Monday 28 October 2013

Great MIND; ‘I want my business to become an empire’

At a time when tens of thousands of Nigerian youths are roaming the streets in a hopeless search for employment, Martins Enoh, a hair stylist in New Karu, a fast growing suburb of Nasarawa State bordering Abuja on its south-east end, is counting his gains. He reveals his big dreams to ABAH ADAH and flays those who blame crime for unemployment.
Twenty-nine-year-old Martins Enoh is an Idoma and hails from Utonkon in Adore local government area of Benue State. He is the proprietor of Martin Luther Barbing Salon which is located in the heart of New Karu. A bustling place, the barbing saloon caters for the fashion needs of women, men, teenagers and even toddlers, who can be seen trooping in and out of the saloon daily, to get a variety of haircuts, maintain their styles and do some hair-wash.
Enoh carries himself with the pride of one who owns a business which employs a few hands, the sharp outlook of one who has aspirations and the good sense of one who does not look down on his customers.
When he was encountered by this reporter, he confessed the obvious: It pays to run one’s business, no matter how small. More so, he has one of the virtues which many who hope to be successful or already are possess – he enjoys what he is doing and sets his heart to it with a burning passion.
According to Enoh, due to the sub-urban nature of the area and the current economic state of the country, he does not make what he always hopes to, unlike top saloons in the city-centre.
Enoh revealed that at the end of every week he makes an average of N20, 000. However, out of this, he has to figure in expenses like fuelling and maintaining the generator (since the area of New Karu where he lives and works is in constant black-out), commission for labour and other running costs, and at the end, he said, N7000 or N8000 may be what is left of it.
“I have being doing this work for close to 10 years now and, by God’s grace; I used to earn just enough to care for my basic needs. In fact, the freedom I enjoy being in-charge and on my own has made me feel as if I cannot work as an employee elsewhere. It is not as if I have all I need but I cannot see myself becoming a busy-body and a societal liability,” he said.
Martins disagreed totally with those who blame the current spate of kidnapping and terrorism in the country on unemployment. According to him, youths who perpetuate such criminal acts under the guise of unemployment are only out to destroy the country and make staggering wealth overnight.
“How can you say that is unemployment? Many of them will not work if you give them. Besides, can’t they try their hands on what they can do to survive even while working towards securing gainful employment?” he asked. The Benue-born stylist, however, lamented the economic situation in the country which has given rise to the daily, unemployment figures.
According to a report by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), between 2006 and 2011, Nigeria’s unemployment rate averaged 14.6 per cent, and hit an-all time high of 23.09 per cent at the end of 2011.
While blaming the Nigerian government, which he said is not helping matters at all, Martins advised Nigerian youths to always discover their God-given talent and use it to sustain them, especially when the white-collar job they crave so much is not forth-coming.
“It is true that the government can only provide an infinitesimal portion of the jobs needed, but it is incumbent on it to create the opportunities. Small-scale businesses should be encouraged and empowered across the country. Look at this business; for now, it is all I have, but I intend to open two or more branches across Abuja, in order to improve my income. My dream for my business is for it to become an empire soon. I have all my plans and blueprint; I just need funds to get it on the road. Meanwhile, I have to postpone everything which I hope to do, until I raise the required fund,” he explained.
Its either you don't have idea or you choose to be where you are. It is yet a choice. Seek information and take the lead.
Building your business with the help of haters
When starting a company, most people handicap themselves on day one. They show their idea to people they know will be amenable and will rally behind them, people that will instantly become evangelists and spread the good word. While for some it becomes about ego, for others it becomes about making that golden idea even better for its instant fans. The cycle of goodness just keeps spinning and sometimes that entrepreneur gets lucky and makes it big time.
Doesn’t this all sound like the right way to go? Rally the troops, surround yourself with positivity, right? Wrong.
On day one, your idea should go straight to someone that you know will hate it. Not necessarily an enemy or someone who hates everything, but someone or someones who you know is a critical thinker. Looking for someone who won’t cheerlead, but someone who you are sure will have everything negative, even mean to say, will make your idea a thousand times better.
Doing so before even entering the beta phase will give your cheerleader evangelists even more happy. Going to market with an idea vetted by the haters first will also help you avoid surprises, or the painful sting of someone crapping on your idea when it’s too late to make certain changes.

