Stage 2: Starting Your Business

Launch your business and make it operational

 

Turn your plans and ideas into something tangible.

Start business operations and tell the world that you are open for business.

Business launch stage: Issues to address

Before you set out to run a business, there are issues that you need to research and decide on. Going through these may take you some time but it can save you a lot of pain in the future. The business planning stage helps you decide if your business has any real chance at success.

Register Your Company

Starting a business often seems overwhelming and complicated. There are so many things to consider before starting a business, from coming up with an excellent and unique idea to registering a company and all the way up to planning and fundraising. Business registration has a lot of advantages to start-up businesses.

Basically, it is the process of obtaining legal authorization to conduct business within your chosen jurisdiction. It is a legal obligation that ensures that a business is operating under the lawful obligations of its control.

Following that, business registration could mean registering a fictitious business name, registering with the state and local taxing and licensing authorities or registering a trademark. In addition, registering your business ignites a corporate and professional consciousness to you as the business owner.

It also allows you to become conscious of the law and you and your business become a separate entity which can sue and be sued, in terms of violating the laws that govern that business entity. Most importantly, on registering a company before starting a business, you gradually build trust, integrity and dependability.

Primarily, there are two types of companies in Zimbabwe which are the Private Limited Company (PLC) and the Private Business Corporation (PBC). Private Business Corporations are mainly meant for medium businesses. In addition, a PBC accommodates sole traders and has a maximum of 20 directors.

With a PBC, members are the same as shareholders and members are responsible for the day to day management of the company. After registering a PBC, you get company papers and a certificate of incorporation.

On the contrary, a PLC is meant for larger entities and has a maximum of 50 directors. Following that, with a PLC, shareholders are owners and can be different from the directors. Annual returns and meetings are compulsory for Private Limited Companies and directors are responsible for the day to day management of the company.

Finally, after registering a PLC, you get a certificate, CR6, CR14, memorandum and articles of association.

For instance, in 2014, the Real Estate Agents Council blacklisted 28 real estate agents due to failure to comply with the council requirement of renewing membership. The companies include Avram and Becker, Batanai Properties and Kingsroad Real Estate just to mention but a few.

Knowing your form of business corporation means knowing what’s best for your business and it saves you from investment risks. More importantly helps make you solid decisions concerning your business activities and it keeps you compliant with the law.

Procedure for company registration in Zimbabwe

The procedure for company registration in Zimbabwe is divided into 2 stages. There is the name search and reservation stage and then there is the incorporation and registration stage. The procedure is basically the same whether you are registering a PBC or a PLC. The name search stage is the same for both company types so we shall list it the same for both.

Company registration steps:
Stage 1: Name search

A request is made to the Registrar of Companies office (also called the DCIP – Department of Companies & Intellectual Property) for a search to be made in the Register of Companies. The following is applicable at the name search stage:

  • The purpose of an application for reservation of name is to get the authority of the Registrar to use a particular name.
  • If the Registrar approves your application to reserve a name, he will reserve that name for you for a period of up to two months to enable you to register your company. He will not allow any other person to use that name during that period.
  • You are advised to give four names in your application so that if one name is not accepted, another one may be. You should list the names in order of preference.
  • The Registrar will not accept a name which is similar to that of another company or PBC, or is likely to mislead the public or is indecent.
  • The Registrar will give a written notice of whether any of your names were accepted or if they were rejected. This process takes 3 to 6 working days.
a) Reasons why names may be rejected
  • Your chosen name is too close to a registered company or PBC either when written down or when pronounced e.g. OK and Okay.
  • Your company name is likely to be offensive, blasphemous or indecent to any person or class of people.
  • Your company name is likely to deceive or mislead the public e.g. a company called Ministry of Computers.
  • Your company name suggests patronage of the Government or some other authority or organization.
  • Your company name is undesirable for any other reason.
Stage 2: Incorporation and Registration
a) Procedure for registration as a PBC (Private Business Corporation)
  • After your name has been successfully reserved, the documentation for the registration of the PBC must be submitted to the Registrar of Companies. This process involves the appointment of members (shareholders/ directors) of the PBC. Each member is assigned a percentage of ownership in the PBC. The total percentage for all members must add up to 100%.
  • The Registrar will then register the PBC and assign to it a registration number. The Registrar will put his seal, his stamp and his signature to the PBC Incorporation Statement to signify its authenticity. The PBC is also entered into the Company registry and becomes searchable in the Registrar’s database. This process takes 3 to 6 working days.
b) Procedure for registration as a PLC (Private Limited Company)
  • After your name has been successfully reserved, the memorandum and articles of association signed by the shareholders together with the CR6 and CR14 signed by either a director or secretary of the company are submitted to the Registrar of Companies. Each shareholder must sign in their own handwriting and specify the number of shares they have been allocated.
  • The Registrar will then register the PLC and assign to it a registration number. A certificate of Incorporation is also issued. The Registrar will put his seal, his stamp and his signature to the Certificate of Incorporation, Memorandum & Articles of Association and the CR6 & CR14 to signify their authenticity. The PLC is also entered into the Company registry and becomes searchable in the Registrar’s database. This process takes 3 to 6 working days.

Here are the reasons why you should register your business:

1. To be more professional

Professionalism is a strong work ethic that suggests that an individual places high value on doing a good job as well as respecting others and functioning with integrity. It is a component of the concept of work ethics which describes how a person comes to work and conducts himself on the job.

More importantly, it is a behavior necessary for the success of any business. Registering a company makes your company legitimate it shapes people’s perceptions about you. It depicts of loyalty and seriousness in your business activities.

Also, the creation of business cards which separates your personal activities with your business finances makes you a professional as it is a formal of doing things. It is also more professional to give your clients a business name for transactions instead of your own full name

2. To protect and secure your business name

In truth, developing a business idea is usually the first challenge that every entrepreneur faces when starting a business from scratch. Finding the right business opportunity or creativity and developing an idea is not an easy task. The greatest challenge is in the ability to forge the business opportunity into an idea. It requires innovation and the ability to see what others are not able to see.

However, where others see problems, an entrepreneur should always see opportunities. As a result, the unique business idea has to be protected before it goes into the market and it should be lawfully registered to an individual or a legal entity so that the business idea or company name won’t be plagiarized or stolen by competitors.

Particularly, choosing a business name can be one of the most gratifying tasks in the start-up phase but naming your business is more complicated than simply picking a name.

Your business name means a lot. It identifies your brand and signifies your reputation. It also plays a pivotal role in helping your loyal customers to identify you from the rest in the market. Hence, registering a company before starting a business protects and secures your chosen business name and the ideas accompanying it.

In addition, when you register a company, the company name that you choose is reserved for you only because business names are intellectual property assets. You may not have plans to start operating immediately after the registration process but registering that name you’ve always wanted ensures that it is only available to you even when you are finally ready to launch your business in the market.

Following that, once your company name has been incorporated and registered, you can further restrict its usage by registering it as a trade name or a trademark. This process guarantees that no one else can legally use your company name in any given circumstance.

The registration process helps you to avoid legal problems with competitors by keeping you from choosing a name that is confusingly similar to that of another existing business. This is an advantage because registration processes reveal whether any other business has a confusingly similar name. Therefore, it is always wise to conduct a name search using governmental sources because distinctive company names are valuable business assets.

3. To get access to funding

After developing your business idea, the next challenge you are likely to face is raising capital. As an entrepreneur, you are only one who knows your business idea to the core. You are the only one who knows the story of your future. Trying to convince investors about something that doesn’t exist is definitely a challenge and trying to make them understand that you are trustworthy and equal to the task is complex.

Also, there is more to raising capital than just simply asking for money. Most investors want to invest in an established business with minimal risk and they want to be sure that they get returns for the risk they took and registering your business is a step forward. To overcome the challenge of raising capital, you must develop the ability to sell your idea and vision to potential investors.

Again, raising money is essential for the development and expansion of your business and it is easier for financiers to invest in a registered company than a non-registered one. Lenders and investors will ask to see your business registration along with other application requirements before approving you a loan.

As a registered company, your ability to attract customers and raise money for your business will be easier. Registering your company also gives you the ability to borrow and incur debt but more importantly, sell shares and raise equity capital.

Furthermore, when applying for business loans especially in banks, one has to prove that they actually own a business by producing the necessary papers. If you apply for a credit card as a business, creditors may also ask to see your registration paperwork.

Lastly, a registered business also makes you eligible to receive supplier discounts that you wouldn’t normally receive as an unregistered operation. Suppliers commonly reserve wholesale rates for business owners who can show official paperwork from the state. Also, if you try to get government contracts for your company, a business registration is one of the first requirements.

4. To limit personal liability

The advantage of having a corporate bank account is the separation of business funds from personal funds which is fundamental for any business owner that seeks to make progress with the business venture.

As a sole trader or in partnerships, you will be legally responsible for all aspects of your business, including debts and loses. If u are to sell a defective product, make an error or suffer an injury during the course of your business, you will be personally liable.

As a result, you could lose all your personal assets such as your money, car and home. In fact, a company that is registered is a separate legal entity and it is an easy way to protect your personal assets from your business actions to be carried out. Hence, a business bank account is an important asset because it allows you to separate your personal activities from your business activities.

5. To gain trust

One of the major problems faced by entrepreneurs is the issue of gaining the trust from potential customers and the desire to shape the perceptions and perspectives of people about their business in general or their products and services to be delivered in the market.

Registering your company plays a pivotal role in enhancing the perception of your business because it is easier for people to deal with registered entities for the purpose of business than individuals.

Usually, people who are interested in dealing with a particular corporate entity have the opportunity to conduct due diligence from the regulatory authorities as to the nature of the entity they want to deal with. Creditors, customers, suppliers and financiers are some of the categories of people for whom registration of a business would provide some form of security.

Furthermore, when a business is registered, the registration protects the name of such business so that no other business is allowed to use the same name as far as the jurisdiction of registration is concerned.

Following that, registering a gives your business competitive advantage in the market. This is because it helps you earn trust and integrity amongst your competitors which results in a good reputation.

Firms with strong positive reputations attract better people. They are perceived as providing more value, which often allows them to charge a premium hence an increase in revenue. Their customers are more loyal and buy broader ranges of products and services.

Since the market believes that such companies will deliver sustained earnings and future growth, registered companies have higher price-earnings, market values and lower costs of capital. Customers and clients, especially people you’ve never worked with before, need assurance that you are a legitimate business.

A potential client may suspect your business of being a fake operation if your company isn’t properly registered. When a business is on file with the state, it could put your clients at ease when making a decision on whether to spend money with your company.

The biggest brands in the world today such as Nike, Google and Facebook are registered companies. Registering a company improves the perception of people towards your business.

Accountability is also established in the process which is important for any future dealings with third parties because many businesses will only hire or engage with registered companies as they are deemed to be authentic and to be in a better position to offer an exceptional value proposition.

6. To minimize your tax liability

A liability is defined as the future sacrifices of economic benefits that the entity is obliged to make to other entities as a result of past transactions or other past events, the settlement of which may result in the transfer or use of personal assets.

It is of tantamount importance to note that a business must be registered before a corporate bank account can be opened for that business. The advantage of having a corporate bank account is the separation of business funds from personal funds which is fundamental for any business owner that seeks to make progress with the business venture.

As a sole trader or partnership, you will be legally responsible for all aspects of your business, including debts and loses. If u are to sell a defective product, make an error or suffer an injury during the course of your business, you will be personally liable. This can result in the loss of all your personal assets such as your money, car and home.

A registered company is a separate legal entity and it is an easy way to protect your personal assets from your business actions to be carried out. As a result, a business bank account is an important asset because it allows you to separate your personal activities from your business activities.

7. For business continuity

Everyone wants to invest their time and resources in something that will thrive and bring profits in the long run. As a result, registering your company before starting your business ensures long existence to your business even way before the business activities commence in the market.

Therefore, registering your company would mean that your company can continue without you. Also, customers are interested in knowing if your company has a future and if the company is able to continue serving them in your absence.

In conclusion, company registration ensures that the name you choose for your business is reserved for you only. Also, it makes your business legitimate and professional. It is easier for people to deal with registered entities than individuals. Thus, company registration helps you gain competitive advantage in the long run.

Acquire Office Space

After crossing a milestone in your start-up business, the next big move would be to acquire office space. The office space is the hub of your business and can significantly affect the productivity of your team and the overall success of your company. Most importantly, clients would want to see your credibility and one way to show them that would be through your office space.

Primarily, office space shapes the culture of a company. In other words, the space that contains your business is very important. Culture within companies is something that is very hard to define, and even harder to voluntarily shape.

Your environment is second only to your team when it comes to cultivating a strong sense of common identity. Does putting your senior team in private offices cultivate openness and transparency at work?

Following that, office spaces affect work effectiveness. The simple reason being collaboration. A company’s employees need to work together so that effective work becomes a reality. Apart from this, an effective work or office goes a long way in attracting quality manpower and clients. In short, an office speaks volumes about your company.

9 reasons why an office space is important

a) Attracting talent

Your company’s office space can be a clue to its stature. Everything from its financial health to its work philosophy can find expression in the walls of its physical space. There is a reason why the most celebrated companies in the world are recognized for living in celebrated homes too. Office space is one of the endemic ways a brand communicates its essence. The nicer your office space is, the more recognition your brand will get.

b) Team-building

Team-building is more than a lofty exercise. It can result in a supportive work environment, which is crucial to your team’s success. If you are trying to build a top-notch sales organization or make sure your product and marketing are better integrated, there is no better way to foster that dynamic than with an environment where employees can socialize and support one other.

c) Social life

Socializing segues naturally from team-building. For some people, co-workers end up being close friends, even outside of the office. Any time you can help employees improve their social lives, you are providing a holistic benefit that makes them happier and by extension, more productive at work.

d) Punctuality

If you are fond of meetings that start on time and run smoothly, you should seriously consider an organized work space for your startup.

e) Accountability

Accountability issues happen all the time. Your team is made up of people who have diverse interests and hobbies, and their ability to pursue them is a big part of what keeps them happy and productive. You must make sure they pursue them on their time, not yours. Thus, an office helps.

f) Investors

Another great reason to consider office space is because of investors. Investors would want to invest in a well-organized and professional business. A professional working environment makes it easier for investors to trust you with their resources.

g) Professional development

Whether it’s for hosting a guest speaker series, running workshops or starting a mentorship program, a professional space allows you to facilitate and effectively market more professional-development opportunities.

h) Health

Research shows that a healthy team makes a productive team. As an employer, with an office, you can play a significant role in your team’s performance by making sure the pantry (if there is one) is stocked with healthy foods throughout the day.

i) Exposure to diversity

In every industry, exposure to different viewpoints, skill sets, levels of experience and personal histories (including race and gender) in the course of business is healthy. An office ensures that your team members are getting this in a collegial atmosphere.

In truth, all growing small businesses may someday face the question of leasing versus buying office space. This question has many pros and cons and as a small business owner you need to carefully weigh the pros and cons of leasing or buying office space. In order to make your decision easier, here are the key facts of leasing versus buying office space.

The Pros of Buying Office Space

  • Fixed Costs – locking in your commercial mortgage long-term can give your business clear, fixed costs.
  • Tax Deductions – the associated costs of owning and running a commercial space can provide tax deductions in the form of mortgage interest, property taxes and other items.
  • Additional Income – owning your office can offer the advantage of renting out extra office space, adding another source of income.
  • Retirement Savings – the prospect of owning commercial space and having the property appreciate over time, allows you as the owner to sell out and fund their retirement.

The Cons of Buying Office Space

  • Lack of Flexibility – a new or growing business may experience unexpected needs in the future. If your business continues growing, your owned office space may become inadequate, forcing a sale of the property.
  • Upfront Costs – buying commercial space will initially cost far more upfront. There are property, appraisal, and maintenance costs along with a large down payment and possible property improvement costs.

The Pros of Leasing Office Space

  • Prime Property – a leasing office space option provides a business with the chance to rent in an area with a good location and high image. If your small business is dependent on location and image, such as retail or restaurants, the leasing option is much more affordable.
  • Free Up Working Capital – with your money not tied up in real estate, your business can respond to opportunities in the market. In addition, your ability to borrow funds will not be as limited as with buying office space.
  • More Time – any type of ownership comes with headaches. A leasing option affords the time to focus solely on running your business.

The Cons of Leasing Office Space

  • Variable Costs – with a leasing option you may be subject to annual rent increases and higher costs at the time when your lease expires.
  • No Equity – while leasing you will be funding someone else’s retirement with your lease payments. However, owning requires you to get involved in the property management business.

Must Have Office Rooms and Spaces

a) Meeting and conference rooms

Meeting rooms and offices go hand in hand. The number of meeting rooms your company should have depends on your employee count, the layout out of your work space and the frequency your employees have meetings. Here are some different types of meeting rooms worth considering:

  • Large conferences rooms – a big space with a presentation screen and plenty of seating.
  • Small meeting rooms – an intimate space for meetings with 5 or so people.
  • Brainstorming rooms – an isolated space with a marker board for coming up with great ideas. This space can also double as your small meeting room.
  • Videoconferencing rooms – a room equipped with a webcam and monitor for video calls is a must in the modern workplace.
b) Reception and greeting area

Every workplace needs an area separate from the main work space that visitors enter. It should include comfortable seating so visitors can wait for their host to take them into the main office.

c) Phone rooms

If your company has an open office, it’s good to provide your employees with small rooms for taking private calls. These spaces prevent one person from dropping in on a meeting room that might be reserved for use by others.

d) Kitchen

Some companies have extravagant cafeterias or kitchens stocked. Everyone likes being treated to good food but many companies can’t afford to feed their entire staff. Hence, your office should at least have a kitchen area where your staff can store and prepare their own meals. No one likes working on an empty stomach so providing your staff with a refrigerator, coffee maker, microwave and other small appliances can make a big difference in your workplace.

e) Common area

It’s important to have an area in your workplace where people can socialize without distracting others. An ideal common area should be separate from the main workspace and be a relaxing environment. Just like a common area at home, it should include comfortable seating so employees can take a load off when they need to.

f) Wellness room

This is a critical but often overlooked space in many workplaces. A wellness room is a private space where employees can tend to their personal health needs. It doesn’t need to be staffed by a nurse but it should include a first aid kit and other health and wellness materials employees may need.

g) IT room

An IT room serves as the hub for all your office’s technology. If your company has onsite servers, they need to be stored in a secure, climate-controlled room. This room should also be where expensive computers and other electronics are securely stored and properly maintained.

In conclusion, your business can have just one office or a main office and a variety of field offices or branch offices. All these offices are involved in the success or failure of your company. The underlying point is that your office space should be professional so as to attract quality clients, employees and investors.

Open a Business Bank Account

A registered company is a separate corporate legal entity. It can sue and be sued in its own name. Therefore, it is paramount importance for a registered entity, regardless of its size, to have a corporate bank account.

Primarily, a business/corporate bank account serves to separate your personal funds from your business funds. It’s not enough to just keep separate records. You should actually keep the money physically separate in different bank accounts.

Specifically, a business bank account is important for keeping your business, personal expenses and income separate. Also, it gives your new business record a good start. Thus, a business bank account is fundamental for any business owner that seeks to make progress with their business venture.

Why you need to open a business bank account for your business

a) For accurate and clean bookkeeping

Imagine how your checkbook and your bank statement would be like if you mix your business and personal transactions. Now imagine that over the course of a year. The truth is, no one wants to deal with a mess.

Therefore, if you have a separate account for your business transactions, you have a clean record to give to your accountant at the end of the year. However, remember to keep all your invoices and receipts to match up to your checkbook and bank statement entries and you will be in good shape when income tax time rolls around.

b) For security

While the chance is low, there is a possibility of someone hacking your bank account to use it to pay for their personal things. A person with your routing and account numbers to charge your account can pose a risk. In truth, all the information someone needs to attempt to pay bills with your account is found on every check you write.

However, with a proper business account you can ask your bank to set up protection measures such as limiting withdrawals or flagging unusual transactions. This will at least notify you immediately of any suspicious activity before it drains your account.

c) To enhance your business legitimacy

Legitimacy is central to business growth, success and survival. Having a business bank account provides your new business with credibility to both customers and potential creditors which is very important for startups.

If your customers are to pay you through bank transfers or mobile payments, it is much more professional in appearance to have them paying to a company name rather than to a personal name. This is also applicable when paying your business expenses using a business bank account.

d) For professionalism

In business, it is very important to maintain a professional appearance. This will make your business a business of first choice. Give your prospects a reason to choose you over your competitors. Particularly, keeping your business finances separate from your personal finances helps enhance your image of professionalism.

It simply means that when you write checks to suppliers, they will see that the checks are coming from a real on-going business. Even when paying taxes, the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (ZIMRA) would be satisfied that the tax payments are coming from a real business.

e) To limit your personal liability

A liability is defined as the future sacrifices of economic benefits that the entity is obliged to make to other entities as a result of past transactions or other past events, the settlement of which may result in the transfer or use of personal assets. The advantage of having a corporate bank account is the separation of business funds from personal funds which is fundamental for any business owner that seeks to make progress with the business venture.

Regardless of the size of your business, you may find it is vulnerable to legal trouble. This can be due to an unpaid vendor who is suing you, or a disgruntled customer. If you want to minimize the risk of losing your personal assets if a lawsuit is filed against you, you have to have a separate business entity created.

