were the one buying it, not the one who made it.

Detaching yourself from something that you have put so much sweat and hard work in is not easy, but product design is an essential tool on your way to perfecting your product and with it ultimately your brand and business success. After all, if your product doesn’t deliver on the promises you make, customers will not return.

There is a gap in the business industry, that often don’t take into account the user experience and due to the lack of options, the market has been flooded with products that at best are not user-friendly. As an entrepreneur always keep in mind that your product is only as good as it makes the customer feel.

The challenge is to be open and actively court feedback. If you continue making tweaks to your product as you go along, every negative comment your product receives could be what will set you apart from your competitors in the future.

Simply put, product design involves coming up with a product the market needs and wants, and the more the product is tailored to a smooth user experience, the more successful the product will be. All entrepreneurs want to create products which will have traction in the market. Taking user experience into account will more likely attract consumers.

It should be considered early on because it will ensure that the product has the characteristics and performance the customer’s desire, thus reducing the risk of creating a product that does not reflect the customers’ demands, while cutting the costs and helping establish a reliable and respectable brand.

How will users understand your product? How does it feel in their hands and how do they feel about using it? These are just a few questions that product design evaluations will aim to answer.

Tips on product design.

Having all this in mind, now let’s go through several steps offered by Growth Africa, on how to now practically go about it, especially, if you don’t have a design yet.

  1. Empathize- Use empathy to understand your client’s rational and emotional needs. Put yourself in your client’s shoes and objectively evaluate the service or product your offering.
  2. Be user oriented– Don’t make your products appearance your main concern, it’s the product usability that will create traction in the market, so ensure a user oriented design
  3. Test and Try- Don’t rush to the market without proper prototypes as these demonstrates the functionality of the product and ensure your product is ready for manufacture
  4. Observe- Pay close attention to how people interact with the product in its natural context (home, workplace) to understand and improve their experience with it.
  5. Humanize- Always keep in mind that customers are not just data; they are real people with real needs and desires, it’s important to take them into account.

 

Let’s look at some handy guide will help you understand design and provide resources to help you find awesome design talent.

Design is a method of problem solving.

Design is so many things, executed in many different ways, but the function is always the same. Whether its blueprints, a clever UI, a brochure, or a chair, design can help solve a visual or physical problem.

So what is “good design”?

This definition is not so simple. The best designs are notorious for seeming not designed at all – or ‘un designed’. It’s easier if we break things down a bit. If you know what to look for, it’s easier to identify good design when you see it; or perhaps when you can’t see it at all.

Dieter Rams is a German industrial designer closely associated with the consumer products company Braun and functionalist industrial design. Aware that his design was a significant contributor to the world, he asked himself an important question:

“Is my design good design?” Since good design can’t be measured in a finite way, he set about expressing the ten most important principles for what he considered was good design. (Sometimes they are referred as the ‘Ten commandments’.)

Good design is; Innovative makes a product useful, aesthetic, makes a product understandable, unobtrusive, honest, long lasting, thorough, environmental friendly and as little design as possible.

Good design can’t be achieved with glossy buttons or masterful wireframes alone. It’s a merger of all these principles into something that is meaningful and deliberate.

Just like a great business plan is nothing without expert execution, a great Photoshop mockup is nothing, for example, without careful consideration to UI or the user’s needs.

Objectified

Take a look at your current product – is design contributing in an innovative way? Does it make the product useful, understandable, and aesthetic? Is it long-lasting, or will it look outdated or break in a few years?

These are really hard questions to answer. Having a designer will enable you to work within these constraints and enable you in creating a product customers will fall in love with. Love is a really strong emotion.

Design has always been a strongly valued aspect of business, even 60 years ago. It’s totally a proven method even in business today.

How important is product design?

Product design includes both digital and physical products. It represents not only the aesthetic qualities, but what it does, how well a user thinks it’s going to do it, and how easily & quickly they can complete a task.

Think for a moment. How important is product design to you? How important do you think aesthetics and ease-of-use are to your customers?

How deep does design go?

Now we’re getting somewhere. Great design is taking root in startup culture, and it seems like many people are open to change. Not only do many entrepreneurs and engineers see substantial room to improve their own products, they overwhelmingly believe that designers belong on a founding team.

Startups + designers =?

For a long time, a pair of co-founders consisted of an executive and an engineer. It worked for Facebook, Microsoft, and Apple, just to name a few.