Elon Musk and Dharmesh Shah agree

Globally famous inventor Elon Musk said in a recent interview, “Always seek negative feedback, even though it can be mentally painful,” adding that even if you want to ignore negative or constructive feedback, you should pay attention. “They won’t always be right, but I find the single biggest error people make is to ignore constructive, negative feedback.”
Dharmesh Shah, Founder and CTO of HubSpot, agrees. “Seek out the most critical opinions of your plan that you can find,” Shah notes. “The natural tendency for a first-time entrepreneur is to fall in love with an idea and then look for friends and colleagues to support it. After all, who wants to have a fledgling idea crushed by naysayers? But these are exactly the types of folks you should be looking for.”
Shah adds, “Have them shred your plan and designs from top to bottom. If you find yourself agreeing with them and having doubts, then your plan (and possibly you) may not have the mettle to make it. But if you are able to defend it with conviction, repeatedly, then you probably have both the moxie to last through the long, tough grind you’re facing, as well as a plan that just might work.”

Five essential ingredients to doing what you love for a living;

5-essential-ingredients-doing-what-love-livingWhen I decided to leave my own corporate job years ago to pursue the culinary arts, I couldn’t think much further than doing what I love on a daily basis: cooking. But it soon became clear to me that leaving the safety of one career to take up another is not quite that simple.
Doing something you love will make you work harder at it, but that alone doesn’t mean you have a good business. Hard work, ultimately, has to meet with the right opportunities, and that’s where entrepreneurial spirit can come in, allowing passion to meet real business sense.
My own journey in the kitchen has taught me innumerable lessons that extend far beyond time and temperature. If you are looking to change yours, here are some tried and tested lessons I can share:
1. Treat goals like recipes. Remember to take it one step at a time.
It’s easy to get mired in the day-to-day, and though you may be doing something you love broadly speaking, that doesn’t mean you will love it all the time. Segmenting my goals and having a clear vision has allowed me to stay calm and focused on the process. Keep your ultimate objectives in mind, but try to appreciate and not look past where you are today. I often remind myself that I’m always learning and getting a little closer to my dream.
. Get to know the people who came before you.
When I changed careers, I studied star chefs like Jean-Georges and Thomas Keller as well as people with successful food and lifestyle brands like Martha Stewart and Giada de Laurentiis. I wanted to better understand the landscape as well as the successes and mistakes these guys had made. I never expected to take their exact path, but I did gain an understanding of what went into their level of achievement.
3. Always have something to offer.
I do a fair bit of traveling, learning from chefs and home cooks around the world. When I visit a new location, I like to shadow cooks in professional or home kitchens to learn their techniques and dishes. This has been a huge challenge as both a foreigner and a female. I usually start small, asking if I can watch service for the day. In exchange, I offer to prep and make something, whether that be the staff’s family meal or a recipe the chef may not know. Taking a little more time to build trust and having something to offer helps open people up more.
4. Seek help from those who do it better than you can.
Use your network and resources thoughtfully. If you don’t have a skill, you likely know someone who does. For example, I wanted to photograph the recipes from my book myself but I wasn’t a pro food photographer. I bought a great camera, reached out to a talented photographer and friend who was willing to teach me and prepared myself for trial and error.
5. Prepare to be uncomfortable, both physically and mentally.
Some of the greatest lessons and most gratifying experiences have come from times when I wasn’t entirely comfortable with what I was doing. I’m not just talking about having to lift 80 pound vats of stock in some of the kitchens where I worked. When I signed on to write my first cookbook, I was pregnant and already working full-time. I had to write, cook, test and photograph the entire book. This idea terrified me. There were days when I was so exhausted it was hard to get off the couch. But the book is done and will be out this year.
It just goes to show: When you’re pushed, you push back. Rise to the occasion because success might be waiting around the corner for you.