As a sole trader or partnership, you will be legally responsible for all aspects of your business, including debts and loses. If u are to sell a defective product, make an error or suffer an injury during the course of your business, you will be personally liable. This can result in the loss of all your personal assets such as your money, car and home.

Therefore, a company that is registered is a separate legal entity and it is an easy way to protect your personal assets from your business actions to be carried out. As a result, a business bank account is an important asset because it allows you to separate your personal activities from your business activities.

f) For card highlights

This might be the single biggest reason why you want a bank account for your business. Since the entire world trades with credit cards, you will have to begin accepting them as you expand your business.

You can’t accept credit cards through a personal bank account. It can only happen with a commercial account. Such accounts are set up specifically for the purpose of accepting cards. They can make the credit card process seamless and that’s exactly what you will need.

g) For partnerships

When you enter into a partnership, at least one other person will be handling financial transactions for your business. You will need a business bank account for that to be possible, since it can’t be done with a personal account. (Nor would you want to give a partner access to your personal account in the first place)

The situation is similar if you incorporate your business. Not only may you have others needing the ability to access the business bank account, but there are also legal ramifications for sharing access to an account.

Since a corporation is viewed as a separate legal entity from its owners, it must have its own bank account. Any transactions that you run through your personal account for the business will technically be a separate activity. That will have to be accounted for at the end of the reporting period or when you go to file your business and personal tax returns.

h) To facilitate selling your business

Anyone buying your business will want to see a history of its financial transactions. They will, of course, inspect your financial statements, but that’s only a starting point. They will almost certainly want to go deeper. That means that they will take a close look at the supporting documents that produce the numbers that are visible in your financials.

Again, your business buyer will require a close review of bank statements for the past several years. That’s because bank statements are issued by the bank, and represent a form of third-party verification of hard numbers.

Basically, the sale of a business usually triggers an investigation process that’s very similar to an audit. In that situation, the more documentation that you can provide, the better.

You certainly don’t want prospective buyers looking at two or three years’ worth of personal bank statements. A business bank account can enable you to release the bank statements to a prospective buyer, without having to concern yourself with disclosing personal information.

i) For easy funding from investors

There is more to raising capital than just simply asking for money from investors. Most investors want to invest in an established business with minimal risk and they want to be sure that they get returns for the risk they took and registering your business is a step forward. To overcome the challenge of raising capital, you must develop the ability to sell your idea and vision to potential investors.

Raising money is essential for the development and expansion of your business and it is easier for financiers to invest in a registered company with a corporate bank account than a non-registered one. Lenders and investors will ask to see your business registration, a business bank account along with other application requirements before approving you a loan.

In conclusion, opening a business bank account is a step towards business success. A business bank account will make your business legitimate, offer you security, guarantee you funding from investors, limit your personal liability and makes you professional.

Develop Your Brand

We live in an era where marketing has become a requirement for getting noticed, garnering a loyal audience and making a lasting impact. In business as in your career, having a strong brand can set you apart from your competitors. Generally, a business brand is as reputation is for a person. Thus, branding your business is one of the most important steps in building a successful company.

Customers are the life blood of every business and without them there is no business. Their needs, wants, behaviours and perceptions impact every aspect of your business from product development to content marketing, to sales and customer services. Not only does branding give your company a unique personality but it also establishes a differentiated position in the market that attracts the right customers.

However, it is not only about getting your target market to select you over the competition. It is also about getting your prospects to see you as the sole provider of a solution to their problem or need.

In its essence, branding is a problem-solver. In other words, mass advertising can help build brands but authenticity is what makes them last. Hence building and managing your brand is not a singular event but a continuous process.

Following that, a brand should have a personality which refers to a set of human characteristics that are attributed to the brand. A brand personality is something to which the consumer can relate. It comes into existence when human-like adjectives like unique, caring, funny, trustworthy, rebel, creative or straightforward are assigned to the brand.

Thus, an effective brand increases its brand equity by having a consistent set of traits that a specific consumer segment enjoys. This personality is a qualitative value-add that a brand gains in addition to its functional benefits. The objectives that a good brand will achieve include:

  • To clearly deliver a message.
  • To confirm your credibility in the market place.
  • To emotionally connect your target prospects with your product or service.
  • To motivate the buyer to make a purchase.
  • To create the magic bullet of user loyalty.

Principles of developing your brand

a) Audit your marketplace

The first step in developing your brand is to determine where you stand in the marketplace and to understand who your customer is. When you enter into the business industry, it’s important for you to research about already existing businesses in your market niche.

You have to look at the competition and see how they are doing well as well as to note what they are struggling with. This will provide a good basis for you to find an angle that your company can leverage.

Primarily, start by identifying who your competitors are and do your due diligence to identify the right ones. Looking at a broad spectrum of competitors can lead you to analyzing companies whose customer segment is vastly different from yours and narrowing that spectrum too much can lead to the exclusion of some companies whose customer segment is essentially the same as yours.

In addition, ask yourself whether or not a customer will end up in a scenario where they have to choose between you and your competitor. If such companies exist, then they qualify to be in the list of your competitors.

In-depth competitor analysis is an obligation. It includes reviewing competitor websites, search engine optimization, brand identities and advertising. It informs you who your competitors compete with for market share, helps you to differentiate your brand and what strategies to employ. This will give you competitive advantage over other companies in your respective business niche. You cannot defeat your enemies until you know who they are.

b) Create a unique value proposition

A value proposition refers to a business or marketing statement that a company uses to summarize why a consumer should buy their product or service. This statement serves to convince a potential consumer how one particular product or service will add more value or better solve a problem than other similar offers will.

Again, it is a statement that paints a clear picture of what your brand has to offer for prospects. A great value proposition introduces you to prospects buyers and helps you to make a strong first impression. Your value proposition should describes:

  • How your product or service solves or improves problems.
  • What benefits can customers expect.
  • Why customers should buy from you instead of your competitors.

Having a strong value proposition a step towards building a great brand that wins customers. Value propositions usually go hand-in-hand with mission statements. They should be:

  • Succinct – it should not be too long but it should be just a statement that embodies the purpose of your company.
  • Memorable – it should be easy for people to remember and recall it. It should also be inspiring.
  • Unique – a great brand requires innovation and the creation of a new idea in the market.
  • Clear
  • Realistic – is shouldn’t reflect an impossible goal
c) Determine your brand target audience

Targeted audiences are individuals or businesses that purchase goods or services produced by another business. Attracting customers is the primary goal for any business because it is the customer who creates the need for goods and services. It is therefore important to identify the individuals who will buy your products.

Knowing your targeted customers means knowing who you are creating value for. These are individuals who share similar needs or characteristics that your business hopes to serve. These may include organizations, colleagues and enterprises only to mention but a few.

Also, you have to know who they are, what they do, why they buy, how much money they have and what they expect from you. By clearly identifying the targeted audience, it becomes easier to capture someone’s attention because their needs and goals are in the front line.

Having a well-defined target is more important than anything in building a great brand. Targeting a specific audience does not mean that you are excluding people who do not fit your criteria but rather, target marketing allows you to focus your marketing budget and brand message on a particular market that is more likely to buy from you than other markets. This is a much more affordable, efficient and effective way to reach potential clients and generate business.

d) Design an exceptional logo

A logo is an easily recognizable and reproducible design element that often includes a name, symbol, specified colors or trademark. It is a quick, visual representation of a brand’s message and position. A well designed logo should evoke some memory or emotion from the viewer depending upon their relationship with the brand.

Most importantly, a logo is a tool that helps to communicate and represent a brand. It can also be defined as a graphic mark, emblem, symbol or stylized name used to identify a company, organization, product or brand.

Also, it may take the form of an abstract or figurative design, or a stylized version of the company’s name as in a word mark. A logo may also be used as a substitute for a company’s name if it has sufficient brand recognition.

Essential rules to follow when designing a logo:

  • Preliminary work is a must – preliminary sketches are important step in designing an effective brand logo.
  • Create balance – keep your logo balanced by keeping the ‘weight’ of graphics colours and sizes equal on each side. This is because our minds naturally perceive a balanced design as pleasing and appealing.
  • Size matters – a logo has to look good and be legible at all sizes. It should not be too small or too big.
  • Proper use of colours – use colours that are near to each other on the colour wheel. Don not use colours that are too hard on the eyes. Knowing how colours evoke feelings and moods is also important.
  • Design style should suit the company – the recent trend in logo design is the Web 2.0 style of 3-D looking logos with bubbly graphics, gradients and drop shadows.
  • Typography matters – choosing the right font type and size is very important. One font style is ideal. Avoid using more than two.
  • Be innovative (dare to be different) – to stand out from competition, you must distinguish yourself as a designer with a distinct style.
  • Keep it simple – the simpler the logo, the more recognizable it will be.

Tips to help you discern if a logo concept has what it takes to best represent your business:

  • Customer focus
  • Relevancy
  • Distinctiveness
  • Memorability
  • Simplicity
  • Credibility
  • Adaptability
  • Timelessness
  • Extendability
  • Depth of meaning
e) Create an authentic voice for your brand

The brand voice is the purposeful and consistent expression of a brand through words and prose styles that engage and motivate. It works in concert with your visual system, your digital presence, your social media connections, your product packaging and your event or experience branding.

Following that, it is driven by brand strategies and marketing fundamentals. Primarily, a brand voice entails being consistent with the voice you are creating and positioning yourself as an easily identified and authoritative force for your area of expertise.

Similarly, a consistent brand voice and vocabulary is essential to implementing localized content and intelligent content strategies effectively. A brand voice should flow from a series of strategic and internal decisions that map back to the mission and vision of the organization.

Just like the human voice, a brand voice carries a spectrum of emotions and it behaves differently depending on the context or scenario. The distinctiveness of your voice should come through in its consistency, no matter what the circumstances, it should always embody the agreed upon brand values.

Tips to help you create the right brand voice
  • Define your brand voice – firstly, you have to choose words that best capture the personality of the voice you want for your brand. For example, ‘Bold but not arrogant’ and Coca-Cola’s ‘Positively Happy’.
  • Differentiate – it is important to review the communications of your competitors, their tone and attitudes. Innovation is key.
  • Listen – before you write, you should listen and be aware of how your customers communicate. Are they formal and precise or casual and conventional? The goal is to build a brand affinity by using the diction and sentence structure that’s appealing to your audience and authentic to your offering.
  • Inspire – your brand voice should be inspiring. Be bold and speak directly to your audience. Timidity will never help you achieve the success you seek.
  • Engage with your audience – every brand needs to engage the targeted audience.
  • Evolve -To evolve is to develop yourself gradually from within yourself, the evolution of your mindset, habits, daily routine, associations, actions and life. A brand voice is not fixed, it is like a fluid. Keeping pace with your audience, working across new communication channels and communicating in new ways is pivotal in building a great brand that wins customers. Always leave room for growth and change.
f) Create a brand strategy

A brand strategy is a long-term plan for the development of a successful brand in order to achieve specific goals. A well-defined and executed brand strategy affects all aspects of a business and is directly connected to consumer needs, emotions and competitive environments.

Your brand strategy defines what you stand for, a promise you make and the personality you convey. While it includes your logo, colour pallet and slogan, those are only creative elements that convey your brand, instead, your brand lives in every day- to-day interactions you have with your market.

  • The images you convey.
  • The messages you deliver on your website, proposal and campaigns.
  • The way your employees interact with customers.
  • A customer’s opinion of you versus your competition.

Branding is crucial for products and services sold in huge consumer markets. Your brand strategy brings your competitive positioning to life and works to position you as a certain ‘something’ in the mind of your prospects and consumers.

Successful branding also creates brand equity which is the amount of money that customers are willing to pay just because it’s your brand. In addition to generating revenue, brand equity makes your company itself more valuable over the long term.

Essentials for a strong brand strategy:

  • Purpose – every brand makes a promise but in a market in which consumer confidence is low and budgetary vigilance is high, it’s not just making a promise that separates one brand from another but having a defined purpose. While understanding what your business promises is necessary, knowing why you wake up every day and go to work carries more weight. A business purpose can be viewed in two ways :

i) Functional- this concept focuses on the evaluations of success in terms of immediate and commercial reasons. For example, the purpose of the business would be to make money.

ii) Intentional – this concept focuses on success as it relates to the ability to make money and to do well in the world.

  • Consistency – the key to consistency is to avoid talking about things that don’t relate to or enhance your brand. In an effort to give your brand a platform to stand on, you need to be sure that all of your messaging is cohesive. Ultimately, consistency contributes to brand recognition which fuels customer loyalty.
  • Emotion – customers are not always rational hence using emotional branding connects them to your brand. An example is that of the Harley Owners Group which produces motorbikes. By providing customers with an opportunity to feel like they’re part of a larger group that’s more tight-knit than just a bunch of motorcycle riders, Harley Davidson was able to position themselves as an obvious choice for someone looking to purchase a bike.
  • Flexibility – in this fast changing world, marketers must remain flexible to stay relevant. While consistency aims to set the standard for your brand, flexibility enables you to make adjustments that build interest and distinguish your approach from that of your competition. In other words, effective identity programs require enough consistency to be identifiable, but enough variation to keep things fresh and human.
  • Employee involvement – it’s equally important for your employees to be well versed with how they should be communicating with customers and representing the brand.
  • Loyalty – if you already have people that love you, your company and your brand, it is necessary to reward them for that love. Customers have go out their way to write about you, to tell their friends about you or even to act as your brand ambassadors. Cultivating loyalty from such people early on will yield more returning customers and more profit for your business. Featuring them on your website or asking them to write reviews is a great move.
  • Competitive awareness – competition should be taken as a challenge to improve your own strategy and create greater value in your overall brand. Tailor your brand positioning based on past experiences to better your company.
g) Create and maintain brand consistency

Brand consistency is the pattern of expression that affects what people think about your company. It isn’t just something that a lasting brand strives for but it is an essential element to any brand’s growth and longevity. Brand consistency confirms that the brand is professional and driven to achieve its purpose and social commitments.

It is when businesses attempt to communicate messages in a way which doesn’t detract or wander away from the core brand strategy, values and foundation. This means that your brand’s messaging is delivered in the same tone, the logo is always used in a similar way, a single typeface is used for all brand communications and the typography and colours are always consistent.

Every brand touch point and piece of marketing material should be similar. This is because a brand has its own style which enables the target audience to recognize it and differentiate it from the competition.

Advantages

It shows how focused and intentional the company is in achieving its goals and maintaining standards.Avoids issues resulting from people confusing your brand with others in similar industries, or those possessing the same or similar name as yours.

  • Manages perceptions – sticking to brand values and maintaining a consistent image in the public eye will shape the way people see the brand, during the good times and also the not-so-good times.
  • Builds more brand equity in the long run – as the brand gains traction, your name and logo will become synonymous with trust and value and opportunities to leverage that value will eventually come your way.
  • Ensures consumers know what to expect each time they do business with you — what level of service and quality they will get in exchange for their money and how your brand compares with others. For example Coke vs. Pepsi, Ford vs. Chevrolet and Hyatt vs. Hilton.
Steps to making your brand identity more consistent.
  • Understand why a consistent brand matters.
  • Create a brand guide – it is a business document which states: the brand mission, value propositions and differentiators, voice and tone. logo usage, iconography, brand colours, fonts and typography, signage specs, media formats, photography and graphic styles.
  • Circulate the brand guide – since the brand guide explains not only how the company is presented but also what the brand is founded on, it needs to be available to all departments including : sales team – so that they know how to present the brand values to customers and clients, product production – so that know how to design products and packaging to match the style of the brand, third-party consultants and freelancers – so they can quickly learn how to replicate the unique voice and tone of the brand, potential partners – so they can identify an organization’s core values before forming a partnership.
  • Audit and update existing branding materials.
  • Create a plan for the future – ‘Good business leaders create a vision, articulate the vision, passionately own the vision and relentlessly drive it to completion’ – Jack Welch.
h) Monitor and modify your brand

Brand modification is a process whereby an adjustment is made to an existing brand and it is usually made for greater appeal or functionality. A modification may include a change to a company logo’s shape or a change in the company’s motto. Features are removed or added to improve the efficiency and success of a business. A brand modification is usually accompanied by a change in packaging.

Advantages
  • It allows you to lure and connect with the new audience.
  • To set yourself apart from competitors.
  • To stay current – Rebranding has one simple goal which is keeping your brand current. Design trends play a major role in how your potential or current customers perceive your company and all it has to offer. Ensuring that your look is always ahead of the curve shows your customers that you pay attention and it signals that you have practical knowledge about trends within your industry.
  • To reflect new goals, products, offers or values – It’s hard to showcase how your company has grown when your brand doesn’t reflect it. If you have expanded to offer new products, grown to include more services or set new goals for yourself, rebranding is a great way to show that your business is evolving. While it’s important to stick to your traditional services and story, updating your services and is a way to promote them and can help you get more business.
  • To boost profits – Reaching new potential clients, standing out from your competitors, showcasing your expertise and expanding the influence and reach of your products and services are all incredibly effective ways to increase profits.

In conclusion, business is all about relationships and how well you build them determines how well they build your business. Customers are the life blood of every business and without them there is no business. Not only does branding give your company a unique personality but it also establishes a differentiated position in the market that attracts the right customers.

Acquire Office Furniture and Equipment

From startups to growing operations to large enterprises, every company needs furniture and business machines to support their teams and host their clients and vendors. Choosing the right furniture is as important as choosing the right type of office. It does not only contribute to its well-being, it also affects office productivity and entices prospective employees.

Primarily, office equipment refers to consumables and equipment regularly used in offices by businesses or by individuals engaged in written communications, record keeping or bookkeeping, janitorial and cleaning and for storage of supplies or data.

In truth, starting up a business or office will require both office furniture and office equipment. Purchasing office equipment, such as computers, software, printers, fax machines, and network equipment will most likely be your second largest startup expense.

If you plan carefully you will be able to control your office equipment expenditures by only buying the essential equipment you really need. Whether you are leasing new office space, moving offices or redesigning your home office, here are things to keep mind before you purchase office furniture and fixtures:

a) Cost

The first and most important factor is your office design budget. How much are you willing to spend on office furniture? This figure will determine the kind, quality and quantity of office fixtures. With a budget in mind, look for the best deals and highest quality furniture that limited resources can buy.

Financing startups is not easy. Every penny spent is an investment. You have to show to your investors that you are wisely spending the money entrusted to you. Thus, before buying any furniture, consider the cost. How much money will you spend on a particular desk or chair? How many will you buy? Determining your budget beforehand will help you narrow down your choices without compromising quality. To save, you can always opt to shop at a second-hand furniture store.

b) Needs

If your employees will be sitting and working most of the day, providing them a comfortable chair and desk is a must. Nowadays, ergonomic chairs and desks have become trendy as they make working easier, as supported by health studies. With the plethora of these products in the market, you can buy one at an affordable price.

Aside from chairs and desks, you can also buy other furniture and style your interior depending on your business type. Are you aiming for a cafe-like atmosphere where employees can easily communicate and collaborate with each other? Buy a huge table and a few chairs. Are you going for a formal feel with cubicles so that they can focus? Buy a desk with cubicle-dividers. Whatever your plans are, keep in mind that your choice should make your office a conducive environment for work.

c) Flexibility and functionality

The next thing to consider is flexibility and functionality of the furniture. Does your desk have storage for files? Can you stretch your legs or take a cat nap under your table? Are they comfortable enough for your employees? If your answers are yes, then you would have made a wise investment. Furniture with multiple functionalities is always a better choice.

Ultimately, when you balance functionality with low cost, you are hitting two birds with one stone. One of the things that most business owners tend to do regarding furniture weight, is to look for furniture that is lightweight so they can move it around. From time to time some changes are necessary so when you have light furniture, it makes it easy to change its placement.

d) Size

How large or small your office space is will determine the kind of furniture you buy as well. If you have only a few employees and a small space you can purchase larger co-working tables. However, more employees in a small office require more tables. So, ensure they are not too small or uncomfortable.

It is common sense to buy furniture proportionate in size to your office space. Bringing bulky ones will consume a huge chunk of your office. With the cramped space, you and your employees won’t be able to freely move around. Thus, first know the dimensions of your office and from there, research for ways on how to maximize it.

Also, arranging furniture in a certain way can also help make your office look more spacious. The bottom line is to provide your office with the right furniture and remember to leave enough room for your team to be comfortable in.

e) Aesthetics value and brand identity

Purchase the kind of furniture that can contribute to the beauty of your office. A good office design lightens up the mood, eases stress and increases productivity. To do this, having a little background on the psychology of colors is an advantage. For instance, if you want your office to have a creative and energetic atmosphere, use the color orange. If you want to exude wisdom and tranquility, use blue.

However, be mindful when choosing a multitude of different colors. If you wind up with a clashing mixture of them, it can disturb your company identity or cause headaches to your employees and any onlookers. Furthermore, don’t choose furniture just because you like its color or design.

