by Tubosun Aliu
For an aspiring entrepreneur, one challenge in the journey to starting your first business is the
question, “Where do I begin?”
There are no simple answers to this seemingly simple question, as starting from the very beginning is
the only way. There are no shortcuts on this entrepreneurial journey and you have to spend time,
intellectual resources and perhaps tap into your social capital to get started.
However, in order to make this journey easier, the important question that an entrepreneur needs to
constantly ask himself/herself is “Why am I doing this?”
Starting and owning a business takes a lot of time and energy, and can be physically, emotionally and
psychologically challenging. You might have to spend hours studying and researching, finding the right
location, technology, people, and working out your strategy, marketing plan, operational plans, etc.
This would eventually take its toll on you and you will most likely get to that point where you ask
yourself, “Why am I doing this again?”
Having an answer to the question of “why” is one of the things that would keep you going and push
you beyond that critical point when your momentum seems to be failing. When you successfully cross
this line of doubt, you become almost unstoppable!
The question then is to define what is important to you and the motive behind your wanting to start a
business. Yes, a lot of folks will say “of course, it’s to make money”, and I agree that making money in
business is very important and making profit is extremely critical. But the fact of the matter is that
there are a million and one ways to make money and a million and one businesses that you can do to
help you achieve that purpose, but you chose this particular business! So why this business and not
The “why” behind your business is the motivation that keeps you going. This might be expressed in a
mission statement or might just be a strong conviction of how you believe you can bring about
positive change in the society, or improve the quality of lives of your target customers or even
Whether it’s a slogan or your core mission statement, this will be your strength on your journey and
ultimately continue to keep you fired up!
By Eyitayo Ogunyemi
Has it happened that you intended to communicate a point but your client interpreted your message wrongly? This usually happens when written business communications are vague, morose and without a sense of simplicity. The end result, more often than not, is that potential clients “move on” to the next service provider. To take your business to a bigger level, you must write with clarity in such a way that your potential clients easily get your point. When you achieve this, your clients become happy to engage you, because they understand your terms and their own obligations. Below are five hints to write to win both existing and potential clients:
1. See your words as PRECIOUS GEMS, you won’t give them out carelessly, so write what you mean and mean what you write.
2. Prefer the positive expressions to the negative expressions. I like the way Deborah S. Bosley gives the picture of how our brain reacts to words we read in her article Positive language makes our brains happier
Your selling point may be connected to the use of certain negative words (drug industries for example capitalises on the use of negative words and then tell potential clients how their drugs cure those negative vices), one of the solutions in such instance is to use as few negative words as is possible.
Another arm of this lesson is to avoid using double negatives because they make the readers engage in “mental gymnastics”. See for instance the following statement:
“You may not disengage from the terms of this Agreement unless….”
The challenge with the above example is that, like the rule in mathematics, two negatives make a positive, so where you have “not” as the first negative and “dis” (from the word “disengage”) as the second negative, you have a positive statement which will communicate a wrong intention. It could have therefore been put this way:
“You may disengage from the terms of this Agreement if…”
To conclude on this, greater chances are that when you write in the positive sense, you will use fewer words.
3. Your choice of words should be determined by your likely readership. For instance, your colleagues will probably not patronise your business because they are your competitors, so why write as if you are addressing a colleague?
Potential clients easily get worn out trying to know what you mean when you use technical words (which only your colleagues are licensed to understand). What you must therefore do, is to put the technical words in simple contexts.
One last note- if you must use technical words, make sure that you create a portion to interpret those words in the plain English sense. If you are preparing an online article, link those tech words to other sites where they are exhaustively interpreted.
4. Avoid the repetition game. Many people do this because they are afraid that they have not been heard. For whatever reasons, the thing about repeating yourself is that you become boring.
Here is an example from my archive:
“ON no ground whatsoever or howsoever shall we be liable….”
You will notice that one of “howsoever” or “whatsoever” could have been sufficient, or a more simple word could have fit in perfectly.
5. Engage your clients in the active voice:
“Active voice” is when the subject of a sentence performs the action in the verb, while “passive voice” is when the subject has the action performed on it.
In elementary school, we were taught that when the passive voice is used, it means something is being done for the actor, but active voice puts the actor in charge. When you apply that explanation to your business, you will realise that passive written expressions make you look frail, while active expressions give a sense to your clients that you are in charge.
You don’t say: “The account will be audited by us”
You should say: “We will audit the account”
Communicating in the active sense helps you to be clear on your thoughts and also clear on who should do what, and what is to be done.
Investing time to communicate to your clients with clarity and simplicity is an act that should be taken serious when preparing your marketing strategies. The Businessperson that engages his/her clients with simple written expressions has a good chance to have the most clients (observe the trend for instance in Insurance companies). The days are gone therefore, when it is assumed that the black man appreciates the content of a book by its cover.