Sat | Jan 25, 2020

Yaneek Page | Two transformative tips for entrepreneurs

Published:Sunday | December 8, 2019 | 12:27 AM

When you are constantly ­engrossed in the latest developments in business and entrepreneurship around the world, new ideas and breakthroughs are so commonplace that it takes a lot to have a real eureka moment.

Eureka, an exclamation of Greek origin, is a cry of intense happiness or joy in a new discovery. A few weeks ago, I had a eureka moment that could also be life-changing for many struggling entrepreneurs, professionals, and readers, generally.

It started with the following WhatsApp message from an entrepreneur and friend I will call ‘Anonymous’:

“Random … but I want to say thank you for your unwavering belief in me. I don’t know if you’ll ever know how much that’s helped to keep me in business. I just pulled my YTD (year to date) income … and realised that $20m this year is within reach, and I am so grateful for where I am and where I’m going. Thank you for being an anchor even when I was still making big mistakes and not showing up the way I should have – you always cheered me on and gave me opportunities to shine.”

After wiping away some tears of joy because I know how hard the last few years have been for Anonymous despite tirelessly applying his valuable skills sets and talent, I conveyed warm congratulations on his success and thanked him for making my day. In my view, he had earned this success years ago but was only now cashing in.

Days later I couldn’t get this incredible transformation out of my mind. How did he go from virtual shutdown just 18 months before to huge profits in 2019? I reached out to Anonymous and asked whether he would be willing to share the strategies that took him from struggle to success with my Gleaner readers. He kindly agreed.

Target market matters

He credits the radical transformation in business fortunes and outcomes to just two things.

First, a shift in target market to larger corporate clients with substantial budgets for projects. Before, he was focused on micro and small businesses, which contracted him less frequently and for much smaller jobs. Larger clients have big budgets, which means bigger spend on his services and a higher return on the time and resources he invested.

As an example, imagine you’re in the transportation business. A small bus may net $20,000 a day as a route transport vehicle or $40,000 a day as a staff bus for a large company. It’s the same bus, but instead of a driver and conductor, you only need a driver. Instead of making 15 trips a day, you only make three. Less wear and tear, fewer risks, and more reliable income, to name a few. It’s a no-brainer if the options present themselves.

My friend finally realises that when it comes to his services, it is either go big or stay home, although he feared the responsibility of going big.

It is important to note that tapping into the corporate market was hard. He knew the market was more lucrative but couldn’t catch a break despite constantly pitching and sending proposals. He had all but given up on that market when he decided to use a strategic networking approach. He built relationships with key people, leveraged friendships, and stayed in constant contact rather than constant pitch mode.

This meant religiously following the campaigns and initiatives of prospective clients, frequently reaching out to congratulate them while sharing an idea or two, and offering support. That patience and engagement paid off when he was invited to submit a proposal, which was infinitely better than blindly pitching one because the prospective client was ready to buy and had shortlisted him. The work has been rolling in since.

Eureka!

The real eureka moment in this entrepreneurial transformation came unexpectedly, from a doctor’s visit. Anonymous had suffered an injury and was being treated for pain when he realised in a follow-up visit that one of the medications also treated depression and anxiety. He knew he hadn’t been feeling like himself in the months prior, but he had no idea that he was suffering from depression and anxiety, which was having a disastrous effect on his performance.

The stress, mounting bills, tax pressures, family pressures, staff struggles, cash flow challenges, and fear of financial ruin had wreaked havoc on his mental health. Now, with greater focus on his mental health and wellness, and the appropriate treatment, his productivity has skyrocketed, and his confidence, energy, creativity, and sharpness have improved dramatically.

The result is more and better output, plus a positive attitude that is not only attracting the right team members and clients, but in his view, the best fortune in his career to date. In his words: “We really need more conversations on mental health in this country. It is a game-changer, Yaneek”.

Entrepreneurship, even in the best environment, is unpredictable and stressful. Jamaica’s business and social environment is very challenging. Now, let’s consider how many people have for years been tirelessly fighting professional, financial, and personal battles not recognising that it’s a war that will only be won when they also tackle the crisis in their minds. Eureka!

One love!

 

Yaneek Page is the programme lead for Market Entry USA, a certified trainer in entrepreneurship, and creator and executive producer of The Innovators and Let’s Make Peace TV series. yaneek.page@gmail.com