You have to choose one that goes with your brand or your office personality. Your office furniture must transcend the aesthetic and comfort value it provides. It must also reflect your company’s identity and culture. A consistent furniture scheme creates calmness and synergy.

f) Durability

One of the most important aspects, when you are looking for office furniture, is to make sure that it will be durable. Usually, most business owners tend to opt for teal furniture because it lasts a lot longer than wooden furniture. Buying durable furniture will save you in the long run. You won’t have to keep spending money to fix furniture or even to buy new ones for that matter.

g) Safety

Usually, business owners tend to avoid glass or plates topped furniture because it’s usually relatively unsafe than others. In the old days, most offices used a lot of wooden furniture. However, some people believe that wooden furniture has a higher risk in term for fire incidents. As a result, you have to weigh types of furniture materials and see which one is most suitable for your type of business.

Types of Office Equipment

i) Business Telephone System

Perhaps the primary means you will use for communicating with customers and vendors will be the telephone. Understanding what services, features, and options are available will help buy the right size phone system for the right price for your business.

ii) Computers and Software

Information is the lifeblood of any successful organization today. The key to leveraging information to your advantage is purchasing and implementing the right computers and software for your business. The computer is also now essential to business communication thanks to email.

You will also want to explore systems for backing up your business data. There are many online services available now that will save you having to invest in secure and reliable on-site backup equipment for your office.

iii) Computer Network and Internet Connection

If the information is the lifeblood of the business, then computer networks are the veins and arteries that channel that information throughout all the parts of your business. For this, you will need Ethernet cabling, a router, and switches, especially if you are setting up a larger network that will support numerous employees.

You will need a modem for connecting your network to the outside world, and with that modem, you will need Internet service from a provider.

iv) Multi-functional Printer

Information is organized, manipulated and moved electronically but people still love paper. If it’s electronic we want to print it. If it’s printed we want to scan it. If it’s somewhere else, we want to fax it. Buying one machine to do it all can save you time and money.

v) Smartphone

They say time is money, hence communicating effectively will save your time while you are making money. Keeping yourself organized and on-time not only has an economic impact but will also help you manage the stresses in your life. In addition, having access to your office email through your smartphone can offer an enormous advantage and convenience.

vi) Shredder

Just as quickly as we generate paper we must destroy it. Your business is responsible for the information it possesses. It may be an employee’s personal information, a customer list, a client’s sensitive materials or a confidential memo. Information that you’re responsible for that gets into the wrong hands can be devastating to your company and your clients.

vii) Mailing Equipment

Documents, product samples, catalogs and statements are just a few examples of items that may be shipped out of your company. The proper mailing equipment, such as scales and postage software or using a logistic companies can save your business valuable time and money.

In conclusion, every company needs furniture and business machines to support their teams and host their clients and vendors. Choosing the right furniture is as important as choosing the right type of office. It does not only contribute to its well-being, it also affects office productivity and entices prospective employees. However, they are things you have to consider before purchasing office furniture and equipment to save your finances.

Register with Statutory Institutions

Have you ever wondered why legal compliance has become a cliche when doing business? It’s because compliance is the biggest predictor of your business success. The most obvious consequence of compliance is that it decreases your risk of fines, penalties, work stoppages, lawsuits or a shutdown of your business.

Contrarily, failure to comply with the law is costly and the most devastating end result is when your business is blacklisted and banned from trading.

Primarily, registering with statutory institutions makes you compliant. Being compliant means that your business is operating under its lawful obligations and has the appropriate documents (contracts, awards, agreements, policies and letters). The documents serve to illustrate the legitimacy of your business operations.

However, some statutory institutions are compulsory for every business while are others regulate specific types of industries. Compulsory statutory institutions for all startups include:

  • Registrar of Companies – for business incorporation.
  • NSSA – for pension and workers compensation insurance and help with monthly returns.
  • ZIMRA – for tax purposes.
  • NEC – or employer/employee dispute management and help with monthly returns.
  • City Council – for shop/municipal licenses.
  • ZIMDEF – for manpower development and help with monthly returns.

Compulsory statutory institutions for specific industries include:

  • MCAZ (applicable to pharmaceuticals and pharmacies) – for protecting public and animal health by controlling medicine distribution.
  • RBZ (applicable to micro-finance institutions) – for the formulation and implementation of monetary policies.
  • POTRAZ (applicable to private telecommunication network companies)– for regulating the telecommunications sector.
  • ZERA (applicable to gas and petroleum companies) – for regulating the entire energy sector in Zimbabwe.

How to register with Compulsory Statutory Institutions

How to register your company with the registrar of companies

Company registration is the process of obtaining legal authorization to conduct business within your chosen field. It is an act of acquiring legal authorization to operate a business under lawful obligations. To register your business in Zimbabwe they are two important procedures that one should follow.

The procedure for company registration in Zimbabwe is divided into 2 stages. There is the name search and reservation stage and then there is the incorporation and registration stage. The procedure is basically the same whether you are registering a Private Business Corporation or a Private Limited Company. Under normal circumstances, the process takes up to 12 working days.

How to register with National Social Security Authority (NSSA)

National Social Security Authority (NSSA), is the statutory corporate body tasked by the Government to provide social security. The provision of social security can be defined as instituting public policy measures intended to protect an individual in life situations or conditions in which his/her livelihood and well-being may be threatened, such as those engendered by sickness, workplace injuries, unemployment, invalidity, old age, retirement and death.

Primarily, the Pension and Other Benefits Scheme offers four main types of benefits which are as follows:

  • Retirement Benefit (Pension or Grant)
  • Invalidity Benefit (Pension or Grant)
  • Survivor’s Benefit (Pension or Grant)
  • Funeral Grant
How to register your company with Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (ZIMRA)

The Zimbabwe Revenue Authority, which derives its mandate from the Revenue Authority Act [Chapter 23:11] and other subsidiary legislation, is responsible for assessing, collecting and accounting for revenue on behalf of the State through the Ministry of Finance.

In Zimbabwe, one of the best ways of ensuring success and continuity in any business is to ensure that all statutory obligations are met in time. If you are doing your business in Zimbabwe you have to register your business with ZIMRA for tax compliance.

How to register your company with National Employment Council

Examples of NECs in Zimbabwe:

  • NEC Medical and Allied Industries
  • NEC Catering
  • NEC Agriculture
  • NEC Insurance
  • NEC Commercial Sector
  • NEC Constructional Sector
  • NEC for Cement and Lime Companies
  • NEC for Mining

It is the Ministry of Labour that sum up the information and allocates your company to the correct NEC where your business belongs.

How to apply for a shop licence with the Local Council

In terms of the Shop Licence’s Act Chapter 14.17, no person shall in any shop, store or another fixed place of business, carry on the trade or business of selling or letting for hire any goods except in terms of a shop license. Shop license is one important license business must procure. If you sell from a shop in Zimbabwe, you are going to require a shop license. A shop license makes you trade legally and it also fully formalizes your business.

How to register your company with Zimbabwe Manpower Development Fund

Zimbabwe Manpower Development Fund is the statutory body with a broad objective of financing the development of critical and highly skilled manpower in Zimbabwe. This body is funded by every business in Zimbabwe through paying a 1% Training Levy. This Levy is paid by registered companies in Zimbabwe. Hence it is mandatory to register your business with ZIMDEF

How to register with Specific Statutory Institutions

How to register your micro-finance institution with the Reserve bank of Zimbabwe

The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe is responsible for the formulation and implementation of monetary policy, directed at ensuring low and stable inflation levels. The bank maintains a stable banking system through its supervisory and lender of last resort functions. The bank is the sole issuer of currency and acts as banker and advisor to Government. Thus, for one to start a micro-finance company they should register with RBZ.

How to register your Private Telecommunication Network with the Postal and Telecommunication Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (POTRAZ)

The Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (POTRAZ) is the regulatory authority of Zimbabwe’s postal and telecommunications sector. POTRAZ is mandated to create awareness on the role of the postal and courier services sector and their contribution to the social and economic development of Zimbabwe.

How to register your Petroleaum company with the Zimbabwe Energy Regulatory Authority (ZERA)

The Zimbabwe Energy Regulatory Authority (ZERA) is a corporate body established in terms of the Energy Regulatory Authority Act of 2011. It is mandated to regulate the entire energy sector in Zimbabwe in a fair, transparent, efficient and cost effective manner for the benefit of the consumers and energy suppliers.

How to register your pharmacy with the Medicines Control Authority of Zimbabwe

Medicines Control Authority of Zimbabwe is responsible for protecting public and animal health by ensuring that accessible medicines and allied substances and medical devices are safe, effective and of good quality through enforcement of adherence to standards by manufacturers and distributors. To operate a pharmacy in Zimbabwe, at least 51% of the company should be owned by a registered pharmacist.

In conclusion, registering with statutory institutions makes you compliant. Being compliant means that your business is operating under its lawful obligations and has the appropriate documents. The documents serve to illustrate the legitimacy of your business operations. Thus, with proper documents, you can trade freely.

Product/Service Development

The future of your company is dependent upon it staying relevant. In this day and age, new and innovative products must keep pace with the marketplace. New Product Development is the total process that takes a product from conception to the market.

Most importantly, new or re-branded products are meant to fill a consumer demand or an opportunity in the market place. Thus with proper product/service development, your product can completely replace a current product, take over an existing product or simply broaden the market for something that already exists.

Basically, product development is a systematic process of defined steps and tasks such as strategies, concept generation, marketing plan creation, evaluation and commercialization of a new product. It is a cycle by means of which an innovative firm routinely converts ideas into commercially viable goods or services.

Of thousands of products entering the process, only a handful reach the market. Therefore, it is of crucial importance to understand consumers, markets and competitors in order to develop products that deliver superior value to customers.

In other words, there is no way around a systematic, customer-driven new product development process for finding and growing new products. We will go into the eight major steps in the new product development process:

1. Idea Generation

A new idea is often the basis for starting up a business. Many entrepreneurs spot a gap in the market and start businesses that provide a product or service that fills it. However, others come up with ways to improve an existing product. Generally ideas come from intern and external sources.

  •  Internal idea sources – the company finds new ideas internally.
  • External idea sources – the company finds new ideas externally. This refers to all kinds of external sources, e.g. distributors and suppliers, but also competitors. The most important external source are customers because the new product development process should focus on creating customer value.

The development of a new product or service usually starts with an initial idea. There are many ways to come up with an idea. To begin with, you can ask yourself the following questions:

  • Is there a gap in the market in the industry that you currently work in?
  • Are there gaps in your existing product range?
  • Are there weaknesses in existing products which you may be able to address?
  • Can you adapt, modify or improve your existing products?
  • Can you use customer’s feedback to enhance your existing products or services?
  • Can you identify a need for a particular service or product that nobody else provides?

2. Idea Evaluation

The next step in the new product development process is idea screening. Idea screening means nothing else than filtering the ideas to pick out good ones. In other words, all ideas generated are screened to spot good ones and drop poor ones as soon as possible. While the purpose of idea generation was to create a large number of ideas, the purpose of the succeeding stages is to reduce that number.

Successful new product development starts with identifying good product or service ideas. You will have to carefully evaluate each idea to determine which are worth pursuing and which you should discard. The sole reason for carrying out idea evaluation is that product development costs rise greatly in later stages.

Therefore, the company would like to go ahead only with those product ideas that will turn into profitable products. Consequently, dropping the poor ideas as soon as possible is of crucial importance.

Following that, when screening or evaluating your ideas, it might help to assess them against an objective set of criteria. For example, the criteria may include:

  • The needs of your market and your customers.
  • Details of your customer behaviours and expectations.
  • The affordability of your idea, including resources needed for research and development.
  • The technical feasibility of your idea.
  • The market potential of your idea.
  • The profitability of your idea and the return on investment.
  • Relevancy and desirability of your new products or product improvements.
  • Your competition and their existing products.

You may also want to consider doing a SWOT analysis for each of your ideas to identify their strengths and weaknesses. Once you determine which ideas are viable, take time to refine them further to maximize their chances of success. Read more about researching new product and service ideas.

3. Concept Development and Testing

The key to successful research and development (R&D) is conducting extensive market research. This is essential as it helps you to identify and understand the needs of your customers and, ultimately, develop better products or services.

To go on in the new product development process, attractive ideas must be developed into a product concept. A product concept is a detailed version of the new-product idea stated in meaningful consumer terms. You should distinguish:

  • A product idea – an idea for a possible product.
  • A product concept – a detailed version of the idea stated in meaningful consumer terms.
  • A product image – the way consumers perceive an actual or potential product.
a) Identify market need

To determine if there is a market or demand for your product or service, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Does it satisfy or create a market need?
  • Will it outlive passing trends or capitalize on the trend before it dies away?
  • Is it unique, distinct or superior to those offered by competitors?
  • What competition will it face – direct or indirect, local, national or global?
  • Will the market want your product or service at a realistic price?
  • Can you identify potential customers?
  • Will your product be safe for public use and comply with relevant laws and regulations?
b) How to carry out market research

When it comes to market research, be as thorough in your research as possible, as mistakes made at this stage of development could prove costly later on. The more information you have, the better you will be able to understand your potential customers, the marketplace and how your product fits in. When conducting market research, remember to consider not only the needs of your customers, but also the needs of other parties such as retailers or distributors.

c) Develop your Unique Selling Point

Besides meeting your customers’ needs, your new product or service should have a unique selling proposition (USP). This is a feature or property that makes it stand out in the marketplace. In addition, before entering the market, you should assess your competition and determine:

  • How they meet their customer needs.
  • What will differentiate your product or service from your competitors – this will be your USP.
  • Why would the customers choose your product or service over your competitors’, both now and in the future?
  • What risks you are prepared to take to launch your product or service into this market.

4. Marketing Strategy Development

The next step in the new product development process is the marketing strategy development. When a promising concept has been developed and tested, it is time to design an initial marketing strategy for the new product based on the product concept for introducing this new product to the market.

The marketing strategy statement consists of three parts and should be formulated carefully:

  • A description of the target market, the planned value proposition and the sales, market share and profit goals for the first few years.
  • An outline of the product’s planned price, distribution and marketing budget for the first year.
  • The planned long-term sales, profit goals and the marketing mix strategy.

5. Business Analysis

Once decided upon a product concept and marketing strategy, management can evaluate the business attractiveness of the proposed new product. The fifth step in the new product development process involves a review of the sales, costs and profit projections for the new product to find out whether these factors satisfy the company’s objectives. If they do, the product can be moved on to the product development stage.

In order to estimate sales, the company could look at the sales history of similar products and conduct market surveys. Then, it should be able to estimate minimum and maximum sales to assess the range of risk.

When the sales forecast is prepared, the firm can estimate the expected costs and profits for a product, including marketing, research and development, operations etc. Eventually, all the sales and costs figures together can then be used to analyze the new product’s financial attractiveness.

6. Product Development and Testing

The new product development process goes on with the actual product development. Up to this point, for many new product concepts, there may exist only a word description, a drawing or perhaps a rough prototype.

However, if the product concept passes the business test, it must be developed into a physical product to ensure that the product idea can be turned into a workable market offering. The challenge at this stage is that research and development and engineering costs require a huge jump in investment.

The R&D department will develop and test one or more physical versions of the product concept. Developing a successful prototype, however, can take days, weeks, months or even years, depending on the product and prototype methods.

Also, products often undergo tests to make sure they perform safely and effectively. This can be done by the firm itself or outsourced. In many cases, marketers involve actual customers in product testing. Consumers can evaluate prototypes and work with pre-release products. Their experiences may be very useful in the product development stage.

7. Market Testing

The last stage before commercialization in the new product development process is market testing. In this stage of the new product development process, the product and its proposed marketing programme are tested in realistic market settings. Therefore, market testing gives the marketer experience with marketing the product before going to the great expense of full introduction.

In fact, it allows the company to test the product and its entire marketing programme, including targeting and positioning strategy, advertising, distributions and packaging before the full investment is made.

However, the amount of market testing necessary varies with each new product. Especially when introducing a new product requiring a large investment, when the risks are high, or when the firm is not sure of the product or its marketing programme, a lot of market testing may be carried out.

8. Commercialization

Market testing gives management the information needed to make the final decision, to launch or not to launch the new product. The final stage in the new product development process is commercialization. Commercialization means nothing else than introducing a new product into the market.

At this point, the highest costs are incurred. The company may need to build or rent a manufacturing facility. Large amounts may be spent on advertising, sales promotion and other marketing efforts in the first year. Some factors should be considered before the product is commercialized:

  • Introduction timing – for instance, if the economy is down, it might be wise to wait until the following year to launch the product. However, if competitors are ready to introduce their own products, the company should push to introduce the new product sooner.
  • Introduction place – where do you want to launch the new product? Should it be launched in a single location, a region, the national market or the international market? Normally, companies don’t have the confidence, capital and capacity to launch new products into full national or international distribution from the start. Instead, they usually develop a planned market roll-out over time.

In conclusion, in all of these steps of the new product development process, the most important focus is on creating superior customer value. Only then, your product can become a success in the market. However, only very few products actually get the chance to become a success. The risks and costs are simply too high to allow every product to pass every stage of the new product development process.

Acquire/ Outsource Labor

Hiring is one of the most difficult aspects of running a startup. With teams of less than a handful of people, each new hire could make or break your company’s future. Particularly, what makes hiring challenging is financial instability, large workloads and unpredictable working conditions. However, the most important part about hiring employees is to know the position you are hiring for and the exact type of employee you want.

Primarily, hiring great employees and building a great team is the most important thing you can do to ensure your business success. In fact, hiring exceptional people is how you build an exceptional company. Your employees should fit a particular criteria regardless of the position you are hiring for. Thus, every employee should possess the below listed traits:

  • Integrity – a clearly talented individual who seems a bit ethically iffy should not be hired. No amount of ability makes up for a lack of integrity.
  • Smartness – the appearance of your workers speaks volumes about your brand identity.
  • Passion – no matter how smart an employee can be, they will not work out if they are not passionate about what they do. Also, they won’t work out if they are not passionate about what you do.
  • Company fitness – people frequently overlook the importance of cultural fitness. Desiring cultural fitness does not mean that we want people that are clones of each other. Diversity is vital, but diverse employees should mesh well with each other.

Following that, as an employer, you should have an employment model. An employment model is about the appropriate type of employment that will best suit the nature of your company. Primarily, a good employment model results in lower absenteeism and improved work relationships. As a result, employees will be ready and willing to make a long-term commitment to your company. Below are types of employees:

Full-time employees

Full time employees are the most common type of employees. Particularly, they are offered permanent positions with a salary or hourly wage. There is no set minimum number of hours for full-time employees. However, most employers recognize full-time work as 35+ hours per week. Examples of full-time employees include receptionists and all types of managers.

Basically, hours of work are defined as each hour for which an employee is paid or entitled to payment, for the performance of duties for the employer. Also, they are each hour for which an employee is paid, or entitled to payment by the employer for a period of time during which no duties are performed due to vacation, holiday, illness, incapacity (including disability), layoff, jury duty, military duty or leave of absence.

Part-time employees

A part-time worker works fewer contracted hours than a full-time employee. However, they also hold permanent positions. Following that, the number of hours they are scheduled to work per week should be clearly visible within the contract but they may have the option to work overtime, if and when desired.

Benefits of part-time employment include a more flexible schedule for the employee, allowing individuals to fit their work around other commitments, and the opportunity for people to try out new roles without having to give up vast amounts of your time. Most waiters and waitresses are an example of part-time employees.

Fixed-term employees

Fixed-term employees last for a specific amount of time, which has been set and agreed in advance. In some instances, fixed-term employees may not have an exact time-frame, but will instead end when a specific task has been completed or fulfilled.

Depending on the role, and an individual’s performance, fixed-term contacts can sometimes lead to longer term positions. Examples include students on industrial attachment and drivers for a specific event such as weddings.

Temporary employees

Similar to fixed-term, temporary employees are offered a contract that is not expected to become permanent. Usually they would have some form of end date included. However, these may be subject to change. As such, temporary workers may have their contracts extended in line with demand and availability. Temporary teachers are a common example in Zimbabwe.

Agency employees

Agency staff have their contracts agreed and managed by a recruitment consultancy or employment agency. They usually work on a temporary basis and the length of their contract depends on demands of the employer as well as their availability. The Valcol Group Company offers such services majoring in I.T experts and secretaries.

Freelancers and contractors

When working with freelancers or contracted basis, contracts may vary from position to position. However, individuals working in this way are generally considered self-employed. Contracts may include start and end dates, or the salary may be based on set projects or pieces of work, meaning the contract effectively ends upon delivery.

Freelance and contract workers may also not be entitled to the same rights as more permanent members of staff, although they do get to manage their own schedule and negotiate their own terms. Most graphic designers are freelancers.

Zero hour employees

Zero hour employees are also known as casual employees. These employees specify that an employee works only when required by their employer. The employer is under no obligation to provide a set amount of hours to work. Similarly, the employee does not have to accept any work that is offered to them.

Individuals on a zero hour contract may also seek employment elsewhere. In fact, their contract would not be valid if it prevented them from looking for, or accepting, work from another employer.

Probation Employees

Employers can put their employees on a probation period (also known as a probationary period) to assess if employees are suitable for the role and business. However, the employer decides on the length of the probation period. It can range from a few weeks to a few months at the start of employment. Specifically, while on probation, employees continue to receive the same entitlements as someone who isn’t in a probation period.

If hired on a full-time or part-time basis, an employee on probation is entitled to access their paid leave entitlements such as annual leave and sick leave. Following that, if an employee doesn’t pass their probation, they are still entitled to receive notice when employment ends and have their unused accumulated annual leave hours paid out.

