The Academy

Three Things Small Companies Can Learn From Large Companies

Festus Kadiri resigned from one of the largest telecommunication companies four months ago. He has very fond memories of the six years he worked there and occasionally looks back with nostalgia. But he took away valuable lessons which have helped to make his own start up a success. He said while everyone has become obsessed with the lean startup, the idea that gigantic companies are somehow doing something wrong by being so large, he has learned to reflect and understand what big companies do right.

Fetus says that contrary to popular belief, there are plenty of things that a small company can learn from what the big boys are up to. Here are the three of the most important ones.

1. Work-Life Balance

The last department that every startup integrates is Human Resources, if only because it seems like the CEO can bring in layers of perks and office goofiness to make up for it. The culture of "crushing it" has led to the idea that you have to work on your startup all the time. While it's undoubtedly true that people go into a startup knowing that they will work a lot more hours than at a large company, if you invest every waking second you end up not being effective.

Yes, many large companies work people to the bone, but there are specific work and vacation hours. You have an office. You work. You leave. The office is the office, the company is their company. When it's a startup and you are an early employee, that line becomes blurred--it's so much more about personality and personal investment. However, it's hard to be creative and passionate when you are overtired and overworked. That's why I have an under-60-hour-a-week policy for my team. A startup is about people, and destroying someone's personal life in the process will harm the startup.

2. Comprehensive Employee Review

Many people will roll their eyes at the idea that employee reviews are necessary. But they are, in any company, of any size. When you work for someone, or they work for you, you should know what they think and understand it. Reviews allow employees to improve in areas where they need it. Creating a review process that helps ensure that employees get real-time feedback is something small companies can take from large companies. The natural reaction to any criticism can be anger, depression, anxiety and other maladaptive psychological conditions. The truth hurts. But the truth that comes out in reviews can improve a company--even a startup with only a few people.

…to be continued next week

Culled from and adapted

Four Things That Keep Small Business Owners Up At Night

There is an increasing number of Nigerians starting their own businesses and giving it all they have to make the business a success. 

However, as Chukwudi Onyekwere told his friend, the road to success sometimes means hectic days and long, sleepless nights recent.

Here are four biggest concerns weighing on the minds of small-business owners and how they can to cope:


Almost half of companies with 11 to 100 employees cited growing revenue as their biggest business challenge.

When it comes to issues with revenue, businesses may want to compare the channel that is driving the most revenue to the channel where they are investing the most resources. For instance, nearly 60% of small businesses view their company website as an integral part of their business, yet more than half of businesses polled said less than 11% of annual revenue was generated online.


If you’re a business looking to cope with a more competitive job market, make sure your interviewing process, job descriptions, and path to promotions are clearly identified and align with your current business model. Your business can’t afford to ignore interviewing and onboarding practices if you want to attract top talent.


Businesses are still facing regulations. Larger small businesses express concerns about both government regulations and employee benefits.


Cash flow was a top concern for businesses with 11 to 50 employees, and every business. In other words, small businesses are all looking for ways to make their business as profitable and lean as possible, which means managing cash.

What’s not keeping small business leaders up at night? Technology. In fact, a large percent of business owners interviewed in a US study showed that more and more start up business owners are investing in IT. Although it may not be a focus, should this pattern of IT spending continue, technology could be an unexpected nightmare for some small businesses in the years ahead.

Culled from and adapted. 

7 Factors To Make Your Brand Standout

Continued from last week

5. Consistency

It’s easy to blend in as white noise if your messaging isn’t consistent. If your brand standards aren’t clearly defined, or you have multiple people executing those standards to varying degrees of effectiveness, you might end up alienating your audience. The goal is to get your followers and readers to stick around as long as possible; but to do that, you need to give them a sense of familiarity and predictability. The best way to secure those qualities is to lock down your brand standards early on, and ensure that all team members working on your campaigns are skilled at their execution.

6. Visibility

Obviously, if people aren’t seeing your brand, they won’t be able to respond to it in any way. Though some potential customers will undoubtedly trickle in through organic searches and other inbound routes, the only way to build your reputation from scratch is to make your brand as visible as possible.
Leverage different opportunities to diversify your strategy; for example, you might post content on external publications to build your reputation, launch a social media strategy or invest heavily in advertising and promoted materials. The bottom line is that you need some medium to promote your messaging -- otherwise, it won’t matter how appealing that messaging is.

7. Value

Brands can also stand out by offering more value than their competitors; that can be done in a number of different ways. First, you could simply offer better products and services; if you offer a similarly valuable product for half the price, it will be only a matter of time before people start flocking to you.
Unfortunately, most brands don’t have the flexibility to get this competitive (without eating into profits). Instead, you might offer value in terms of better, more informative content, or a stronger dedication to personalized customer service. Originality plays a role here, too, so think carefully about how best to appeal to your customers.