Friday 25 October 2013

5 Things Super Successful People Do before 8am

Rise and shine! Morning time just became your new best friend. Love it or hate it, utilizing the morning hours before work may be the key to a successful and healthy lifestyle. That’s right, early rising is a common trait found in many CEOs, government officials, and other influential people. Margaret Thatcher was up every day at 5 a.m.; Frank Lloyd Wright at 4 am and Robert Iger, the CEO of Disney wakes at 4:30am just to name a few. I know what you’re thinking – you do your best work at night. Not so fast. According toInc. Magazine, morning people have been found to be more proactive and more productive. In addition, the health benefits for those with a life before work go on and on. Let’s explore 5 of the things successful people do before 8 am

Wednesday 23 October 2013

Seven ways business networking is like online dating

Networking guru Rob Brown discusses how the lead generation process when networking bears a close resemblance to that of online dating.
Some people have said that business networking and career connecting is just like dating. With the advent of work intranets and social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, the world of business networking is as much about online interacting as the more traditional, face to face offline gatherings.

How to turn time wasters into gold dust

How do you feel about people, who either ask you questions about your service or look around your products, then leave without buying? 
Some business owners get angry at what they perceive to be time wasters. In doing so, they miss out on a massively valuable opportunity. They leave a huge business asset on the table… untapped.
I’m referring to the feedback these so-called time wasters can provide you with.

Time wasters are attracted to us for a reason

If you’re attracting lots of the wrong kind of inquiries, there’s a reason. It’s usually a sign that:
  • Your marketing message needs to be improved.
  • You are marketing to the wrong people.
  • Or both.
It’s extremely easy to learn which applies to your marketing, so long as you ask these people for feedback.
Before they end the call or leave your premises, ask something like: What was it that prompted you to (visit or call) us today? This will give you some feedback to work with.

For example

If they often say they were looking for a low priced (whatever), yet your prices or fees are average or above average, you need to review your marketing message. Take a look and see if you are overstating how low your prices or fees are. If you are not overstating how low your prices are, then you could well be targeting your marketing message at people with too small a budget. You get the idea…
The key is to try and get as much feedback as you can from those who fail to hire you or buy from you. It will help you improve your marketing message, improve your targeting and generate more business!
In short: Speak with people who don’t buy from you. Listen. Learn from their feedback. Then, make the necessary improvements to your marketing. Don’t just assume that someone is a time waster and therefore of no value to your business.
Their feedback could be commercial gold dust. In fact, it often is!

A bird’s eye view of how to succeed as an entrepreneur:

Yep. They are going to think you’re crazy.

So you’re thinking about jumping ship, leaving that so-called steady job and go off on your own… you’re thinking of starts a business and living the life. It all sounds perfect in your head, even on that spreadsheet of how you will make the transition. Then, you tell your friends and family. They’re going to think you’re crazy.
Just about every business owner I’ve talked to over the years has had a similar experience that they laugh about it now, and hold it up as their inspiration to make it. As for me, I was too young and na├»ve to know a single mom couldn’t make it without a job – supposedly. The fact of the matter is that I didmake it, my family and friends did think I was crazy, only I did not understand why. The older you get the harder it becomes to throw caution to the wind and do the ‘impossible.’I’m so glad I did.

Scared? That’s a good sign.

Fear means you are already on the path, and all that is left is to open your eyes and start evaluating how to navigate the road ahead of you. Fear is telling you to grab on with both hands and look your future straight in the eye and declare only victory. Fear is not telling you failure is defeat – THAT is your conditioning – failure is a lesson that gets you one step closer to success. No one makes it to the top without a wheelbarrow full of failures teaching them to become stronger, better, and more agile.
You are thinking outside of the box when you dream about a life that has purpose. Now it’s time to get to work; purpose doesn’t just happen, it is created.
The key to success is simple, really – you have to want to, I mean REALLY want to. Simple doesn’t mean easy, the truth of the matter is that if you want it enough ALL of the road blocks will be overcome, the strength to be more than you’ve ever been will show up, and the skills that are currently missing become obtainable. When you want something bad enough, mountains will move because you will find a way to move them, climb them, or go around each one. There is no room for mediocrity when success is the goal!

Top 5 sacrifices startups have to make in order to grow:

Startups, be they tech, retail, or service, dream of making it big time. Popped collars and fast cars motivate some, while financial independence motivate others, but in order to reach that point, all young brands have some major obstacles to overcome in getting to market, much less becoming a household name.