In conclusion, hiring great employees and building a great team is the most important thing you can do to ensure your business success. In fact, hiring exceptional people is how you build an exceptional company. Also, knowing the best employment model for your business will save you a lot of hustles. A proper employment model will help you hire the right people for your company.

Create Marketing Materials

In business, without the right marketing and advertising techniques, people will never know that your company exists and your business will suffer as a result. We live in an era where marketing has become a requirement for getting noticed, garnering a loyal audience and making a lasting impact.

In fact, being able to coherently communicate your company’s value to its clients is extremely important. Your business success depends on your ability to communicate value hence marketing materials are a very important tool used to do so.

Primarily, marketing entails all advertising and marketing materials, including but not limited to packaging, tags, labels, advertising, signage, vehicle lettering, marketing and promotions. In addition, it also includes displays, display fixtures, instructions, technical sheets, user guides, data sheets, warranties, websites and other materials, written, digital or any other format. These are associated with your products, services or domain names.

As a business owner or as an entrepreneur you should use marketing materials to:

  • Inform customers about your business.
  • Actively get more customers in your local area.
  • Put together a marketing package for potential investors.
  • Promote an upcoming event or product/store launch.
  • Promote your business at conferences, conventions or job fairs.
  • Create positive customer service experiences and build customer/client relationships.

In today’s fast-paced digital world, one could easily begin to think that the old ink and paper ways of the past are no longer needs. In truth, technology has woven itself into our lives and changed the way we work, learn and discover.

Thus, maintaining or building your competitive advantage will rely on continuous technological integration but you can’t forget about the old way of doing things. Therefore, printed marketing materials are also a highly effective way to promote your business to customers, clients, business partners and potential investors. Below are key marketing materials you should use:

Company Profile

When starting a business, it is important to make a memorable first impression. Therefore your company profile should be dynamic and comprehensive, clearly explaining your vision to customers and/or stake holders. A well-written company profile is best way to introduce your business, products and services.

While creating your company profile, you should be focused on the business model, business strategy and the product launching in a market. Analyze the company criteria, map out the characteristics to be highlighted and how you can present your company profile in a most attractive way.

However, creating a company profile is not only a promotion tool, it is the way to reach out your customer and get them interested in your business. It gives the customer an overview about your company’s products and enables direct interaction with the sales and marketing teams of the business. A company profile should be compiled for the readers so that they can understand how the business works, its ethos and its unique selling point.

Ultimately, an excellent company profile should be able to attract new customers for you, keep old one and increase your company revenue. First impressions matter and without proper marketing tools and skills, you risk making loses in your business endeavors.

Business cards

Business cards have been a staple in peer-to-peer marketing since the start of business. A well-designed, well-made business card can seal the deal in a face-to-face pitch better than a later visit to a website or viewing a search advertisement. Business cards act as a reminder of an in-person interaction and will keep your company in the forefront on their next related work project.

Brochures

A well designed brochure serves as a perfect introduction to your business. When accurately distributed, brochures can expand your company’s visibility. Thus, brochures are great marketing tools when reaching out to new customers. Again, brochures can provide positive press about your company and are trade shows and networking opportunities.

Flyers

While social media certainly has its benefits in helping to promote events and generate some awareness and create a buzz around them, it’s also important to remember some of the tried and tested marketing techniques that have been used for years.

One big benefit of using a flyer to promote an event is its tangible nature. The fact that your customers will physically hold the flyer means you are half way to getting your message across. How your flyer is designed and printed can impact on whether or not your customer decides to read on to find out more information. This is why it’s important to make your flyer stand out but also ensure your main message is clear and easy to see.

Websites

Having a website can build better relationships with your customers. A website gives you the opportunity to prove your credibility. You have to tell your customers why you deserve their trust through your website. Most importantly, with websites, you are able to update any information without any hustle.

Banners

Using banner advertising is one of the best things any company can do to get its name out there. Even if you have just started up, it is a worthy investment for your company to put in the money and find affiliates to post your ads for you.

Most importantly, the more people that know about your business, the more customers you will draw in and the more income you will generate. Using banner advertisements effectively will increase traffic, sales, and profits from the website. To conserve the purpose of banner ads, it is very important that Internet businesses maintain high quality and impeccable standards.

Letterheads

Using letterhead paper for your letters works as a powerful marketing tool. As soon as your letter is opened, the first thing that people will be hit by is your company’s details. This means that every time you send out a letter you are also marketing your brand.

Again, it is extremely important to retain a strong and consistently professional image as a business, and using letterheads is part and parcel of this. When you send correspondence out on letterhead paper, it will make your company come across as official, and much more professional.

Posters

Posters can serve as a more permanent and attention-grabbing way to reach a broad audience than smaller forms of print marketing like brochures or flyers. With a clean, eye-catching design, your posters can make a strong visual impression that lingers in the mind without breaking your marketing budget. Small businesses, in particular, can profit from the benefits of marketing with posters.

Primarily, posters are cost effective and they have high visibility. You can hang posters almost anywhere, although you should check local laws and restrictions first. Small businesses rely on local consumers, and poster advertising plays into the nostalgic, niche feeling of buying local. You can also display your posters in local coffee shops, bookstores and banks to attract customers who prefer to support local businesses.

Stationery

These include envelopes and postcards. Professionally designed and well-printed stationary is a sign of the quality of your business. The effort taken in mailing any promotional materials or simple letters with consistent branding adds value to your company’s image.

Folders

Something often overlooked than can really tie all of your materials together is a business folder. Instead of presenting proposals and project materials in a stack of assorted papers, consider a branded folder to keep everything organized. Keeping your pitch materials together in a neat, branded folder can make the difference between your bid being on the top of the pile or the bottom of the trashcan.

Extras

Branded marketing materials are the extra touch that can add a lot of quality to your brand and help your company win clients. These simple pieces can often be forgotten in the sea of digital marketing, but that little extra can mean the difference between a potential lead trusting the legitimacy of your brand, or not.

Branded pens, notepads and flash drives are also important in marketing. Something as simple as a daily task pad can help make a big sell when your potential client uses it day to day, and will keep your brand in their mind. Just remember to ask yourself: will your client actually use this, and will they use it often?

In the ever-growing digital landscape of marketing and advertising, printed material has become a bit of an afterthought in the minds of many businesses both small and large. Contrary to this trend, branded marketing materials remain as relevant as ever in helping promote your company and generate leads.

Conclusively, in business it is important to have and use proper marketing tools. Without the right marketing and advertising techniques, people will not know that your company exists and your business will suffer as a result. The importance of marketing remains the same from when you start the business all the way through the years you are open. From the first moment you are open to the public you need to make your presence known and try to spread word of your business as far as you can.

Get Business Insurance

Do you know that even if you have a successful business, disaster could strike at any moment and force you to shut your doors? As a company, you should have a business insurance to mitigate the risk of unforeseen damage. As with most insurance types, business insurance is used to protect the business and the business owner should unforeseen events happen to the business.

Basically, insurance is a form of risk management primarily used to hedge against the risk of potential financial loss. Again, it can be defined as the equitable transfers of the risk of a potential loss, from one entity to another, in exchange for a premium and duty of care.

Therefore, it’s important to have business insurance because the financial consequences of a potential mishap could easily wipe out the assets of a small business. Following that, insurance provides protection in case customers or a passersby experiences harm at the hands of your company, or if your company is harmed by an incident such as a fire.

In addition to protecting yourself, it’s also important to have business insurance so you can protect others. If you own a food business and a customer becomes ill after eating one of your products, you need to be able to pay for the damage you would have caused.

However, the trick is to make sure that your business is covered for those events that are most likely to happen and to never find yourself unprotected, which might lead to the financial collapse of the business. Again, the types of business insurance and the levels of coverage are often determined by the type of business itself.

Sometimes, the type of business insurance can be influenced by lenders who hold positions of the business as security against loans that may have been made to the business in the past.

Lenders who would have financed expensive machinery or other types of equipment will often want the business owner to have some form of insurance on the machinery. This use of insurance helps to protect the lender as well as the business owner in the event of losing the insured item. Below are reasons why you need business insurance:

1. For protection against personal liability

No business owner has a crystal ball hidden in a closet that can predict what might happen in the future. It would be excellent if natural disasters, injuries on the job or lawsuits never occurred, but no one can guarantee that such things won’t occur. For that reason alone, it’s best to be insured.

With the proper business insurance, you can have peace of mind and focus your attention on what you do best operating a productive, profitable and personally rewarding business for years to come.

2. To acquire and secure contracts

When it comes to contracts and insurance, several variables come into play:

  • If you rent or lease your business facility, you may need to carry insurance, as the landlord’s policy may not cover it.
  • If you borrow money to finance buildings, equipment or operations, the loan agreement will likely contain an insurance requirement.
  • Client contracts may specify that you carry insurance in the event things don’t go as planned.
  • Add language about freelancers who need it and don’t realize it till they get a job and then.

3. To attract and retain employees

Having insurance isn’t just about protecting your business in “doom and gloom” scenarios. It can have the positive benefit of attracting and retaining qualified employees.

Second to salary, job seekers look for benefits packages that include life, health, disability and long-term care insurance. If you don’t offer these perks, you may lose a good employee to a company that does.

4. To enhance your business credibility

Having insurance makes your business look credible. Business insurance shows your prospective clients and customers that you are a safe bet.

If anything goes wrong with the work you do for them, you have a way to compensate. That’s the reason home services companies carry the statement “licensed, bonded and insured” on their trucks and signage. It builds trust, the currency of a modern-day economy.

5. For business continuity

In any business, particularly partnerships, business may discontinue at the death of any partner. Although the surviving partners can restart the business, in both cases, the business and remaining partners will suffer economically.

The insurance policies provide adequate funds at the time of death. Each partner may be insured for the amount of his interest in the partnership and his dependents may get that amount at the death of the partner.

With the help of property insurance, the property of the business is protected against disasters and the chance of disclosure of the business due to the tremendous waste or loss. What happens to your business in the event of a natural disaster, such as an earthquake or flood? Insurance covers loss of property buildings and equipment.

Following that, even in monetary terms, insurance plays a critical role. Insurance can help your business survive a serious disaster by protecting it against loss of income. The way it works is that the insurer pays you the income your company would have made while it was out of action (assuming it’s due to a covered loss).

6. For the welfare of employees

Your most valuable asset is not the products or services you offer, the equipment you take so much care to maintain or even the brand you struggled for years to build. No, your most valuable assets are your employees and it pays to protect them in the event of an accident.

The welfare of employees is the responsibility of the employer. The former is working for the latter. Therefore, the latter has to look after the welfare of the former which can be provision for early death, provision for disability and provision for old age. These requirements are easily met by the life insurance, accident and sickness benefit, pensions, which are generally provided by insurance companies.

As it that is not enough, employees will devote their maximum capacities to complete their jobs when they are assured of the above benefits. The struggle and strife between employees and the employer can be minimized easily with the help of such schemes.

7. Enhancement of credit

A business can obtain a loan by pledging the policy as collateral for the loan. Insured people get more loans due to the certainty of payment at their deaths. The amount of loan that can be obtained with such pledging of policy, with interest, thereon will not exceed the cash value of the policy.

In the case of death, this value can be utilized for setting of the loan along with the interest. If the borrower is unwilling to repay the interest, the lender can surrender the policy and get the amount of loan and interest thereon paid.

Again, the redeemable debentures can be issued on the collateral of capital redemption policies. The insured properties are the best collateral and adequate loans are granted by the lenders.

In conclusion, insurance is a risk management strategy used to hedge against the risk of potential financial losses. Not only does it guarantee business continuity, but it also increases your business efficiency, credibility as well as employee protection.

Register your company

Starting a business often seems overwhelming and complicated. There are so many things to consider before starting a business, from coming up with an excellent and unique idea to registering a company and all the way up to planning and fundraising. Business registration has a lot of advantages to start-up businesses.

Basically, it is the process of obtaining legal authorization to conduct business within your chosen jurisdiction. It is a legal obligation that ensures that a business is operating under the lawful obligations of its control.

Following that, business registration could mean registering a fictitious business name, registering with the state and local taxing and licensing authorities or registering a trademark. In addition, registering your business ignites a corporate and professional consciousness to you as the business owner.

It also allows you to become conscious of the law and you and your business become a separate entity which can sue and be sued, in terms of violating the laws that govern that business entity. Most importantly, on registering a company before starting a business, you gradually build trust, integrity and dependability.

Primarily, there are two types of companies in Zimbabwe which are the Private Limited Company (PLC) and the Private Business Corporation (PBC). Private Business Corporations are mainly meant for medium businesses. In addition, a PBC accommodates sole traders and has a maximum of 20 directors.

With a PBC, members are the same as shareholders and members are responsible for the day to day management of the company. After registering a PBC, you get company papers and a certificate of incorporation.

On the contrary, a PLC is meant for larger entities and has a maximum of 50 directors. Following that, with a PLC, shareholders are owners and can be different from the directors. Annual returns and meetings are compulsory for Private Limited Companies and directors are responsible for the day to day management of the company.

Finally, after registering a PLC, you get a certificate, CR6, CR14, memorandum and articles of association.

For instance, in 2014, the Real Estate Agents Council blacklisted 28 real estate agents due to failure to comply with the council requirement of renewing membership. The companies include Avram and Becker, Batanai Properties and Kingsroad Real Estate just to mention but a few.

Knowing your form of business corporation means knowing what’s best for your business and it saves you from investment risks. More importantly helps make you solid decisions concerning your business activities and it keeps you compliant with the law.

Procedure for company registration in Zimbabwe

The procedure for company registration in Zimbabwe is divided into 2 stages. There is the name search and reservation stage and then there is the incorporation and registration stage. The procedure is basically the same whether you are registering a PBC or a PLC. The name search stage is the same for both company types so we shall list it the same for both.

Company registration steps:
Stage 1: Name search

A request is made to the Registrar of Companies office (also called the DCIP – Department of Companies & Intellectual Property) for a search to be made in the Register of Companies. The following is applicable at the name search stage:

  • The purpose of an application for reservation of name is to get the authority of the Registrar to use a particular name.
  • If the Registrar approves your application to reserve a name, he will reserve that name for you for a period of up to two months to enable you to register your company. He will not allow any other person to use that name during that period.
  • You are advised to give four names in your application so that if one name is not accepted, another one may be. You should list the names in order of preference.
  • The Registrar will not accept a name which is similar to that of another company or PBC, or is likely to mislead the public or is indecent.
  • The Registrar will give a written notice of whether any of your names were accepted or if they were rejected. This process takes 3 to 6 working days.
a) Reasons why names may be rejected
  • Your chosen name is too close to a registered company or PBC either when written down or when pronounced e.g. OK and Okay.
  • Your company name is likely to be offensive, blasphemous or indecent to any person or class of people.
  • Your company name is likely to deceive or mislead the public e.g. a company called Ministry of Computers.
  • Your company name suggests patronage of the Government or some other authority or organization.
  • Your company name is undesirable for any other reason.
Stage 2: Incorporation and Registration
a) Procedure for registration as a PBC (Private Business Corporation)
  • After your name has been successfully reserved, the documentation for the registration of the PBC must be submitted to the Registrar of Companies. This process involves the appointment of members (shareholders/ directors) of the PBC. Each member is assigned a percentage of ownership in the PBC. The total percentage for all members must add up to 100%.
  • The Registrar will then register the PBC and assign to it a registration number. The Registrar will put his seal, his stamp and his signature to the PBC Incorporation Statement to signify its authenticity. The PBC is also entered into the Company registry and becomes searchable in the Registrar’s database. This process takes 3 to 6 working days.
b) Procedure for registration as a PLC (Private Limited Company)
  • After your name has been successfully reserved, the memorandum and articles of association signed by the shareholders together with the CR6 and CR14 signed by either a director or secretary of the company are submitted to the Registrar of Companies. Each shareholder must sign in their own handwriting and specify the number of shares they have been allocated.
  • The Registrar will then register the PLC and assign to it a registration number. A certificate of Incorporation is also issued. The Registrar will put his seal, his stamp and his signature to the Certificate of Incorporation, Memorandum & Articles of Association and the CR6 & CR14 to signify their authenticity. The PLC is also entered into the Company registry and becomes searchable in the Registrar’s database. This process takes 3 to 6 working days.

Here are the reasons why you should register your business:

1. To be more professional

Professionalism is a strong work ethic that suggests that an individual places high value on doing a good job as well as respecting others and functioning with integrity. It is a component of the concept of work ethics which describes how a person comes to work and conducts himself on the job.

More importantly, it is a behavior necessary for the success of any business. Registering a company makes your company legitimate it shapes people’s perceptions about you. It depicts of loyalty and seriousness in your business activities.

Also, the creation of business cards which separates your personal activities with your business finances makes you a professional as it is a formal of doing things. It is also more professional to give your clients a business name for transactions instead of your own full name

2. To protect and secure your business name

In truth, developing a business idea is usually the first challenge that every entrepreneur faces when starting a business from scratch. Finding the right business opportunity or creativity and developing an idea is not an easy task. The greatest challenge is in the ability to forge the business opportunity into an idea. It requires innovation and the ability to see what others are not able to see.

However, where others see problems, an entrepreneur should always see opportunities. As a result, the unique business idea has to be protected before it goes into the market and it should be lawfully registered to an individual or a legal entity so that the business idea or company name won’t be plagiarized or stolen by competitors.

Particularly, choosing a business name can be one of the most gratifying tasks in the start-up phase but naming your business is more complicated than simply picking a name.

Your business name means a lot. It identifies your brand and signifies your reputation. It also plays a pivotal role in helping your loyal customers to identify you from the rest in the market. Hence, registering a company before starting a business protects and secures your chosen business name and the ideas accompanying it.

In addition, when you register a company, the company name that you choose is reserved for you only because business names are intellectual property assets. You may not have plans to start operating immediately after the registration process but registering that name you’ve always wanted ensures that it is only available to you even when you are finally ready to launch your business in the market.

Following that, once your company name has been incorporated and registered, you can further restrict its usage by registering it as a trade name or a trademark. This process guarantees that no one else can legally use your company name in any given circumstance.

The registration process helps you to avoid legal problems with competitors by keeping you from choosing a name that is confusingly similar to that of another existing business. This is an advantage because registration processes reveal whether any other business has a confusingly similar name. Therefore, it is always wise to conduct a name search using governmental sources because distinctive company names are valuable business assets.

3. To get access to funding

After developing your business idea, the next challenge you are likely to face is raising capital. As an entrepreneur, you are only one who knows your business idea to the core. You are the only one who knows the story of your future. Trying to convince investors about something that doesn’t exist is definitely a challenge and trying to make them understand that you are trustworthy and equal to the task is complex.

Also, there is more to raising capital than just simply asking for money. Most investors want to invest in an established business with minimal risk and they want to be sure that they get returns for the risk they took and registering your business is a step forward. To overcome the challenge of raising capital, you must develop the ability to sell your idea and vision to potential investors.

Again, raising money is essential for the development and expansion of your business and it is easier for financiers to invest in a registered company than a non-registered one. Lenders and investors will ask to see your business registration along with other application requirements before approving you a loan.

As a registered company, your ability to attract customers and raise money for your business will be easier. Registering your company also gives you the ability to borrow and incur debt but more importantly, sell shares and raise equity capital.

Furthermore, when applying for business loans especially in banks, one has to prove that they actually own a business by producing the necessary papers. If you apply for a credit card as a business, creditors may also ask to see your registration paperwork.

Lastly, a registered business also makes you eligible to receive supplier discounts that you wouldn’t normally receive as an unregistered operation. Suppliers commonly reserve wholesale rates for business owners who can show official paperwork from the state. Also, if you try to get government contracts for your company, a business registration is one of the first requirements.

4. To limit personal liability

The advantage of having a corporate bank account is the separation of business funds from personal funds which is fundamental for any business owner that seeks to make progress with the business venture.

As a sole trader or in partnerships, you will be legally responsible for all aspects of your business, including debts and loses. If u are to sell a defective product, make an error or suffer an injury during the course of your business, you will be personally liable.

As a result, you could lose all your personal assets such as your money, car and home. In fact, a company that is registered is a separate legal entity and it is an easy way to protect your personal assets from your business actions to be carried out. Hence, a business bank account is an important asset because it allows you to separate your personal activities from your business activities.

5. To gain trust

One of the major problems faced by entrepreneurs is the issue of gaining the trust from potential customers and the desire to shape the perceptions and perspectives of people about their business in general or their products and services to be delivered in the market.

Registering your company plays a pivotal role in enhancing the perception of your business because it is easier for people to deal with registered entities for the purpose of business than individuals.

Usually, people who are interested in dealing with a particular corporate entity have the opportunity to conduct due diligence from the regulatory authorities as to the nature of the entity they want to deal with. Creditors, customers, suppliers and financiers are some of the categories of people for whom registration of a business would provide some form of security.

Furthermore, when a business is registered, the registration protects the name of such business so that no other business is allowed to use the same name as far as the jurisdiction of registration is concerned.

Following that, registering a gives your business competitive advantage in the market. This is because it helps you earn trust and integrity amongst your competitors which results in a good reputation.

Firms with strong positive reputations attract better people. They are perceived as providing more value, which often allows them to charge a premium hence an increase in revenue. Their customers are more loyal and buy broader ranges of products and services.