These companies have excellent designers today, because it’s a necessity they can’t afford to ignore. It seems like design is becoming more and more prevalent in new startups as well and more are pushing the envelope.

Design has become a key differentiator for startup companies to acquire funding, press coverage, and loyal users. So think through your product design carefully.

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Growth Strategies

Marketing Is The Heart Of Your Business Success

Without marketing, your potential customers may never be aware of your business offerings and your business will not be given the opportunity to progress and succeed.

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Almost every aspect of your business relies on successful marketing. The overall marketing umbrella covers; advertising, public relations, promotions and sales.

Your business may be offering the best product or service in the industry but without marketing, none of your potential buyers would know about it. Your sales may crash and your company may be forced to close. You may wonder why marketing is important. Well here are some of the reasons why you need to implement a successful marketing strategy right away.

  1. Marketing helps in getting the word out.

The initial step to take to succeed in business is to make your potential buyers aware of the product’s existence in the market.

Unless your business is already well known and you have established a customer base, you have to create marketing strategies to create product and service awareness.

Without marketing, your potential customers may never be aware of your business offerings and your business will not be given the opportunity to progress and succeed.

  1. Marketing helps in realizing higher sales.

Once your product, service or brand is familiar to your prospect clients, it increases the chances your clients will make a purchase. As awareness increases, new customers begin to spread word, telling their friends about this amazing new products that they have discovered. Your sales will steadily increase as the word spreads. Without employing marketing strategies these sales will not happen and you are likely to fail in business.

  1. Brand reputation.

The success of any brand rests on a solid reputation. Marketing helps to build brand recognition. When a brand reaches the high expectations of the public, its reputation stands on a firmer ground.

As your reputation grows, your business expands and the sales increase. The reputation of your brand is built through active participation in community programs, effective communication internally and externally, and creating quality products and services.

  1. Marketing fosters an environment in the market place for healthy competition.

Marketing efforts get the word out on pricing of products and services, which not only reaches the intended consumers, but also reaches other companies competing for the consumers’ business.

Marketing will help keep your prices competitive for your business to try to win over consumers before the competition does. Without competition, well-known brands would continue to sell while lesser known or new brands would stand little chance of ever becoming successful.

Marketing facilitates the healthy competition that allows small businesses and new businesses to be successful, enter and grow in the marketplace.

Although marketing is hugely important for a business to succeed, it can also be very expensive. In its first year, a company might spend as much as half of its sales on marketing programs. After the first year, a marketing budget can reach as much as 30 percent sometimes most of the annual sales.

A marketing program that gives your brand the best chance is a healthy mix of different forms of marketing, such as website development, public relations, print and broadcast advertising, design and printing for all print materials, trade shows and other special events.

 

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Business

The Importance of Mental Health in The Workplace

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Mental health is something that everyone has. It is the way we think, feel and also our ability to deal with ups and downs in our lives. It is just the same as physical health in that we need to keep ourselves fit and seek appropriate help as early as possible in case of any problem. Your mental health can fluctuate with changes in circumstances and as you move through different phases in your life.

Therefore, it is important that we all take the necessary steps to improve it and build resilience through self-care.

Mental health at work

For many people, work forms a large part of their lives. That adults spend roughly one-third of their lives at work is a fact. During this time, it is very likely that they experience a spectrum of mental and physical health.

According to the World Health Organization, more than 300 million people globally suffer from depression and many of these are also suffering from symptoms of anxiety. While work is considered good for mental health, a negative working environment may lead to mental and physical health problems.

WHO notes that harassment and bullying at the workplace are commonly reported causes of work-related stress that can have a substantial adverse impact on mental health.

Statistics

Although it can often be a taboo topic, especially at work, employees seem to want their employer to champion mental health and well-being. In a survey carried out on office workers in July 2018 by Peldon Rose:

  • 72% of employees want employers to champion mental health and well-being.
  • Nearly three-quarters of workers say they want their employers to champion mental health and well-being in the workplace. This is rated as more important than equality (48%), sustainability (38%) and diversity (31%).
  • This is the case for all generations, who prioritize mental health and well-being above all other causes – Gen Z (76%), Millennials (73%), Gen X (75%), Baby Boomer (56%).