Devanshi (Nikki) Garg is the Chief Operating Officer of Icreon Tech, a global IT consultancy deliveringbusiness solutions and custom applications since 2000. Garg has years of experience in the startupworld and tells AGBeat that there are five major sacrifices any startup will have to make if it wants to grow. In Garg’s words, below are the top sacrifices:

1. You have to give up complete control

Diving into a startup requires you to embrace chaos. Whether you’re the founder or one of the first hires, expectations about what aspects of your job you control should immediately go out the window. Invariably, most startups have too many things to do with too few people to complete them. This means you’ll need to exit your comfort zone, lest you quickly fall to the wayside. Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg is often quoted, “Move fast and break things. Unless you are breaking stuff, you are not moving fast enough.” Members of startups need to be able to sacrifice their desire to have complete control over their day-to-day responsibilities and embrace the collective needs of the company.

2. Sacrificing your ego, and sometimes, your idea

All startups start out as ideas. However, for a startup to truly grow, members must be willing to sacrifice them and do so mercilessly. In a growingly entrepreneurial marketplace, the only certainty is competition, and ultimately, a bevy of competitors and pressures may require you to sacrifice the foundational idea your startup is built upon. Whether your ideas have been rejected by consumers or have been better executed by competitors, successful startups need to be able to pivot rapidly to avoid being rendered obsoletely. Just ask Bill Nguyen how important being able to pivot an idea is.

3. You’ll sacrifice your down time

For startups, it’s often a zero-sum game where the next day’s existence is not guaranteed. This means that your downtime is crucial to your startup’s success. Elon Musk recently stated during a Google Hangout with Richard Branson that, “you should be ready to work 100 hours a week”. If that sounds like too much of a sacrifice, you may not be cut out to achieve global success and notoriety. Establish the internal mindset that each and every hour is crucial, to not only your startups’ prosperity, but more importantly its survival.

4. Sacrificing financial security and stability

There are countless tales of entrepreneurs placing their entire life savings into their dream. While for some it pays off, for many it is the most stressful decision they can make. Pouring your heart and soul into a startup may not always be enough. Which is why many of today’s successful founders and CEOs have had to personally fund their projects. To help revive his near-failed dotcom era startup, Cvent CEO Reggie Aggarwal personally signed the lease for his company’s office building due to credit issues. This decision could have personally bankrupted Mr. Aggarwal, but instead he helped grow the company to 1,000 plus employees as of 2013. Although the light at the end of the tunnel may sparkle with monetary success, the journey to get there will have much less glitz and glam.

5. You’ll have to give up full ownership of your dream

Sweat, blood, and tears go into every startup. Taking your company to the next level often requires the involvement of outside venture funding and support. Identifying parties that believe in your startup is a crucial step forward. While the tradeoff involves having more stakeholders in your project and less personal ownership for yourself, this sacrifice is often one of the best ways to leverage a set of resources, (capital, technologies, or humans), that are extremely difficult to come by organically. Ultimately, it’s one of the biggest sacrifices to make for the sake of going from niche to mainstream and publicly recognizable.

Are you ready to sacrifice?

Tech blogs and news outlets glamorize the life of a startup, reporting on awesome offices and work perks, but the grunt work of being a founder of any company is often swept under the rug. Garg points out some of the top sacrifices any startup will have to make if it wants to scale, if it wants to grow. As an entrepreneur, are you ready to make the sacrifices necessary?
lets work together, we have been there. contact or drop a note here.