Since the market believes that such companies will deliver sustained earnings and future growth, registered companies have higher price-earnings, market values and lower costs of capital. Customers and clients, especially people you’ve never worked with before, need assurance that you are a legitimate business.

A potential client may suspect your business of being a fake operation if your company isn’t properly registered. When a business is on file with the state, it could put your clients at ease when making a decision on whether to spend money with your company.

The biggest brands in the world today such as Nike, Google and Facebook are registered companies. Registering a company improves the perception of people towards your business.

Accountability is also established in the process which is important for any future dealings with third parties because many businesses will only hire or engage with registered companies as they are deemed to be authentic and to be in a better position to offer an exceptional value proposition.

6. To minimize your tax liability

A liability is defined as the future sacrifices of economic benefits that the entity is obliged to make to other entities as a result of past transactions or other past events, the settlement of which may result in the transfer or use of personal assets.

It is of tantamount importance to note that a business must be registered before a corporate bank account can be opened for that business. The advantage of having a corporate bank account is the separation of business funds from personal funds which is fundamental for any business owner that seeks to make progress with the business venture.

As a sole trader or partnership, you will be legally responsible for all aspects of your business, including debts and loses. If u are to sell a defective product, make an error or suffer an injury during the course of your business, you will be personally liable. This can result in the loss of all your personal assets such as your money, car and home.

A registered company is a separate legal entity and it is an easy way to protect your personal assets from your business actions to be carried out. As a result, a business bank account is an important asset because it allows you to separate your personal activities from your business activities.

7. For business continuity

Everyone wants to invest their time and resources in something that will thrive and bring profits in the long run. As a result, registering your company before starting your business ensures long existence to your business even way before the business activities commence in the market.

Therefore, registering your company would mean that your company can continue without you. Also, customers are interested in knowing if your company has a future and if the company is able to continue serving them in your absence.

In conclusion, company registration ensures that the name you choose for your business is reserved for you only. Also, it makes your business legitimate and professional. It is easier for people to deal with registered entities than individuals. Thus, company registration helps you gain competitive advantage in the long run.

Acquire office space

After crossing a milestone in your start-up business, the next big move would be to acquire office space. The office space is the hub of your business and can significantly affect the productivity of your team and the overall success of your company. Most importantly, clients would want to see your credibility and one way to show them that would be through your office space.

Primarily, office space shapes the culture of a company. In other words, the space that contains your business is very important. Culture within companies is something that is very hard to define, and even harder to voluntarily shape.

Your environment is second only to your team when it comes to cultivating a strong sense of common identity. Does putting your senior team in private offices cultivate openness and transparency at work?

Following that, office spaces affect work effectiveness. The simple reason being collaboration. A company’s employees need to work together so that effective work becomes a reality. Apart from this, an effective work or office goes a long way in attracting quality manpower and clients. In short, an office speaks volumes about your company.

9 reasons why an office space is important

a) Attracting talent

Your company’s office space can be a clue to its stature. Everything from its financial health to its work philosophy can find expression in the walls of its physical space. There is a reason why the most celebrated companies in the world are recognized for living in celebrated homes too. Office space is one of the endemic ways a brand communicates its essence. The nicer your office space is, the more recognition your brand will get.

b) Team-building

Team-building is more than a lofty exercise. It can result in a supportive work environment, which is crucial to your team’s success. If you are trying to build a top-notch sales organization or make sure your product and marketing are better integrated, there is no better way to foster that dynamic than with an environment where employees can socialize and support one other.

c) Social life

Socializing segues naturally from team-building. For some people, co-workers end up being close friends, even outside of the office. Any time you can help employees improve their social lives, you are providing a holistic benefit that makes them happier and by extension, more productive at work.

d) Punctuality

If you are fond of meetings that start on time and run smoothly, you should seriously consider an organized work space for your startup.

e) Accountability

Accountability issues happen all the time. Your team is made up of people who have diverse interests and hobbies, and their ability to pursue them is a big part of what keeps them happy and productive. You must make sure they pursue them on their time, not yours. Thus, an office helps.

f) Investors

Another great reason to consider office space is because of investors. Investors would want to invest in a well-organized and professional business. A professional working environment makes it easier for investors to trust you with their resources.

g) Professional development

Whether it’s for hosting a guest speaker series, running workshops or starting a mentorship program, a professional space allows you to facilitate and effectively market more professional-development opportunities.

h) Health

Research shows that a healthy team makes a productive team. As an employer, with an office, you can play a significant role in your team’s performance by making sure the pantry (if there is one) is stocked with healthy foods throughout the day.

i) Exposure to diversity

In every industry, exposure to different viewpoints, skill sets, levels of experience and personal histories (including race and gender) in the course of business is healthy. An office ensures that your team members are getting this in a collegial atmosphere.

In truth, all growing small businesses may someday face the question of leasing versus buying office space. This question has many pros and cons and as a small business owner you need to carefully weigh the pros and cons of leasing or buying office space. In order to make your decision easier, here are the key facts of leasing versus buying office space.

The Pros of Buying Office Space

  • Fixed Costs – locking in your commercial mortgage long-term can give your business clear, fixed costs.
  • Tax Deductions – the associated costs of owning and running a commercial space can provide tax deductions in the form of mortgage interest, property taxes and other items.
  • Additional Income – owning your office can offer the advantage of renting out extra office space, adding another source of income.
  • Retirement Savings – the prospect of owning commercial space and having the property appreciate over time, allows you as the owner to sell out and fund their retirement.

The Cons of Buying Office Space

  • Lack of Flexibility – a new or growing business may experience unexpected needs in the future. If your business continues growing, your owned office space may become inadequate, forcing a sale of the property.
  • Upfront Costs – buying commercial space will initially cost far more upfront. There are property, appraisal, and maintenance costs along with a large down payment and possible property improvement costs.

The Pros of Leasing Office Space

  • Prime Property – a leasing office space option provides a business with the chance to rent in an area with a good location and high image. If your small business is dependent on location and image, such as retail or restaurants, the leasing option is much more affordable.
  • Free Up Working Capital – with your money not tied up in real estate, your business can respond to opportunities in the market. In addition, your ability to borrow funds will not be as limited as with buying office space.
  • More Time – any type of ownership comes with headaches. A leasing option affords the time to focus solely on running your business.

The Cons of Leasing Office Space

  • Variable Costs – with a leasing option you may be subject to annual rent increases and higher costs at the time when your lease expires.
  • No Equity – while leasing you will be funding someone else’s retirement with your lease payments. However, owning requires you to get involved in the property management business.

Must Have Office Rooms and Spaces

a) Meeting and conference rooms

Meeting rooms and offices go hand in hand. The number of meeting rooms your company should have depends on your employee count, the layout out of your work space and the frequency your employees have meetings. Here are some different types of meeting rooms worth considering:

  • Large conferences rooms – a big space with a presentation screen and plenty of seating.
  • Small meeting rooms – an intimate space for meetings with 5 or so people.
  • Brainstorming rooms – an isolated space with a marker board for coming up with great ideas. This space can also double as your small meeting room.
  • Videoconferencing rooms – a room equipped with a webcam and monitor for video calls is a must in the modern workplace.
b) Reception and greeting area

Every workplace needs an area separate from the main work space that visitors enter. It should include comfortable seating so visitors can wait for their host to take them into the main office.

c) Phone rooms

If your company has an open office, it’s good to provide your employees with small rooms for taking private calls. These spaces prevent one person from dropping in on a meeting room that might be reserved for use by others.

d) Kitchen

Some companies have extravagant cafeterias or kitchens stocked. Everyone likes being treated to good food but many companies can’t afford to feed their entire staff. Hence, your office should at least have a kitchen area where your staff can store and prepare their own meals. No one likes working on an empty stomach so providing your staff with a refrigerator, coffee maker, microwave and other small appliances can make a big difference in your workplace.

e) Common area

It’s important to have an area in your workplace where people can socialize without distracting others. An ideal common area should be separate from the main workspace and be a relaxing environment. Just like a common area at home, it should include comfortable seating so employees can take a load off when they need to.

f) Wellness room

This is a critical but often overlooked space in many workplaces. A wellness room is a private space where employees can tend to their personal health needs. It doesn’t need to be staffed by a nurse but it should include a first aid kit and other health and wellness materials employees may need.

g) IT room

An IT room serves as the hub for all your office’s technology. If your company has onsite servers, they need to be stored in a secure, climate-controlled room. This room should also be where expensive computers and other electronics are securely stored and properly maintained.

In conclusion, your business can have just one office or a main office and a variety of field offices or branch offices. All these offices are involved in the success or failure of your company. The underlying point is that your office space should be professional so as to attract quality clients, employees and investors.
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Open a Business Bank Account

A registered company is a separate corporate legal entity. It can sue and be sued in its own name. Therefore, it is paramount importance for a registered entity, regardless of its size, to have a corporate bank account.

Primarily, a business/corporate bank account serves to separate your personal funds from your business funds. It’s not enough to just keep separate records. You should actually keep the money physically separate in different bank accounts.

Specifically, a business bank account is important for keeping your business, personal expenses and income separate. Also, it gives your new business record a good start. Thus, a business bank account is fundamental for any business owner that seeks to make progress with their business venture.

Why you need to open a business bank account for your business

a) For accurate and clean bookkeeping

Imagine how your checkbook and your bank statement would be like if you mix your business and personal transactions. Now imagine that over the course of a year. The truth is, no one wants to deal with a mess.

Therefore, if you have a separate account for your business transactions, you have a clean record to give to your accountant at the end of the year. However, remember to keep all your invoices and receipts to match up to your checkbook and bank statement entries and you will be in good shape when income tax time rolls around.

b) For security

While the chance is low, there is a possibility of someone hacking your bank account to use it to pay for their personal things. A person with your routing and account numbers to charge your account can pose a risk. In truth, all the information someone needs to attempt to pay bills with your account is found on every check you write.

However, with a proper business account you can ask your bank to set up protection measures such as limiting withdrawals or flagging unusual transactions. This will at least notify you immediately of any suspicious activity before it drains your account.

c) To enhance your business legitimacy

Legitimacy is central to business growth, success and survival. Having a business bank account provides your new business with credibility to both customers and potential creditors which is very important for startups.

If your customers are to pay you through bank transfers or mobile payments, it is much more professional in appearance to have them paying to a company name rather than to a personal name. This is also applicable when paying your business expenses using a business bank account.

d) For professionalism

In business, it is very important to maintain a professional appearance. This will make your business a business of first choice. Give your prospects a reason to choose you over your competitors. Particularly, keeping your business finances separate from your personal finances helps enhance your image of professionalism.

It simply means that when you write checks to suppliers, they will see that the checks are coming from a real on-going business. Even when paying taxes, the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (ZIMRA) would be satisfied that the tax payments are coming from a real business.

e) To limit your personal liability

A liability is defined as the future sacrifices of economic benefits that the entity is obliged to make to other entities as a result of past transactions or other past events, the settlement of which may result in the transfer or use of personal assets. The advantage of having a corporate bank account is the separation of business funds from personal funds which is fundamental for any business owner that seeks to make progress with the business venture.

Regardless of the size of your business, you may find it is vulnerable to legal trouble. This can be due to an unpaid vendor who is suing you, or a disgruntled customer. If you want to minimize the risk of losing your personal assets if a lawsuit is filed against you, you have to have a separate business entity created.

As a sole trader or partnership, you will be legally responsible for all aspects of your business, including debts and loses. If u are to sell a defective product, make an error or suffer an injury during the course of your business, you will be personally liable. This can result in the loss of all your personal assets such as your money, car and home.

Therefore, a company that is registered is a separate legal entity and it is an easy way to protect your personal assets from your business actions to be carried out. As a result, a business bank account is an important asset because it allows you to separate your personal activities from your business activities.

f) For card highlights

This might be the single biggest reason why you want a bank account for your business. Since the entire world trades with credit cards, you will have to begin accepting them as you expand your business.

You can’t accept credit cards through a personal bank account. It can only happen with a commercial account. Such accounts are set up specifically for the purpose of accepting cards. They can make the credit card process seamless and that’s exactly what you will need.

g) For partnerships

When you enter into a partnership, at least one other person will be handling financial transactions for your business. You will need a business bank account for that to be possible, since it can’t be done with a personal account. (Nor would you want to give a partner access to your personal account in the first place)

The situation is similar if you incorporate your business. Not only may you have others needing the ability to access the business bank account, but there are also legal ramifications for sharing access to an account.

Since a corporation is viewed as a separate legal entity from its owners, it must have its own bank account. Any transactions that you run through your personal account for the business will technically be a separate activity. That will have to be accounted for at the end of the reporting period or when you go to file your business and personal tax returns.

h) To facilitate selling your business

Anyone buying your business will want to see a history of its financial transactions. They will, of course, inspect your financial statements, but that’s only a starting point. They will almost certainly want to go deeper. That means that they will take a close look at the supporting documents that produce the numbers that are visible in your financials.

Again, your business buyer will require a close review of bank statements for the past several years. That’s because bank statements are issued by the bank, and represent a form of third-party verification of hard numbers.

Basically, the sale of a business usually triggers an investigation process that’s very similar to an audit. In that situation, the more documentation that you can provide, the better.

You certainly don’t want prospective buyers looking at two or three years’ worth of personal bank statements. A business bank account can enable you to release the bank statements to a prospective buyer, without having to concern yourself with disclosing personal information.

i) For easy funding from investors

There is more to raising capital than just simply asking for money from investors. Most investors want to invest in an established business with minimal risk and they want to be sure that they get returns for the risk they took and registering your business is a step forward. To overcome the challenge of raising capital, you must develop the ability to sell your idea and vision to potential investors.

Raising money is essential for the development and expansion of your business and it is easier for financiers to invest in a registered company with a corporate bank account than a non-registered one. Lenders and investors will ask to see your business registration, a business bank account along with other application requirements before approving you a loan.

In conclusion, opening a business bank account is a step towards business success. A business bank account will make your business legitimate, offer you security, guarantee you funding from investors, limit your personal liability and makes you professional.

Develop Your Brand

We live in an era where marketing has become a requirement for getting noticed, garnering a loyal audience and making a lasting impact. In business as in your career, having a strong brand can set you apart from your competitors. Generally, a business brand is as reputation is for a person. Thus, branding your business is one of the most important steps in building a successful company.

Customers are the life blood of every business and without them there is no business. Their needs, wants, behaviours and perceptions impact every aspect of your business from product development to content marketing, to sales and customer services. Not only does branding give your company a unique personality but it also establishes a differentiated position in the market that attracts the right customers.

However, it is not only about getting your target market to select you over the competition. It is also about getting your prospects to see you as the sole provider of a solution to their problem or need.

In its essence, branding is a problem-solver. In other words, mass advertising can help build brands but authenticity is what makes them last. Hence building and managing your brand is not a singular event but a continuous process.

Following that, a brand should have a personality which refers to a set of human characteristics that are attributed to the brand. A brand personality is something to which the consumer can relate. It comes into existence when human-like adjectives like unique, caring, funny, trustworthy, rebel, creative or straightforward are assigned to the brand.

Thus, an effective brand increases its brand equity by having a consistent set of traits that a specific consumer segment enjoys. This personality is a qualitative value-add that a brand gains in addition to its functional benefits. The objectives that a good brand will achieve include:

  • To clearly deliver a message.
  • To confirm your credibility in the market place.
  • To emotionally connect your target prospects with your product or service.
  • To motivate the buyer to make a purchase.
  • To create the magic bullet of user loyalty.

Principles of developing your brand

a) Audit your marketplace

The first step in developing your brand is to determine where you stand in the marketplace and to understand who your customer is. When you enter into the business industry, it’s important for you to research about already existing businesses in your market niche.

You have to look at the competition and see how they are doing well as well as to note what they are struggling with. This will provide a good basis for you to find an angle that your company can leverage.

Primarily, start by identifying who your competitors are and do your due diligence to identify the right ones. Looking at a broad spectrum of competitors can lead you to analyzing companies whose customer segment is vastly different from yours and narrowing that spectrum too much can lead to the exclusion of some companies whose customer segment is essentially the same as yours.

In addition, ask yourself whether or not a customer will end up in a scenario where they have to choose between you and your competitor. If such companies exist, then they qualify to be in the list of your competitors.

In-depth competitor analysis is an obligation. It includes reviewing competitor websites, search engine optimization, brand identities and advertising. It informs you who your competitors compete with for market share, helps you to differentiate your brand and what strategies to employ. This will give you competitive advantage over other companies in your respective business niche. You cannot defeat your enemies until you know who they are.

b) Create a unique value proposition

A value proposition refers to a business or marketing statement that a company uses to summarize why a consumer should buy their product or service. This statement serves to convince a potential consumer how one particular product or service will add more value or better solve a problem than other similar offers will.

Again, it is a statement that paints a clear picture of what your brand has to offer for prospects. A great value proposition introduces you to prospects buyers and helps you to make a strong first impression. Your value proposition should describes:

  • How your product or service solves or improves problems.
  • What benefits can customers expect.
  • Why customers should buy from you instead of your competitors.

Having a strong value proposition a step towards building a great brand that wins customers. Value propositions usually go hand-in-hand with mission statements. They should be:

  • Succinct – it should not be too long but it should be just a statement that embodies the purpose of your company.
  • Memorable – it should be easy for people to remember and recall it. It should also be inspiring.
  • Unique – a great brand requires innovation and the creation of a new idea in the market.
  • Clear
  • Realistic – is shouldn’t reflect an impossible goal
c) Determine your brand target audience

Targeted audiences are individuals or businesses that purchase goods or services produced by another business. Attracting customers is the primary goal for any business because it is the customer who creates the need for goods and services. It is therefore important to identify the individuals who will buy your products.

Knowing your targeted customers means knowing who you are creating value for. These are individuals who share similar needs or characteristics that your business hopes to serve. These may include organizations, colleagues and enterprises only to mention but a few.

Also, you have to know who they are, what they do, why they buy, how much money they have and what they expect from you. By clearly identifying the targeted audience, it becomes easier to capture someone’s attention because their needs and goals are in the front line.

Having a well-defined target is more important than anything in building a great brand. Targeting a specific audience does not mean that you are excluding people who do not fit your criteria but rather, target marketing allows you to focus your marketing budget and brand message on a particular market that is more likely to buy from you than other markets. This is a much more affordable, efficient and effective way to reach potential clients and generate business.

d) Design an exceptional logo

A logo is an easily recognizable and reproducible design element that often includes a name, symbol, specified colors or trademark. It is a quick, visual representation of a brand’s message and position. A well designed logo should evoke some memory or emotion from the viewer depending upon their relationship with the brand.

Most importantly, a logo is a tool that helps to communicate and represent a brand. It can also be defined as a graphic mark, emblem, symbol or stylized name used to identify a company, organization, product or brand.

Also, it may take the form of an abstract or figurative design, or a stylized version of the company’s name as in a word mark. A logo may also be used as a substitute for a company’s name if it has sufficient brand recognition.

Essential rules to follow when designing a logo:

  • Preliminary work is a must – preliminary sketches are important step in designing an effective brand logo.
  • Create balance – keep your logo balanced by keeping the ‘weight’ of graphics colours and sizes equal on each side. This is because our minds naturally perceive a balanced design as pleasing and appealing.
  • Size matters – a logo has to look good and be legible at all sizes. It should not be too small or too big.
  • Proper use of colours – use colours that are near to each other on the colour wheel. Don not use colours that are too hard on the eyes. Knowing how colours evoke feelings and moods is also important.
  • Design style should suit the company – the recent trend in logo design is the Web 2.0 style of 3-D looking logos with bubbly graphics, gradients and drop shadows.
  • Typography matters – choosing the right font type and size is very important. One font style is ideal. Avoid using more than two.
  • Be innovative (dare to be different) – to stand out from competition, you must distinguish yourself as a designer with a distinct style.
  • Keep it simple – the simpler the logo, the more recognizable it will be.

Tips to help you discern if a logo concept has what it takes to best represent your business:

  • Customer focus
  • Relevancy
  • Distinctiveness
  • Memorability
  • Simplicity
  • Credibility
  • Adaptability
  • Timelessness
  • Extendability
  • Depth of meaning
e) Create an authentic voice for your brand

The brand voice is the purposeful and consistent expression of a brand through words and prose styles that engage and motivate. It works in concert with your visual system, your digital presence, your social media connections, your product packaging and your event or experience branding.

Following that, it is driven by brand strategies and marketing fundamentals. Primarily, a brand voice entails being consistent with the voice you are creating and positioning yourself as an easily identified and authoritative force for your area of expertise.

Similarly, a consistent brand voice and vocabulary is essential to implementing localized content and intelligent content strategies effectively. A brand voice should flow from a series of strategic and internal decisions that map back to the mission and vision of the organization.

Just like the human voice, a brand voice carries a spectrum of emotions and it behaves differently depending on the context or scenario. The distinctiveness of your voice should come through in its consistency, no matter what the circumstances, it should always embody the agreed upon brand values.

