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Lessons learned of a successful start-up

“Finish what you have started and you will move on and further with better focus and capability”, is the lesson taught by his father to one of my course-mates friends in Westminster University Business School in London.

We were catching up as a group to celebrate successfully passed Digital Marketing exams recently. That evening was inspired by amazing life stories and lessons learned. One of which I’d like to share with you now – lessons learned of a successful start-up.

This guy, I will call him Syed, had his first business when he was 19 years old and just started university. He was selling jewellery in London. He travelled to Paris, chose the hand-made jewellery, brought that to London and sold. He started his jewellery sales business from the stalls in the market places to test it out whether customers will like it. When the turnover progressed, Syed developed his website to sell the valuable pieces.

When he travelled to Paris to choose the goods, he invited his girlfriend to come along for a nice trip and help him to choose what women like and listen to her opinions. Obviously, she knew better the magic of female jewellery. He tried out different producers and found that particular hand-made jewellery was best demanded from his customers. He kept progressing in that niche and developed his own brand for the chosen jewellery.

He started small, but as he worked hard and much, constantly listened to customer demands and feedback, his business kept progressing during next few years and demanded more and more of his time. He got to the stage that it became very challenging to combine business development with his university studies. Syed was considering a decision to quit university.

And then his father said to him: “My dear son, you are very hard working, like me. I have developed my well established and successful business because of my hard work, focus and persistence. But one thing you should keep in mind – education is very important cornerstone for success in your life. So my advice to you is to finish what you have started – your university studies, and then move on with the business. You will have better focus and greater capability to do that. You will also have much more clear awareness of what you want in life, what you are passionate about.”

Although Syed was tempted to continue to develop his business as it was paying off well and progressing, he listened to his father’s advice and sold his business to successfully continue and finish his studies.

He confirmed in our conversation – that was the best decision he took and he is glad he listened to his father’s advice. There are 3 lessons though he has learned while developing his start-up business that he will take on for further start-up opportunities:

1. Start small, try it out whether customers like it and then progress

Syed started with a few jewellery pieces and sold them in open markets and stalls. He spoke to his customers and listened carefully to what they said. After a year of start-up, the business has grown so well that he developed his webpage and expanded his business in web.

2. Find your niche and focus on it

Before Syed was able to expand, he tested and discovered the niche that he could differentiate him amongst competition – hand-made, branded jewellery from Paris. Although he was tempted to sell other stuff, he kept focusing and developing in his niche. That helped him to grow his business by becoming the brand in the niche.

3. Ask advice from the experts

Who can be a better adviser in female jewellery industry than female? When Syed started his business, he asked advice of his girlfriend and her friends. They knew well what women are appreciating in jewellery. He tested that with his customers and listened to feedback.

Syed has now moved on. He has finished university and explored other business industries than jewellery trade. He has discovered his passion for customer relationship management and is aiming to develop his next business in CRM implementation for local and global companies. He is a hard worker, very dedicated and customer focused professional. That builds a very strong personal brand foundation. I am confident he will succeed now even more as when you have discovered your passion, you have clarity and focus on your goals and you stream your energy to achieve them, you will succeed.

His father’s advice is guiding him for success in life:

“Finish what you have started and you will move on and further with better focus and capability”.

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5 Key Lessons Learned in Social Media Marketing

The world is speedingly becoming digital. To stay on trend one needs to constantly catch up with the newest. Therefore, instead of just having a chilled easy Saturday, I attended a whole day Social Media Marketing class at Westminster Business School yesterday. It was a time worth spent. Here are 5 key lessons learned of many:

1. You need to be digital and social to have your brand out there

Inspiration, innovation, progress, customer engagement – keep up with the speed of the world’s digital development movements! Know your customers, current and target ones, and be there out with and for them. People live their lives with their digital devices now – the first thing someone does when waking up in the morning is checking their e-mails; what someone does while having their morning coffee – is reading thought provoking articles in LinkedIn; on the way to office what someone does is checking out what their friends are doing in Facebook; when leaving the retail shop at the lunch time what someone does is tweeting a comment on their customer experience in Twitter and Instagraming a picure of a newly bought item. Explore your customer behaviours, likes and needs in digital world to better add value and build your professional brand for them.

2. Goals, goals, goals… and be strategic

As in any other area in life, to stay focussed, be impactful and to not get losed in the huge world of digital, you define clearly your goals what you want to achieve in social media. You clarify the purpose – is it for your personal brand develpment, for your customer engagement, for your company brand and talent attraction or any other aspiration? When you are clear on your goals, purpose and your target audience, you can best choose social media platform where to be vocal, visual and adding value for your target audience. You can define your social media strategy in a more targeted and tailored way when you have clarity on your purpose and goals. Being strategic your will make a better impact.

3. Measure to make a better impact

I love KPI’s and analytics and being able to measure how my actions turn into tangible, measurable results! In digital marketing and social media you can measure any activity you do. Best and most insightful tool for digital insights is Google Analytics tool. You can measure almost everything there, even impact of the words you have said in your message and how changing one word makes an impact to the reach and conversion rate. You can measure how many people have received your message, have seen it, have liked it or commented, or found it valuable to share it forward. You can mesure what action your message has initiated and whether that leads to achieving your goals.

4. Devil is in the detail

Learn how to use social media platforms, what features they have and how to best apply them to make an impact. Learning how to better use hashtags in Twitter opens a door with opportunities to reach out to people with common interests or learn what others are sharing about themes you are interested in. Learning that people respond better to pictures or video’s can make your message more impactful. Learning how to improve your pictures with Instagram can make them more enjoyable for your target audience. Learning how to connect and reach out to people across the globe in Linkedin can open you new job, collaboration or business opportunities.

5. Keep learning

Social media and digital marketing technology and options are developing constantly. What was impossible yesterday, is a common feature today. What is new today, will be a history tomorrow. Digital world requires constant curiosity, exploration and focus on development. Learn from your friends, colleagues, from your children and their classmates. Learn from people who are different from you and have different habbits, as they will definitely know something that you may not have discovered yet. Keep learning to be successful!

The Social Media Marketing lesson yesterday has definitely encouraged me to revisit my social media knowledge and strategy. It has generated thoughtfulness for being on track of the digital developments and being out there to add value.