Monday 21 October 2013

Five tips for aspiring Start-up CEOs

If you think you want to start a company, questions ought to be buzzing through your mind: How do I know I’m ready to start a company? Which of my ideas is worth betting on? How do I get a risk-averse customer to try my product? If I get customers, how do I scale the business? How do I build my start-up’s team?
ceoMobiquity founder and CEO, Bill Seibel – a serial entrepreneur — offered his take. Briefly, Seibel’s answers are: Because you’re passionate about something you’re good at doing – not just to get rich; pick a simple idea that solves a big problem; show how your product beats the competition and build the best team; pick customers that need your product the most; and build a team of people with the best skills who work well with others. 
1. Am I ready to start a company?
Seibel argues there are plenty of reasons not to start a company. “If it’s for the money or if you are doing it because it makes you feel important – don’t do it,” said Seibel.
You should start a company if it helps you pursue an obsession that you love — tempered by an exit strategy. Seibel argues, “If you believe in it and are passionate about it, don’t let other people convince you otherwise. You need to continue to believe that you can do it.  Your team needs to depend on you for that.”
Why is passion so important? “If you love what you are doing, you’ll spend every possible moment thinking about it.  True passion is infectious. It will keep you and your team going when others give up,” exhorts Seibel.
2. Which idea should I bet on? 
Seibel believes that you should pick a simple idea. As he explained, “When I evaluate the idea, I look for innovation, not invention. My favorite definition is: ‘invention is the conversion of cash into ideas; while innovation is the conversion of ideas into cash. To me, that means that the most successful ideas are often simple and perhaps even a little boring. It doesn’t have to be a big idea. Big ideas are often complicated, and therefore difficult to successfully execute.”
A colleague — Seibel named him Ian — started a company and sold it a few years later for a small fortune. Jealous friends asked him: “How can someone as dumb as Ian be so successful?” When he got business pitches, Seibel would ask the entrepreneur, “‘Could Ian be CEO of you start-up idea?’ If he answered ‘no – Ian’s not nearly smart enough,’ I’d advise the entrepreneur to make his business model less complicated.”
3. How can I get a risk-averse customer to try my product?
Seibel suggests that entrepreneurs should try to build a product that satisfies three tests: it’s innovative, the customer has a budget for it, and it’s easy to explain why your product solves the customer’s problem better than competing products do.
When buying a start-up’s product, the customer is placing a bet on its team. According to Seibel, ”At Mobiquity, after we won our first deal, the customer told us that we won because ‘You are in a people-centered business. And you have assembled the best group of people that I have ever met in a people-centered business. And if you can work with the best people in a people oriented business – why would you select anyone else?’”
4. If I get customers, how do I scale the business?
Seibel suggested that scaling a business depends on carefully selecting prospective customers. He told the story of a wealthy, 30-something sales vice president from a computer aided design/manufacturing firm who had developed a simple algorithm for scaling a start-up.
The source of the young retiree’s wealth was a simple five-step algorithm that he described to his sales people. He told his sales people to “Be driving on a highway at 8am every morning. You can select the highway, and you select the direction – just be driving on it by 8am.”
The other five steps guaranteed that his sales people would only get out of their cars and walk into the lobby of companies that had three billowing smokestacks, parking lots jammed with cars, and offices filled with employees.
Only then, did the wealthy young retiree tell his sales people to “walk to the front door, ask for the Director of Engineering, and explain to him how we can help with drafting productivity.”
Seibel said of his approach, “It was brilliant! It takes longer to find a qualified customer. But when you do, the sales cycle increases in probability of success and decreases in time. The key to scaling a company is to find the niche that you can successfully compete in, and perhaps dominate. And then find a way to enter the sales funnel as close to the bottom as possible.”
5. How do I build my start-up’s team?
The basics of identifying the skills you need are straightforward. An enterprise technology start-up needs a sales person, a technologist who can communicate, and an analytically oriented operations person. “And you need to fill the rest of the team with the skill sets required by the specific venture,” explained Seibel.
He finds the best people by networking with the top people he knows. Seibel argues, “After I get one or two of the most highly regarded people to join my team, it becomes so much easier to attract other exceptional people. It works the same way as throwing a great party: Invite a few people that everyone wants to hang-out with, and everyone wants to come.”
Niceness counts. “As you’re building your team, make certain that you only hire nice people. If anyone flunks the Jerk Test, pass on them regardless of how talented they are. Only hire people that you believe would love to work at your company, and that other people would love to work with,” says Seibel.
adapted from forbes.