Tips to help you create the right brand voice
  • Define your brand voice – firstly, you have to choose words that best capture the personality of the voice you want for your brand. For example, ‘Bold but not arrogant’ and Coca-Cola’s ‘Positively Happy’.
  • Differentiate – it is important to review the communications of your competitors, their tone and attitudes. Innovation is key.
  • Listen – before you write, you should listen and be aware of how your customers communicate. Are they formal and precise or casual and conventional? The goal is to build a brand affinity by using the diction and sentence structure that’s appealing to your audience and authentic to your offering.
  • Inspire – your brand voice should be inspiring. Be bold and speak directly to your audience. Timidity will never help you achieve the success you seek.
  • Engage with your audience – every brand needs to engage the targeted audience.
  • Evolve -To evolve is to develop yourself gradually from within yourself, the evolution of your mindset, habits, daily routine, associations, actions and life. A brand voice is not fixed, it is like a fluid. Keeping pace with your audience, working across new communication channels and communicating in new ways is pivotal in building a great brand that wins customers. Always leave room for growth and change.
f) Create a brand strategy

A brand strategy is a long-term plan for the development of a successful brand in order to achieve specific goals. A well-defined and executed brand strategy affects all aspects of a business and is directly connected to consumer needs, emotions and competitive environments.

Your brand strategy defines what you stand for, a promise you make and the personality you convey. While it includes your logo, colour pallet and slogan, those are only creative elements that convey your brand, instead, your brand lives in every day- to-day interactions you have with your market.

  • The images you convey.
  • The messages you deliver on your website, proposal and campaigns.
  • The way your employees interact with customers.
  • A customer’s opinion of you versus your competition.

Branding is crucial for products and services sold in huge consumer markets. Your brand strategy brings your competitive positioning to life and works to position you as a certain ‘something’ in the mind of your prospects and consumers.

Successful branding also creates brand equity which is the amount of money that customers are willing to pay just because it’s your brand. In addition to generating revenue, brand equity makes your company itself more valuable over the long term.

Essentials for a strong brand strategy:

  • Purpose – every brand makes a promise but in a market in which consumer confidence is low and budgetary vigilance is high, it’s not just making a promise that separates one brand from another but having a defined purpose. While understanding what your business promises is necessary, knowing why you wake up every day and go to work carries more weight. A business purpose can be viewed in two ways :

i) Functional- this concept focuses on the evaluations of success in terms of immediate and commercial reasons. For example, the purpose of the business would be to make money.

ii) Intentional – this concept focuses on success as it relates to the ability to make money and to do well in the world.

  • Consistency – the key to consistency is to avoid talking about things that don’t relate to or enhance your brand. In an effort to give your brand a platform to stand on, you need to be sure that all of your messaging is cohesive. Ultimately, consistency contributes to brand recognition which fuels customer loyalty.
  • Emotion – customers are not always rational hence using emotional branding connects them to your brand. An example is that of the Harley Owners Group which produces motorbikes. By providing customers with an opportunity to feel like they’re part of a larger group that’s more tight-knit than just a bunch of motorcycle riders, Harley Davidson was able to position themselves as an obvious choice for someone looking to purchase a bike.
  • Flexibility – in this fast changing world, marketers must remain flexible to stay relevant. While consistency aims to set the standard for your brand, flexibility enables you to make adjustments that build interest and distinguish your approach from that of your competition. In other words, effective identity programs require enough consistency to be identifiable, but enough variation to keep things fresh and human.
  • Employee involvement – it’s equally important for your employees to be well versed with how they should be communicating with customers and representing the brand.
  • Loyalty – if you already have people that love you, your company and your brand, it is necessary to reward them for that love. Customers have go out their way to write about you, to tell their friends about you or even to act as your brand ambassadors. Cultivating loyalty from such people early on will yield more returning customers and more profit for your business. Featuring them on your website or asking them to write reviews is a great move.
  • Competitive awareness – competition should be taken as a challenge to improve your own strategy and create greater value in your overall brand. Tailor your brand positioning based on past experiences to better your company.
g) Create and maintain brand consistency

Brand consistency is the pattern of expression that affects what people think about your company. It isn’t just something that a lasting brand strives for but it is an essential element to any brand’s growth and longevity. Brand consistency confirms that the brand is professional and driven to achieve its purpose and social commitments.

It is when businesses attempt to communicate messages in a way which doesn’t detract or wander away from the core brand strategy, values and foundation. This means that your brand’s messaging is delivered in the same tone, the logo is always used in a similar way, a single typeface is used for all brand communications and the typography and colours are always consistent.

Every brand touch point and piece of marketing material should be similar. This is because a brand has its own style which enables the target audience to recognize it and differentiate it from the competition.

Advantages

It shows how focused and intentional the company is in achieving its goals and maintaining standards.
Avoids issues resulting from people confusing your brand with others in similar industries, or those possessing the same or similar name as yours.

  • Manages perceptions – sticking to brand values and maintaining a consistent image in the public eye will shape the way people see the brand, during the good times and also the not-so-good times.
  • Builds more brand equity in the long run – as the brand gains traction, your name and logo will become synonymous with trust and value and opportunities to leverage that value will eventually come your way.
  • Ensures consumers know what to expect each time they do business with you — what level of service and quality they will get in exchange for their money and how your brand compares with others. For example Coke vs. Pepsi, Ford vs. Chevrolet and Hyatt vs. Hilton.
Steps to making your brand identity more consistent.
  • Understand why a consistent brand matters.
  • Create a brand guide – it is a business document which states: the brand mission, value propositions and differentiators, voice and tone. logo usage, iconography, brand colours, fonts and typography, signage specs, media formats, photography and graphic styles.
  • Circulate the brand guide – since the brand guide explains not only how the company is presented but also what the brand is founded on, it needs to be available to all departments including : sales team – so that they know how to present the brand values to customers and clients, product production – so that know how to design products and packaging to match the style of the brand, third-party consultants and freelancers – so they can quickly learn how to replicate the unique voice and tone of the brand, potential partners – so they can identify an organization’s core values before forming a partnership.
  • Audit and update existing branding materials.
  • Create a plan for the future – ‘Good business leaders create a vision, articulate the vision, passionately own the vision and relentlessly drive it to completion’ – Jack Welch.
h) Monitor and modify your brand

Brand modification is a process whereby an adjustment is made to an existing brand and it is usually made for greater appeal or functionality. A modification may include a change to a company logo’s shape or a change in the company’s motto. Features are removed or added to improve the efficiency and success of a business. A brand modification is usually accompanied by a change in packaging.

Advantages
  • It allows you to lure and connect with the new audience.
  • To set yourself apart from competitors.
  • To stay current – Rebranding has one simple goal which is keeping your brand current. Design trends play a major role in how your potential or current customers perceive your company and all it has to offer. Ensuring that your look is always ahead of the curve shows your customers that you pay attention and it signals that you have practical knowledge about trends within your industry.
  • To reflect new goals, products, offers or values – It’s hard to showcase how your company has grown when your brand doesn’t reflect it. If you have expanded to offer new products, grown to include more services or set new goals for yourself, rebranding is a great way to show that your business is evolving. While it’s important to stick to your traditional services and story, updating your services and is a way to promote them and can help you get more business.
  • To boost profits – Reaching new potential clients, standing out from your competitors, showcasing your expertise and expanding the influence and reach of your products and services are all incredibly effective ways to increase profits.

In conclusion, business is all about relationships and how well you build them determines how well they build your business. Customers are the life blood of every business and without them there is no business. Not only does branding give your company a unique personality but it also establishes a differentiated position in the market that attracts the right customers.

Open a business bank account

A registered company is a separate corporate legal entity. It can sue and be sued in its own name. Therefore, it is paramount importance for a registered entity, regardless of its size, to have a corporate bank account.

Primarily, a business/corporate bank account serves to separate your personal funds from your business funds. It’s not enough to just keep separate records. You should actually keep the money physically separate in different bank accounts.

Specifically, a business bank account is important for keeping your business, personal expenses and income separate. Also, it gives your new business record a good start. Thus, a business bank account is fundamental for any business owner that seeks to make progress with their business venture.

Why you need to open a business bank account for your business

a) For accurate and clean bookkeeping

Imagine how your checkbook and your bank statement would be like if you mix your business and personal transactions. Now imagine that over the course of a year. The truth is, no one wants to deal with a mess.

Therefore, if you have a separate account for your business transactions, you have a clean record to give to your accountant at the end of the year. However, remember to keep all your invoices and receipts to match up to your checkbook and bank statement entries and you will be in good shape when income tax time rolls around.

b) For security

While the chance is low, there is a possibility of someone hacking your bank account to use it to pay for their personal things. A person with your routing and account numbers to charge your account can pose a risk. In truth, all the information someone needs to attempt to pay bills with your account is found on every check you write.

However, with a proper business account you can ask your bank to set up protection measures such as limiting withdrawals or flagging unusual transactions. This will at least notify you immediately of any suspicious activity before it drains your account.

c) To enhance your business legitimacy

Legitimacy is central to business growth, success and survival. Having a business bank account provides your new business with credibility to both customers and potential creditors which is very important for startups.

If your customers are to pay you through bank transfers or mobile payments, it is much more professional in appearance to have them paying to a company name rather than to a personal name. This is also applicable when paying your business expenses using a business bank account.

d) For professionalism

In business, it is very important to maintain a professional appearance. This will make your business a business of first choice. Give your prospects a reason to choose you over your competitors. Particularly, keeping your business finances separate from your personal finances helps enhance your image of professionalism.

It simply means that when you write checks to suppliers, they will see that the checks are coming from a real on-going business. Even when paying taxes, the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (ZIMRA) would be satisfied that the tax payments are coming from a real business.

e) To limit your personal liability

A liability is defined as the future sacrifices of economic benefits that the entity is obliged to make to other entities as a result of past transactions or other past events, the settlement of which may result in the transfer or use of personal assets. The advantage of having a corporate bank account is the separation of business funds from personal funds which is fundamental for any business owner that seeks to make progress with the business venture.

Regardless of the size of your business, you may find it is vulnerable to legal trouble. This can be due to an unpaid vendor who is suing you, or a disgruntled customer. If you want to minimize the risk of losing your personal assets if a lawsuit is filed against you, you have to have a separate business entity created.

As a sole trader or partnership, you will be legally responsible for all aspects of your business, including debts and loses. If u are to sell a defective product, make an error or suffer an injury during the course of your business, you will be personally liable. This can result in the loss of all your personal assets such as your money, car and home.

Therefore, a company that is registered is a separate legal entity and it is an easy way to protect your personal assets from your business actions to be carried out. As a result, a business bank account is an important asset because it allows you to separate your personal activities from your business activities.

f) For card highlights

This might be the single biggest reason why you want a bank account for your business. Since the entire world trades with credit cards, you will have to begin accepting them as you expand your business.

You can’t accept credit cards through a personal bank account. It can only happen with a commercial account. Such accounts are set up specifically for the purpose of accepting cards. They can make the credit card process seamless and that’s exactly what you will need.

g) For partnerships

When you enter into a partnership, at least one other person will be handling financial transactions for your business. You will need a business bank account for that to be possible, since it can’t be done with a personal account. (Nor would you want to give a partner access to your personal account in the first place)

The situation is similar if you incorporate your business. Not only may you have others needing the ability to access the business bank account, but there are also legal ramifications for sharing access to an account.

Since a corporation is viewed as a separate legal entity from its owners, it must have its own bank account. Any transactions that you run through your personal account for the business will technically be a separate activity. That will have to be accounted for at the end of the reporting period or when you go to file your business and personal tax returns.

h) To facilitate selling your business

Anyone buying your business will want to see a history of its financial transactions. They will, of course, inspect your financial statements, but that’s only a starting point. They will almost certainly want to go deeper. That means that they will take a close look at the supporting documents that produce the numbers that are visible in your financials.

Again, your business buyer will require a close review of bank statements for the past several years. That’s because bank statements are issued by the bank, and represent a form of third-party verification of hard numbers.

Basically, the sale of a business usually triggers an investigation process that’s very similar to an audit. In that situation, the more documentation that you can provide, the better.

You certainly don’t want prospective buyers looking at two or three years’ worth of personal bank statements. A business bank account can enable you to release the bank statements to a prospective buyer, without having to concern yourself with disclosing personal information.

i) For easy funding from investors

There is more to raising capital than just simply asking for money from investors. Most investors want to invest in an established business with minimal risk and they want to be sure that they get returns for the risk they took and registering your business is a step forward. To overcome the challenge of raising capital, you must develop the ability to sell your idea and vision to potential investors.

Raising money is essential for the development and expansion of your business and it is easier for financiers to invest in a registered company with a corporate bank account than a non-registered one. Lenders and investors will ask to see your business registration, a business bank account along with other application requirements before approving you a loan.

In conclusion, opening a business bank account is a step towards business success. A business bank account will make your business legitimate, offer you security, guarantee you funding from investors, limit your personal liability and makes you professional.

Develop your brand

We live in an era where marketing has become a requirement for getting noticed, garnering a loyal audience and making a lasting impact. In business as in your career, having a strong brand can set you apart from your competitors. Generally, a business brand is as reputation is for a person. Thus, branding your business is one of the most important steps in building a successful company.

Customers are the life blood of every business and without them there is no business. Their needs, wants, behaviours and perceptions impact every aspect of your business from product development to content marketing, to sales and customer services. Not only does branding give your company a unique personality but it also establishes a differentiated position in the market that attracts the right customers.

However, it is not only about getting your target market to select you over the competition. It is also about getting your prospects to see you as the sole provider of a solution to their problem or need.

In its essence, branding is a problem-solver. In other words, mass advertising can help build brands but authenticity is what makes them last. Hence building and managing your brand is not a singular event but a continuous process.

Following that, a brand should have a personality which refers to a set of human characteristics that are attributed to the brand. A brand personality is something to which the consumer can relate. It comes into existence when human-like adjectives like unique, caring, funny, trustworthy, rebel, creative or straightforward are assigned to the brand.

Thus, an effective brand increases its brand equity by having a consistent set of traits that a specific consumer segment enjoys. This personality is a qualitative value-add that a brand gains in addition to its functional benefits. The objectives that a good brand will achieve include:

  • To clearly deliver a message.
  • To confirm your credibility in the market place.
  • To emotionally connect your target prospects with your product or service.
  • To motivate the buyer to make a purchase.
  • To create the magic bullet of user loyalty.

Principles of developing your brand

a) Audit your marketplace

The first step in developing your brand is to determine where you stand in the marketplace and to understand who your customer is. When you enter into the business industry, it’s important for you to research about already existing businesses in your market niche.

You have to look at the competition and see how they are doing well as well as to note what they are struggling with. This will provide a good basis for you to find an angle that your company can leverage.

Primarily, start by identifying who your competitors are and do your due diligence to identify the right ones. Looking at a broad spectrum of competitors can lead you to analyzing companies whose customer segment is vastly different from yours and narrowing that spectrum too much can lead to the exclusion of some companies whose customer segment is essentially the same as yours.

In addition, ask yourself whether or not a customer will end up in a scenario where they have to choose between you and your competitor. If such companies exist, then they qualify to be in the list of your competitors.

In-depth competitor analysis is an obligation. It includes reviewing competitor websites, search engine optimization, brand identities and advertising. It informs you who your competitors compete with for market share, helps you to differentiate your brand and what strategies to employ. This will give you competitive advantage over other companies in your respective business niche. You cannot defeat your enemies until you know who they are.

b) Create a unique value proposition

A value proposition refers to a business or marketing statement that a company uses to summarize why a consumer should buy their product or service. This statement serves to convince a potential consumer how one particular product or service will add more value or better solve a problem than other similar offers will.

Again, it is a statement that paints a clear picture of what your brand has to offer for prospects. A great value proposition introduces you to prospects buyers and helps you to make a strong first impression. Your value proposition should describes:

  • How your product or service solves or improves problems.
  • What benefits can customers expect.
  • Why customers should buy from you instead of your competitors.

Having a strong value proposition a step towards building a great brand that wins customers. Value propositions usually go hand-in-hand with mission statements. They should be:

  • Succinct – it should not be too long but it should be just a statement that embodies the purpose of your company.
  • Memorable – it should be easy for people to remember and recall it. It should also be inspiring.
  • Unique – a great brand requires innovation and the creation of a new idea in the market.
  • Clear
  • Realistic – is shouldn’t reflect an impossible goal
c) Determine your brand target audience

Targeted audiences are individuals or businesses that purchase goods or services produced by another business. Attracting customers is the primary goal for any business because it is the customer who creates the need for goods and services. It is therefore important to identify the individuals who will buy your products.

Knowing your targeted customers means knowing who you are creating value for. These are individuals who share similar needs or characteristics that your business hopes to serve. These may include organizations, colleagues and enterprises only to mention but a few.

Also, you have to know who they are, what they do, why they buy, how much money they have and what they expect from you. By clearly identifying the targeted audience, it becomes easier to capture someone’s attention because their needs and goals are in the front line.

Having a well-defined target is more important than anything in building a great brand. Targeting a specific audience does not mean that you are excluding people who do not fit your criteria but rather, target marketing allows you to focus your marketing budget and brand message on a particular market that is more likely to buy from you than other markets. This is a much more affordable, efficient and effective way to reach potential clients and generate business.

d) Design an exceptional logo

A logo is an easily recognizable and reproducible design element that often includes a name, symbol, specified colors or trademark. It is a quick, visual representation of a brand’s message and position. A well designed logo should evoke some memory or emotion from the viewer depending upon their relationship with the brand.

Most importantly, a logo is a tool that helps to communicate and represent a brand. It can also be defined as a graphic mark, emblem, symbol or stylized name used to identify a company, organization, product or brand.

Also, it may take the form of an abstract or figurative design, or a stylized version of the company’s name as in a word mark. A logo may also be used as a substitute for a company’s name if it has sufficient brand recognition.

Essential rules to follow when designing a logo:

  • Preliminary work is a must – preliminary sketches are important step in designing an effective brand logo.
  • Create balance – keep your logo balanced by keeping the ‘weight’ of graphics colours and sizes equal on each side. This is because our minds naturally perceive a balanced design as pleasing and appealing.
  • Size matters – a logo has to look good and be legible at all sizes. It should not be too small or too big.
  • Proper use of colours – use colours that are near to each other on the colour wheel. Don not use colours that are too hard on the eyes. Knowing how colours evoke feelings and moods is also important.
  • Design style should suit the company – the recent trend in logo design is the Web 2.0 style of 3-D looking logos with bubbly graphics, gradients and drop shadows.
  • Typography matters – choosing the right font type and size is very important. One font style is ideal. Avoid using more than two.
  • Be innovative (dare to be different) – to stand out from competition, you must distinguish yourself as a designer with a distinct style.
  • Keep it simple – the simpler the logo, the more recognizable it will be.

Tips to help you discern if a logo concept has what it takes to best represent your business:

  • Customer focus
  • Relevancy
  • Distinctiveness
  • Memorability
  • Simplicity
  • Credibility
  • Adaptability
  • Timelessness
  • Extendability
  • Depth of meaning
e) Create an authentic voice for your brand

The brand voice is the purposeful and consistent expression of a brand through words and prose styles that engage and motivate. It works in concert with your visual system, your digital presence, your social media connections, your product packaging and your event or experience branding.

Following that, it is driven by brand strategies and marketing fundamentals. Primarily, a brand voice entails being consistent with the voice you are creating and positioning yourself as an easily identified and authoritative force for your area of expertise.

Similarly, a consistent brand voice and vocabulary is essential to implementing localized content and intelligent content strategies effectively. A brand voice should flow from a series of strategic and internal decisions that map back to the mission and vision of the organization.

Just like the human voice, a brand voice carries a spectrum of emotions and it behaves differently depending on the context or scenario. The distinctiveness of your voice should come through in its consistency, no matter what the circumstances, it should always embody the agreed upon brand values.

Tips to help you create the right brand voice
  • Define your brand voice – firstly, you have to choose words that best capture the personality of the voice you want for your brand. For example, ‘Bold but not arrogant’ and Coca-Cola’s ‘Positively Happy’.
  • Differentiate – it is important to review the communications of your competitors, their tone and attitudes. Innovation is key.
  • Listen – before you write, you should listen and be aware of how your customers communicate. Are they formal and precise or casual and conventional? The goal is to build a brand affinity by using the diction and sentence structure that’s appealing to your audience and authentic to your offering.
  • Inspire – your brand voice should be inspiring. Be bold and speak directly to your audience. Timidity will never help you achieve the success you seek.
  • Engage with your audience – every brand needs to engage the targeted audience.
  • Evolve -To evolve is to develop yourself gradually from within yourself, the evolution of your mindset, habits, daily routine, associations, actions and life. A brand voice is not fixed, it is like a fluid. Keeping pace with your audience, working across new communication channels and communicating in new ways is pivotal in building a great brand that wins customers. Always leave room for growth and change.
f) Create a brand strategy

A brand strategy is a long-term plan for the development of a successful brand in order to achieve specific goals. A well-defined and executed brand strategy affects all aspects of a business and is directly connected to consumer needs, emotions and competitive environments.

Your brand strategy defines what you stand for, a promise you make and the personality you convey. While it includes your logo, colour pallet and slogan, those are only creative elements that convey your brand, instead, your brand lives in every day- to-day interactions you have with your market.

  • The images you convey.
  • The messages you deliver on your website, proposal and campaigns.
  • The way your employees interact with customers.
  • A customer’s opinion of you versus your competition.

Branding is crucial for products and services sold in huge consumer markets. Your brand strategy brings your competitive positioning to life and works to position you as a certain ‘something’ in the mind of your prospects and consumers.