If you’re just starting to build a brand, these factors should guide you in its development. If you have a brand already, and it seems lacking, consider implementing a rebranding campaign, or at least adjusting your execution of your brand standards to reflect these values. At the very least, take the time to audit your current brand strategy and evaluate your adherence to the standards you originally set.
Culled from and adapted

7 Factors To Make Your Brand Standout

After three years of running her bakery, Ekaette Udom began to get weary. She knew that it was a very competitive business when she opened shop in Uyo in 2015, but she soon began to tell close friends that it seemed everyone else had since opened a bakery. She felt the bandwagon was now congested and it was time to either make a difference or quit. 

The world is drowning in brands. There are millions of brands in the world today and still counting. Even if only a fraction of those businesses compete with yours, that’s an overwhelming number to deal with in an age where information is plentiful and digital exchanges are commonplace. 

To make matters even more complicated, all those brands are competing with one other for visibility by using marketing and advertising campaigns to clamor for their target audience’s attention. If you want any hope of your own audience noticing your brand among this mass of competition, you need to stand out.

How can you do that? By making sure your brand has, and demonstrates, these seven important qualities:

1. Originality

First, your brand needs to be original. If you attempt to mimic a competitor’s brand, people won’t have a compelling reason to choose you instead of that other brand. If your messaging relies on clichés and sales talk, it’s not going to resonate with any of your customers. Instead, find an angle that nobody has taken before, and develop an image and voice that are wholly your own. This is easier said than done, of course, but it’s a necessary step if you don’t want to blend in with the competition.

2. Sincerity

Next, your brand needs to demonstrate a degree of sincerity. If you respond to all your customers on social media with the same copied and pasted corporate response, people are going to see you as a soulless machine that cares only about turning a profit. Instead, show your human side. Invest in the “personality” of your brand, and speak to customers the way you would speak to a friend. You might make some mistakes along the way, but your customers will be able to forge much better relationships with you in the long run.

3. Understanding

The best and most popular brands are the ones that understand their target audiences. They demonstrate this by creating messaging that is relevant for only one target niche; for example, if you’re targeting parents, you might mention a common parenting problem, like having difficulty with a morning routine. This will demonstrate a degree of sympathy and instantly make it easier for that audience to connect with you. In time, this will lead to increased interactions with your brand, which in turn will lead to more traffic and conversions. Make sure you research your target demographics thoroughly and on an ongoing basis, and adjust your wording and targeting as needed.

4. Boldness

In branding, risk often leads to reward. The boldest brands aren’t afraid to experiment with new techniques, or take a stance on controversial issues within the industry. They’re somewhat polarizing, which means they could alienate a portion of their audience, but they also encourage more loyalty and respect from the people who stick around, and they never run the risk of being seen as “boring” or “just another brand.” be continued next week

Culled from and adapted

How To Get An Entrepreneur’s Mindset

Continued from last week

5. Visualize What You Want

Visualization is a fantastic tool to use if you want to get in the right mindset this year. Picturing what you want to achieve and even creating visual images will help you to make your goals seem more concrete. You can use tools like vision boards, which allow you to create a visual representation of your goals. You can map out not just your overarching primary goals, but the smaller targets and objectives you need to meet along the way to get there. Write down or draw your goals, or perhaps put together a collage. Putting your goals on paper can make a huge difference to your desire to achieve them.

6. Look Back at Your Achievements (and Failures)

If you want to ready yourself for the year ahead, it’s useful to think about what you’ve done in the past. Taking a good look at your past achievements and what you think you did right can help you get into the right mindset and make the best decisions. It’s also a good idea to think about the things that didn’t go so well. You can identify the mistakes you made and the plans that didn’t turn out like you had hoped, so you can work out how to do things differently in the future. You should always learn from your past actions, so don’t forget about them.

7. Surround Yourself with the Right People

Even though entrepreneurs can often be solitary, you’re unlikely to get much done completely on your own. Making sure you work with the right people and encourage them to get into the right mindset too is important. Whether you’re looking for permanent employees or contractors, or just trying to find fellow entrepreneurs to spend your time with, find the people who will help you achieve your goals. Look for people who share your ideals and your ambition, and avoid negative people.

8. Be Ready to Take on Challenges

Challenging yourself is essential if you want to keep progressing through the year and beyond. If you’re ready to take on a challenge, you’ll be in a much better mindset to be a successful entrepreneur. It’s important to remember that you can’t always choose your challenges. Sometimes, you can decide what you want to take on, but other times challenges come at you and you have no choice but to face them. Prepare yourself for any challenges to come your way and deal with them with a positive attitude if you want to meet your goals and find success.


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