The worst business plan mistake entrepreneurs make

Years ago, I was hired by a group of entrepreneurs to write a business plan I will never forget. That is because we made a fatal business planning mistake that caused the venture to lose it chance at VC funding.
The founders had a personal connection to one of the VC partners and they seemed interested in the business ideas. It felt like everything was set up for success until we met with them in person.
As the meeting developed, I became painfully aware of a problem. I wondered anxiously whether my clients saw it too, but couldn’t tell. They gave no sign. 
The plan itself wasn’t the problem. It conceived a specialty computer product that would have addressed a real need for a large market of middle managers and small-business owners. The team had the experience and background it needed. We had a good-looking well-edited document, a detailed financial model and convincing market statistics. We had a good summary slide deck.
The problem, however, was that I had done the plan, built the financial model, written the text and shepherded the document through the painful coil binding, yet I wasn’t part of the team. I didn’t want to be. I was getting my MBA, in my early thirties, married with three kids and my part of this venture was writing the plan, period. I needed the money to pay tuition. I couldn’t afford to jump into a startup.
And my limited role might have been okay except that the three founders never really got into the plan. It was a hurdle they paid me to jump for them. Every meeting we had behind the scenes, generated new changes, so I would go back to the basement computer at the business school, and re-run the financial model. Since the team of three didn’t include a financial person, they left all the tweaking to me, which meant I was the only one who knew the plan. I’d re-run my financial model, edit the text, and publish a new version of the plan. They read paragraphs here and there, glanced at the numbers, but stuck with the strategy and left the details to me.
At key moments when VCs would ask critical questions, all heads would turn to me and I would answer. I knew the plan inside out. But I was the only one who did. It was my plan.
The same scenario played out at every meeting we had. The three entrepreneurs assumed that business planning was a function they could always delegate to someone with special skills, while they generated high-level strategy. However, founders who don’t know their own plan aren’t very convincing. So, in the end, they didn’t get financed, and the planning didn’t work.
A business plan should be measured by results, and in this case, good as the plan document may have been, it was a part of a failure.
The lesson here is as clear as day and as much a problem today as it was then. In general, business plans have to be the work of business owners and managers, not outsiders. A business plan can last only a few weeks without revision, so the idea of a finished plan is flawed. And business plans are about business execution and management, which means those in charge have to own the plan in the intellectual sense.
In those rare cases when having a specialist develop a plan as a consulting job could work, the owners must make very sure they still own it, know it, and live it. After all, it is their business.
article by TED IWERE. the business dispatch.

Five ways to build momentum for your business idea

Entrepreneurship is en vogue. You cannot walk more than a few blocks in a major city without stumbling upon a startup accelerator. But while startups are central to this new economic age, making it as an entrepreneur is still tough. It means building the right momentum to get your business idea off the ground.
5-ways-build-momentum-businessHere are five steps to give you a framework for building the momentum needed to successfully chart your own course:
1. Find every alternative. Just because you identify a problem does not mean you are the right person to solve it. Problems are opportunities for the determined. Always put the problem above yourself. Maybe there is a way you can help, but you have to find the problem-solvers first and that requires diligence.
2. Talk to everyone you know. Momentum grows exponentially. Including others early in the process will pay huge dividends later on. This is not about feedback. You can buy feedback, but you cannot buy people who feel invested in you and your business. By engaging friends from the beginning, you are building trust with potential ambassadors.
3. Read everything you can about the industry. People listen to experts. Study the map. Knowledge gives rise to confidence and confidence gives rise to conviction. You want people to not only be confident, but convinced that your brand is right for them.
4. Build a lo-fi prototype. Develop a prototype that your friends can test. It does not need to be high tech. In fact, the simpler and cheesier it is, the better. Cheesy makes for a good story. Make a board game or rudimentary website populated by stick figures. Limit yourself to building it over a weekend. You do not need a developer or loads of money at this early stage. Building a lo-fi prototype shows you can create something out of nothing.
5. Ask yourself why you are here. Do you want to change the world? Do you want to meet Richard Branson? Do you want to make your former colleagues and lovers jealous? None of those things are likely to happen. Probability suggests that you will find yourself somewhere between making a modest living and Tom Hanks in Castaway. Are you okay with that? Is the perfect solution worth seeking even if you fail?
Never start something that you do not love. Last week, I looked at my product and felt genuine love for it. Do I feel that every day? No. Have I created the perfect solution? Absolutely not.
And I certainly have not met Oprah or Larry Page. Not yet, at least.