Successful branding also creates brand equity which is the amount of money that customers are willing to pay just because it’s your brand. In addition to generating revenue, brand equity makes your company itself more valuable over the long term.

Essentials for a strong brand strategy:

  • Purpose – every brand makes a promise but in a market in which consumer confidence is low and budgetary vigilance is high, it’s not just making a promise that separates one brand from another but having a defined purpose. While understanding what your business promises is necessary, knowing why you wake up every day and go to work carries more weight. A business purpose can be viewed in two ways :

i) Functional- this concept focuses on the evaluations of success in terms of immediate and commercial reasons. For example, the purpose of the business would be to make money.

ii) Intentional – this concept focuses on success as it relates to the ability to make money and to do well in the world.

  • Consistency – the key to consistency is to avoid talking about things that don’t relate to or enhance your brand. In an effort to give your brand a platform to stand on, you need to be sure that all of your messaging is cohesive. Ultimately, consistency contributes to brand recognition which fuels customer loyalty.
  • Emotion – customers are not always rational hence using emotional branding connects them to your brand. An example is that of the Harley Owners Group which produces motorbikes. By providing customers with an opportunity to feel like they’re part of a larger group that’s more tight-knit than just a bunch of motorcycle riders, Harley Davidson was able to position themselves as an obvious choice for someone looking to purchase a bike.
  • Flexibility – in this fast changing world, marketers must remain flexible to stay relevant. While consistency aims to set the standard for your brand, flexibility enables you to make adjustments that build interest and distinguish your approach from that of your competition. In other words, effective identity programs require enough consistency to be identifiable, but enough variation to keep things fresh and human.
  • Employee involvement – it’s equally important for your employees to be well versed with how they should be communicating with customers and representing the brand.
  • Loyalty – if you already have people that love you, your company and your brand, it is necessary to reward them for that love. Customers have go out their way to write about you, to tell their friends about you or even to act as your brand ambassadors. Cultivating loyalty from such people early on will yield more returning customers and more profit for your business. Featuring them on your website or asking them to write reviews is a great move.
  • Competitive awareness – competition should be taken as a challenge to improve your own strategy and create greater value in your overall brand. Tailor your brand positioning based on past experiences to better your company.
g) Create and maintain brand consistency

Brand consistency is the pattern of expression that affects what people think about your company. It isn’t just something that a lasting brand strives for but it is an essential element to any brand’s growth and longevity. Brand consistency confirms that the brand is professional and driven to achieve its purpose and social commitments.

It is when businesses attempt to communicate messages in a way which doesn’t detract or wander away from the core brand strategy, values and foundation. This means that your brand’s messaging is delivered in the same tone, the logo is always used in a similar way, a single typeface is used for all brand communications and the typography and colours are always consistent.

Every brand touch point and piece of marketing material should be similar. This is because a brand has its own style which enables the target audience to recognize it and differentiate it from the competition.

Advantages

It shows how focused and intentional the company is in achieving its goals and maintaining standards.
Avoids issues resulting from people confusing your brand with others in similar industries, or those possessing the same or similar name as yours.

  • Manages perceptions – sticking to brand values and maintaining a consistent image in the public eye will shape the way people see the brand, during the good times and also the not-so-good times.
  • Builds more brand equity in the long run – as the brand gains traction, your name and logo will become synonymous with trust and value and opportunities to leverage that value will eventually come your way.
  • Ensures consumers know what to expect each time they do business with you — what level of service and quality they will get in exchange for their money and how your brand compares with others. For example Coke vs. Pepsi, Ford vs. Chevrolet and Hyatt vs. Hilton.
Steps to making your brand identity more consistent.
  • Understand why a consistent brand matters.
  • Create a brand guide – it is a business document which states: the brand mission, value propositions and differentiators, voice and tone. logo usage, iconography, brand colours, fonts and typography, signage specs, media formats, photography and graphic styles.
  • Circulate the brand guide – since the brand guide explains not only how the company is presented but also what the brand is founded on, it needs to be available to all departments including : sales team – so that they know how to present the brand values to customers and clients, product production – so that know how to design products and packaging to match the style of the brand, third-party consultants and freelancers – so they can quickly learn how to replicate the unique voice and tone of the brand, potential partners – so they can identify an organization’s core values before forming a partnership.
  • Audit and update existing branding materials.
  • Create a plan for the future – ‘Good business leaders create a vision, articulate the vision, passionately own the vision and relentlessly drive it to completion’ – Jack Welch.
h) Monitor and modify your brand

Brand modification is a process whereby an adjustment is made to an existing brand and it is usually made for greater appeal or functionality. A modification may include a change to a company logo’s shape or a change in the company’s motto. Features are removed or added to improve the efficiency and success of a business. A brand modification is usually accompanied by a change in packaging.

Advantages
  • It allows you to lure and connect with the new audience.
  • To set yourself apart from competitors.
  • To stay current – Rebranding has one simple goal which is keeping your brand current. Design trends play a major role in how your potential or current customers perceive your company and all it has to offer. Ensuring that your look is always ahead of the curve shows your customers that you pay attention and it signals that you have practical knowledge about trends within your industry.
  • To reflect new goals, products, offers or values – It’s hard to showcase how your company has grown when your brand doesn’t reflect it. If you have expanded to offer new products, grown to include more services or set new goals for yourself, rebranding is a great way to show that your business is evolving. While it’s important to stick to your traditional services and story, updating your services and is a way to promote them and can help you get more business.
  • To boost profits – Reaching new potential clients, standing out from your competitors, showcasing your expertise and expanding the influence and reach of your products and services are all incredibly effective ways to increase profits.

In conclusion, business is all about relationships and how well you build them determines how well they build your business. Customers are the life blood of every business and without them there is no business. Not only does branding give your company a unique personality but it also establishes a differentiated position in the market that attracts the right customers.

Acquire office furniture and equipment

From startups to growing operations to large enterprises, every company needs furniture and business machines to support their teams and host their clients and vendors. Choosing the right furniture is as important as choosing the right type of office. It does not only contribute to its well-being, it also affects office productivity and entices prospective employees.

Primarily, office equipment refers to consumables and equipment regularly used in offices by businesses or by individuals engaged in written communications, record keeping or bookkeeping, janitorial and cleaning and for storage of supplies or data.

In truth, starting up a business or office will require both office furniture and office equipment. Purchasing office equipment, such as computers, software, printers, fax machines, and network equipment will most likely be your second largest startup expense.

If you plan carefully you will be able to control your office equipment expenditures by only buying the essential equipment you really need. Whether you are leasing new office space, moving offices or redesigning your home office, here are things to keep mind before you purchase office furniture and fixtures:

a) Cost

The first and most important factor is your office design budget. How much are you willing to spend on office furniture? This figure will determine the kind, quality and quantity of office fixtures. With a budget in mind, look for the best deals and highest quality furniture that limited resources can buy.

Financing startups is not easy. Every penny spent is an investment. You have to show to your investors that you are wisely spending the money entrusted to you. Thus, before buying any furniture, consider the cost. How much money will you spend on a particular desk or chair? How many will you buy? Determining your budget beforehand will help you narrow down your choices without compromising quality. To save, you can always opt to shop at a second-hand furniture store.

b) Needs

If your employees will be sitting and working most of the day, providing them a comfortable chair and desk is a must. Nowadays, ergonomic chairs and desks have become trendy as they make working easier, as supported by health studies. With the plethora of these products in the market, you can buy one at an affordable price.

Aside from chairs and desks, you can also buy other furniture and style your interior depending on your business type. Are you aiming for a cafe-like atmosphere where employees can easily communicate and collaborate with each other? Buy a huge table and a few chairs. Are you going for a formal feel with cubicles so that they can focus? Buy a desk with cubicle-dividers. Whatever your plans are, keep in mind that your choice should make your office a conducive environment for work.

c) Flexibility and functionality

The next thing to consider is flexibility and functionality of the furniture. Does your desk have storage for files? Can you stretch your legs or take a cat nap under your table? Are they comfortable enough for your employees? If your answers are yes, then you would have made a wise investment. Furniture with multiple functionalities is always a better choice.

Ultimately, when you balance functionality with low cost, you are hitting two birds with one stone. One of the things that most business owners tend to do regarding furniture weight, is to look for furniture that is lightweight so they can move it around. From time to time some changes are necessary so when you have light furniture, it makes it easy to change its placement.

d) Size

How large or small your office space is will determine the kind of furniture you buy as well. If you have only a few employees and a small space you can purchase larger co-working tables. However, more employees in a small office require more tables. So, ensure they are not too small or uncomfortable.

It is common sense to buy furniture proportionate in size to your office space. Bringing bulky ones will consume a huge chunk of your office. With the cramped space, you and your employees won’t be able to freely move around. Thus, first know the dimensions of your office and from there, research for ways on how to maximize it.

Also, arranging furniture in a certain way can also help make your office look more spacious. The bottom line is to provide your office with the right furniture and remember to leave enough room for your team to be comfortable in.

e) Aesthetics value and brand identity

Purchase the kind of furniture that can contribute to the beauty of your office. A good office design lightens up the mood, eases stress and increases productivity. To do this, having a little background on the psychology of colors is an advantage. For instance, if you want your office to have a creative and energetic atmosphere, use the color orange. If you want to exude wisdom and tranquility, use blue.

However, be mindful when choosing a multitude of different colors. If you wind up with a clashing mixture of them, it can disturb your company identity or cause headaches to your employees and any onlookers. Furthermore, don’t choose furniture just because you like its color or design.

You have to choose one that goes with your brand or your office personality. Your office furniture must transcend the aesthetic and comfort value it provides. It must also reflect your company’s identity and culture. A consistent furniture scheme creates calmness and synergy.

f) Durability

One of the most important aspects, when you are looking for office furniture, is to make sure that it will be durable. Usually, most business owners tend to opt for teal furniture because it lasts a lot longer than wooden furniture. Buying durable furniture will save you in the long run. You won’t have to keep spending money to fix furniture or even to buy new ones for that matter.

g) Safety

Usually, business owners tend to avoid glass or plates topped furniture because it’s usually relatively unsafe than others. In the old days, most offices used a lot of wooden furniture. However, some people believe that wooden furniture has a higher risk in term for fire incidents. As a result, you have to weigh types of furniture materials and see which one is most suitable for your type of business.

Types of Office Equipment

i) Business Telephone System

Perhaps the primary means you will use for communicating with customers and vendors will be the telephone. Understanding what services, features, and options are available will help buy the right size phone system for the right price for your business.

ii) Computers and Software

Information is the lifeblood of any successful organization today. The key to leveraging information to your advantage is purchasing and implementing the right computers and software for your business. The computer is also now essential to business communication thanks to email.

You will also want to explore systems for backing up your business data. There are many online services available now that will save you having to invest in secure and reliable on-site backup equipment for your office.

iii) Computer Network and Internet Connection

If the information is the lifeblood of the business, then computer networks are the veins and arteries that channel that information throughout all the parts of your business. For this, you will need Ethernet cabling, a router, and switches, especially if you are setting up a larger network that will support numerous employees.

You will need a modem for connecting your network to the outside world, and with that modem, you will need Internet service from a provider.

iv) Multi-functional Printer

Information is organized, manipulated and moved electronically but people still love paper. If it’s electronic we want to print it. If it’s printed we want to scan it. If it’s somewhere else, we want to fax it. Buying one machine to do it all can save you time and money.

v) Smartphone

They say time is money, hence communicating effectively will save your time while you are making money. Keeping yourself organized and on-time not only has an economic impact but will also help you manage the stresses in your life. In addition, having access to your office email through your smartphone can offer an enormous advantage and convenience.

vi) Shredder

Just as quickly as we generate paper we must destroy it. Your business is responsible for the information it possesses. It may be an employee’s personal information, a customer list, a client’s sensitive materials or a confidential memo. Information that you’re responsible for that gets into the wrong hands can be devastating to your company and your clients.

vii) Mailing Equipment

Documents, product samples, catalogs and statements are just a few examples of items that may be shipped out of your company. The proper mailing equipment, such as scales and postage software or using a logistic companies can save your business valuable time and money.

In conclusion, every company needs furniture and business machines to support their teams and host their clients and vendors. Choosing the right furniture is as important as choosing the right type of office. It does not only contribute to its well-being, it also affects office productivity and entices prospective employees. However, they are things you have to consider before purchasing office furniture and equipment to save your finances.

Register with statutory institutions

Have you ever wondered why legal compliance has become a cliche when doing business? It’s because compliance is the biggest predictor of your business success. The most obvious consequence of compliance is that it decreases your risk of fines, penalties, work stoppages, lawsuits or a shutdown of your business.

Contrarily, failure to comply with the law is costly and the most devastating end result is when your business is blacklisted and banned from trading.

Primarily, registering with statutory institutions makes you compliant. Being compliant means that your business is operating under its lawful obligations and has the appropriate documents (contracts, awards, agreements, policies and letters). The documents serve to illustrate the legitimacy of your business operations.

However, some statutory institutions are compulsory for every business while are others regulate specific types of industries. Compulsory statutory institutions for all startups include:

  • Registrar of Companies – for business incorporation.
  • NSSA – for pension and workers compensation insurance and help with monthly returns.
  • ZIMRA – for tax purposes.
  • NEC – or employer/employee dispute management and help with monthly returns.
  • City Council – for shop/municipal licenses.
  • ZIMDEF – for manpower development and help with monthly returns.

Compulsory statutory institutions for specific industries include:

  • MCAZ (applicable to pharmaceuticals and pharmacies) – for protecting public and animal health by controlling medicine distribution.
  • RBZ (applicable to micro-finance institutions) – for the formulation and implementation of monetary policies.
  • POTRAZ (applicable to private telecommunication network companies)– for regulating the telecommunications sector.
  • ZERA (applicable to gas and petroleum companies) – for regulating the entire energy sector in Zimbabwe.

How to register with Compulsory Statutory Institutions

How to register your company with the registrar of companies

Company registration is the process of obtaining legal authorization to conduct business within your chosen field. It is an act of acquiring legal authorization to operate a business under lawful obligations. To register your business in Zimbabwe they are two important procedures that one should follow.

The procedure for company registration in Zimbabwe is divided into 2 stages. There is the name search and reservation stage and then there is the incorporation and registration stage. The procedure is basically the same whether you are registering a Private Business Corporation or a Private Limited Company. Under normal circumstances, the process takes up to 12 working days.

How to register with National Social Security Authority (NSSA)

National Social Security Authority (NSSA), is the statutory corporate body tasked by the Government to provide social security. The provision of social security can be defined as instituting public policy measures intended to protect an individual in life situations or conditions in which his/her livelihood and well-being may be threatened, such as those engendered by sickness, workplace injuries, unemployment, invalidity, old age, retirement and death.

Primarily, the Pension and Other Benefits Scheme offers four main types of benefits which are as follows:

  • Retirement Benefit (Pension or Grant)
  • Invalidity Benefit (Pension or Grant)
  • Survivor’s Benefit (Pension or Grant)
  • Funeral Grant
How to register your company with Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (ZIMRA)

The Zimbabwe Revenue Authority, which derives its mandate from the Revenue Authority Act [Chapter 23:11] and other subsidiary legislation, is responsible for assessing, collecting and accounting for revenue on behalf of the State through the Ministry of Finance.

In Zimbabwe, one of the best ways of ensuring success and continuity in any business is to ensure that all statutory obligations are met in time. If you are doing your business in Zimbabwe you have to register your business with ZIMRA for tax compliance.

How to register your company with National Employment Council

Examples of NECs in Zimbabwe:

  • NEC Medical and Allied Industries
  • NEC Catering
  • NEC Agriculture
  • NEC Insurance
  • NEC Commercial Sector
  • NEC Constructional Sector
  • NEC for Cement and Lime Companies
  • NEC for Mining

It is the Ministry of Labour that sum up the information and allocates your company to the correct NEC where your business belongs.

How to apply for a shop licence with the Local Council

In terms of the Shop Licence’s Act Chapter 14.17, no person shall in any shop, store or another fixed place of business, carry on the trade or business of selling or letting for hire any goods except in terms of a shop license. Shop license is one important license business must procure. If you sell from a shop in Zimbabwe, you are going to require a shop license. A shop license makes you trade legally and it also fully formalizes your business.

How to register your company with Zimbabwe Manpower Development Fund

Zimbabwe Manpower Development Fund is the statutory body with a broad objective of financing the development of critical and highly skilled manpower in Zimbabwe. This body is funded by every business in Zimbabwe through paying a 1% Training Levy. This Levy is paid by registered companies in Zimbabwe. Hence it is mandatory to register your business with ZIMDEF

How to register with Specific Statutory Institutions

How to register your micro-finance institution with the Reserve bank of Zimbabwe

The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe is responsible for the formulation and implementation of monetary policy, directed at ensuring low and stable inflation levels. The bank maintains a stable banking system through its supervisory and lender of last resort functions. The bank is the sole issuer of currency and acts as banker and advisor to Government. Thus, for one to start a micro-finance company they should register with RBZ.

How to register your Private Telecommunication Network with the Postal and Telecommunication Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (POTRAZ)

The Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (POTRAZ) is the regulatory authority of Zimbabwe’s postal and telecommunications sector. POTRAZ is mandated to create awareness on the role of the postal and courier services sector and their contribution to the social and economic development of Zimbabwe.

How to register your Petroleaum company with the Zimbabwe Energy Regulatory Authority (ZERA)

The Zimbabwe Energy Regulatory Authority (ZERA) is a corporate body established in terms of the Energy Regulatory Authority Act of 2011. It is mandated to regulate the entire energy sector in Zimbabwe in a fair, transparent, efficient and cost effective manner for the benefit of the consumers and energy suppliers.

How to register your pharmacy with the Medicines Control Authority of Zimbabwe

Medicines Control Authority of Zimbabwe is responsible for protecting public and animal health by ensuring that accessible medicines and allied substances and medical devices are safe, effective and of good quality through enforcement of adherence to standards by manufacturers and distributors. To operate a pharmacy in Zimbabwe, at least 51% of the company should be owned by a registered pharmacist.

In conclusion, registering with statutory institutions makes you compliant. Being compliant means that your business is operating under its lawful obligations and has the appropriate documents. The documents serve to illustrate the legitimacy of your business operations. Thus, with proper documents, you can trade freely.

Product/service development

The future of your company is dependent upon it staying relevant. In this day and age, new and innovative products must keep pace with the marketplace. New Product Development is the total process that takes a product from conception to the market.

Most importantly, new or re-branded products are meant to fill a consumer demand or an opportunity in the market place. Thus with proper product/service development, your product can completely replace a current product, take over an existing product or simply broaden the market for something that already exists.

Basically, product development is a systematic process of defined steps and tasks such as strategies, concept generation, marketing plan creation, evaluation and commercialization of a new product. It is a cycle by means of which an innovative firm routinely converts ideas into commercially viable goods or services.

Of thousands of products entering the process, only a handful reach the market. Therefore, it is of crucial importance to understand consumers, markets and competitors in order to develop products that deliver superior value to customers.

In other words, there is no way around a systematic, customer-driven new product development process for finding and growing new products. We will go into the eight major steps in the new product development process:

1. Idea Generation

A new idea is often the basis for starting up a business. Many entrepreneurs spot a gap in the market and start businesses that provide a product or service that fills it. However, others come up with ways to improve an existing product. Generally ideas come from intern and external sources.

  •  Internal idea sources – the company finds new ideas internally.
  • External idea sources – the company finds new ideas externally. This refers to all kinds of external sources, e.g. distributors and suppliers, but also competitors. The most important external source are customers because the new product development process should focus on creating customer value.

The development of a new product or service usually starts with an initial idea. There are many ways to come up with an idea. To begin with, you can ask yourself the following questions:

  • Is there a gap in the market in the industry that you currently work in?
  • Are there gaps in your existing product range?
  • Are there weaknesses in existing products which you may be able to address?
  • Can you adapt, modify or improve your existing products?
  • Can you use customer’s feedback to enhance your existing products or services?
  • Can you identify a need for a particular service or product that nobody else provides?

2. Idea Evaluation

The next step in the new product development process is idea screening. Idea screening means nothing else than filtering the ideas to pick out good ones. In other words, all ideas generated are screened to spot good ones and drop poor ones as soon as possible. While the purpose of idea generation was to create a large number of ideas, the purpose of the succeeding stages is to reduce that number.

Successful new product development starts with identifying good product or service ideas. You will have to carefully evaluate each idea to determine which are worth pursuing and which you should discard. The sole reason for carrying out idea evaluation is that product development costs rise greatly in later stages.

Therefore, the company would like to go ahead only with those product ideas that will turn into profitable products. Consequently, dropping the poor ideas as soon as possible is of crucial importance.

Following that, when screening or evaluating your ideas, it might help to assess them against an objective set of criteria. For example, the criteria may include:

  • The needs of your market and your customers.
  • Details of your customer behaviours and expectations.
  • The affordability of your idea, including resources needed for research and development.
  • The technical feasibility of your idea.
  • The market potential of your idea.
  • The profitability of your idea and the return on investment.
  • Relevancy and desirability of your new products or product improvements.
  • Your competition and their existing products.

You may also want to consider doing a SWOT analysis for each of your ideas to identify their strengths and weaknesses. Once you determine which ideas are viable, take time to refine them further to maximize their chances of success. Read more about researching new product and service ideas.