Risk factors

Many workplaces present a number of risk factors for mental health. Most of these relate to the support available for employees to work, the skills and competencies of employees, and the interactions between type of work, the organization, and the managerial environment. These risks as listed by WHO include:

  • Low levels of support for employees
  • Poor communication and management practices
  • Inflexible working hours
  • Inadequate health and safety policies
  • Unclear tasks or organizational objectives
  • Limited participation in decision-making or low control over one’s area of work

Warning signs

The Shaw Mind Foundation, which is a supporter of mental health in the workplace, lists some behavioral changes that may be warning signs for employers to look out for in their employees:

  • Unexpected and sudden changes in mood
  • A decrease in work rate, missing deadlines, and deliverables
  • Inability to focus
  • Anxious and fidgety behavior
  • A sudden reduction in the quality of work produced
  • Repetitive questions

While the above behaviors may point to someone struggling with their mental health, they can also be signs that they are dealing with other issues. Therefore, it is important to have an honest conversation with an employee with respect to their privacy boundaries to avoid wrong assumptions.

Supporting mental health at work

In lieu of this information, there are changes that organizations and businesses can implement to support mental health and well-being at work. Here are some suggestions from the foundation for employers:

  • Provide support services and staff members that are trained to deal with in mental health and workplace stress. Make sure employees are aware of the availability of this support
  • Enforce working hours. This can be done by limiting out-of-hours work and out-of-hours email access
  • Set attainable deadlines and spread workloads equally and fairly across teams
  • Promote healthy eating and regular exercise
  • Where possible, avoid isolated work. If they are working from home, make sure to check in regularly

Conclusion

It is very important for organizations to ensure their employees are educated about mental health to avoid cases of mental breakdowns, reduce suicide risk and prevent burnout. Companies need to effort to invest in their employees’ mental health to establish a positive work environment where people will want to work.

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Business

Which One Suites Your StartUp Business, Publicity or Advertising?

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The process of building a startup company can seem difficult and make one feel intimidated and overwhelmed. It’s not so easy to convince people to buy into your new idea or solutions.

Building credibility for your business can be a tough venture. However it is very important for your customers to have trust in your brand. One of the ways of hacking this is through good publicity.

Publicity is the means of conveying information to the general public through the media. Media here being print media (newspapers, journals, magazine etc), television, radio, email, websites and social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, blogs et cetera. With the aim to have the media attract the right attention for you.

Normally, publicity is done through a third party who may not have anything to do with the company,thereby their responses and reviews are given high weight. For instance consider going into television where you are featured because of the new product you have introduced or to give expert advice in line with your product. This gives you massive exposure at nearly no cost. It generates sales and creates awareness for your product.

With advertising, you pay for space or airtime so as to promote your product or service. This can be through print media, television, radio or billboards. This kind of marketing costs a lot of money and companies end up paying lots for this. It is a cost driven adventure, one which would be a hard nut to crack for startups.

So unlike advertising, with publicity we enjoy, a cut in expenses since it goes with nearly no cost and other benefits that come along with that.

How do we do this?

Here are some of the ways of doing this:

List events that may offer good speaking opportunities. Scout for such opportunities and use them wisely. Have you ever been into an event where the speaker spoke about a certain product or service, and then you later searched for more information about those companies? Well, that’s how this works.
Identify publications, reporters and bloggers who cover subjects that are relevant for your company. Offer good information that they can use for their releases. They quote you or an expert from your company and you hit the market. Be sure to prepare well and thorough. Write stories in their interest and offer it to them.
Event sponsorship. This is a great way to spread word of your product or service without actually organizing your own event. It’s a form of partnership where for a simple investment of funds you exchange for marketing. What’s important here is ensuring that the market targeted by the primary organizers is your target group too. Clearly know them and prepare accordingly.
Importance of publicity.

Publicity helps in building credibility and brand awareness putting you in a competitive position.
Publicity is the low cost or no cost strategy option.
Publicity can eventually help in the development of key partnerships.
Publicity places you as experts in your field.
It helps your business stand out and be noticed.
Be intentional.

Like all other things you have to be intentional about publicity. For instance if you have a story about maybe the solutions you offer and how they are better than your competitors, look for journalists. The work of journalists or bloggers is to find such stories. Make a call and present your pitch. When they say yes, this definitely becomes a plus for your business.

Used well, publicity can generate sales and place your business on the map.

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