5-places-great-ideas-hiding-how-setStudying the marketplace is one of the best ways to come up with new product ideas. If you ask the right questions and look closely, you will find opportunities to invent everywhere. When you study the marketplace for ideas, you’re all but eliminating the need to ask yourself whether people are willing to pay for your product and if they need and want it.
When you pull an idea out of thin air, you have to find out if there’s actually a need or desire for it. Remember: you don’t have to reinvent the wheel to come up with a great idea. I’ve supported my family for decades by making small improvements to existing ideas.
Here are five places to look for your golden opportunity:
1.With your competition. What do leaders in your industry have planned for the future? Where is the industry headed? These are big questions, but they can be answered in part by checking out your competitions’ patent applications. Many patent applications in the United States are published 18 months after they are filed. I don’t spend a ton of time perusing the USPTO or doing Google patent searches, but I like to know what my competitors are up to. Checking out other innovations can be a great way to jog your creativity.
2. Inside product reviews. Check out reviews on and other websites. What are consumers saying about products in your industry? What are their complaints? What do they wish were different? You may be able to come up with a better solution to a particular, persistent problem you now know people would pay for.
3. At trade shows. Trade shows are great places to discover opportunities for invention. They always have a special section for new products. This is the first place I visit when I arrive. The excitement and energy at a trade show is palpable. It’s impossible not to listen to the speakers, make new relationships, enjoy the special events and not get fired up. There’s always at least one speaker who focuses on problems plaguing the industry. Can you be the one to find a solution?
4. In the aisles of your local retailer. Talk to store managers and employees during a quiet time and ask them what kinds of problems customers are having. What are they looking for when they come in? Are they satisfied? They know what is selling and what isn’t. There is so much knowledge to be gained simply by asking. Form relationships and tap into that knowledge to jumpstart your brainstorming.
5. In your online search results. There are many articles published online by writers who report on the minute ins and outs of an industry. For example, because I am still inventing for the packaging industry, I keep abreast of what’s going on simply by searching for “hot packaging trends” online.
Identifying opportunities ripe for innovation is just the first step. You still need to put your creativity to use and come up with solutions to the problems you identified, inspired by the new trends in your industry. All of these tips share a common thread: In order to keep coming up with great new ideas, you need to stay up-to-date and question the industry you’re interested in. Don’t get complacent. Get creative.
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‘Grass-cutter business in Nigeria is lucrative’

Emmanuel Edeh is a grass-cutter farmer at Badagry, Lagos. His farm was established about 15 years ago. Currently, there are up to 3,500 heads of animals in the farm. He spoke with  ZEBULON  AGOMUO on the prospect and challenges in the business, insisting that the returns on investment are worth the stress. Excerpts:GRASSCUTTER
Cost implication:
The cost depends on location. If it is in a village, the cost will be far less than in the city. In the city we build a complete house, like a normal living house, and within that house we build some huts where the animals will stay. To start the business, one needs about half a million naira. When the animals are increasing, you build more accommodation for them.
For those going into the business, we have what we call the basic stock that we sell. Another type we call the table – those who have outlived their reproductive stage; there is a ready market for it within the West African sub-region; even in Central Africa. In fact, the only challenge I see in the business is the initial trouble of raising money to start; once that is done, it pays good in the long run.
Major customers
Those intending to go into the business; are people like the hoteliers, consumers and of course, people from outside the shore of this country. For instance, we had an order from someone from America. He wanted to take the animal to a tropical area located somewhere in that region. I must tell you that the demand for grass-cutter meat is so large that it is not being met.
Mortality rate of the animal
The mortality rate of the animal is very low. If the basic principles are observed, they do not die easily, unlike other animals. Grass-cutters are mainly herbivorous; require neither imported component of food nor expensive medical expenses if strict hygiene is maintained. They are easy and very cheap to raise.
What season favours the animal?
Intense hot weather affects the animal, and if it is too cold also, it affects it. Temperate condition favours the animal.
I think this is the most interesting part of the business. This is because the animal gives birth to as much as eight at a time. The least it can give birth to at a time is three. The more favourable the environment is to them, the more number they produce. So, as a farmer, there is the need to ensure that they are kept at the most convenient place. Gestation period of the grass-cutter is about 154 days or five months.
Government policy and the business
Well, I can say that since I have been in the business, I have not experienced any government policy on rearing of grass-cutter. There is no such policy because, as I said earlier, the animal cannot survive in Europe; it can only survive within the West Africa sub-region and Central Africa. It can neither survive in South Africa because of cold nor in North Africa because of hot weather. Although we have yet to begin export of the animals, we do not intend to have any problem with government regulations because as a responsible organisation, we ensure we work within the confines of the law of our country.
What other essential things does one need to go into the business?
Apart from money and other material resources needed for the business, I think, the major thing is interest. You must ask yourself- why do I have to go into grass-cutter business among numerous others? If you have the interest, then you look for money. It is the amount of money you have that will determine the scale you will operate. With a reasonable amount of money, you can get a fairly big and conducive farm and then many animals. It is a good business that pays good.
would you rather give it a try? let us know and we will guide you through.