3. Concept Development and Testing

The key to successful research and development (R&D) is conducting extensive market research. This is essential as it helps you to identify and understand the needs of your customers and, ultimately, develop better products or services.

To go on in the new product development process, attractive ideas must be developed into a product concept. A product concept is a detailed version of the new-product idea stated in meaningful consumer terms. You should distinguish:

  • A product idea – an idea for a possible product.
  • A product concept – a detailed version of the idea stated in meaningful consumer terms.
  • A product image – the way consumers perceive an actual or potential product.
a) Identify market need

To determine if there is a market or demand for your product or service, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Does it satisfy or create a market need?
  • Will it outlive passing trends or capitalize on the trend before it dies away?
  • Is it unique, distinct or superior to those offered by competitors?
  • What competition will it face – direct or indirect, local, national or global?
  • Will the market want your product or service at a realistic price?
  • Can you identify potential customers?
  • Will your product be safe for public use and comply with relevant laws and regulations?
b) How to carry out market research

When it comes to market research, be as thorough in your research as possible, as mistakes made at this stage of development could prove costly later on. The more information you have, the better you will be able to understand your potential customers, the marketplace and how your product fits in. When conducting market research, remember to consider not only the needs of your customers, but also the needs of other parties such as retailers or distributors.

c) Develop your Unique Selling Point

Besides meeting your customers’ needs, your new product or service should have a unique selling proposition (USP). This is a feature or property that makes it stand out in the marketplace. In addition, before entering the market, you should assess your competition and determine:

  • How they meet their customer needs.
  • What will differentiate your product or service from your competitors – this will be your USP.
  • Why would the customers choose your product or service over your competitors’, both now and in the future?
  • What risks you are prepared to take to launch your product or service into this market.

4. Marketing Strategy Development

The next step in the new product development process is the marketing strategy development. When a promising concept has been developed and tested, it is time to design an initial marketing strategy for the new product based on the product concept for introducing this new product to the market.

The marketing strategy statement consists of three parts and should be formulated carefully:

  • A description of the target market, the planned value proposition and the sales, market share and profit goals for the first few years.
  • An outline of the product’s planned price, distribution and marketing budget for the first year.
  • The planned long-term sales, profit goals and the marketing mix strategy.

5. Business Analysis

Once decided upon a product concept and marketing strategy, management can evaluate the business attractiveness of the proposed new product. The fifth step in the new product development process involves a review of the sales, costs and profit projections for the new product to find out whether these factors satisfy the company’s objectives. If they do, the product can be moved on to the product development stage.

In order to estimate sales, the company could look at the sales history of similar products and conduct market surveys. Then, it should be able to estimate minimum and maximum sales to assess the range of risk.

When the sales forecast is prepared, the firm can estimate the expected costs and profits for a product, including marketing, research and development, operations etc. Eventually, all the sales and costs figures together can then be used to analyze the new product’s financial attractiveness.

6. Product Development and Testing

The new product development process goes on with the actual product development. Up to this point, for many new product concepts, there may exist only a word description, a drawing or perhaps a rough prototype.

However, if the product concept passes the business test, it must be developed into a physical product to ensure that the product idea can be turned into a workable market offering. The challenge at this stage is that research and development and engineering costs require a huge jump in investment.

The R&D department will develop and test one or more physical versions of the product concept. Developing a successful prototype, however, can take days, weeks, months or even years, depending on the product and prototype methods.

Also, products often undergo tests to make sure they perform safely and effectively. This can be done by the firm itself or outsourced. In many cases, marketers involve actual customers in product testing. Consumers can evaluate prototypes and work with pre-release products. Their experiences may be very useful in the product development stage.

7. Market Testing

The last stage before commercialization in the new product development process is market testing. In this stage of the new product development process, the product and its proposed marketing programme are tested in realistic market settings. Therefore, market testing gives the marketer experience with marketing the product before going to the great expense of full introduction.

In fact, it allows the company to test the product and its entire marketing programme, including targeting and positioning strategy, advertising, distributions and packaging before the full investment is made.

However, the amount of market testing necessary varies with each new product. Especially when introducing a new product requiring a large investment, when the risks are high, or when the firm is not sure of the product or its marketing programme, a lot of market testing may be carried out.

8. Commercialization

Market testing gives management the information needed to make the final decision, to launch or not to launch the new product. The final stage in the new product development process is commercialization. Commercialization means nothing else than introducing a new product into the market.

At this point, the highest costs are incurred. The company may need to build or rent a manufacturing facility. Large amounts may be spent on advertising, sales promotion and other marketing efforts in the first year. Some factors should be considered before the product is commercialized:

  • Introduction timing – for instance, if the economy is down, it might be wise to wait until the following year to launch the product. However, if competitors are ready to introduce their own products, the company should push to introduce the new product sooner.
  • Introduction place – where do you want to launch the new product? Should it be launched in a single location, a region, the national market or the international market? Normally, companies don’t have the confidence, capital and capacity to launch new products into full national or international distribution from the start. Instead, they usually develop a planned market roll-out over time.

In conclusion, in all of these steps of the new product development process, the most important focus is on creating superior customer value. Only then, your product can become a success in the market. However, only very few products actually get the chance to become a success. The risks and costs are simply too high to allow every product to pass every stage of the new product development process.

Acquire/ outsource labor

Hiring is one of the most difficult aspects of running a startup. With teams of less than a handful of people, each new hire could make or break your company’s future. Particularly, what makes hiring challenging is financial instability, large workloads and unpredictable working conditions. However, the most important part about hiring employees is to know the position you are hiring for and the exact type of employee you want.

Primarily, hiring great employees and building a great team is the most important thing you can do to ensure your business success. In fact, hiring exceptional people is how you build an exceptional company. Your employees should fit a particular criteria regardless of the position you are hiring for. Thus, every employee should possess the below listed traits:

  • Integrity – a clearly talented individual who seems a bit ethically iffy should not be hired. No amount of ability makes up for a lack of integrity.
  • Smartness – the appearance of your workers speaks volumes about your brand identity.
  • Passion – no matter how smart an employee can be, they will not work out if they are not passionate about what they do. Also, they won’t work out if they are not passionate about what you do.
  • Company fitness – people frequently overlook the importance of cultural fitness. Desiring cultural fitness does not mean that we want people that are clones of each other. Diversity is vital, but diverse employees should mesh well with each other.

Following that, as an employer, you should have an employment model. An employment model is about the appropriate type of employment that will best suit the nature of your company. Primarily, a good employment model results in lower absenteeism and improved work relationships. As a result, employees will be ready and willing to make a long-term commitment to your company. Below are types of employees:

Full-time employees

Full time employees are the most common type of employees. Particularly, they are offered permanent positions with a salary or hourly wage. There is no set minimum number of hours for full-time employees. However, most employers recognize full-time work as 35+ hours per week. Examples of full-time employees include receptionists and all types of managers.

Basically, hours of work are defined as each hour for which an employee is paid or entitled to payment, for the performance of duties for the employer. Also, they are each hour for which an employee is paid, or entitled to payment by the employer for a period of time during which no duties are performed due to vacation, holiday, illness, incapacity (including disability), layoff, jury duty, military duty or leave of absence.

Part-time employees

A part-time worker works fewer contracted hours than a full-time employee. However, they also hold permanent positions. Following that, the number of hours they are scheduled to work per week should be clearly visible within the contract but they may have the option to work overtime, if and when desired.

Benefits of part-time employment include a more flexible schedule for the employee, allowing individuals to fit their work around other commitments, and the opportunity for people to try out new roles without having to give up vast amounts of your time. Most waiters and waitresses are an example of part-time employees.

Fixed-term employees

Fixed-term employees last for a specific amount of time, which has been set and agreed in advance. In some instances, fixed-term employees may not have an exact time-frame, but will instead end when a specific task has been completed or fulfilled.

Depending on the role, and an individual’s performance, fixed-term contacts can sometimes lead to longer term positions. Examples include students on industrial attachment and drivers for a specific event such as weddings.

Temporary employees

Similar to fixed-term, temporary employees are offered a contract that is not expected to become permanent. Usually they would have some form of end date included. However, these may be subject to change. As such, temporary workers may have their contracts extended in line with demand and availability. Temporary teachers are a common example in Zimbabwe.

Agency employees

Agency staff have their contracts agreed and managed by a recruitment consultancy or employment agency. They usually work on a temporary basis and the length of their contract depends on demands of the employer as well as their availability. The Valcol Group Company offers such services majoring in I.T experts and secretaries.

Freelancers and contractors

When working with freelancers or contracted basis, contracts may vary from position to position. However, individuals working in this way are generally considered self-employed. Contracts may include start and end dates, or the salary may be based on set projects or pieces of work, meaning the contract effectively ends upon delivery.

Freelance and contract workers may also not be entitled to the same rights as more permanent members of staff, although they do get to manage their own schedule and negotiate their own terms. Most graphic designers are freelancers.

Zero hour employees

Zero hour employees are also known as casual employees. These employees specify that an employee works only when required by their employer. The employer is under no obligation to provide a set amount of hours to work. Similarly, the employee does not have to accept any work that is offered to them.

Individuals on a zero hour contract may also seek employment elsewhere. In fact, their contract would not be valid if it prevented them from looking for, or accepting, work from another employer.

Probation Employees

Employers can put their employees on a probation period (also known as a probationary period) to assess if employees are suitable for the role and business. However, the employer decides on the length of the probation period. It can range from a few weeks to a few months at the start of employment. Specifically, while on probation, employees continue to receive the same entitlements as someone who isn’t in a probation period.

If hired on a full-time or part-time basis, an employee on probation is entitled to access their paid leave entitlements such as annual leave and sick leave. Following that, if an employee doesn’t pass their probation, they are still entitled to receive notice when employment ends and have their unused accumulated annual leave hours paid out.

In conclusion, hiring great employees and building a great team is the most important thing you can do to ensure your business success. In fact, hiring exceptional people is how you build an exceptional company. Also, knowing the best employment model for your business will save you a lot of hustles. A proper employment model will help you hire the right people for your company.

Create marketing materials

In business, without the right marketing and advertising techniques, people will never know that your company exists and your business will suffer as a result. We live in an era where marketing has become a requirement for getting noticed, garnering a loyal audience and making a lasting impact.

In fact, being able to coherently communicate your company’s value to its clients is extremely important. Your business success depends on your ability to communicate value hence marketing materials are a very important tool used to do so.

Primarily, marketing entails all advertising and marketing materials, including but not limited to packaging, tags, labels, advertising, signage, vehicle lettering, marketing and promotions. In addition, it also includes displays, display fixtures, instructions, technical sheets, user guides, data sheets, warranties, websites and other materials, written, digital or any other format. These are associated with your products, services or domain names.

As a business owner or as an entrepreneur you should use marketing materials to:

  • Inform customers about your business.
  • Actively get more customers in your local area.
  • Put together a marketing package for potential investors.
  • Promote an upcoming event or product/store launch.
  • Promote your business at conferences, conventions or job fairs.
  • Create positive customer service experiences and build customer/client relationships.

In today’s fast-paced digital world, one could easily begin to think that the old ink and paper ways of the past are no longer needs. In truth, technology has woven itself into our lives and changed the way we work, learn and discover.

Thus, maintaining or building your competitive advantage will rely on continuous technological integration but you can’t forget about the old way of doing things. Therefore, printed marketing materials are also a highly effective way to promote your business to customers, clients, business partners and potential investors. Below are key marketing materials you should use:

Company Profile

When starting a business, it is important to make a memorable first impression. Therefore your company profile should be dynamic and comprehensive, clearly explaining your vision to customers and/or stake holders. A well-written company profile is best way to introduce your business, products and services.

While creating your company profile, you should be focused on the business model, business strategy and the product launching in a market. Analyze the company criteria, map out the characteristics to be highlighted and how you can present your company profile in a most attractive way.

However, creating a company profile is not only a promotion tool, it is the way to reach out your customer and get them interested in your business. It gives the customer an overview about your company’s products and enables direct interaction with the sales and marketing teams of the business. A company profile should be compiled for the readers so that they can understand how the business works, its ethos and its unique selling point.

Ultimately, an excellent company profile should be able to attract new customers for you, keep old one and increase your company revenue. First impressions matter and without proper marketing tools and skills, you risk making loses in your business endeavors.

Business cards

Business cards have been a staple in peer-to-peer marketing since the start of business. A well-designed, well-made business card can seal the deal in a face-to-face pitch better than a later visit to a website or viewing a search advertisement. Business cards act as a reminder of an in-person interaction and will keep your company in the forefront on their next related work project.

Brochures

A well designed brochure serves as a perfect introduction to your business. When accurately distributed, brochures can expand your company’s visibility. Thus, brochures are great marketing tools when reaching out to new customers. Again, brochures can provide positive press about your company and are trade shows and networking opportunities.

Flyers

While social media certainly has its benefits in helping to promote events and generate some awareness and create a buzz around them, it’s also important to remember some of the tried and tested marketing techniques that have been used for years.

One big benefit of using a flyer to promote an event is its tangible nature. The fact that your customers will physically hold the flyer means you are half way to getting your message across. How your flyer is designed and printed can impact on whether or not your customer decides to read on to find out more information. This is why it’s important to make your flyer stand out but also ensure your main message is clear and easy to see.

Websites

Having a website can build better relationships with your customers. A website gives you the opportunity to prove your credibility. You have to tell your customers why you deserve their trust through your website. Most importantly, with websites, you are able to update any information without any hustle.

Banners

Using banner advertising is one of the best things any company can do to get its name out there. Even if you have just started up, it is a worthy investment for your company to put in the money and find affiliates to post your ads for you.

Most importantly, the more people that know about your business, the more customers you will draw in and the more income you will generate. Using banner advertisements effectively will increase traffic, sales, and profits from the website. To conserve the purpose of banner ads, it is very important that Internet businesses maintain high quality and impeccable standards.

Letterheads

Using letterhead paper for your letters works as a powerful marketing tool. As soon as your letter is opened, the first thing that people will be hit by is your company’s details. This means that every time you send out a letter you are also marketing your brand.

Again, it is extremely important to retain a strong and consistently professional image as a business, and using letterheads is part and parcel of this. When you send correspondence out on letterhead paper, it will make your company come across as official, and much more professional.

Posters

Posters can serve as a more permanent and attention-grabbing way to reach a broad audience than smaller forms of print marketing like brochures or flyers. With a clean, eye-catching design, your posters can make a strong visual impression that lingers in the mind without breaking your marketing budget. Small businesses, in particular, can profit from the benefits of marketing with posters.

Primarily, posters are cost effective and they have high visibility. You can hang posters almost anywhere, although you should check local laws and restrictions first. Small businesses rely on local consumers, and poster advertising plays into the nostalgic, niche feeling of buying local. You can also display your posters in local coffee shops, bookstores and banks to attract customers who prefer to support local businesses.

Stationery

These include envelopes and postcards. Professionally designed and well-printed stationary is a sign of the quality of your business. The effort taken in mailing any promotional materials or simple letters with consistent branding adds value to your company’s image.

Folders

Something often overlooked than can really tie all of your materials together is a business folder. Instead of presenting proposals and project materials in a stack of assorted papers, consider a branded folder to keep everything organized. Keeping your pitch materials together in a neat, branded folder can make the difference between your bid being on the top of the pile or the bottom of the trashcan.

Extras

Branded marketing materials are the extra touch that can add a lot of quality to your brand and help your company win clients. These simple pieces can often be forgotten in the sea of digital marketing, but that little extra can mean the difference between a potential lead trusting the legitimacy of your brand, or not.

Branded pens, notepads and flash drives are also important in marketing. Something as simple as a daily task pad can help make a big sell when your potential client uses it day to day, and will keep your brand in their mind. Just remember to ask yourself: will your client actually use this, and will they use it often?

In the ever-growing digital landscape of marketing and advertising, printed material has become a bit of an afterthought in the minds of many businesses both small and large. Contrary to this trend, branded marketing materials remain as relevant as ever in helping promote your company and generate leads.

Conclusively, in business it is important to have and use proper marketing tools. Without the right marketing and advertising techniques, people will not know that your company exists and your business will suffer as a result. The importance of marketing remains the same from when you start the business all the way through the years you are open. From the first moment you are open to the public you need to make your presence known and try to spread word of your business as far as you can.

Get business insurance

Do you know that even if you have a successful business, disaster could strike at any moment and force you to shut your doors? As a company, you should have a business insurance to mitigate the risk of unforeseen damage. As with most insurance types, business insurance is used to protect the business and the business owner should unforeseen events happen to the business.

Basically, insurance is a form of risk management primarily used to hedge against the risk of potential financial loss. Again, it can be defined as the equitable transfers of the risk of a potential loss, from one entity to another, in exchange for a premium and duty of care.

Therefore, it’s important to have business insurance because the financial consequences of a potential mishap could easily wipe out the assets of a small business. Following that, insurance provides protection in case customers or a passersby experiences harm at the hands of your company, or if your company is harmed by an incident such as a fire.

In addition to protecting yourself, it’s also important to have business insurance so you can protect others. If you own a food business and a customer becomes ill after eating one of your products, you need to be able to pay for the damage you would have caused.

However, the trick is to make sure that your business is covered for those events that are most likely to happen and to never find yourself unprotected, which might lead to the financial collapse of the business. Again, the types of business insurance and the levels of coverage are often determined by the type of business itself.

Sometimes, the type of business insurance can be influenced by lenders who hold positions of the business as security against loans that may have been made to the business in the past.

Lenders who would have financed expensive machinery or other types of equipment will often want the business owner to have some form of insurance on the machinery. This use of insurance helps to protect the lender as well as the business owner in the event of losing the insured item. Below are reasons why you need business insurance:

1. For protection against personal liability

No business owner has a crystal ball hidden in a closet that can predict what might happen in the future. It would be excellent if natural disasters, injuries on the job or lawsuits never occurred, but no one can guarantee that such things won’t occur. For that reason alone, it’s best to be insured.

With the proper business insurance, you can have peace of mind and focus your attention on what you do best operating a productive, profitable and personally rewarding business for years to come.

2. To acquire and secure contracts

When it comes to contracts and insurance, several variables come into play:

  • If you rent or lease your business facility, you may need to carry insurance, as the landlord’s policy may not cover it.
  • If you borrow money to finance buildings, equipment or operations, the loan agreement will likely contain an insurance requirement.
  • Client contracts may specify that you carry insurance in the event things don’t go as planned.
  • Add language about freelancers who need it and don’t realize it till they get a job and then.

3. To attract and retain employees

Having insurance isn’t just about protecting your business in “doom and gloom” scenarios. It can have the positive benefit of attracting and retaining qualified employees.

Second to salary, job seekers look for benefits packages that include life, health, disability and long-term care insurance. If you don’t offer these perks, you may lose a good employee to a company that does.

4. To enhance your business credibility

Having insurance makes your business look credible. Business insurance shows your prospective clients and customers that you are a safe bet.

If anything goes wrong with the work you do for them, you have a way to compensate. That’s the reason home services companies carry the statement “licensed, bonded and insured” on their trucks and signage. It builds trust, the currency of a modern-day economy.

5. For business continuity

In any business, particularly partnerships, business may discontinue at the death of any partner. Although the surviving partners can restart the business, in both cases, the business and remaining partners will suffer economically.

The insurance policies provide adequate funds at the time of death. Each partner may be insured for the amount of his interest in the partnership and his dependents may get that amount at the death of the partner.

With the help of property insurance, the property of the business is protected against disasters and the chance of disclosure of the business due to the tremendous waste or loss. What happens to your business in the event of a natural disaster, such as an earthquake or flood? Insurance covers loss of property buildings and equipment.

Following that, even in monetary terms, insurance plays a critical role. Insurance can help your business survive a serious disaster by protecting it against loss of income. The way it works is that the insurer pays you the income your company would have made while it was out of action (assuming it’s due to a covered loss).

6. For the welfare of employees

Your most valuable asset is not the products or services you offer, the equipment you take so much care to maintain or even the brand you struggled for years to build. No, your most valuable assets are your employees and it pays to protect them in the event of an accident.

The welfare of employees is the responsibility of the employer. The former is working for the latter. Therefore, the latter has to look after the welfare of the former which can be provision for early death, provision for disability and provision for old age. These requirements are easily met by the life insurance, accident and sickness benefit, pensions, which are generally provided by insurance companies.

As it that is not enough, employees will devote their maximum capacities to complete their jobs when they are assured of the above benefits. The struggle and strife between employees and the employer can be minimized easily with the help of such schemes.

7. Enhancement of credit

A business can obtain a loan by pledging the policy as collateral for the loan. Insured people get more loans due to the certainty of payment at their deaths. The amount of loan that can be obtained with such pledging of policy, with interest, thereon will not exceed the cash value of the policy.

In the case of death, this value can be utilized for setting of the loan along with the interest. If the borrower is unwilling to repay the interest, the lender can surrender the policy and get the amount of loan and interest thereon paid.

Again, the redeemable debentures can be issued on the collateral of capital redemption policies. The insured properties are the best collateral and adequate loans are granted by the lenders.

In conclusion, insurance is a risk management strategy used to hedge against the risk of potential financial losses. Not only does it guarantee business continuity, but it also increases your business efficiency, credibility as well as employee protection.

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