Friday 18 October 2013

5 Ways Tablets Make SMBs Faster and Lighter

The “Post-PC” world of iPads and other tablets isn’t just for passive consumers: It’s chock-full of opportunity for businesses of all sizes.

The Apple iPad and its many Android “sincere flatterers” have comprehensively shaken up the market for mobile computing; in fact, the late Steve Jobs coined the phrase “post-PC for just this situation.
The days of the traditional laptop computer may not be totally over, but is a hinged screen-keyboard combo the only tool for serious mobile work? Nope. Here are five reasons why....

1. For content creation, just add keyboard

Tablets are great for content consumption. Hit the button, and you’re immediately scrolling through Web pages, YouTube videos, annoyed avians and the like. This can lead to the impression that tablets are only good for passively consuming; that they’re no use for creating content, such as documents, spreadsheets and other staples of business life, but that’s short-sighted.
Obviously, tablets’ on-screen keyboards aren’t easy or ergonomic typing tools. However, there’s a wide range of Bluetooth options available that can turn an iPad or Android tablet into a lean, mean, writing machine.
Tablets Make SMBs Faster and Lighter
But if you’re going to add a keyboard to your tablet, why wouldn’t you just buy a laptop? The next three reasons answer that...

2. ARM = light weight + long battery life

PC and Mac laptops are built around the Intel processor architecture, using chips from either Intel or AMD. Often known as x86, the architecture is great for compatibility with the PCs we’ve used for years, but it’s encumbered with historical baggage that makes x86 machines hot, heavy and hungry for battery juice. Modern laptops have improved but are still a world away from today’s tablets.
Most tablets break from Intel’s historical hegemony by using chips designed by ARM. These so-called system-on-a-chip architectures use much less power than x86 – especially when idle. This and modern battery technology can give tablets a 10-hour life and weeks of standby readiness, which means you can get more work done on the go.
Intel is fighting back, though the jury’s still out on whether it can compete. Intel tablets will at least be able to run the full version of Windows 8, as opposed to the cut-down, ARM-only Windows RT.

3. Cellular data: a first-class citizen

Today’s tablets often include access to 3G and 4G/LTE networks. The data networking technology is seamlessly integrated, so that you can switch between it and Wi-Fi with no noticeable interruption.
That’s much cleaner than the typical Windows or Mac laptop with an add-on 3G dongle; the difference being that cellular data was designed into tablets from the get-go. So there’ll be fewer excuses to not get the presentation finished on time.

4. Seriously cool sci-fi toys today

Who can forget countless Star Trek episodes where an impractically uniformed ensign brought a portable device to Capt. Kirk for him to sign off on some Starfleet paperwork? These sort of science-fiction visions drive gadget designers to invent the future... and who doesn’t want to live in the future?
Don’t deny tablets’ “cool factor.” Your users want to use them, they want to be seen using them, and they’ll thank you for letting them use tablets in business. (However, make sure you stay safe by protecting against Romulan malware and the Klingon drive-by.)

5. The phablet trend

There’s also a place in some users’ hearts for a tablet that’s also a phone. In today’s Brangelina world, some refer to these hybrid phone-tablets as phablets: big phones that are also small tablets. Why carry two devices, when you can have one?
We first saw this trend emerge in 2010, with the 5-inch Dell Streak. More recently, Samsung made a splash with its 5.3-inch Galaxy Note. They’re not for everyone, but they do have a growing niche and could translate into greater productivity.

Tablets: great productivity boosters

The fact is that tablets are much more practical and portable than a clunky laptop. However, their coolness potential doesn’t somehow make them magically immune to security problems, such as malware, theft, spam texts and unwanted calls. So treat your tablet as you would a laptop: stay protected!
By Richi Jennings